Plenty of things forced my father to leave Mexico. He was born in an adobe home into a poor family in Mexico, the eldest of seven children. He was charged at age 10 with providing for the family alongside my grandfather so he dropped elementary school and picked fields instead. He sold candy and shined shoes in the park in worn out second-hand sneakers.
My father decided to hop on a freight train, leave his family, his home, and all that was familiar to him behind in Mexico to emigrate to the United States. He was afraid, he says, not just of the perilous journey but also of his arrival and the new world that awaited him on the other side of the border, ‘en el otro lado.’ But he got on the train anyway, on the side of a grain car precariously positioned above the steel wheels on the rails because he needed to get to the other side, desperately.