Where I Fit
I may not look like an undocumented alien, but until the age of 18 that's just what I was. When the pundits began to tear into undocumented immigrants last summer, using terms like "parasites" and "criminals," my first reaction was to bury my head and turn off the TV. I had worked too hard since my own illegal Mexican border crossing 30 years ago, at the age of 8, to blow my cover now. I had assiduously cultivated myself as an American, reading the right books, sporting "the Rachel" haircut in the '90s, gossiping about reality TV with gusto on the sidelines of my children's soccer games. I was aided by pasty white skin that placed my ancestry vaguely somewhere in the northern Mediterranean countries or Eastern Europe in most people's imaginations, not among the stereotype of an illegal immigrant. My parents came to New York City to make their fortune when I was a baby. Irresponsible and dreamy and in their early 20s, they didn't think things through when their visa expired; they decided to stay just a bit longer to build up a nest egg. But our stay got progressively longer, until, when I was 6, my grandfather died in South America. My father decided my mother and I should go to the funeral and, with assurances that he would handle everything, sat me down and told me I'd have a nice visit in his boyhood home in Argentina, then be back in America in a month. I didn't see him for two years.
Being stranded in Argentina on the dusty Mendozan foothills where my parents had met and married, and for which they'd pined during my childhood in our little New Jersey basement apartment, was a revelation for me. While growing up different and apart in the U.S.--not being able to enter kindergarten with my friends, speaking rickety English I picked up from "Sesame Street"--my parents had assured me that one day we'd be in our real home of Argentina. But I soon realized I was even more of an oddity in the insular world of this tiny Argentine town. I missed my...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document