COSITAS (Little things) 

Interview by Sarah Klearman

Anna Maria*, who came to the United States after crossing the border illegally almost 20 years ago, now lives in East San Jose with her two daughters and her husband. She works as a house cleaner; her husband works in construction. 

This interview was translated into English from Spanish.

You hear about the United States being the land of opportunity, but you have to search for them. Because when you arrive here, you bring nothing. Not more than you can carry. In the beginning, coming here – I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know anyone. I left my family. You have nothing, and you know nobody. You thank the good people who teach you basic things, like how to take the bus. Or you find a good friend through work, and she loans you your first workbag. These are little things, but they stay with you. Here, it’s the land of opportunity, but you have to search for them.

 

I tried to cross the border three times; the first two times I was arrested and sent back to Mexico. The third time, I crossed with a friend of mine, and we got separated from the rest of our group in the desert near Arizona. As we were walking, we were approached by an immigration officer. He was alone, and he asked us questions, myself and my friend. We had been in a group of forty, originally, but at that point it was just us. He asked us a lot of things – where are you going? And my friend answered, we’re going to look for something better. He asked us, ‘do you have family there?’ And we answered, ‘no’. And he looked at us, and he let us go. Afterwards, we looked at each other, and we thought – ‘hey, why didn’t he arrest us? Why didn’t he arrest me?’ He was an angel, I’m sure of it.

*name changed