I came here because I wanted a better future, because of all the bombs, the crimes, everything. I don’t want to go back to Colombia, I feel safe here about 70 percent.
I work as a promotora. We provide health services and also nutrition classes for the Latino community. Also, I am a doula, a person who goes with moms through pregnancy and provides support.
A bad experience with the Immigration Service office in Chicago was the worst day of my life. When I got my legal papers, I had to go back to Colombia and re-enter into the United States. The immigration officer told me, “What are you doing here? Why did you come here?” She said, oh my God, many bad words for me, and I want to cry. I was with my daughter, eight months old. The woman says, “Who’s going to pay for her food, insurance, everything?” She is waiting for me to say I don’t want to go to the United States.
I want a good life, to raise my children and help my Latino community women, empower them. I really love to help people. When I find a way to help people, I feel really good.
The people come here to work, to have a better life. The biggest fear for the Latino community is the immigration thing. You go to work, you come back to the house at night. That is it.
Promotora is a Spanish term for a community health worker.
A promotora has specialized training and provides basic health education in the community. They can provide more holistic care as a complement to physician-centric care, including things such as prevention of chronic disease, maternal health, reproductive health, translation, cultural sensitivity, post-hospitalization care, infectious disease management, prescription compliance, health insurance enrollment assistance, among other services.
As defined by the American Public Health Association, a community health worker is “a frontline public health worker who is a trusted member of and/or has an unusually close understanding of the community served. This trusting relationship enables the worker to serve as a liaison/link/intermediary between health/social services and the community to facilitate access to services and improve the quality and cultural competence of service delivery.”
How does a person from another country become a ‘Lawful Permanent Resident?’
The immigration system is complicated and there are many types of immigration status. Green card is an informal term for Lawful Permanent Residents and a status required before applying for citizenship. A green card means that the immigrant can live and work in the U.S. indefinitely.
The process for getting a green card includes many steps and is expensive. It can be difficult to navigate, especially for people who don’t speak, read, or write English fluently. An additional burden is that many immigrants must complete the immigration process through a U.S. consulate abroad. This may mean leaving and re-entering the United States and being separated from families for months, if not years. This is most common for cases where a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident applies for a family member to get a green card.
Being granted a visa or green card does not guarantee entry. The immigrant still must be interviewed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Normally they will be allowed in the country, but the CBP officer has authority to deny admission for certain reasons, including criminal convictions or perceived threats to national security.
Immigration is overseen by U.S. Department of State and Citizenship and Immigration Services, a part of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
There are many reasons people emigrate. Sometimes the reasons are personal, but large patterns of immigration from Latin American countries can be connected to U.S. foreign policies, as well as financial and political realities.
For example, more than fifty years of violence in Colombia displaced millions of people. The decades of political and military conflict in Colombia formally ended in December 2016. This complicated period of contemporary history continues to affect many Colombians. Millions of internally displaced people remain in Colombia, while many others emigrated.
In 2014, about 1.2 million U.S. residents claimed Colombian heritage, making them the seventh-largest Hispanic group in the country.
"My goal is to become a superintendent one day, and bring that out to the younger Latino guys, that you can do that."
"A lot of people ask why I do that many jobs. I’m like, ‘Why do you think?’ I can’t afford tuition on my own. I am not eligible for assistance."