“Ana” (not her real name) fled El Salvador in 1999 at age 22 and received TPS (Temporary Protected Status) in 2001.
“The main message that I want to share with people is this: Don’t treat us immigrants badly or insult us with bad words. We are human beings and we are working hard. We pay taxes and are not asking for welfare. We want to continue working for our children and for our community. “
“My husband and I have been in the USA for almost twenty years, working and paying taxes and raising our children. This is my story.
My husband and I were in our early twenties when we made the decision to leave El Salvador and make the dangerous journey to the United States. After we married, we lived in a neighborhood where there were a lot of gang members. They killed almost all of the young men on our block, including all but two of our good friends. We decided that my husband needed to flee for his life.
When we first arrived, we had nothing and were very poor. We worked at odd jobs that didn’t pay very well. I was pregnant and fainted and was afraid to go to the hospital because I thought they would deport me. I miscarried and was very depressed. Our relative could no longer host us in his apartment, and we nearly became homeless. A church offered us a room for several months. We collected furniture from the street. It was small, but we felt unified as a family.
In 2001, we received TPS, which allowed us to receive work permits. I felt so happy that we could finally work without fear. As an undocumented person, I had been so scared and frustrated; there were so many things that I could not do. With TPS, we were able to get better jobs. My husband started working for a delivery company and in valet parking on the weekends. My son, who is now 27 and also has TPS, works for a towing company. I make and sell pupusas after a stroke three years ago left me partially paralyzed.
We have two U.S. born children, a 15-year-old daughter who wants to be a nurse or an architect, and a 12-year-old son who wants to be a professional athlete (though he has agreed to have another profession as a back-up plan!) They have lived in the Bay Area their whole lives.
Now that the current administration is cancelling TPS, we are very sad and afraid. If we are deported back to El Salvador, it will be tragic. The situation there is still extremely dangerous. If you don’t know the right people or can’t produce the right identification, you will be killed. It would be especially difficult for our children, who have only known life in the U.S. In El Salvador, you can’t take your kids to the park or walk around freely because of the gangs. Even scarier, if a gang member wants to date your daughter, he will give you 24 hours to hand her over. If you say no, they will kill you. This happened to my cousin’s daughter and they escaped in the night.
I am starting to volunteer at Santuario because I want to learn and help other people.