I first arrived in the United States in October 1990. I was 22 years old and single, with a tourist visa and no clue about immigration laws.
In Mexico City I had worked as a bilingual secretary for a construction company. My first job in the U.S. was as a cashier in a fast-food chain. A year later I married my boyfriend, a coworker, who had two children from a previous relationship.
I came from an extremely dysfunctional family, with an alcoholic father and physical abuse, so I didn’t know how to function in a healthy way. Trying not to repeat the story in my family, I read lots of self-help books. But after several crises in marriage, we were on the verge of divorce.
About that time a young girl approached me in the park and handed me a small paper tract and told me about salvation. I listened to her because she was so young, about 15. God knew my proud heart would not hear an adult.
I had never met a Christian before. She invited me to church, and I agreed to go just once so she would leave me alone. I viewed religion as a way to blame someone for the stuff you don’t understand—that it was especially for ignorant people who didn’t know better. By this time I had a 3-year-old daughter, and together we began attending church.
I was working for a health-care provider, but things were getting worse for undocumented workers. The last driver’s license I was able to get was in 1995. Since I now had two children and continual family problems, I stopped working to take care of my kids. My kids needed a mom at home more than material things, and we never had enough money anyway, no matter how much I worked. My husband was in the process of getting custody of his two kids. I had been a Christian for two years by this time.
I thank God for the chance to come to this beautiful country of laws and opportunities. I’m sure I wouldn’t have met the Lord in my country. The Word of God has changed my life dramatically. Since I was not working, I enrolled in an H&R Block tax course, but I couldn’t get licensed because of my illegal situation. I heard of VITA, an IRS-sponsored program, and got involved in it as a volunteer, preparing taxes for low-income people for free. I’ve done this for nine years now. The Lord allows me to educate people in my culture about tax laws. Even though we do not qualify for the highest refundable credit, we still have responsibilities, and whenever I have a chance, I make sure to tell undocumented people about it.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many cases of people who have been victims of big frauds, including me. We pay a big price for being undocumented: being rejected, humiliated, and paid the lowest salaries. But I ask forgiveness for myself and many others who have given a bad testimony in this society. I stay here because I believe God is telling me to “remain in the Lord as how you were called” (see 1 Cor. 7:24). God knows that whatever I do, I do it as unto the Lord (Col. 3:17).
Some people might suggest that I should just go back to my country. At this point, it’s not that easy. Yet I know that if that is God’s will, he’ll open doors and move things for that to happen.
It’s been a year since I started cleaning houses for people who allow me to work around my family’s schedule. My husband’s income is low, even though he is a hardworking man with excellent electrical skills. But we can see our God’s caring hand. We have enough bread, a place to live, and healthy children. God’s grace is also doing wonders in our lives by restoring, healing, and blessing our family. That’s the greatest fact: that we are enjoying life in Christ!