Writing Wrongs is a community journalism program in which college students explore various social issues and create a book about the people affected. Last year’s issue, “Untold, Unseen, Unheard: Perspectives on Immigration,” contains interviews with immigrants detailing their lives and goals for the future. This is a summary of a piece Heather Jacobson of Kutztown University originally wrote for the magazine.
In 1979, a civil war between the El Salvadoran government and the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front broke out. The war lasted 12 years, so El Salvadorans saw extreme violence in the form of death squads, child soldiers, and other human rights violations. As a result of the war, Maria Rubio decided to leave for America, in hope of finding a more prosperous life for her children.
Using funds from her brother, Maria traveled from El Salvador to the U.S.-Mexico border. Maria got caught, but after being sent back to Mexico, she tried again. The trek cut and bloodied her feet, and authorities later imprisoned her in Tucson, Arizona. Her brother secured a train ticket for Maria to stay with him in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Maria worked at BJ’s Wholesale Club, cleaned houses, and babysat for six years. She regularly sent money back home to her children, with the hope of reuniting with them. As a result, Maria’s daughter, Yessenia, would call her mother from a payphone at scheduled times.
The Family Back Home
While Maria was gone, Yessenia and her siblings had to adjust to the harsh conditions. Maria left her children in the custody of a trusted friend, but they were soon left alone. Yessenia said that one time robbers stole her brother’s only pair of shoes that his mother happened to send him. Furthermore, the only aid they were receiving was the money Maria was sending to them. The environment and violence in El Salvador forced Yessenia and her siblings to grow up while they were still children.
Reunion & The Future
In 1997, Maria had to leave the U.S. and return to El Salvador. She went to the U.S. Embassy and begged to allow her and her family to return. Consequently, her family had to go through rigorous interviews and her oldest son had to provide El Salvadorian FBI clearances and proof of work. By December, 1998, Maria and her children reunited in America.
Maria’s children have grown up and now have children of their own. She has eleven grandchildren, which gives her a sense of accomplishment. The values of hard work and family unity were passed down to her children. In conclusion, Maria now has the opportunity to see her family exemplify those values and find their own success.
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To hear more stories like Maria’s, buy the full 2017 issue of Writing Wrongs here.