My Story ~ Immigration and Humanity

This is my story about how my cultural identity was affected by the 2012 campaign.

Leading up to the 2012 Presidential election, there were many talking heads talking about the ‘Latino vote’. It seemed to me that this conversation led to a discussion on immigration. Initially, this angered me. I kept thinking “immigration is NOT the only topic Latinos care about.” I’m a 4th generation Texan! I’m very proud of that. That also means no one in my immediately is facing an “immigration issue” … imagine me using my fingers to imply quote-unquote immigration issues.

And then, I started to listen to the conversation about immigration from others besides the talking heads. There were so many children pleading for their parents to not be deported and any stories of amazingly talented students who can fulfill their dreams, goals and careers because of their status. More and more my heart began to feel that could have been my family; I’m only a few generations away from the same issues. It started to become real for me.

I attended a screening of The Dream Is Now, a immigration documentary about REAL people in America facing immigration issues, in San Antonio. I wept. I cried so hard that the gentlemen next to me had to ask if I was okay. Watching the stories on a screen made me realize this issue was not a “Latino” issue but a HUMANITY issue.

I’ve been learning about my family’s history. For the most part, I know my family on both my mom and dad’s sides were in South Texas and would migrate to the Panhandle area of Texas to work in the cotton fields. Most settled there. Growing up, we rarely traveled back to South Texas to visit and even though I knew of family in Mexico, we never went to visit. I grew up only really knowing my immediate family. I met my great grandma a few times but unfortunately I didn’t speak Spanish so I didn’t get to ever ask her about her experience or journey to Texas from Mexico.

I’m for sure 4th generation and possibly 5th generation Texan. But what if I weren’t. What if I was the one at risk of losing my family? What IF mis abuelos were deported? I might not even be here. And Que Means What surely wouldn’t exist.

I share with everyone that I started this blog out my on going search for my cultural identity. What I realized from listening to immigration stories and immigration issues is that a one point in time immigration was a beginning point of my cultural identity. And that has made me begin this journey of sharing, growing, learning as a mom, wife, professional and a human being. I’ve been inspired by simply looking back in to my family’s history. I can work toward any goal I choose because someone in my family came to Texas. So, my interest and heart has grown for others to have the same opportunity. There’s so much work to do. Work for immigration reform … in my mind, it’s humanity reform.

Melanie Mendez-Gonzales

Original content creator for ¿Qué Means What? Texas Latina mom blogger celebrating culture in education, entertainment and family life.

13 Responses

  1. tina says:

    I feel the same way. My grandma came very young. She was able to get here citizenship after being here for 20 years. I remember how proud she was when she showed me her papers.I now fear my husband and father of my 3 amazing kids will be taken away from us. I stay awake every night while he works graveyard just to make sure he comes home. I hope one day that fear will go away.

  2. Silvia says:

    Melanie, thank you for sharing your thoughts…I couldn’t agree more with you. It’s not a Latino issue; it’s not an immigration issue; its a HUMAN issue and the reform should involved anyone of the HUMAN race!

  3. Good luck in your journey. Have been a pleasure to read your story and meet you.

  4. I totally see where you are coming from, I am a first generation texan. My mom is an immigrant from Mexico who later got a green card. I cant imagine the fear others have gone through even though from time to time I have felt it in a way with my mom and her status. Thanks for sharing your journey! Its always awesome to learn more about where people come from

  5. MamiCool says:

    Well said Melanie! I'm an immigrant, but I have been lucky enough to have had other opportunities and not being undocumented. Having the luxury of coming to this country and working within the communications field is something I don't take for granted. I know so many Latin American professionals who have come here and struggle waiting tables, cleaning and what not just to give their kids a better future. No one in my family is undocumented, but I sure feel for mothers who are going to sleep without knowing how their kids are doing, if they ate or where misstreated. I hope comprehensive reform comes now.

    • Melanie Mendez-Gonzales says:

      I can’t imagine it either, Dania. Like Ana says “we must be the voice for the voiceless” … juntos si se puede! Thank you so much for stopping by! xoxo

  6. Grateful for your ancestors immigration journey as you said it, thats how you are here and how QMW is here to share cuentos with us. So nice to meet you. Un abrazo!

  7. Oh Melanie, I know exactly how you feel, that's the same deal with my, it's not an imigration issue, it's a HUMANITY issue.  People can't help where they were born, and this issue has existed in the US for so long, deporting people now is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater, especially since so many "illegal immigrants" grew up here and don't know any other country or in some case language! 

    • Melanie Mendez-Gonzales says:

      Right on, Elma. Families need to stay together at all times whenever possible. That’s just it, it’s possible! Thank you for reading!

  1. April 13, 2014

    […] Read MY STORY ~ Immigration and Humanity […]

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