“I always wanted to make my mother proud,” says IIBA client Antonio Rojas. This desire became his guiding principal when Antonio left his home in Mexico, a twelve-year-old setting out on his own, seeking a better life in the United States.
“My mom was a single mother, always working to try to support her kids. She had a rough life. I wanted to make something better happen for myself, my mother, brothers and sisters.” At such a young age, Antonio “didn’t know if there was something better,” but he recalls, “I felt like where I was and what I had–it wasn’t right.”
A child immigrating alone faces seemingly insurmountable challenges, but Antonio reminded himself, “If I do this, it will make my mother proud. That’s what kept me going. I was always trying to become a better person.”
In 1986, fourteen years old and working on a ranch in Lyford, Texas, Antonio learned that the Immigration Reform and Control Act had passed, granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants. Initially Antonio’s application for permanent residency was denied because “the person who interviewed me didn’t believe my story, because I was so young.” But the ranch owner wrote a letter on Antonio’s behalf, helping him obtain legal status.
Years later, when Antonio sought legal assistance to become a U.S. citizen, he was discouraged by what he found. “It’s very hard for people in our community to get help. I saw a lot of people taking advantage, charging high prices, asking $5000 to $7000 for a retainer just to get started. They say they’re trying to help, but what kind of help is that? We come to a different culture and into a new world with all the struggles that brings. It adds insult to injury.”
At IIBA, Antonio noticed a difference. “I was treated helpfully, with a smile. The fees are reasonable. The staff made the whole thing so simple. They told me everything I needed, they filled out the paperwork and that was that.” Soon after he gained full citizenship, with IIBA’s assistance, Antonio helped his mother obtain residency. Now she shares in the better life she inspired Antonio to create.
Antonio recommends IIBA to all his friends. “When you go other places, you get surprises. But you can trust IIBA.”