Immigrants Tell Stories of Gain, Loss

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Immigrants Tell Stories of Gain, Loss

Article printed in Daily Hampshire Gazette, May 2, 2017. By Nicole DeFeudis

NORTHAMPTON — Since immigrating from Mexico 12 years ago, Leninn Torres Eliosa has worked to build himself a life in the United States. He learned English, got married and even obtained his driver’s license.

However, Torres Eliosa faces a big problem: he cannot visit his home country.

As an undocumented immigrant, Torres Eliosa marched with about 200 others in support of immigrant and workers’ rights at the May Day general workers strike. Organized by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, the strike consisted of various events, including a march to City Hall at 1:30 p.m.

Standing in the crowd outside City Hall, Torres Eliosa told of the hardships he has encountered as an immigrant. On his shirt, he wore a sticker that read, “Same struggle, same fight, workers and immigrants unite.”

After coming to the United States, Torres Eliosa first settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where his cousin lived. There, he learned English through classes at Gateway Community College. He also met his wife and got his driver’s license in New Haven. Later, he moved to Arlington, Virginia.

A little over two weeks ago, Torres Eliosa and his wife moved to Northampton, close to his wife’s job at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Although his wife is a citizen, Torres Eliosa is still fighting for his citizenship.

“I know the struggles people go through as immigrants,” he said.

Because he does not have documentation, Torres Eliosa cannot visit Mexico, for fear that he will not be able to re-enter the United States. He hired a lawyer and has been trying to obtain citizenship for the past five years, to no avail.

“I’m a good person. I pay my taxes. I have my driver’s license. But, unfortunately, I’m never going to be able to go back to my country,” Torres Eliosa said.

When his grandparents passed away in Mexico last year, Torres Eliosa was not able to go back to mourn with his family and friends there.

“I’m just one of the many, many stories that needs to be shared,” he continued.

Long hours

At the May Day strike, other members of the crowd shared their own stories.

Rosa Torres came to the United States as a missionary from Mexico about three and a half years ago. She attended the strike with others from Our Lady of Peace Church in Turners Falls.

“They work hard,” she said of the many immigrants who come to the United States for a better life.

Torres said she knows immigrants from her church who work strenuous hours on the farm to support their families. Some of them leave the house at 5 a.m. and do not get home until 8 p.m., she said.

Torres said she hopes to help these immigrants, who are struggling to make a living in the U.S. “Do not be afraid and look for help,” she said. “We are here to help you; tell us what you need.”

Teresa, who did not want to share her last name, came from Springfield with her family to march in the strike. Teresa immigrated from Guatemala eight years ago and currently works on a farm.

“We’re here because the immigrant community is being threatened by mass deportation,” Teresa said.

“We’re upset that people are saying that we’re criminals, or bad for the country,” she added, through the help of a translator.

Torres Eliosa also said he wants to be helpful to those in the community.

“We’re just peaceful people who live a peaceful life,” he said.

— Since immigrating from Mexico 12 years ago, Leninn Torres Eliosa has worked to build himself a life in the United States. He learned English, got married and even obtained his driver’s license.

However, Torres Eliosa faces a big problem: he cannot visit his home country.

As an undocumented immigrant, Torres Eliosa marched with about 200 others in support of immigrant and workers’ rights at the May Day general workers strike. Organized by the Pioneer Valley Workers Center, the strike consisted of various events, including a march to City Hall at 1:30 p.m.

Standing in the crowd outside City Hall, Torres Eliosa told of the hardships he has encountered as an immigrant. On his shirt, he wore a sticker that read, “Same struggle, same fight, workers and immigrants unite.”

After coming to the United States, Torres Eliosa first settled in New Haven, Connecticut, where his cousin lived. There, he learned English through classes at Gateway Community College. He also met his wife and got his driver’s license in New Haven. Later, he moved to Arlington, Virginia.

A little over two weeks ago, Torres Eliosa and his wife moved to Northampton, close to his wife’s job at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Although his wife is a citizen, Torres Eliosa is still fighting for his citizenship.

“I know the struggles people go through as immigrants,” he said.

Because he does not have documentation, Torres Eliosa cannot visit Mexico, for fear that he will not be able to re-enter the United States. He hired a lawyer and has been trying to obtain citizenship for the past five years, to no avail.

“I’m a good person. I pay my taxes. I have my driver’s license. But, unfortunately, I’m never going to be able to go back to my country,” Torres Eliosa said.

When his grandparents passed away in Mexico last year, Torres Eliosa was not able to go back to mourn with his family and friends there.

“I’m just one of the many, many stories that needs to be shared,” he continued.

Long hours

At the May Day strike, other members of the crowd shared their own stories.

Rosa Torres came to the United States as a missionary from Mexico about three and a half years ago. She attended the strike with others from Our Lady of Peace Church in Turners Falls.

“They work hard,” she said of the many immigrants who come to the United States for a better life.

Torres said she knows immigrants from her church who work strenuous hours on the farm to support their families. Some of them leave the house at 5 a.m. and do not get home until 8 p.m., she said.

Torres said she hopes to help these immigrants, who are struggling to make a living in the U.S. “Do not be afraid and look for help,” she said. “We are here to help you; tell us what you need.”

Teresa, who did not want to share her last name, came from Springfield with her family to march in the strike. Teresa immigrated from Guatemala eight years ago and currently works on a farm.

“We’re here because the immigrant community is being threatened by mass deportation,” Teresa said.

“We’re upset that people are saying that we’re criminals, or bad for the country,” she added, through the help of a translator.

Torres Eliosa also said he wants to be helpful to those in the community.

“We’re just peaceful people who live a peaceful life,” he said.

 

By | 2017-05-10T12:10:25+00:00 May 10th, 2017|Peace and Justice|0 Comments

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