Prior to arriving to the United States, Miguel Lebron lived a comfortable life working as a supervisor in an accounting firm. However, when his children started growing up, he decided to move himself and his family to New York, where they would be exposed to better opportunities and lead a better life.
Reasons for Leaving Home
“I came to New York in May 2004, about 9, 10 years ago. Ten years ago. I came here to look for better opportunities for my family, because I want my children to have a better life. Back home, I work as an accountant. I was a supervisor, I had like thirty people under me. I know this is good life, but I want to come to America to have a better life than I do. Back home, life is very dangerous. There is always conflict with other countries in at the borders, very dangerous for my two small kids, my son and daughter. Also, there are a lot of dangerous gangs and I don’t want my children to join.”
Coming to the United States
“My mother was the first immigrant in the family. She has a green card because she marry a man who is a citizen, but he is not my father. She started the immigration paper process for me in 1991 when I was still a kid, but they did things so slow over there, I did not get to come until 2004. But now they are very fast. When I first came, I was very scared because I had never taken a plane before. It was my first time. When I came to New York, I was very surprised at the big building. Back home, buildings are only one, maybe two stories, but here, they have buildings 10, 50 floors tall. New York was the first place I came, but there are other people in other places. There are a lot of us in Michigan, my mother lives there now.”
“When I first came here, the hardest thing to do is learn the language. Because I was a supervisor back home, I never thought language would be an obstacle. Here, I cannot work in an office until I talk more professional, I can only work as an operator or a technician. My first job here was making stair, like the stair in building. It was very hard work, because I work with machines I never see before. They were heavy. Here, everything is different. The language, the city, and the factories are different. Ecuador is what we call a third world country, but in America, we can get everything. If you cannot get it here, then you cannot get it anywhere else in the world. When I first came, I was here alone, without my wife and kids. I missed them a lot. I miss my family and my friends because I like to be very active in the community. However, I have internet and I read the news from home and I know everything about people because it connects everything. But now, they are all here and it is okay.”
“I was the first one to come in my family, to find a job and then make money to find a house for my family. When I was here, I took one trip for vacation back home, because my wife did not have papers. When getting the papers for my son and daughter, I flew back and forth many times, like seven times, to drop off the paper and my children who came to visit. It was very expensive, maybe $4000. Now all my family is in the US and I am happy. My son came here when he was 5 year, and my daughter came here in her 4 year because that is when her paper come. I live in South Ozone Park in a house with my family, like we did back home. It is more expensive to live with only my family, but it is worth it because we don’t like to live with too much people. The neighborhood is mostly black people, like Guyanese and Jamaican. I love them and they love me.”
We don’t celebrate much because we don’t have time, but we do celebrate all the Catholic holidays, like New Year, Valentines day and Halloween. Also, we celebrate secretary day because it is nice to do something good for someone so hard working. I am not scared of my children losing their tradition, because they are safe here from all the bad things at home. We still speak Spanish and home and we have internet to connect to the rest of the world, so I don’t think they will forget where they are from. But we are very religious. When I first came, I was a Jehovah witness, who knock on other people door and they ignore me. When I was working there, I worked 12-14 hours.”