Elisa Martínez

Immigration Resource Guide

A Welcome Note from Your ESME Immigration Resource Guide, Elisa Martínez

Being a Solo Mom is a badge of pride for many of us—living proof that we have the courage and determination to stand up for ourselves and our kids. We know the challenges of being a Solo Mom because we meet them every day. From finding decent work to overcoming trauma, from raising healthy kids to being part of a nurturing community, the unique realities of being alone at the head of our families push us to be persistent, creative, and resilient in ways that often defy the norm. When the rules are in flux, as they are whenever we have a change in government, the economy, or social norms, some of us discover new opportunities and connections to help us move forward. But for others, this change means the loss of the vital supports and connections we need, and it leaves us exhausted from the effort it takes to keep our families on a positive path.

If you are a Solo Mom who immigrated to the United States from another country, your effort is always shaped by the loss of what (and whom) you left behind, and the need to start over in a foreign land. For many, coming to this country may represent a triumph of will—fulfillment of a career or family ambition, or an escape from a situation that put you or your children in danger or at a disadvantage. You may be warmly received by a strong community, helped to navigate the challenges of this new society quickly, and able to access new opportunities to ensure that you and your children have the best life possible in this land that is not your own. For others, the adjustment may be more difficult: language may be a barrier, laws and the state may ignore or deny your unique needs, your training and skills may be discounted in the job market, you may not have friends or other family to lean on, and you may be isolated from others who share your experiences, culture, or faith.

All of this is true in the best of circumstances, and with time, immigrant Solo Moms can learn the rules of this new game, with the same gifts and handicaps as all Solo Moms in America. But today, the United States is in a time of massive change, and change always means more adjustment. Our country is torn about its core values and place in the world, and debates rage about the budget and services that help so many of us—immigrants and nonimmigrants alike—stay on track, such as health care, education, housing, and even gender equality. Immigration policy itself is at the center of politics and culture wars, creating a hostile and tense environment for foreign residents. Moms who face anti-immigrant sentiment may feel isolated as others keep a low profile, may find it harder to speak up for themselves and their children, or may face abuse from the very police and public officials to whom they should turn for help.

This section of ESME can help you in this context. Here, we find community. Here, we find resources. Here, we can share our stories. Here, we can ask our questions and rise together. Here, wherever you came from, Solo Moms are stronger together.



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