When freelance software developer Ana Monzon was in the process of moving to Wyoming from Guatemala City in the midst of the recession, she knew finding a job would not be a problem. “My skill set is a big demand in this country,” says Monzon. “I was able to get to work and get a visa right away.” Monzon is a part of a small team of developers whose software aids the federal government in fighting wildfires. Out of a team of nine, she is the only immigrant. “People have been very accepting of me and have chosen to look at my skills rather than the country I came from,” she says.
Monzon had a comfortable upbringing in Guatemala. As an adult, she met her husband, an American living and working as a radio host in Guatemala City. When they married, Monzon already had three school-aged children from a previous relationship and they decided that staying was best for all four of them. “Then the recession hit,” she says. “My husband lost his job, I was working at a restaurant, and the crime had gotten so bad. We sat down and had a discussion about moving to the States. I was still on the fence until my youngest daughter said ‘That’s fantastic; I will be able to ride my bike all by myself!’ That’s when I knew we had to go.”
Immigration wasn’t hard for Monzon because she was already married to an American citizen. Getting permission to bring her children with her was much more complicated. After six months of applications, Monzon, her husband, and her youngest daughter moved to Cheyenne, WY, leaving her two eldest children in Guatemala City to finish college. “They are still waiting to get their green cards,” she says about her children, noting that her oldest daughter, a physician, was accepted into a residency program in New York City while her son, a PhD candidate in the school of engineering, will be studying on a student visa closer to home at The University of Wyoming.
There is such an obvious need for workers and talent that immigrants bring to this country.
In addition to her work with the Forest Service, Monzon gives back to her local community through the HOPE Organization, which helps immigrants secure college scholarships, regardless of their legal status. Although her own immigration story doesn’t have many bumps, Monzon’s work with HOPE makes her passionate about reform. “There is such an obvious need for workers and talent that immigrants bring to this country. Not to mention their culture and ideas are ways to impart awareness and diversity within different communities,” she says. “If you follow the rules, if you are a good student in good standing, if you have a job offer, if you can contribute to the American society in a way that imparts healthy change and cultural diversity, then you should be able to easily immigrate to this country.”