An Elderly Woman Is Going Viral After Her Heart Warming And Crushing Poem About Immigration Had Everyone Crying
A video of a woman in Los Angeles reciting her poem about her pride in being Mexican in the U.S. is quickly going viral with Latinx from every country showing their support for her words. The video was posted by Jerry Ulloa Zatarain on Facebook and at the start of it the woman insists that the man recording gets her name – Celia – so people know who she is as she stands on a street in Los Angeles to passionately present her words.
The viral video shows the elderly woman as she recites a poem about the history of Mexican immigration.
“Por que yo soy Mexicana dicen que yo soy illegal,” she begins. “pero si tu lees la historia esta es mi tierra natal.” This translates to “Because I am Mexican they say that I am illegal. But if you read the story this is my homeland.”
Her words ring true for Mexicans considering that before the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexico owned the land that later became California, Nevada, and Utah, and portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. The area was sold to the U.S. for $15 million and the treaty also officially recognized Texas as a U.S. state after it joined states in 1846.
The treaty also states that Mexicans could retain their lands and become U.S. citizens but over time they were stripped of more than nearly 20 million acres of land by businesses, ranchers, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture among others in power.
The powerful poem honors the immigration experience of Mexicans of the past, present, and future.
“Pero tu, gringo Americano, tu si eres ilegal, porque yo so Mexicana aqui me voy a quedar,” she adds. “Y aunque tu pongas la barda, yo me la voy a brincar por arriba, por abajo ni cuenta te vas a dar.”
These sentiments are shared by many young Mexicans and Mexican immigrants especially in light of the immigration crisis happening at the border. With the Trump administration going after undocumented immigrants and asylum seekers, these words are needed now more than ever. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2017 there were 4.9 million undocumented immigrants from Mexico in the U.S. but of the estimated 33 million Mexicans living in the U.S., 22.3 million were born in the U.S.
Long before Trump and his hateful rhetoric and border wall mongering there has been a wall (psychological and physical) separating the U.S. from Mexico. Border Patrol in the U.S. was established in 1924 and President Bill Clinton mandated the construction of a 13-mile wall between San Diego and Tijuana in 1993. By 2011, The Department of Homeland Security completed construction on 649 miles of barriers and for many, this is an affront to the beliefs that were part of the establishment of the United States. For Mexicans like Celia, it’s also a reminder of the land that once belonged to the indigenous communities that are now part of a country that is becoming more hostile to Mexican immigrants, undocumented or otherwise.
Later Celia adds that “el Mexicano no raja, el viene aqui a trabajar” (the Mexican does not crack, he comes here to work) which is a sentiment evident in the large number of farmworkers that come from Mexico, 68 percent to be exact. The need for farm workers is so dire that even the Trump administration conceded to the demands of farmers and streamlined the H-2A visa process that allows them to work legally in the U.S. There are 27.4 million immigrant workers in the U.S., which makes up 17.1 percent of the total number of workers (undocumented or not), according to a 2018 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But negative stereotypes and portrayals of Mexicans and immigrants in general as violent, lazy, and overall criminals persist. Studies consistently find that immigrants are less likely to be incarcerated than those born in the U.S. and the crime rate actually plummeted 45 percent between 1990 and 2010 even though the overall percentage of immigrants and the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. both increased sharply, reported the Anti-Defamation League.
“Dime gringo Americano, dime tu que haces aquí, si tu veniste de lejos,” Celia said. “Tu vienes de otro país, si el Mexicano es mojado, también tu lo eres aquí.”
The fact that the U.S. is a land founded by immigrants and that should continue to welcome immigrants stands in stark contrast to the current policies and the images of families in cages going without medical care or basic necessities on the border. About a month ago, a mural called “Chained Migration.” was revealed in Las Vegas showing the State of Liberty getting arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
For these reasons, Celia’s words have had a profound effect on those who have seen the nearly two-minute video on Facebook.
One commenter even translated the entire poem into English and many shared their own Mexican pride, thanking her for her words.
She closes the poem by saying, “Y si la migra me agarra, yo me vuelvo a regresar,” she said. ” y aunque los gringos no quieran, aquí me van enterrar.”
Celia’s words are filled with pride, passion, and defiance and in a time when the Latinx community seemingly spends more time than ever defending their rights it’s a good reminder to listen to the sage advice of our elders.