Freeway signs in and around Boyole Heights and East LA. Photos by Katlyn Valdez

Photo of Leon Arellano and family.
The Year was 1979 and Gloria was 9 months pregnant.
The Year was 1979.
Gloria had met a man who was a coyote and fell in love.
The Year was 1979.
Arellano was the coyote’s name and he loved her too.
In efforts to provide a better life he attempted to have her cross before she could give birth, however La Migra was policing desert lines.
The Year was 1979.
One attempt and she was arrested and deported. Dropped off and disappearing into the the Tijuana Barrio Skylines.
The Year was 1979.
Recalibrating strategies they both sought to try again.
Recalibrating strategies Gloria sought to dream again.
Recalibrating strategies Gloria stood pregnant in line.
Recalibrating strategies Gloria stood line to tell a lie, but La Migra was not having it. “Sorry ma’am if you do not have the documentation you can not cross this Line.”
The Year was 1979.
With labor pains in the air, there was no more time.
No money for a hospital, no free clinic at the time. All of this while the Tijuana Sky protected her try.
The Year was 1979.
Gloria and the coyote sought refuge. Labor pain seeking refuge in a Catholic church where all the nuns prayed and took care of children. Nuns; firmly stating we are god’s eyes. The nuns and church provided their support at her bedside. They lit candles, prayed, and gave her their time.
The Year was 1979.
Two days later, Leon was born. Gloria and the coyote Arellano gave thanks and had to leave the child behind only to then be able to cross, pick apples in Yakama, Washington, lettuce in the San Joaquin Valley, and she alone to return a year later to reclaim their son who spent his first years among candle prayers below the Tijuana Sky.
The Year was 1980.
A mother came back after not telling the coyote, snuck out at night, she traveled the miles, returned to Tijuana , and stood in line with her son.
The year was 1980.
Gloria told La Migra she got into a fight with her husband and he left her taking all of her documentation and needed to get back to the East Side .
The year was 1980.
And La Migra said, “Prove he is your son, nurse him while my hands and authority wonder freely amongst your flesh.
Prove it.
Prove it.
Prove it if you want to cross this line.”
The year was 1980.
And a mother did what any mother would do for her children, she sat there and sacrificed. Crucified on the borderline with tears in her eyes as she fought to feel nothing but the love of her child in arms. She stood there and was crucified.
The year was 1980, and now 2012.
She then gave more, and raised a family of nine.
Mother, thank you.
Mother, you’ve given it all and you’ve given it all unconditionally. That is why I bear to you my ultimate sacrifice, do all I can, give to others, apply your integrity, love the way you love, Smile during the dark times, and most of all keep the flame of your sacrifice alive.
Happy Mother’s Day.
I love you.

 
Leon Arellano was raised in Boyle Heights’ Aliso Village Projects. He is a graduate of UC Davis and a founding member of Corazon Del Pueblo, a non-profit, volunteer community cultural arts center in Boyle Heights.
 

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