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Rooted in the American Dream: Voices of Immigrants – Y.V.’s Story

August 22, 2013

“Rooted in the American Dream: Voices of Immigrants” is a series of immigrant stories. The phrase “Rooted in the American Dream” comes from Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech as he said his dream of racial equality is “deeply rooted in the American Dream.” Read “Towards Just & Human Immigration Reform” and see the end of the article for how Mercy works to make these dreams a reality.

Man at an Immigration Reform Rally in DC.

Man at an Immigration Reform Rally in DC.

My husband and I were married in Mexico and wanted to have our own house. My husband had a job as a cab driver, but he couldn’t earn enough money. He had family in Burnsville, NC and so we came here. The plan was to earn enough money to be able to return to Mexico. But everything changed after my son’s diagnosis.

THE DIAGNOSIS

About a year and a half after we moved, I had my son Alan. Everything seemed normal at first, but after several months he began to have lots of problems. He was in and out of the hospital for infections and problems with his back. We had to go to see many specialists. Finally, when he was about a year and a half old, we were sent to a geneticist. He was diagnosed with a very rare disease called MPS6. He’s lacking several enzymes that his body needs and he has to get a very expensive IV treatment every week for the rest of his life. He has a lot of complications with his lungs, heart, vision and joints. Because he got sick with this so young it is more serious. There are only 67 adults and children in the country with MPS6. At first I asked “why me” and it was very hard.

My husband and I wanted to have more children and there is a 50% chance that another child we had would have the same illness. Now I feel like everyone has a mission in life and taking care of Alan is my mission. It would be hard to return to Mexico because the only place where he might be able to get treatment would be Mexico City – 4 hours from our house. And there is no help to pay for the treatment.

OUR RESPONSE

I started a store [editor’s note: a small variety store with specialty items for Latinos] so that I could work and be able to close the store for an hour or more if Alan has to have therapy or visit the doctor. My husband works as a carpenter or handyman. I worry all that time about what would happen to Alan if I have a problem with immigration. Who will take care of him? I try not to drive and use the public transportation, but sometimes they can’t take us to doctors’ appointments. It is hard being an immigrant and then all the worries with having a child with special needs. We are not terrorists. We don’t want to take jobs from other people. We just want to work hard to be better persons and have a better life for ourselves and our children. If I had the chance, I would like to continue my education.

HELP ALAN’S FAMILY

Throughout the country faith leaders, immigrant rights activists and concerned citizens are attending town halls, hosting prayer vigils and meeting with their representatives at their in-district offices. To build on this momentum, Mercy’s Extended Justice Team will be hosting, free roundtable discussions featuring faith and business leaders, law enforcement and representatives of the immigrant voice in three key congressional districts across the country: Cincinnati, OH on August 27; Chicago, IL on August 29; and Omaha, NE on September 3. These events are open to the media and public. Please RSVP to events@sistersofmercy.org specifying which event you plan to attend or visit the Facebook Event Page for Cincinnati (2pm and 7pm), Chicago and Omaha. Follow along on Twitter at @MercyCIR and @SistersofMercy. Join the conversation using #JustCIR.

Image: cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo shared by Elvert Barnes

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