father left because he had two choices: 1) Stay in México and
see his children suffer, with no possibility of a better future,
or 2) Leave for the United States and give them a chance to
succeed in life. By choosing to leave, Reyna’s father gave her
the greatest gift a parent can give a child—the possibility to
years after he left, Reyna’s father sent for her mother. He
returned home five years later and brought Reyna and her
siblings to the United States, leaving Reyna’s mother and their
sister behind. By then, Reyna was almost ten.
their first attempt to cross the border from Tijuana, Reyna
became sick and suffered from fever most of the way. Her father
carried her on his back…up until they were caught.
second attempt, they got caught again. By this time Reyna’s
father was getting frustrated. He wanted to take his three
oldest children back to Guerrero and forget the whole thing.
vowed to try one last time—this time crossing the border at
night. Reyna vividly remembers the darkness, holding her
sister's hand and being afraid of getting lost. She remembers
the helicopter flying above them, and running, trying to find a
place to hide. But in the end they actually made it.
life in the United States was definitely not the dream Reyna had
envisioned. She was enrolled in the fifth grade in Aldama
Elementary in Highland Park, CA, although in México she was just
finishing third grade. As she didn’t speak English, she was put
in a corner to be taught by the teacher’s assistant. Her teacher
didn’t speak Spanish, so for the rest of the year Reyna yearned,
but could not, communicate with her.
father truly believed in the value of education, drilling into
his children’s heads that they were lucky to be living in
America. He often threatened to send his them back to México if
they didn’t learn English and get good grades. He frequently
stressed the importance of having a stable job, a retirement
account, and owning a house. But Reyna’s father, like her
mother, had demons of his own. His alcoholism and own
disillusionment caused an irreparable break between him and his
Grande persevered, however, and is now living the US-American
dream. “By leaving Mexico,” she says, “My father changed the
course of my life completely. Because I live in the United
States, I am a college graduate and a teacher for the Los
Angeles Unified School District. I have my own house. I have a
car. Best of all, I am a published author.
in the United States can a person go from being an undocumented
immigrant to a published author.”
she’s not writing, Reyna Grande teaches English as a second
language to adults, most of whom are undocumented immigrants.
Grande claims she sees her parents in them. Some of her students
have children in other countries, and they struggle daily to
find a way to be reunited with their sons and daughters.
classroom Grande sees hardworking people who came to this
country to flee miserable poverty at home. “I don’t see
criminals,” she declares, “I see human beings who want what's
best for themselves and their children.”
Source: Publishers of “La Distancia Entre Nosotros.”