As a legal assistant working for Bond Immigration Law in Dallas, Idalid Solórzano, 22, considers December to be a good month. Last December, she applied to the firm and got the job as an administrative assistant to help immigrants just like her.
Yes, she arrived in Texas in December 2000 at the age of seven as an illegal immigrant from Tuzantla, Michoacán, Mexico.
“I kind of always thought this was my home. America.” Solórzano, the middle child of nine siblings, said. “I would never be able to have this freedom if I lived in Mexico.”
The city of Tuzantla was rural, with no sidewalks and indoor bathrooms. Solórzano and her family lived in a house built by her father which also included an indoor bathroom which was rare in the city. School was optional because of the expense, but all of the Solórzano children attended.
They were considered fortunate by Mexican standards, but still poor.
“Everything was so open.” Solórzano said. “People were always coming in and out [their house] in Mexico. Everybody knew each other and we all went to church together.”
Michoacán was deemed the birthplace of the Mexico’s drug war. In 2014 the southwestern state received a 55 % increase in homicide in just one year.
In January of 2000, her father, mother and oldest siblings left for America for a better life. Solórzano and her two sisters stayed behind with their grandmother looking after them and almost 11 month later, the middle children joined their family in Dallas though the help of a family friend.
“I woke up and asked where are we? And someone said we’re in Texas now.” Solórzano said. “I guess they wanted to make sure I wasn’t awake and couldn’t open my big mouth.”
She enrolled in school a month later and in just six months, with the ESL classes along with saying the ABCs and watch English TV, Solórzano picked up English and began excelling in the classroom.
“I remember translating for my parents everywhere from the grocery store to school. If my dad wanted to argue about a penny, I had to argue about a penny. It was so embarrassing because you’re already an outsider.” Solórzano said. “I learned how to be self sufficient though. Mommy and daddy couldn’t help me with my homework and they couldn’t sit down with me and eat because they never had a day off.”
When the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Act passed in 2012 when Solórzano was a senior in high school who had been working full time, taking advanced classes, and playing volleyball. It was a relief for Solórzano and her brothers and sisters who were able to go get a social security number, driver’s license, and legally work in the U.S.
“I’ve paid my taxes since I was 16 by myself so it was like how can you take my money, but not acknowledge me as a person?” Solórzano said.
Solórzano now lives on her own in an apartment in Duncanville, Texas, and plans to enroll in community college in January. She wants to graduate from the University of North Texas and work in politics to make life better for other immigrants.
“My parents are warriors.” Solórzano said. “As much as I disagree with their family decisions, I as an adult can really be grateful for how much courage it must have taken these adult people leave all that they’ve known behind for the unknown, for the American dream.”