The following is an excerpt from the book, What It’s Like to Grow Up Unfiltered: The Story of the Children Who Came to America by Mireia Sanchez, and it describes how she grew up undocumented, and the experiences of her friends and family.
In the summer of 2012, I was visiting my sister in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona.
She was born in Mexico, and I knew she was going to be a Mexican American.
I didn’t know any Mexican kids.
She didn’t speak Spanish.
Her dad didn’t have a driver’s license.
I was very happy to see her and I thought she was very smart, so I knew that she had a good chance to be an immigrant someday.
And I was glad to be there, and she had friends, and we started hanging out.
But the summer that I spent there, I wasn’t even born in the country.
My dad went back to Mexico in the summertime, and he didn’t come back to Tucson until he was 16.
I was in a dorm room in Tucson, and in the dorm room was my mom, and her mother, and my two brothers.
We had just gotten a lot of money for our college education, so we had this lot of space.
We were all very poor.
I would always see my mom and my sister and my brother playing outside.
And she would always be telling us to go play outside and she would say, ‘Go outside and play outside with your mom and sister.’
And she didn’t care about us.
So we played outside with our mom and we would play, and that was it.
That’s how we started playing.
I started playing with my brother, who was six or seven, because he was a good kid.
And my mom told me, ‘Don’t play with your brother.
Play with me.’
And so I started playing and playing, and then my brother started to play.
I started to talk to him, and when I started talking to him he started to tell me stories, and all of a sudden I started asking him about his life.
I would ask him, ‘How old were you when you got here?’
And he would say he was 10.
I said, ‘You were in sixth grade, 11 years old?’
He said, Oh yeah.
And then I started telling him about my mom.
And he said, Yeah, I grew up in Mexico.
I had a mom who was undocumented.
And we started talking about my parents, my family.
He told me about his parents, and his mom was in the kitchen, and you can see her in the pictures.
And it’s the first time I saw her when I was in elementary school.
I remember her mother’s face.
Her face was a little pale.
It was so pale, she didn`t have much skin, but she had that little smile.
And when she went in, she took us to the bathroom and I started crying.
And so, she gave me a glass of water, and gave me some water.
I asked her, ‘What are you doing?’
She said, You know, ‘I’m sorry, I have a headache.’
And I started sobbing.
I thought, You have to come with me.
And now, I knew something had to be done.
And what I needed to do was get my parents out of Mexico.
And in the meantime, I needed my mother and my siblings.
And that`s when I decided to get my sisters out of the country, too.
So that’s when I went to my grandparents.
And the first thing I told them, ‘Mama, my grandmothers are here.
And they are here to protect me.’
My grandmothers were so happy to help me.
She said they had already got my brothers, my sister, and me.
I wanted to know how my mother was going.
And all of the sudden, my grandfather came into the room, and said, My, you look really good.
You`re a very pretty little girl.
You know what?
My, my grandma`s here, too, but you are not.
My grandmother`s husband came and hugged me, and they had a big hug.
And as my grandmother went in to hug me, I said to my grandfather, ‘Grandma, my grandpa is here.’
And he went and hugged my grandmother.
My grandfather had a very beautiful face, and so did my grandmother, and as they hugged, my granddaughter said, They`re not the ones who should be here.
The ones who shouldn`t be here, the ones that should be deported.
And for the first two weeks, my grandparents were not home.
And because of my grandparents, they weren`t able to see my mother.
And two weeks after that, my mother went to Mexico, so that`ll be the end of my story.
When I came back to the United Sates, my parents and my sisters were all