After the siege, the homeland becomes a perennial longing. The undocumented know this more than anyone else. It becomes that old letter of paper torn by so much folding and unfolding. It is in the memory of rainy days, of the milpa growing, of fresh chipilín flowers and the aroma of coffee cooked in a clay pot. The fog of the land left behind on the other side of the fence crosses the borders and seeps through the cracks in the windows of the skyscrapers where the generations who had to emigrate because in one’s own land, they found nothing but violence and hunger work cleaning the toilets and floors; they were cast into oblivion and forced to emigrate en masse.

The tender leaves of the red guava trees appear twinkling in the midday sun in the furrows where thousands of undocumented migrants work in crews, dreaming of the cool water of the river and the shade of the tamarind trees; the homeland is then a delirium. It is felt on the shoulders of the bricklayers who carry the loads on the big construction sites, because the undocumented worker is always the last, the one who carries the most, who works the longest hours, who receives the least pay, who always says yes, who can never say no; that is where the homeland hurts in the wound in the soul.

It hurts in the hands of the women who clean houses, in the arthritis of the bones, in the arms of the nannies who shelter other people’s children while their own stay in the distant land in the care of grandparents or aunts; the homeland is then an unfathomable emptiness. It hurts in the farewells that could not be said, in the news of the death of loved ones, in the hugs postponed, in the promises, in the plans for the future, in the need for reunion, in the final goodbyes when a candle is lit and prayers are said in the distance for the repose of the soul of the one who died; there in the bustle of a room full of undocumented immigrants.

It hurts in the cry of the children who demand shelter and companionship from the other side of the fence. It hurts in the blistered feet and burst skin of those who have walked for days fleeing hunger and exclusion, seeking respite in other lands. It hurts in the tender pubis of the sullied girls who were cannon fodder on the thorny road where undocumented migrants travel in the desperate races to other lands where they are seen as plunder; then the homeland is a raw wound and a lifelong trauma.

The homeland that excludes, that violates, that starves, that disappears, that spits, that humiliates, that forces people to emigrate. That separates families. It is the homeland that hurts, the little piece of one’s land that is anchored to the chest, that emerges between the pores, that beats tirelessly in the wounded heart, that is tanned in the skin, that is aged in the weariness of the years and to which they wish to return one day, it is the ungrateful homeland that receives millions of dollars in remittances from the children it forced to migrate and who never forget it: It is the homeland of the undocumented and to love it like that you have to have the guts to jump over the fence, not just anyone!