Beverly Hills Immigration Lawyers Scholarship 2018 – Winning Scholarship Essay

The Goldstein Immigration Lawyers is pleased to announce that we have chosen Karen Gallardo-Cano as the winner of our Beverly Hills Immigration Lawyers Scholarship 2018.  We were overwhelmed by the excellent applications we received for the scholarship, all of which evoked the struggles and challenges of the immigrant experience. Over 150 deserving students applied!

Karen Gallardo-Cano’s Winning Essay

Mama was stolen. I was only eleven, but I fully understood the words that Papa trembled: “La migra se la llevaron … y fue deportada.”

After dropping my siblings and me off at school that morning, my mother was picked up by immigration officers and deported. My father had a warrant out for his arrest and had to go into hiding immediately, for they’d be after him next. My siblings and I stayed behind as my father had given custody of us over to our neighbors to avoid separation and deportation. We struggled to see Papa once a week at a local gas station by night and struggled to survive without Mama’s loving warmth. Without our “padres” by our side, we only had each other’s sorrow.

We lived this lifestyle for three long months, dreaming of the day we would be reunited. On the phone, Mama reminded me that we would be together again and to remain strong, for this was only temporary, and our hearts would soon be filled by each other’s presence. I longed to see Mama and be by her side, but I chose not to join her because I could not leave my siblings, and if they went with me, they could not return, for they were undocumented. I am the only member of my family that is a U.S. citizen, but I lived as an immigrant on the tips of my toes in order to protect them. I remained aware of Mama and Papa’s words that “la migra” would come and take my siblings away, and that I would have to follow them to Mexico.

When Mama was deported, I found emotions that no child should ever experience. I was angered, heartbroken, lonely, and desperate to have my family together. Fortunately, that changed in November 2011 when a “coyote” smuggled my mother back into the United States. My family began the citizenship process with the help of attorneys, and by January 2014, my family was granted their VISA. Then, in 2018, my mother, father, and brother were granted their green card. After 20 long years, my family could never be torn apart again. I want to grant the joy I felt at that moment to other families like mine. Inspired by our attorneys’ work, I too want to be an empowered woman who fights for others. I am going to be an advocate for the undocumented and will bring awareness to the fear ICE brings to immigrants and their families. Although I am not an immigrant myself, the immigrant experience has determined my future career.