“Are you from outer space?” 11-year-old Johnny asked little Pablo.
“Outer space? I don’t think so … I’m from another country though!” he explained.
“Hmm. Well my momma calls your kind ‘illegal aliens.’ So I thought you came from space and not Earth.”
“No,” Pablo replied in his Spanish accent, “I come from Mexico alright.”
“I’ve heard your people are criminals. Is that true? What did you do to get into trouble?” Johnny asked, more curious than ever.
“Well, we’re considered criminals, but not all of us are bad people. In fact, most of us come in peace. We’re just looking for a better life, and this country seemed pretty promising.”
“Johnny,” Pablo called out to his friend “I know what you’re thinking, and I can promise you that me and my family aren’t bad people.”
Pablo raised his pinky finger for his blond buddy.
“I trust you Pablo.” Johnny said as he wrapped his pinky around his tan-skinned friend’s and shook it. “I’m still curious though. Why did you and your family come here? What’s so promising about the U.S.?”
Pablo frowned a little at the question. “Why did we come here?” he thought. “What do mi Padre and Madre always say? It’s complicated—even I don’t fully get it. But mi madre says someday I will. For now, though, just look at us like the Monarch butterfly.”
“Aren’t they the ones who migrate every year?” Johnny asked.
For a couple of minutes, Johnny and Pablo swung on the swings at the park in silence. Then Pablo spoke up.
“Do you know why Monarch butterflies migrate from their homes?”
“Well, that’s easy—to avoid the cold weather,” Johnny responded.
“Correcto,” said Pablo. “But why would Monarch butterflies make such a risky journey when not everyone may make it? What would happen if Monarchs never traveled away from home?”
“Umm … Well, if they don’t migrate, then won’t they … die?” he said, stumbling on his words.
Pablo nodded, giving his friend a sad smile. “Just like my kind.”
That is the harsh reality.
Just like the Monarch butterfly, immigrants are guaranteed death if we choose not to leave. Our country may be beautiful, but deep inside its walls is the horrifying truth only a few can avoid.
That’s why I’m here. My parents came to the U.S. so I could eat, sleep and live where danger is diminished.
But as I grew up, I came to realize that I was still viewed as a “criminal.” No matter how good my English gets, or how many times I act more American, I’m still not wanted here.
But what choice does the Monarch butterfly have but to leave for a more promising world?
Only the Monarch can choose her destiny—and it’s up to her to choose wisely.