At age 5, being in the U.S. without dad was scary
Pablo (not his real name) was 5 when his father brought him to the United States. Those first few weeks were the beginning of a long and difficult journey. Now, 15 years later, he reflects on his first days as an immigrant.Pablo: I didn’t really have a choice about whether to come to the United States or not. I was only 5 years old. You don’t really have a choice when you’re that young. The main reason we came to the United States was because of my parents’ divorce. It was really sad. When I was 5 my mother decided to go away. I don’t know, maybe she didn’t like the poverty we lived in.So that left my dad and me by ourselves. Then my dad decided that we should travel north to what is called the American Dream. It was a long journey. It took us nearly two weeks just to get to Tijuana, Mexico, near the border.At first, I didn’t know what was going on. I thought that we were just traveling. But then I realized that we were coming to another country. I don’t really know how I got here. The only thing I remember was that I was given a pill so I could go to sleep and not do anything stupid while they were bringing me across. Gallacher: How did you cross?Pablo: I crossed with someone else’s documents. When I woke up I was already in Los Angeles, so I didn’t know exactly how I got here. I was put to sleep in Tijuana and brought across in a car. I woke up in L.A.The first few days were very hard for me because I wasn’t used to being without my dad. My dad was still in Tijuana trying to cross the border. He had to make several attempts to cross. He kept getting caught by immigration. It took him two weeks to get across, and that is when we got together again.Gallacher: Whom did you stay with while you waited for him?Pablo: I don’t really know. They were just the family of the “coyote.”Gallacher: Were you afraid?Pablo: Well, when you are a kid the only thing you want to do is be with your parents. Yes, I was scared, really scared. Being by myself not knowing the people around me, yes, it was scary. But when my dad finally came he brought a girlfriend with him, and later she became my stepmom.Gallacher: So you woke up in the U.S. not really knowing what had happened and then two weeks later you had a stepmom?Pablo: Yeah, it was weird. It was a whole different experience.Gallacher: How did you feel?Pablo: At first I didn’t like the idea because I really missed my mom, but then I got used to it.But the first two weeks that we were in Los Angeles my dad drank a lot. He drank with her and the other people that were with us. I don’t know if they were trying to celebrate that we made it across or not. I didn’t know. I was the only kid that came along.
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