What was it like to work with Esperanza and your attorney?
My experience working with Esperanza was very nice because coming here to this country, you don’t have any idea what is going to happen to you. You don’t know anything about attorneys, about how to go to court, about how to be in front of a judge, and you are afraid of going [through the process] alone.
I am grateful to my attorney because he was very good. He explained how my immigration process would go. He encouraged me when I said “I don’t know if I can do this because I am very afraid of being in front of the judge and going to interviews.” He told me, “Yes, you can do it.”
How did you feel when you won your case?
I felt very happy because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to stay in this country and I was scared of what would happen if I returned to my home country. When they told me that I had won my case, I felt incredible. I wasn’t afraid anymore. That is the wish of any child who comes here. Our greatest wish is to stay here.
I am very grateful to this organization that helps immigrant children. If there weren’t organizations like this many children would lose their cases.
How would you describe the experience of being in a new country?
At first it was a little difficult, but later, I got to know people and I got used to things. Coming here gave me the opportunity to learn about new cultures. I really like it. I would like to learn English one day.
Did anything surprise you about the United States?
Life here is very different. I feel that this country is safer. Also, in Guatemala men are preferred to women but here women are considered to be equal to men. [Here] women are free to do what they want and to have respect. I like that in the U.S., women have more opportunities to have careers. I know that many [girls] would like to be where I am, so I want to take advantage of the opportunity they have given me to be in this country.
What dreams do you have for the future?
Right now the first thing that I want is to learn English. And later, what I would like is to be a chef. I really like to cook and that is my dream.
What advice do you have for other young people who are in the immigration process?
Sometimes, as young immigrants, we say, “We want to achieve the American Dream.” Everything you have suffered, everything you have lived, makes you say “I want better. I want my life to be different.”
I want to tell them that it’s always worth it--all of the sacrifice--the whole process. Everything that has happened to them should be a motivation to keep going and set new goals. This whole process will bring them something good in the future.
Many people want that opportunity but don’t have it. So, if you have it, you should take advantage of it.