The only reason why I am now in this country legally is because my mother stayed in an abusive relationship.
In my teens, I could not understand why she couldn't just leave. Why did she have to stay with a pinche, pasmado, idiota, baboso, hijo de la gran chingada?
She deserved so much better. She had survived much worse things than his anger and control. Why couldn't she see that she was worthy of more and that having a husband who didn't beat her was simply not enough.
My mother would say that a lot. "At least he doesn't beat me. He's a hard worker and he has provided so much for us. And don't forget the papers."
"Si, don't forget los papeles." How could I forget? They hovered over me like a carrot stick in front of a donkey for years.
Why did she stay with man who was molesting her daughter? For the pinche papeles. The ever elusive green card that I would not have today if I had not endured years of abuse. A small prize to pay for U.S. citizenship.
And yet, she saved me. In these times of immigration panic and hostility, my mother's sacrificial offering of my innocence to the bureaucratic gods is what helps me survive.
I have a driver's license to drive the car that I bought because I got it financed at the dealership where they asked for my social security number.
I am able to work to pay the loan on the car because I have a green card and a social security number that I got because my mother stayed with the man who molested me.
One of the 100 citizenship questions that I may be asked is, "Who said, 'Give me liberty or give me death.'"
I guess my mother chose a little bit of both because I think she died a little every time she told me to hang on a little longer.
"Just until the papers are filed," she would say to me when things got rough and I wanted to run away from home.
Just a little longer for liberty.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org