America: One Woman’s Second Love

Interview has been translated from Spanish.

Interview has been translated from Spanish.

Manuela Prado immigrated to the United States because she fell in love. Leaving her entire family behind in Peru, she moved to Queens, New York in 1982. Although she and her husband divorced, she found a new love. The name of her new love? America. She and her second love have been together ever since.

Why did you leave Peru to come to the United States?

I came in 1982 because I married a United States citizen. He was one of my friend’s brothers and he was from Peru. We got divorced when the kids were little. Alex was born in 1982 and Scarlet was born in 1984, so shortly after that. But he’s why I came.

How was your adjustment to this country?

I came with my residency. My husband filed spousal paperwork and I was able to come to this country in a few months. Nowadays, even if it’s a spouse, it takes much longer for someone to be able to immigrate from another country.

The food, the language, the culture was a shock for me. I lived in Queens when I first came here. It was hard, but it got easier when I learned English, which took me about a year and a half.

One of my first jobs in this country was working security at LaGuardia airport. Now I work in housekeeping. When we first came to this country, my husband was a building maintenance supervisor.

What are the most important election platforms for you?

I am invested in the economy, the jobs, immigration. Although I am not undocumented, I care about the fate of other people and their families. I never helped any of my family members come to this country because I was the youngest sibling, so my other siblings already had their lives settled with spouses, jobs and kids. My parents just didn’t want to leave Peru.

I don’t think any of them will ever want to come because they have such established lives. It was easier for me because I was young when I left.

Some of my friends are in the process of bringing family members over and they’re worried about Donald Trump becoming president because the immigration process will get more complicated. I’m worried for them. I also have some undocumented friends, so they’re worried about getting deported and I’m worried for them.

Did you particularly like any of the presidents?

I liked Clinton and Obama. Under Clinton, I think the economy was really great. With Obama, the poor guy came into office when the economy was going down, but I feel that he made it better. Although he wasn’t able to get much done with immigration, that’s partly the Republicans blocking him from doing a lot of things.

Who are you voting for?

I am voting for Hillary Clinton.

I don’t think Trump should be president because he didn’t pay taxes and he’s been bankrupt multiple times. If we don’t have a good president, the economy could go down. He also has a huge mouth. I’m scared his incendiary words will cause North Korea to attack us. His disrespect for women does not bode well. Whoever wins should also know how to address climate change.

Do you ever wish you had stayed in Peru?

I miss Peru because it is my home country, but I am happy I came to this country because I was able to give my family a good life. My son is a priest and my daughter is raising a family. I’m financially stable enough to help them and this country let me do that.

I think it was also easier for me because I came here when I already had all my papers. I didn’t have to go through the struggle of being undocumented. I would imagine that for undocumented people it is very difficult.

But it was still tough because in the ‘80s, discrimination was more outright. Sometimes, when I’d be waiting in line at a store, if someone white was behind me in line, they would get to go first just BECAUSE they were white. I feel like it’s improved, but there’s still a lot of discrimination.

Trump supporters send a negative message and it’s sad because this country was built on the backs of immigrants.

Despite some discrimination that’s been evident lately, I really love this country.


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