The birth of their first child, Ismael, now 17, is what originally inspired them to try and remain in the country.

“Life in Mexico was not rewarding. We worked long, hard hours for little pay,” said Lilia. “We decided to stay here and try to realize another dream: the opportunity to have a safe place to live, to provide for our children.”

By the time Maria, now 14, and Emmanuel, 12, came along, risking everything as an undocumented immigrant in order to provide for their children seemed like the only logical thing to do. The benefits were worth the risk.

“After they were born, it became less about our dreams and more about theirs, their future, their education,” said Lilia.

Once they made the decision to stay, Lilia and Teodoro did everything they could to try and adopt American culture. Of course, they missed some Mexican staples, namely, tortillas, but they dedicated themselves to making Alabama their new home. Lilia found work as a housekeeper, Teodoro, in construction

“I’d carry around a dictionary with me. There were very few, if any translators available so I knew I had to learn English quickly,” said Lilia.