Lourdes is my mother and an exceptional woman. I did not realize her long journey until realizations from this class of what immigrants go through. Lourdes was born in Nicaragua, now the poorest country in Central America. However, she and her family were one of the few families to be fortunate to be raised with a family who had the opportunity to education. Her father was a doctor and mother was raising 10 children, would be twelve had two not died a minimal time after birth. The children including Lourdes had a very nice upbringing. She recalls always having two nannies who many times took the place of her mother given the ten children. Although education was provided many of her sisters did not graduate high school. Lourdes was the only woman of her sisters to graduate high school. She explained during those times it was common for women not to graduate that instead they would marry before graduation and then start a family.
During this time a civil war was occurring in Nicaragua against the Somoza family a dictatorship that had been in power for forty years and the guerillas known as the Sandinistas. Shortly after the war Lourdes met and married Ernesto a man who was a guerilla and in the Sandinista party. The Sandinista party however did not prove to be what the people were hoping for, rather it became another dictatorship. The Sandinistas would confiscate home and take peoples civil liberties. Many of the families in the same neighborhood including Lourdes brother in law lost their land and home to the Sandinistas without any form of law to help. Bank accounts would be frozen for suspicious activity without any relevance. The money quickly devaluated. Lourdes recalls the government stamping the money and putting a new amount over the actual Cordoba, their currency. Years later both Lourdes and her husband Ernesto decided to leave the country to move to the United States for fear of their government.
With three children at this point the family moved to the United States through visas and political asylum. The family moved in 1988, Lourdes was 28 years old. The first move was in Miami. She had brothers making the trip more comforting however she felt it was no place to raise her kids. Lourdes decided to follow her sisters to Wisconsin. As many of the immigration stories mentioned in class, Lourdes loved her country and assumed she would return three to four years after the political turmoil passed. However Nicaragua to this day stays politically corrupt. The president when Lourdes left is now president of the country again, serving his third term after changing the Nicaraguan Constitution.
Coming to the United States had many changes from what she was used to, she thanked God she had family here. Lourdes knew little English upon arriving. However she made the effort to learn by taking classes at WCTC a free program offered in Waukesha. She stated there were many difficulties and frustrations but that Waukesha had a wonderful program for immigrants. Ernesto fell into disastrous habits. He became an alcoholic who proved to be of little help in providing income for the family. Lourdes with three kids would learn to drive, attend MATC and earn her associates in Dental Laboratory Technology, and raise three children with the help of her family.
However she like many immigrant women would work a variety jobs, usually two to three at a time. While attending school she recalled working at a restaurant washing dishes and cleaning houses on Friday. Later in years she became a teacher’s aide through La Casa in Waukesha. Lourdes is now a dental technician in Milwaukee. She owns her own home and has successfully raised three children the majority of the time being a single mother.
Immigration has been a major issue in class. Not too long ago we were discussing the dream act, an act that would grant citizenship to illegal immigrants after working in the country for longer than five years. I truly believe in the act. The United States is a country where the majority of the population is immigrants. To me immigrants who overcome the many obstacles and succeed deserve citizenship over those who take no action to move their success and their countries success in the right path.