La migra

Back of the Yards, Chicago, Illinois

Nothing scares an undocumented Mexican more than the words “la migra.” Immigration agents seem to pop up out of nowhere and roundup illegal aliens at their place of employment. As a warning, someone will shout, “¡la migra!” But sometimes, they mistakenly pickup legal aliens and citizens by mistake. This happens all the time.

When I was about ten, I was in charge of making sure that my brothers and I walked home safely after school while my mother was at work. Most days this was an easy task. However, other days, we would walk our separate ways and meet up at home within a half-hour. We were always home together before my mother returned from work. Usually, we did this when we wanted to walk home with friends from our class, or occasionally, when we were mad at each other and didn’t want to talk to each other. My three brothers and I would form different alliances depending on who was mad at whom. One of the most bitter was the one that pitted the Americans against the Mexicans. There were four of us: David Diego, Daniel, Diego Gerardo, and Dick Martin, in order of birth. Guess which brother was born in Mexico! That’s right, Diego Gerardo was born in Mexico. All because my mother insisted on going to Mexico while she was nine months pregnant even though everyone warned her not to do it. And my father Diego finally had a son named after him.

Anyway, when brother Diego would get mad at us, he would exclude himself from us because we were American and he was Mexican. He would proudly remind us that he was born in Mexico during these arguments. It was after one of these arguments after school that he walked off alone away from us. Well, I started to get worried when he didn’t return home within a half-hour. I went out looking for him, but I couldn’t find him at his usual hangouts.  I knew my mother would be furious when she came home.  Well, she came home and Diego still wasn’t home. She didn’t explode like I had expected, but she made me go with her and look for Diego everywhere. We looked for about an hour and still didn’t find him. We returned home to take a little break. While there, we heard a knock on the door. Two immigration agents were at the door with my brother. They had mistakenly picked him up after school. My mother explained to them that he was a legal resident and showed them the documentation to prove it.

Well, it turns out that the agents drove up alongside Diego and asked him where he was born. Of course, he said, “Mexico!” proudly. They scooped him up into their car and took him into their office for further questioning. Of course, Diego was only about six at the time and he didn’t know his address. When no one called for him at immigration, the agents asked my brother to show them where he lived. That’s when we saw him at home again. Would you believe we never the the Mexican-American wars again? In fact, he never again bragged about being born in Mexico.