My brother (17 years old then) and I were smuggled across the US-Mexico border 10 years ago. We walked through the desert for two days and had to spend a night on the dessert floor with nothing but the clothes we were wearing. I went to high school in upstate New York, then attended Cornell University. I received my BA in Science and I am currently working at a biomedical lab. I have been a legal US resident for the past four years and I am currently in the process of becoming an US citizen. My Cornell ID: My Penn ID:

Comments: 1546 • Responses: 30  • Date: 

Smasher123480 karma

What is your response to people who would tell you and your brother that you should have waited in line like everybody else? That they don't hate illegal immigrants, that they just wanted you to do it legally and felt it was unfair you were able to get here quicker and easier than others?

Note: I do not feel this way.

angeloax146 karma

We crossed the border out of necessity and to pursuit a better life. If we wanted to apply for a visa from Mexico to the United States we would have probably never got it. Visas to the United States from Mexico are mostly granted to people that are in a better economic status than the rest of the Mexican people, and that's to ensure they won't overstay their visas in the United States. People that cross the border illegally are mostly poor and they seek a better life here. My situation is definitely not common for people that have crossed the border illegally. For instance, my brother is still illegal. I do acknowledge that for some people that have been waiting for years to come to the US the legal way, my situation can be seen as unfair. However, ever since I came to the US I have worked my ass off for everything I have accomplished.

TerezkaM56 karma

How did you get registered in high school if you didn't have any papers?

angeloax72 karma

It was a very simple process. You only had to provide some sort of proof of resident to establish if you are living in the school's district. Letters sent from Mexico to me were enough. But that was back then, I am not sure what the process is now.

U-bot49 karma

Do you pay taxes?

angeloax162 karma

Yes, ever since I came to the US I paid taxes every year. I did it mostly because I knew if I ever had a change of becoming illegal, it would look good if I paid taxes. However, after I got married and I applied to become a legal resident, none of that matter. But it doesn't bother me at all and it makes me feel good that I paid my taxes.

the1904kid19 karma

How did you pay taxes without a SSN? I am making the assumption you did not have a valid one.

angeloax87 karma

If you don't have a SSN, the goverment gives you a Tax ID number that you can use when you pay your taxes. The number is not a SSN.

muchosuspicioso35 karma

As a native born US citizen, I offer you a belated welcome to our country. I hope your US citizenship is cherished by you as much after acquisition as mine has been, since I realized how exceptional this country is.

angeloax62 karma

The US is truly an exceptional country, full of opportunities for those who work hard. I will cherished my citizenship and try my hardest to be a productive citizen.

freemarket2725 karma

Do you feel you have abandoned your people, your country? Mexican society would benefit a great deal from contributions by people with your education, no?

angeloax71 karma

In a way I do feel guilty for not going back and use my education to better Mexico. However, my ultimate goal is to go to medical school (hopefully next year) and do the doctors without borders program. That way I can use my training to help people in Mexico (and not just Mexico, but wherever I can) in a more direct way.

ayyyyyyyyyy22 karma

Where did you enter? CA, AZ, NM, TX?

How did you get up to NY?

How did you become a legal resident?

angeloax47 karma

We crossed to Arizona from a Mexican town called Nogales, Sonora. From there we were driven in the back of a minivan to California along with other eight other people. We had to be on our knees for the whole ride in fear the police would notice a bunch of Mexican being driven from a border town to California and get stopped. From there, we took a flight to New York (this was before 9/11 so they didn't require a government ID to board the plane). I became a legal resident by marrying my gf from high school. She is a white American.

EccoPlexx37 karma

Most people in this country don't know that this is pretty much the ONLY WAY to become a legal citizen-marry a citizen- Is not like a person can walk up to an immigration office and they'll give you a green card.

Angeloax you are EXTREMELY lucky.

angeloax33 karma

Trust me, I think that every day!

officialdovahkiin14 karma

Did you marry her just for the green card, or was that not a contributing factor?

angeloax36 karma

We married earlier because of the green card but we always knew we wanted to get married. We started dating in school and then we stayed together through college even though she went to a different college.

RenoSoulHugger10 karma

Are you and the lady still toghether?

angeloax21 karma

Yes we are still together.

tacocatism15 karma

How do you get by needing your social security # for filling out college registration paperwork?

angeloax16 karma

When you pay taxes, if you don't have a SSN, the government gives you a tax ID number. A lot of people use this tax ID number instead of a SSN, that's what I used until I got my permanent residency.

fasulo_15 karma

How did you support yourselves? How much did it cost to cross and get transport? What does your brother do? Did many Americans in your community know about your status? Did you feel discriminated against in HS, applying for college, college, job market?

Did you work through Hs/college? Did you have a fake SSN? What do you think about American immigration policy? Do you have family back in Mexico? Where in Mexico are you from? Do you send money back?

You said you got married, then why are still waiting to be legal?

angeloax21 karma

We started working at different jobs as soon as we got to NY. We worked at restaurants washing dishes. We also did landscaping. We worked at groceries stores. We have some family in NY, that's why we went there in the firs place so during school we only worked part time. My brother went to college to study architecture. He graduated from college but he is still illegal. He works in construction now since he can not do what he went to college for without proper documentation. A very small amount of people know I was illegal. Nobody knew in high school besides my gf, now my wife, but I think they were able to figure out pretty easily. High school was rough. The high school we attended were mostly upper middle class kids so it was very hard to befriend anyone. I mostly kept to myself, however I was in the wrestling and football team (not soccer, but I should had join the soccer team) and that helped me acclimate a little better, specially towards my senior year. College was a lot better than high school. But there were a lot of things I missed out because I didn't have my legal papers. I couldn't work at a lab so my resume lacked a lot of experience when I graduated. Besides that, I couldn't join my friends on spring break because I couldn't travel to Cancun or wherever they went and had to work my ass off during breaks to get extra money. I worked all the way through high school and college. I did have a fake SSN card and a green card. It was very easy to get them, however they totally look fake so employers knew you were illegal right away. My mom is here in the US now. My whole extended family is back in Mexico. I do not send any money back. I became legal my senior year of college (permanent resident). I am in the process of becoming a citizen now.

bob7up14 karma

What was the hardest/most dangerous part about getting in to the US?

angeloax28 karma

Crossing the desert. My brother and I had to carry a gallon of water for a trip that according to the smuggler was only a few hours. The half day trip turned into a two days deal because we had to stop every hour or so to avoid the border patrol. We had to spend the night on the dessert with no sleeping bags or anything but the clothes we were wearing. Needless to say, my brother and I did not sleep at all mostly because we were worried about fire ants (my brother is extremely allergic to fire ants and we didn't have any allergy medication with us). We finished our water the first day, we weren't planning on taking longer than a day, so for the second day we were without water for hours until we reached a water station set by help groups. We walked for a few more hours until we reached a dirt road. There we waited until dark for the minivan to pick us up.

frizz111112 karma

Cornell offers a Bachelor of Arts in science? Or do you mean Bachelor of Science? If so what exactly was your major?

angeloax9 karma

Yes I meant Bachelors of Science. My major was Human Biology

WithShoes11 karma

This is my moment! My leading question is, are you impressed with my Halloween costume from last year?

My costume

His Penncard for reference

angeloax5 karma

very nice

collegeguy2111 karma

I work in an Immigration Law Office and am a little skeptical about your AMA. Would you mind telling us what form you filled out to become a citizen, what form you filled out to get work authorization, where the Immigration Office you sent your paperwork to is located? Not trying to be a jerk, but just want to verify.

angeloax10 karma

I filled out form N-400 to become a citizen. I had my biometrics done about a month ago and I am currently on line for my interview to be scheduled. The field office my form is being process is in Philadelphia. However, it was first sent to the Dallas lockbox for its initial review. As for the permanent resident process, we filled out forms I-300 and I-485. I don't recall what form was filled out for the work authorization, this was all done with a lawyer. If you are skeptical about my process and how I got my papers in order even if I enter the US illegally, I don't remember the exact details, but what I can tell you is that I was able to apply because my mother was petitioned by my grandfather (my grandfather is a permanent resident for many years) and my mom put the name of her sons on the paper work. If it wasn't because of that, even if I got married to an US citizen I wouldn't had been able to become a legal resident. Hope that helps and if you need more proof I can try to do my best.

GeneralCortex10 karma

I haven't seen anyone else ask, so I will!

What research are you currently working on?

Are you simply working in the lab, or are you currently getting your masters?

-Sincerely, a bsc student

angeloax16 karma

The lab does SIV and HIV research. We are currently working on developing a cure for SIV, among other projects. I am a research assistant. I wanted to work on a lab before deciding between grad school or med school

GeneralCortex3 karma

Very very cool. Could I ask about how this cure works?

What are your thoughts so far on working in the lab? Did you do any undergraduate research?

Next semester I will get my first taste of life in a real lab. I'm working with one of the chem professors to test a drug that if successful would be a preventive measure for Alzheimers.

I can't imagine myself going to med school, so I suppose I'm really looking forward to seeing whether or not I want to pursue a research based career, or whether I should get a masters in engineering.

angeloax6 karma

We are designing antibodies against different proteins. We have a cocktail of antibodies that we think it is going to work so right now we are experimenting on delivery methods. We are looking into RNA based, gene therapy and direct injection of antibodies. I love working at the lab. It is so stimulating working with extremely intelligent people. Because I couldn't do work study I wasn't able to do research during my undergrad. I hope you like the lab and good luck on whatever you decide to do.

npastore7768 karma

How do you feel about illegal immigration into the United States? Do you think your success is a result of your experience or despite it?

angeloax27 karma

I tend to steer away from talking about illegal immigration with my friends, or pretty much everyone else. But it is a extremely complex global problem. Americans don't seem to realize the effects this country's decisions have on other country's economy. For example, when NAFTA (North American Fair Trade Agreement) was signed, the US was actually sending cheap subsidized corn to Mexico that put a lot of Mexican farmers out of work because they couldn't compete with the cheap prize. I know this because my grandfather was directly affected by this. Along with cheap corn that Mexican farmers couldn't compete with, other problems came along with it. Problems like big American companies like mosanto suing small farmers because their genetically modified corn mixed with their corn and they didn't have the right to grow this GM corn.

vkr1718 karma

Did you enjoy Cornell?

angeloax10 karma

It was the best time of my life so far. I met so many interesting people. It was an amazing experience, socially and intellectually.

emkat6 karma

What school are you working at now?

angeloax11 karma

University of Pennsylvania

valenluis6 karma

Felicidades desde México por tu esfuerzo y por haber logrado estar en una escuela de la Ivy League. PD: ¿De que parte de México eres?

angeloax7 karma


hom3lesshom3boy5 karma

If you weren't legal, would you consider applying under President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program? Why or why not?

angeloax7 karma

Absolutely. My situation was special, I already explained why in an above response. But if I wasn't able to become a legal resident through marrying an American Citizen then this act just passed by the Obama administration would had been my only solution.

Greellx4 karma

You know, I've never had any issue with immigrants except one. That so many never learn, or even try to really learn English. I lived in Texas for a while...and it's sad that Americans need to learn Spanish basically, because English is almost the minority language in some areas. I don't care if they come to this country, it's supposed to be the land of the free, after all, but at least try to learn that really asking so much?

You on the other hand, came over, and worked your way up, got an education (A good one at that!) and sound like you've done everything right! I hope becoming a citizen goes smoothly for you :) Kudos my friend!

angeloax5 karma

I agree with you. Regardless of how you came to this country I think you should learn English

Poofect3 karma

What is your advise to somebody who is going through the same thing? At some point in my life I realized that all my hard work is for nothing. Without a social security or any form of papers, it's just useless. It seems that no matter how hard one might work at the end of the day you are still illegal and you can't do anything with the title you get from a college or university.

I'm not saying that I'm not going to college or even giving it a shot but it seems to haunt me that the only way to become something of myself is by marrying somebody. However, I don't want to marry anyone for the sole purpose of papers. I want to marry somebody because I love her and it's the right thing to do.

What kept you going? And how did you handle the hard truth?

angeloax3 karma

Keep working hard and study even harder. I know it is extremely frustrating not being able to get beyond a certain point of success. My brother has a college degree but he is still illegal and does construction. There were many times when I thought all my hard work was going to be pointless. But for me, educating myself has always been a goal regardless of my status. I didn't marry my wife just so I could get my legal papers. We got married because we love each other. For me, I figured that only through being educated I can have the possibility of accomplishing great things. That's what kept me going. Even when I knew I wasn't going to be able to do much with it, I kept working hard.

Hardtorock3 karma

Are you ashamed of Mexico, and your heritage?

angeloax4 karma

It is a shame that Mexico doesn't have as great opportunities as the US does. I am not shame of my Mexican heritage. I think Mexico is a beautiful country but corruption, violence and drugs retard its progress.

Hezkezl2 karma

Why did it take you so long after you got here, to start the process of becoming a US citizen?

angeloax3 karma

You first have to be a legal permanent resident for three to five years before you can apply for citizenship. I've only been a legal permanent resident for four years.

Angelusflos2 karma

What grade level did you start here in States?

Did you have any knowledge of English before coming to America?

How were you able to pay for college? Did you qualify for any financial aid?

What did your parents do in Mexico and why did they decide to come to the US?

Thanks for the AMA!

angeloax6 karma

I did my whole high school here in the US. I did not know any English before I moved here. My freshman year in high school, I was not graded on any of my subjects. I was just required to attend my classes and try to pay as much attention as I could. I received several private scholarships that helped me pay for most of my tuition. I was not eligible for any federal aid, I needed a valid SSN to apply for federal aid. My mom was a social worker in Mexico. We decided to come to the US to pursuit a better life.