When Karly greeted the world last spring, she became the first American-born member of her family. Her nine-year-old brother, Juan Carlos, arrived in the States two years ago with his mother, Paula Ines Réinoza de Estrada. Karly’s father, Juan Carlos Estrada, moved here four years before that, from Coatepeque, El Salvador. He tells their story.
All of the articles and photos from our special Immigration Issue are available in the October 2016 issue, on newsstands now.
The family’s move to California spanned decades.
“My father arrived in 1984 with a sister of his. He came by land without papers and had the opportunity to fix his status. By 2008, he was able to get papers for me to come. I’ve been living here six years. After four years away from my wife and son here, I was able to get papers for them to come.”
They were fleeing violence.
“People’s lives in El Salvador no longer had any value. Anybody could take another’s life. I didn’t want my children to live there.”
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Karly’s dad was a psychologist in El Salvador, earning $750 a month.
“That was a normal salary. Not the best, but not the worst. My wife was a teacher. When I first arrived, I was washing dishes. I learned to work a machine that cuts aluminum of various sizes for home construction. I feel comfortable in my current job.”
Dreams? Karly’s parents are postponing theirs for hers.
“When my children are grown, if I have the money, I may try going back to my profession. Right now my priority is making sure they have what they need. My dream is for Karly to study as much as she can, to be a professional for herself and for society. There’s no limit in this country.”
This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of Los Angeles magazine.