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Dreams Deferred

A real-life look into the path to citizenship


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(page 4 of 4)

Tijuana’s hills grew in the distance. The border drew closer. LAST USA EXIT, the signs warned. As they got closer to the San Ysidro crossing, Carolina’s boyfriend turned down the music, afraid of what would happen if he missed his turn.

It was a Sunday in late July. They’d come for a protest. For the first time since crossing north in 2001, Carolina and Diana were returning to the border, close enough to see the country they’d left.

There it was. A Mexican flag flew high. The rusty border fence snaked up the hills. People streamed in. Diana and Carolina watched them walk through, feeling a twinge of jealousy. “For one second,” Carolina says, “it would’ve been nice to imagine that I could cross that border and come back.”

Diana hadn’t known what to expect. She’s seen the border in her dreams. It didn’t look like that, the smoggy chaos of two countries smashing together at San Ysidro.

In her dreams, she’s been in Mexico, sometimes at her childhood home. In one, she’s trying to cross into the United States. The port of entry is calm, just a few people milling. But something’s wrong: she can’t get back in.

In another, she’s with her mom in Mexico. An aunt has passed away. It’s a manifestation of a fear she lives with, that family there will die and she won’t be able to attend their funerals. She’ll wake with a shock.

But often, she’s just back south of the border, spending time with her family, living a life that doesn’t exist any more.

“Those are definitely not nightmares,” she says. “They’re nice dreams.”

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