Former Board member Marta Torres tells her story
The idea of immigrating to the U.S. had never crossed my mind until my boyfriend who was living in California (he was Mexican, but U.S. born) asked me to marry him. But even then, I didn’t have any idea what I was going to experience. After we got married, I moved to Los Angeles with a temporary visa, then as soon as we had money, I had to apply for a Resident Card (or Green Card). I remember that for us it was expensive, almost $500, just to send the application to the INS, plus all the expenses of travel from L.A. to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and from there to El Paso, Texas. That was what we were required to do for me to get my Resident Card.
Another aspect that I never considered about immigration was the cultural difference and the immersion experience I would face. As a young adult I had lived always in my home town. I had always lived around my family, with my parents. I found so many cultural differences, but the most difficult thing to face was the fact that now I was going to live without my closest family, my friends; from language to new places, everything was new and different. In my little community everyone knew me; I was equal to everyone. I had a degree as a teacher, but in this new country I was nobody. My education didn’t count in the same way, and for the first time in my life I saw what discrimination was. People would see the color of my skin and assume they knew what I was just based on my appearance or accent.
I have been marred now for almost 21 years, and I have been a citizen since September 2008. I made the decision to start my citizenship process because as a Permanent Resident I had to renew my permit every 4 years and it became very expensive, around $1,600. In these 21 years I have learned to love my kids’ country. My husband and I have worked so hard to give our kids a great education and a better life. One of my personal goals since we moved to St Louis has been to continue my education. In March, I was finally accepted at St Louis University to do my master’s degree in Spanish. This is part of my American dream: one day I will have a Ph.D.in Spanish, and I will be teaching in the best University in the city.
Flavors of Home: Marta’s Hot Creamy Salsa
12 Serrano peppers (or jalapeños)*
1 garlic clove
½ medium onion
One hand full of cilantro
¼ cup of Olive oil
Salt to taste
How do you do it?
Get your blender clean and dry. Wash the peppers and the cilantro; dry them with a paper towel (they need to be really dry). Get everything except the oil in the blender. Start your blender on a low speed. Remove the knob from the center of the lid (or carefully open the lid a little) and start pouring the olive oil, little by little in a small stream, until you get a creamy consistency. Turn the blender off.
This hot sauce is good with white rice and any meat you want.
*Serrano peppers are usually spicier than jalapeños.
One of the MICA Project’s core principles is to operate as a grassroots community organization. Our Community Advisory Panel helps us do just that. The panel is made up of members of
immigrant communities from across our service area in St. Louis, southern Illinois, and southern Missouri. Members participate in a bimonthly conference call in which they share advice, opinions, and feedback with MICA Project staff.
During our first meeting, in Jan. 2013, the Panel shared the general needs of their communities. Through this discussion, the MICA Project has highlighted domestic violence as one of the areas in which to focus our educational presentations.
Our second meeting focused on the possibility of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. If a bill
passes through Congress, people will need accessible and accurate information. The Panel
discussed the best ways to reach people who might be eligible for legal status. We also talked about ways to educate people about notario fraud, a serious problem in which unlicensed
individuals provide fraudulent or inaccurate legal assistance.
The Community Advisory Panel plays a crucial role in focusing the MICA Project’s work in immigrant communities. If you or someone you know would like to participate, have them contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honors and Awards
The MICA Project has recently been recognized for the following honors and awards:
MICA Project was nominated for an Adelante Award from the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
Co-Directors Nicole Cortés and Jessica Mayo received the Gerry and Bob Virgil Ethic of Service Award for their efforts in founding the MICA Project