“I am finding my voice after a long, silent life as an immigrant, and I want others to feel safe and find their voice.”
Yahaira Ramos, born in Cananea, Sonora Mexico, moved an hour away to the border town of Agua Prieta, bordering Douglas, Arizona. She says she knows how immigrants in the U.S. often feel: isolated, scared, alone, different—like they don’t belong anywhere.
Her family moved to California as she was finishing 6th grade and she started assimilating to life in the U.S. “I never felt safe,” she says. “I thought 9 digits would help me gain my voice,” she says, referring to the social security number she was denied as an undocumented immigrant. “But I realized those digits don’t mean anything if I can’t be a voice for those who have no voice. I feel privileged to be an American citizen now, but I want to help others to also find their voice as so many have their voices silenced.”
She recalls the fear she felt about her status before she became a resident on her way to citizenship.
In high school, she entered a relationship with someone who used their knowledge of her status to hold her in an abusive situation. The recession left her mother unable to find a job and she felt that was a sign from God to move back to Mexico to save her daughters life. Her mother packed up a car with her three girls and almost a year later her son and father of her kids, no longer her husband, helped her get her kids back together.
In the year they spent back in Mexico, Yahaira worked three jobs to help her mother and saved the rest. She fervently prayed for God to show her his ways. “I grew in my faith,” she says. “He healed the scars, and it was my faith then and no longer my mother’s faith.” She says God prepared her in that time and made the way for her to move back to California.
At nineteen, was able to return to the U.S. to continue her education. It was then she fell in love with her now husband, a permanent U.S. resident. They’ve now been married for thirteen years. She says God provided so she could raise her family, but later God gave her and her husband the idea to open a Christian apparel business to encourage others. Their business, Risen Apparel, helps fund small ministries with every sale.
She and her husband walked together through the citizenship process, facing their fears of the process.
He didn’t have the best experience with immigration in the past, she says. “It took him years to start the process of becoming a citizen.”
“My fear turned into freedom. The truth set me free,”
Yahaira says. She says she could finally be herself. The only one who knew me completely was God, He knew telling my story would give me the freedom to truly be me and no longer hide or watch my back. “While I was developing that side of me, God gave me the privilege to write a book where I shared my truth from my testimony to my life experiences and lessons I learned from the word of God during my process, my background, my upbringing, and in the wait.” His deity was magnified in my life as I wrote how He showed up for me but also He can show up for you. He has always been our voice.
That book was a devotional titled A Fruitful Life. She says she wanted to tell a bit of her story but focus on the fact that a fruitful life is found in Christ, not in riches or status. She took her oath of citizenship as she was writing the book.
“I have friends and family who are still undocumented and they need someone to be a voice for them and for the others that are hiding in the shadows,” she says.
She wants them to be able to find the strength they need to keep waiting patiently for their immigration appointments and the opportunity to adjust their status. But most important to know who God is and to know His character towards us and to know that every good thing comes from Him.