See larger My first baby — Alejandra's eyes are deep and brown, reading like a resume of life experience too long for a twenty-year-old. She holds up a photograph of her mother, Guillema, and her two younger sisters, Maria and Lili. In a voice so faint that you have to lean close to hear, she talks about saying goodbye to them in Mexico seven years ago. Her grandparents picked her up in Queretaro, Mexico and drove their red and white Chevy Silverado pickup 600 miles to the Texas border. They timed the crossing at noon, thinking most of the Border Patrol agents would be eating lunch. Alejandra, 13 years old at the time, used the birth certificate of her aunt, roughly the same age and a U.S. citizen living in Southwest Florida. At the border, Alejandra was detained and interrogated by three agents for about an hour in a small room with a video camera. Although she had memorized her aunt's personal information, she became nervous when agents asked why — if she was born in the United States — she didn't speak English. If she cracked, she would return home, her grandparents would lose their vehicle — and their legal status to live and work in the United States. But she was released, and the family made the drive from Texas to Immokalee. Upon arriving, Alejandra started school and worked weekends picking tomatoes in the fields with her grandparents. She mailed $150 home every two weeks to help her mother with living expenses and put her two sisters through school. But her frustrations mounted: Fatigue from working the fields and keeping up with school. The language barrier. Homesickness. But when Alejandra spoke to her mother every week on the phone, she never let on. 'Every time she would ask: 'Are you happy?', I would say 'yes' even though I wasn't. I didn't want her to feel bad.' Now, 20 years old and in her eighth month of pregnancy, Alejandra spends most of her days inside. She lives within walking distance of the health clinic in Immokalee. She has yet to achieve legal residency here in the United States. After her son is born next month, she says, she plans to marry Hector, who served three years in the U.S. Army and works construction, which will ease her fear of being deported. She hopes to buy a house and move her family to Labelle. Though she misses her mother, her two sisters and her home in Mexico, she says she knows that 'raising him here, he's going to have a better education, better health services ... more options.' The reality of not having her mother close during her pregnancy weighs heavily on Alejandra. She says her mother worries and fusses at her as much as she can from afar during their weekly phone calls. 'She tells me not to eat any spicy food and not to be up on my feet too much. I don't have anyone else to ask about going through my pregnancy,' Alejandra says softly. 'This is my first baby.' Published November 20, 2006

Photo by TRISTAN SPINSKI, Daily News

My first baby — Alejandra's eyes are deep and brown, reading like a resume of life experience too long for a twenty-year-old. She holds up a photograph of her mother, Guillema, and her two younger sisters, Maria and Lili. In a voice so faint that you have to lean close to hear, she talks about saying goodbye to them in Mexico seven years ago. Her grandparents picked her up in Queretaro, Mexico and drove their red and white Chevy Silverado pickup 600 miles to the Texas border. They timed the crossing at noon, thinking most of the Border Patrol agents would be eating lunch. Alejandra, 13 years old at the time, used the birth certificate of her aunt, roughly the same age and a U.S. citizen living in Southwest Florida. At the border, Alejandra was detained and interrogated by three agents for about an hour in a small room with a video camera. Although she had memorized her aunt's personal information, she became nervous when agents asked why — if she was born in the United States — she didn't speak English. If she cracked, she would return home, her grandparents would lose their vehicle — and their legal status to live and work in the United States. But she was released, and the family made the drive from Texas to Immokalee. Upon arriving, Alejandra started school and worked weekends picking tomatoes in the fields with her grandparents. She mailed $150 home every two weeks to help her mother with living expenses and put her two sisters through school. But her frustrations mounted: Fatigue from working the fields and keeping up with school. The language barrier. Homesickness. But when Alejandra spoke to her mother every week on the phone, she never let on. "Every time she would ask: 'Are you happy?', I would say 'yes' even though I wasn't. I didn't want her to feel bad." Now, 20 years old and in her eighth month of pregnancy, Alejandra spends most of her days inside. She lives within walking distance of the health clinic in Immokalee. She has yet to achieve legal residency here in the United States. After her son is born next month, she says, she plans to marry Hector, who served three years in the U.S. Army and works construction, which will ease her fear of being deported. She hopes to buy a house and move her family to Labelle. Though she misses her mother, her two sisters and her home in Mexico, she says she knows that 'raising him here, he's going to have a better education, better health services ... more options." The reality of not having her mother close during her pregnancy weighs heavily on Alejandra. She says her mother worries and fusses at her as much as she can from afar during their weekly phone calls. "She tells me not to eat any spicy food and not to be up on my feet too much. I don't have anyone else to ask about going through my pregnancy," Alejandra says softly. "This is my first baby." Published November 20, 2006

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