Growing up in Cholula, Puebla, México, Carolina Quiroz loved the outdoors.
“I used to be outdoors all the time—it was a beautiful place to live,” she said. “My life in México was great.”
The third child in a family of five, Carolina grew up in an extremely loving environment. Her father, who owned a public transportation business, made enough to allow Carolina’s mother to stay at home with their children. She recalls a joyful childhood filled with frequent family vacations and outings around town.
“I was lucky to be raised in a family that gave me everything I needed. I even managed to obtain my degree in anthropology from the Universidad de las Américas, Puebla (UDLAP) when I lived there.”
Love brought her to the United States.
As a teenager, she met and fell in love with her now-husband, Eulogio Mondragón. His hometown Michoacán, México offered few opportunities, so his experience working in agriculture drew him to the United States, where there were many opportunities for skilled laborers. At the age of 15 with one of his cousins, he crossed into the United States to build a better life for himself.
After spending a short time working as a dishwasher, he went to work on a cherry farm as a foreman in The Dalles, where he has worked ever since. Despite living a cherished life in México, Carolina was determined to follow her husband and help him start a new life in the States.
The couple settled in The Dalles, living on a beautiful cherry orchard where Eulogio works hard and Carolina has a rose garden.
The couple planned to stay in the United States for just a few years, earning enough
money to send back to Eulogio’s family in México, in order to help them buy a tractor and start a farm of their own. Then Mexico’s economy turned and prevented them from returning home.
In 1986, President Ronald Reagan signed an immigration reform law that allowed Eulogio to qualify for permanent residency. Carolina applied as well. She soon came to understand the many barriers the United States immigration system puts in place for immigrants.
“At the beginning of my transition to the U.S., it wasn’t too difficult,” she said. “I was able to get my immigration permit so I could stay in the country, but getting my green card was another story.”
It took 10 years and several thousands of dollars.
Still, Carolina recognizes she could’ve had it worse. “The current U.S. immigration system is so much more complicated than it used to be,” Carolina explained. “There is this myth that you need to get in line and do some paperwork. This couldn’t be further from reality. Most people have no idea.”
Sadly, even as a permanent legal resident Carolina’s experiences hostility from the U.S. immigration employees. “When I come back into the States, the way they treat me is just awful,” she says. “My kids get really upset because they are American citizens and see how poorly I am treated every time we go through immigration and customs.”
Despite this treatment, Carolina and Eulogio have made a life in Oregon. Carolina has taught Spanish as a second language and Spanish for native speakers since 2000 at The Dalles High School. She is grateful to live in a state that has common sense limits on local law enforcement spending their limited time enforcing federal immigration policies under a 1987 sanctuary law passed by the Oregon legislature.
Currently, Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which is identified by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a hate group,is collecting signatures to place a measure –Initiative Petition 22 (IP 22) – on the 2018 ballot, aimed at repealing Oregon’s 30-year-old sanctuary law.
“I see the impact this kind of hostility has on my students,” Carolina said. “It is very hurtful—no kid should have to worry about their family members being harassed just because they were born in another country.”
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