The Broken Promised Land

Mexican women crossing the border find themselves scared and alone in a new land. Now there is one place they can turn for help.

Seated around the table in the parent center at Lassen, the women share nostalgic stories.

"I haven't seen my family in eight years," Mari says. "For me, this is my second family. I decided to make my own family."

Mari says the first time she crossed, the coyote left her and her husband in the desert in the middle of June. They walked for more than 12 hours without stopping, and Mari lost her baby. Mari says the difficulties she had getting here are the reason she doesn't go back.

After watching a video about illegal immigration, Virgie Estrada leads a group discussion about each woman's passage to the U.S.
photos by Paolo Vescia
After watching a video about illegal immigration, Virgie Estrada leads a group discussion about each woman's passage to the U.S.
Ana Maria Branham, HIV/AIDS educator for the county gives a presentation to the group about safe sex.
Paolo Vescia
Ana Maria Branham, HIV/AIDS educator for the county gives a presentation to the group about safe sex.

Most of the women agree they had no idea how difficult it would be to get here. They also agree that they will always consider themselves Mexican -- even if they never leave the United States. For all, being in this group has been an awakening.

"It's like going into a dark room and lighting candles," Angelina Lopez says. "We are learning to be ourselves and not hide."

Estrada sits at the head of the table and surveys the room.

"Are you saying you have a voice now?" She asks.

Heads nod.

From the back of the room, one of the older women speaks up.

"We're not hens anymore," she says. "We can be eagles."

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