by Perla, 8th
I am an immigrant from El Salvador. My name is Perla Hernandez and I am 13 years old. My family came to the United States because we needed a new beginning. Now we have a new beginning in Oakland, California.
When I was younger in El Salvador, my family had a problem. My grandfather had a gun and some people were mad about that because they didn’t have a gun. The guys who had a problem with my grandfather got in a fight will him at a rooster fight. After that fight they killed him. I was so sad about that.
Then my uncle called my dad and he said take your family now because we are in danger. My uncle came for us, and then we went to a hotel. We stayed one night at the hotel and then in the morning we were waiting for two men. We left and were taken to a big house. It had big beds and blankets. The coyote called my family and told us it was time to eat. We said ok and we went to eat. And then, they said go to bed. We followed what they told us to do, but it was raining . We were cold in the morning when they said “wake up, it is time to go.” It was 6:00 a.m. and we got to a bus and the police stopped us on the street. Then we got to another hotel we stayed there two nights and in the morning we washed our clothing. Then they call us because our aunt was calling us to see if we were ok. They told us “you need to stay two nights - you and your family.”
In the morning we went up to a small store. All we had to eat was tomatoes and beans for the whole time. We took a taxi and we got to a blue house. We stayed five days. After the five days we left. A car came for us and we crossed a big river. They helped us to cross the water in a boat. They said “walk this side, don’t stop.” The migration officers saw us and they took our cooler. Then, they checked our hair and we ate. At night a bus came to get us and we took one hour to go to the airport. Then we took another bus and another bus and another bus. When we finally arrived in Oakland, I was so happy to see my family, especially my cousins and my aunt.
The similarities between immigrants in U.S. history and my story are many. We both had to pay to come to the U.S. We both had to learn English and wait for a long time to come. We are both from another country. And immigrants in 1890’s - 1940’s came for better schools, and I did too. The biggest thing all immigrants have the same is we came to this country for a better life. The differences between the immigration station on Angel Island and today’s immigrants now is clear. Immigrants 100 years ago came to Ellis and Angel Island, but I immigrated to San Antonio, Texas. They had to take medical tests, but I didn’t.
Today, people like my mom have to wear ankle bracelets because of their immigrations case, but in 1900s they just keep them on the island like jail. I learned a lot about immigrants now and before. It is so hard to come here and I see how they worked hard and had a difficult time. I think about immigrants 100 years ago and their experience. It was difficult because they were not educated and they didn’t speak any English when they came here. The immigrants from then were totally different from me because they came on a boat, they had to go to Angel and Ellis Island, and they had to take tests. I hope that immigration in this country changes. I also hope that immigration officers, la migra, don’t come for all of us. I hope we can stay together and stay happy in Oakland like we are now.