Brenda A. is strong, courageous, and determined. She arrived in the United States six years ago, escaping abuse from the father of her children. She is now working and studying, getting her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry. The Child Tax Credit (CTC) has been crucial for her achievements. This is her story.
By Beatriz Paniego-Béjar, Affiliate Communications Specialist, UnidosUS
It is a story as old as immigration itself: a woman looking for a better chance at life for herself and her children embarks on a journey up north to reunite with her mother and provide for her children like she could not back home.
Brenda’s story resembles to that of many immigrants in this country, and yet it needs to be heard.
Brenda came to the United States with her two children: her daughter, nine-years-old, who was born in Mexico, and her son, five-years-old, who was born in the United States. Yes, Brenda crossed the border pregnant because, when she learned she was expecting her second child, she found the courage to run away from her abusive ex-husband, the father of her kids: “I didn’t want to go through it again,” she tells.
Her mother had been living in the country for 20 years at that point; they talked and “we decided that the best option was for me to come here, where my daughter and I would be safer,” Brenda explains. It has been six years now, and she feels very safe in this country.
FULFILLING HER OWN SUEÑO AMERICANO
As many newcomers, Brenda first jobs were low-wage, and her income was irregular: “I used to work at [a fast-food restaurant] and sometimes there was more work than others,” she shares. And even though her commitment and work ethic gained her a promotion as a general manager, that was not the place where she wanted to be.
Through UnidosUS Affiliate CLUES (Comunidades Latinas Unidas En Servicio) she started to learn English, which she later improved taking two semesters of English in college, putting herself on a path to post-secondary education.
She is now in her second semester taking her general requirements to major in biochemistry. Her current job as a project builder at Boston Scientific is helping her cover the cost of tuition, but that wasn’t the case a year ago, when she had to resort to credit cards to be able to meet all her expenses: “I have lots of expenses, and then, during the pandemic work was reduced, and I stopped working many hours. So, to pay my expenses, rent, bills, etc., I was using credit cards,” this college student and mom explains.
LIFTING OUR COMMUNITIES OUT OF POVERTY
Despite certain criticisms of the CTC as a tool that would reduce employment for low-income parents, Brenda’s case illustrates how this benefit lifts families out of poverty, giving them an extra resource that allows them to improve their livelihoods and to continue fulfilling their American Dream.
“The CTC has helped me a lot, to pay the house bills, and rent, since it has barely been this semester when the company is helping me pay for my studies. The other two English semesters, I had to pay for those, one part from my own pocket and another part with scholarships,” Brenda explains. “The CTC is helping a lot to pay my bills and to pay for the credit cards that I used during the pandemic,” she continues. “This is a huge help.”
Brenda is a hardworking member of our society who gets up every day at 5 a.m. to go to work, a loving mother who picks up her children from school, and a dedicated student who attends college in the evenings. She has always liked science, and she is grateful to her current employer, where she has been working for almost a year, for helping her grow in her role through education.
The CTC has given Brenda a chance to better provide for her children. “Now I am working more. I found a better job,” Brenda describes. “I am earning more than I was earning in my previous job, and I am attending college to have a degree and be able to earn more to have a more comfortable life and be able to give my kids what I didn’t have.”
Everything Brenda has done and continues doing is for her children: escaping an abusive relationship, working long hours, going to school, etc. She wants to create a life where her children have more opportunities: “I would love for my kids to have a degree and that they are professionals. And I would like that, by the time they are college-age, I have enough financial solvency to help them, and that they don’t have to go through so many of the things I’ve gone through to have to pay for my education.”
Thanks to the CTC, Brenda is getting closer to the dreams she has for her kids.