Keila Gomez

I grew up with my family straddling the border with one foot in Brownsville, Texas and the other in Matamoros, Tamaulipas. My paternal grandfather was a Mexican Citizen who joined the U.S. Army and fought in the Korean War. Later, after earning his U.S. citizenship, he worked on the puente of the International Bridge collecting tolls from border crossers, but kept his small ranchito outside of Matamoros that we visited on weekends and for family gatherings.

My maternal grandmother, also a Mexican citizen, had some of her 14 children in Brownsville and some in Matamoros. Her husband was a migrant worker, and rather than give birth alone when he was out of the state, she would go back home to Matamoros to be with her parents for those births. As a result, my aunts and uncles have a wide variety of immigration statuses in the United States. Migration and fluid binationality are concepts that shaped my youth and I took the ease of it all for granted. Then in 1993, when I was about 11 years old, things began to change.