Comic: Stories from my aunt’s childhood immigration from Tijuana to Corona

Three children play. A car has moving boxes inside
(Casey Beifuss / For De Los )

This comic came about from a series of phone and in person conversations between my Tía Alicia and me about her childhood in Tijuana and her experience immigrating to the U.S. I come from a huge family; my grandparents had 15 kids. As you can imagine, the stories are endless.

I learned how my grandparents met as teens in Guadalajara, my Tía Irene’s May Queen campaign for her church, my city girl grandma’s love for horses and the country — making cuts was hard. In the end, what I was most interested in was how kids experience immigration. Thank you to my Tía Alicia for sharing these stories with me and making me laugh so much.

In 1971, my grandparents made the decision to move their family from Tijuana to Corona, Calif.
Leaving our life in TJ was hard — I'd had such a good childhood. Long days playing outside.
We were the only house in the neighborhood with a color TV. It was so sad leaving the neighborhood kids behind.
When we crossed "al otro lado," we saw the sign that said "Bienvenidos a los Estados Unidos"
When we arrived in Corona, the first thing we noticed was that the bathrooms were all indoor. We had carpet and grass.
In TJ my mom kept over 200 chickens! Of course they were for us to eat.
The language barrier was a whole other issue. Most of the kids at school didn't speak Spanish.
I remember one day at school we had a U.S. states quiz and the two teams were tied. It was all up to me.
There's no H in Spanish so I was just pronouncing it how it sounded in my head. Ohio!
Life here, it feels more comfortable and secure. But in Mexico, the days feel much longer and free.

Casey Beifuss is an illustrator and designer based in Southern California.