I came here when I was seven. My mom tells me I almost died crossing the border. We walked 11 hours in the night. It was really hot, and I haven’t had water. My mom tells me I went unconscious. A lady took me in her own vehicle to her house and into a shower to rinse me off. My mom told me in a couple more minutes, I would probably die.
We came [looking] for a better life, because we didn’t really have much there. My parents had to sell stuff on the street to buy us milk. We all became residents in six or seven months. I’m trying to become a citizen now.
I attended schools here. I am an apprentice carpenter with J.P. Cullen. It is a great company. I learned more in a few months than I learned in my whole life. My goal is to become a superintendent one day, and bring that out to the younger Latino guys, that you can do that.
My hope for my family is we become better than before. I work three jobs. I also work for a cleaning company and as a diesel mechanic.
I’m not the type who likes to fight or get in trouble. One time I was with my family, and some guys started yelling racist stuff. My brothers said, “Just let it go.” It is hard when it is your family.
The U.S. / Mexico border is the most frequently crossed international boundary in the world.
The border separating Mexico and the United States is 1,954 miles on land through a region characterized by deserts, rugged hills, abundant sunshine, and two major rivers—the Colorado and the Rio Grande (Río Bravo del Norte). Every year hundreds of people die attempting to cross the U.S–Mexico border. The leading causes of death are heat stroke, dehydration, and hyperthermia.
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).
Latinos are three times more likely to be uninsured than any racial or ethnic group in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey reported that 81% of Latinos in Wisconsin between ages 18 and 64 do not have insurance for any number of reasons, including employment that doesn’t offer insurance and citizenship status.
Undocumented immigrants and their foreign-born children are not eligible for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Those who are college students may be able to get insurance through a student health plan. Health resources available to undocumented immigrants include community health clinics, free medical and dental school clinics, and hospital emergency rooms.