In 2017, I became guardian of an indigenous Guatemalan teenager, who had crossed the border illegally with his mother. [After living together for a couple of years, she had abandoned him, and he was washing dishes in a restaurant while irregularly attending school. Thus Wilfido was eligible for the federal program that allows abandoned underage immigrants who have a guardian to be given Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, the first step toward a receiving Green Card.]
Although Wilfido lives in the rectory of a church about half an hour from our home, he stays at my house a night or two a week. As I have moved his case through the courts, overseen his schooling, driven him to the doctor and orthodontist, and, in the months since he received a social security number, helped him earn a drivers’ license, my husband and I have increasingly felt like grandparents, and Wilfido seems to see us that way.
“You Make My Life Easy,” a quote from Wilfido, is the title of a section of the journal I’m keeping about our relationship. My presentation will include the story of how we met, as well as the journal entry describing our day in federal immigration court.