My family came to America in the early 20th century. My great grandpa came here in the early 1920’s from Salamanca, Mexico. He was probably in his 20s, but he didn’t have a visa or anything; he was undocumented. In the 1930’s he was able to obtain a green card, so he came to Rock Island to work for the Rock Island Railroad Company. I didn’t know him super well; he was obviously much older when I was younger. I remember him being bent over at a 90-degree angle from all those years bent over nailing in railroad posts. My great grandma had a different green card than he did, and she went back and forth a lot. She actually had kids in America and in Mexico. Sometime in the 1950’s they were able to obtain citizenship.
If you look at other family’s immigration stories, typically the first generation comes here and it’s like, ‘assimilate, assimilate, assimilate.’ Then with the second generation, there’s a disconnect, and then it’s the third generation asking why that is. I think that’s what happened with my grandparents, because they spoke English at home. It’s funny because my dad is very dark, and people will come up to him and just start speaking Spanish to him, but he doesn’t know Spanish! Then there’s me over here wondering why we are like this. It’s so interesting to look back at generations and see how assimilation, in all aspects of immigration, is a huge part of it.