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Mariana Aguilar: Protecting the Vulnerable

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"When you’re new to this country, you never know what will happen to you."

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I am Mariana Aguilar, and I am 43 years old. I have lived here in San Francisco for nine years. Why did I come to the United States? Because of a lack of economic resources, and so that I could have a better future and my family could get ahead. I am from Honduras, and I entered the United States through Phoenix, Arizona, then I arrived in San Francisco where I have a lot of family.

I had a business in Honduras, a pawnshop, but it fell through. I have three children and I want them to get ahead, and I want to give them a better future. It wasn't easy for me. I was unemployed for a year and a half and while looking for jobs I went to North Carolina, Virginia, Washington state, New York, New Jersey, but I came back to San Francisco because I simply couldn't find work. Being here in San Francisco I had the opportunity to work and to help my children get ahead, two of which, thank God, have finished high school.

We immigrants need documentation so that we can have better opportunities to find work. As immigrants we are useful in this country because they need us to do the jobs that other people who have better opportunities and are better prepared do not do. Some people think that we shouldn't be in this country, that we shouldn't come here because we are stealing jobs and that we are not what is best for this country. None of us is taking jobs from anyone. When one doesn't have papers, she never knows what will happen to her. People learn to live with this. I think that everyone tries to accommodate ourselves to different situations and circumstances. It is a constant struggle to overcome the fear, of many things, of the unknown.