Things started changing for the better when he was able to get his documentation through an amnesty granted to Salvadorans based on the occurrences of the Civil War in the country. From this moment on, he was able to travel and was given the opportunity to find a stable job. He traveled back and was able to see his family. He expected to see El Salvador reformed when he went back because the war was coming to an end. Yet he remembers getting recruited for some time while he was there, despite holding a permanent resident status in the United States. “Ni con papeles uno podía andar tranquilo en su país porque seguían tratando de reclutarlo.” (Even with legal papers one could not walk freely in one’s country because they still tried to recruit you.)
In one of those trips my father met my mother. While they were childhood friends, my dad had never pursued any type of relationship. Yet in that particular trip he began courting her and this marked the beginning of their long-term relationship. He stayed in contact through letters, telephone calls, and occasional visits until they finally married. My dad then made sure to fill out the necessary paper work that allowed him to bring her into the U.S with the proper documentation. She was able to obtain her residency as well. Since then they have been together and have formed a family made up by my two siblings and myself: Kimberly (age seven) and Jose (age fourteen). Even through all the sacrifices that he incurred to be here and to get the stability he has desired, he can now say that he is reaping the benefits.
He would say that the biggest accomplishment he has achieved by coming to this country is his ability to provide for his father in El Salvador and for his children in the U.S. Many times he has spoken fondly of his ability to aid in the reconstruction of his father’s house and his support of my grandfather’s milpas. During our interview, when asked if that was he was most proud about, he gave me an unexpected answer. He told me that his proudest memories have constituted his fatherhood. He tells me that all his sacrifices have been worth it because he has been able to give my siblings and I a better life than he had. He has always made sure that we have everything that we need even if it means sacrificing himself to do so. “Ya que yo no pude superarme que por lo menos ellos si puedan.” (Since, I was not able to better myself in my country I want them to be able to.)
He has also been adamant in our upbringing to maintain certain values that he has made sure to instill in us, such as the respect for one’s families and to maintain our Salvadoran roots because it still does make up our culture. If one sees our family when the Selecta (Salvadoran soccer team) plays then one would not be surprised that he has done a good job at keeping our household running with traditions. We all sport the jersey and wear the flag’s colors