Sirena Mari Mercado was born in Valparaiso, Chile to a musical family and later became an explosion of creative energy. She is a singer, songwriter, producer, painter, dancer, percussionist and a Fire Performer who feels most comfortable on a stage and in the spot light. With her husband Chelo, they run Sirelo Entertainment and are the owners of Grassroots Community Space.
This is her story.
I was an undocumented child...
I crossed the border with my mother and my 2 year old brother...
I was 9...
After a grueling 28 day journey through South and Central America, we reached Miami where the immigration laws are very strict, more so than what we had encountered throughout our entire journey. It was the first time anyone noticed my family and we were detained.
The Immigration people placed us in a room under lock and key so that they could go through our things and interview my mother. They even checked my little brother's body for contraband. BUT they never separated us … and they did not take my mother away or vice versa. The room they put us in had couches and a little table with books and crayons. It also had a fully stocked fridge and a snack machine.
My family was lucky...
I can not imagine being taken from my mother or separated from my little brother; everything we went through to get to this country was traumatizing enough. Families traveling to the US as immigrants are targets - my family suffered abuse, starvation, and abandonment. I can not imagine suffering all of that only to reach this country and be locked up like a animal in a cage. It breaks my heart to think of the terror these kids are experiencing after so much trauma! As I continue to watch the news, I keep thinking how lucky my family was to have had that room where we were detained for just 6 hours before they finally let us go, and eventually we made it to our final destination, Newark Airport.
As undocumented immigrants, my family paid taxes, taxes that did nothing for my family, taxes paid by the sweat of my parent's brow straight into the hands of the American people.
It took me 9 more years until I received a social security card. I was almost 18 at the time and in fear of not being able to go to college because of my undocumented status.
We became legal residents... it only took us 9 years.
When you are out there posting nasty things about undocumented immigrants, you are posting nasty things about me and my family. I know a lot of you have much love and respect for me and you have seen my father and I sing our Chilean Folk Music and loved it; you've been to our community drum circles, you've attended our events and festivals that I have helped to host, you've taken classes at our community center, and you've told me how much I mean to you and our community.
When you turn around and say hurtful things about these children, these families that are trying to make a better life for themselves and for their children, you are speaking about me and to me.
Think about that the next time you want to post something negative about undocumented families, because trust me, my family, as well as many families that come here undocumented, are the ones making America great. We are NOT the enemy... so stop treating us like we are.