Many thanks to my friend Gabriela for passing along this excellent article about motherhood and immigration from The Mothers Movement Online:
Motherhood and immigration are intertwined. Some mothers leave their countries and their families for a better life for their children. Some come here seeking a better life, have children, and face all the challenges of being split-status families. Some stay behind, and only dream visions of what their children may experience so far from home. Yet the story of immigration, and the policy debates now circling around the topic are strikingly gendered, and ignore the reality of mothers and their children. So too do the writings and public conversations on motherhood often exclude the stories of immigrant mothers.
When I think about the scene from Maria Full of Grace, I am filled with a profound sense of admiration and wonder at the sacrifice of so many immigrant women who risk so much to make a better life for their children. My clients (and friends) escaped war, crossed the Mexican desert for days with little water or food, some pregnant or with children in tow, all for a dream. Hoping to piece together economic survival for themselves and their children, they escaped Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union via marriages to abusive U.S. men. Some found themselves in situations of modern day slavery or labor exploitation. Like Maria in that pivotal scene, they face the absolute unknown, many lacking the language or any economic or social supports, with the conviction that the possibility of providing their children with basic needs and education was worth the risk.