Longform

Law and Border

Page 6 of 6

She warns undocumented immigrants to live smart, stay out of trouble. She tells them not to drive drunk, to follow the speed limit and to make sure their cars are in working order. Don't break any laws, she tells them.

She doesn't understand how some people could hate her for advising illegal immigrants to stay out of trouble if they want to stay in this country. And she understands why so many people want to come here.

Lilian hates it that the Mexican government is living large while the people starve -- but she knows it's not the U.S.'s fault. "In the Third World, in countries like mine, we do suffer more," she says. "But unfortunately, we cannot send the invoice to America and have America be in charge of everything." She wishes that immigrants could come work here legally and avoid a life in the shadows, a life where they're taken advantage of or stand to lose everything if their deportation day comes.

In February, Lilian was invited by Citizenship and Immigration Services to share her story with about sixty new citizens at a naturalization ceremony. Nervous, she faced the crowd. "I was one of you," she told them. "A few years ago, I was sitting in that chair being sworn in myself.

"In the Third World, people talk about the American dream, and I'm living it. I'm very fortunate."

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Luke Turf