My Senior Year without my Mom

An update to Castro's continuing series "Build Bridges without Borders."

From+left+to+right%3A+The+author%27s+mom+Ana+Gonzalez%2C+dad+Alfredo+Lopez%2C+and+brother+Jenner+Castro%2C+pictured+in+her+mom%27s+house+in+Tijuana%2C+Mexico.
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My Senior Year without my Mom

From left to right: The author's mom Ana Gonzalez, dad Alfredo Lopez, and brother Jenner Castro, pictured in her mom's house in Tijuana, Mexico.

From left to right: The author's mom Ana Gonzalez, dad Alfredo Lopez, and brother Jenner Castro, pictured in her mom's house in Tijuana, Mexico.

Alondra Castro

From left to right: The author's mom Ana Gonzalez, dad Alfredo Lopez, and brother Jenner Castro, pictured in her mom's house in Tijuana, Mexico.

Alondra Castro

Alondra Castro

From left to right: The author's mom Ana Gonzalez, dad Alfredo Lopez, and brother Jenner Castro, pictured in her mom's house in Tijuana, Mexico.

Alondra Castro, Reporter

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Prom dress shopping, job searches, and graduation. This is just a quick list of milestones I was forced to complete on my own.

Since May 4, 2018, my mother has been in Mexico.  During our last interview in Ciudad Juarez to get our Permanent Residency, my brother and I were approved but my mother was denied. The issue was that she had encouraged minors to break federal laws by crossing the border illegally. So my dad, my brother and I returned home, to a house full of our belongings, yet without my mother.

My senior year has consisted of every couple of months, we pile into the car and make the three hour trip to Mexico to get the love and hugs that we crave from my mom. The rest of the time, it’s texts, phone calls and FaceTime sessions.

My mom is continuing her education and is making use of this time. She is currently studying to receive her license in massage therapy and is taking classes to improve her English.

My father continues to take care of an entire household on one paycheck. He keeps the family alive but has his struggles to pay the bills on his own as we continue to do our best to make the most out of our situation. He has become more involved with the church, which in turn has showed growth in his character.

Although a huge part of my life is still missing, I am doing my best ”

— Alondra Castro

This huge change in my life encouraged me to grow up and become more responsible. I got a job working as a parking attendant at Knott’s Berry Farm. I am finally learning the value of a dollar and hard work.

I am very happy to be able to contribute to my household giving both of my parents a part of each paycheck. It makes me feel very good knowing that I can handle my own expenses and it’s one more thing my dad doesn’t have to worry about. I have also volunteered to do some of the chores my mom was otherwise responsible for. I usually take charge over maintenance which includes cleaning up and taking care of pets, cleaning the kitchen, restroom and general living area.

Although a huge part of my life is still missing, I am doing my best to be independent and mature, this requires me to make some difficult sacrifices like having to stay home and work, while my dad and my brother go to Mexico.

Christopher Cornejo
The author, Alondra Castro, smiles for her Grizzly Gazette staff photo during her senior year. This photo was taken Oct. 29, 2018.

Even with the new busyness of a job and senior activities, I felt that the process about my mom was taking too long, so I decided to take matters into my own hands.

A couple of months ago, I contacted my U.S. Representative, Lou Correa, and asked for help. I was informed that they can assist with cases pertaining to the federal government, i.e. Immigration. I filled out a couple of forms and I am currently waiting on a response.  

It’s a lot of waiting.

My family also received notice that Immigration approved my mother’s updated packet, so now we are currently waiting on a new interview date. If all goes as planned my mom may be home sooner than we thought. Although we do not know for certain what the outcome will be, this has given us the hope.

I decided to continue my journey in education at Golden West College because I believe that the first free year will definitely be a huge financial help. I think it will also help to be prepared when I am ready to transfer to a university. I still have room to grow and GWC is the place to do it.

Graduation is next week and sadly, my mom will not be among the 1000s of parents, family and friends cheering for us. With help from my teacher who plans to FaceTime the ceremony, my mom can watch the ceremony. If that is not possible, my school district will stream it live.

As I finished writing this article, we finally had an update on my mom’s case: Her next interview is scheduled for November 2019.

With help from our lawyer, my dad worked hard to make sure that this time, my mom is granted her residency and can finally be reunited with us.

With fingers crossed, I hope to soon return to normal. I’ve missed normal.