The final part of my interview with Samantha, an undocumented Nanny.

〈                        How did you tell the girls that you were leaving?

You know something, I put my three little girls to bed one night and they didn’t know I would be gone in the morning. I sang to them, I read to them and I held them in my arms until they fell asleep one by one and I did not shed one tear. My kids fell asleep and I cry all night like someone had taken my heart out. I did that, I put them to bed knowing I would be gone in the morning. I was strong because I thought we would be better family because of it. I left my children because of him. And he betrayed me. My kids don’t know. It would be too bad for them with me so far away. So we pretend we are together. I have to speak to him and see him with that new woman. I even give him money sometimes but I hate him.  Sometimes my eldest daughter she tells me “Mama I stopped drinking milk so you come home sooner.” She doesn’t understand. She tells my smaller children “Don’t ask Mama for anything new you keep her in America.”  She doesn’t understand I pay for everything and every month every dollar I send home is spent, it’s gone. I’m in a trap if I go home now we will have nothing again.”

*    I understand but what is your long-term goal in being in the USA?

“I want to bring my girls here so they can be free. I want them to go to American schools and work hard. Maybe the law will change and I will be able to become an American citizen. I met a man recently from the Philippines who is American citizen. He likes me very much. I don’t know, maybe he’s a good man. Maybe we could get married and I could bring my children here. But I would have to love him you know? I’m Catholic. I would not just marry for Visa you know? It wouldn’t be right.”

*    Do you think Americans knowingly hire illegal workers?

“Yes of course!  I tell them (her present employers) when I took this job “look I don’t have papers” and they are lawyers, know what I mean? They said, “fine, we don’t mind so long as you are good at your job”. They both work. They make lots of money, two houses, three cars but they never see their kids. The girls are beautiful. I call them my “little angel hearts” because they stop my heart from breaking. I do everything with them. I cook for them, I put them to bed. They love me. I know that. Sometimes I worry that I love them too much. The parents don’t notice things like I do. They just buy them lots of things but the kids they just want you to be with them, you know?

*    Let me ask you this, how do you live day to day as an illegal?

(Laughs) “I live day to day. Like example I have no doctor. I haven’t had any checks you know as a woman since I came here. Other day I get knocked off my bike by a cab, I didn’t go to hospital. I have cuts and bruises but I can’t go to hospital, you know? My mom sends me medication from home. If I get sick I have to look it up and ask my mom for medicine. Also if there are police like in road looking at driving license or anything I get nervous. I get scared just to speak to a cop. If something happened to me I couldn’t go to police. Every day you live like you don’t exist, you know? Like I’m here but I am not here.”

*    Okay final question, knowing what you know now, would you do this all over again?

“That’s a hard question to answer.  My husband insisted it would make us have a better life. In some way it has. It showed me what kind of person he really is. It showed me I could be strong. It showed me my kids could be strong. Maybe it will all be worth it. I think maybe I will find love again and have my kids with me. People here are so lucky they forget what their own parents and grandparents did for them to be here.  So yes I would do it all over again. Freedom is more important than money. I want my girls to be whatever their heart tells them to be. This is a great country.” (Laughs) “It is really!”

With that Lachlan (the dog) pooped. As Samantha cleaned it up she repeated, “…it is really!” I felt extremely moved by Samantha’s story. Samantha works a 45-hour week and earns $475. For that sum she cooks, cleans and cares for two children and a very large dog.

An update
In 2009 Samantha married a US citizen. They now have a baby son and Samantha’s daughters live with them. Samantha is no longer a Nanny.
The following blogs will examine how out-dated tax codes impact the quality and choice of childcare.