Rafael Blanco © 2013
These are the personal recordings of Alma and Ramiro's memories. They crossed the border when they were six and seven years old. These are their life stories, their voices and their identities.
Beyond the borders of the United States lies an immense taboo created out of 'invisible workers'. The fragile situation is a consequence between the Latino struggle of illegally crossing and their adaptation among Americans. Living in 'el Norte' is a project that has been created as a consequence of my own experience through interactions that made me realize the seriousness of the situation. Today, i stand as an outside viewer in the middle between illegal immigrants trying to find a better life for their family, and the American citizens that want to protect their country from danger and criminality.
Alma and Ramiro represent a new generation of illegal immigration that never chose to cross because of their early age. Their families, in seek of prosperity, decided to cross the desert that separates 'el Norte' (United States) with Mexico. Few families usually succeed getting the US residency, some die along the way, but the majority live among us as illegal citizens. Through the paintings and recordings of Alma and Ramiro's personal experiences, I endeavored to bring a human perspective and I seek for people to view them as what they are, human immigrants.
"Finally after the third attempt, we were able to cross into 'el Norte'. I was seven years old. Even though I have spent most of my life here, I'm still not allowed to obtain a driver's license, social security, bank account, and what is most important, a legal job."
After more than twenty years, Alma is still undocumented. She has been arrested several times and has been to the edge of being deported. 'La Migra' (immigration and Customs Enforcement) let her stay at the very last minute because her kids were born on U.S. soil. Alma currently lives in Fresno CA with her family and keeps working undocumented.
"I remember seeing people moving and hiding in the distance. We were sitting behind the bushes for hours. Then a helicopter patrol flew by. Unconsciously, I stood up pointing at the light. I was excited, I have never seen one of those 'lights' in the sky before, I was only six. My grandma pulled me down desperately. The light became bigger and bigger until we were able to see our long cast shadows on the sand. The helicopter was right on top of us. until today, I still believe we were extremely lucky; the let us go."
After crossing with her grandmother and younger brother, Ramiro reunited with his mother on the other side of the border. After high school Ramiro enlisted in the military right before September 11. He ended up fighting for the U.S. military in the 82nd Airborne Paratroopers in Baghdad, Iraq. Ramiro currently lives in Reno NV, and is about to graduate from his Bachelors in Psychology.