I don’t want to give away the end, but I’ll give you the beginning of this story written by former LA Times reporter Shawn Hubler for Orange Coast magazine.
Here’s how it opens:
When our kids were small, we had a nanny, a Guatemalan woman with a young daughter and a teenage son. My husband and I were employed at a big daily newspaper. The nanny and her kids spent a lot of time at our house. We told people they were like members of our family, though the real story was more complicated, as real stories always are.
The nanny’s story was like a lot of nannies’ stories. She had come north to be with the man she loved, but the relationship didn’t work out. At first, her plan was just to make enough money to return to Guatemala. But one job led to another, and she got a green card, and before she knew it, years had passed and she was the single mother of two extremely Southern Californian children. Her son rode a skateboard; her daughter watched Cartoon Network. At a certain point, going back to Guatemala just wasn’t an option. She became an American citizen several years after coming to work for us.
Her son was a 17-year-old high school student then. Quiet. Polite. Smart, too—college-smart, we’d tell the nanny, who’d just smile. Proud, we thought.
He was about six months shy of his 18th birthday when she told us the real story: Her son had been born in Guatemala and brought into the country as a little boy. She had left him with his grandma, had saved every spare cent to pay the coyote. For the first six years of his life, she’d scarcely seen him; when she had swept him into her arms, he barely recognized her. She’d never told him that his papers had expired, that he was here illegally. She had assumed they were all going back to Guatemala. Now, though, she was reading that her citizenship wasn’t enough, that at 18, he could be deported. Her boy, she said, desperately wanted to go to college. What had she done?
Southern Californians tend to see hard lines on immigration. You’re either here legally, many declare, or you’re violating the law. Breaks for undocumented kids, like the proposed Dream Act, annoy us. They remind us all that real stories stray outside the lines, that they can get complicated, that laws affect real people. People we depend on. People who depend on us….
Read to the end. it’s not going where you think. But it’ll make your day.