Fecha de nacimiento: 20 febrero, 1991.
I read the identity card three or four times to make sure that I hadn’t made a mistake while I entered her information into the shelter’s registration database. But the birth date was clear enough. February 20, 1991.
We were born on the same day. And what different lives we have. She is 4 months pregnant. I am too focused on school and finishing my degree to think about having kids in the short term.
She economically supports 4 siblings and her parents (and has 8 siblings in total). My parents still support me as I go through school and my only brother will probably always make more money than me.
She works in house-cleaning. I am a relatively neat person but I certainly do not have the skills for someone to actually pay me to clean their house. Nor will I ever probably need to do that work to make a living.
She travels on top of the freight train to go north. Little by little, I am making the journey south – from the US to the border to southern Mexico. But I travel in plane.
I give her a change of clothes because her backpack, along with all of her money, was robbed while she was on the train. I think about my suitcase – which, small as it is, still has 7 different outfits. I realize that I have never in my life been robbed.
I could outline similar differences for any number of migrants. But something about sharing the same birth date surprised me. By date, we are twins. But the context of life has created very different paths. The strange reality of birthright citizenship is that where you are born – which is something that you as an individual have no control over – can create or limit opportunities. But the strange chance of birth goes even beyond the country. There are people even in the US who could relate more with the story of this Guatemalan migrant than with my own. Family, community, and school all shape a context of growth. Not to say that this context determines the course of life. We have agency in our own lives. But our context always does play a role.
Who else was born on February 20, 1991? Who shares your birthday? For the simple fact of being born in a different country or to a different family, how are their lives different? What does it look like to live in awareness of and love for the people with whom you might share a birthday?