Noe Wilson was born in Guatemala. His parents left him with his grandmother and were believed to have been killed during the war. When he was 8 years old, Noe’s grandmother, the only family he knew, died.
He left Guatemala with a group of other young boys and men and headed north, eventually crossing into Texas via Mexico. As a child he worked in the fields, picking fruit and vegetables alongside other illegal immigrants. Noe migrated with other workers to Florida, then Georgia.
At 14 years old he obtained a job working in the kitchen of a local eatery and was soon promoted to assistant kitchen manager. He shared an apartment with a roommate, paid his half of the bills, and rode a bicycle back and forth to work. But, he also was friends with members of a rough crowd got into some minor trouble that landed him in front of a judge, who decided Noe should be in school.
So he became a Rome High School freshman and joined a Hispanic youth group founded at a local church, where he would eventually meet the Danny Wilson and his family.
With the help of an immigration lawyer, Danny Wilson learned the only path to citizenship for Noe would be through adoption, since he had entered the country illegally.
Because the status of his parents was unknown, the Guatemalan government would not grant an adoption until they attempted to find them. In the mean time, the Wilsons were given legal guardianship. So, when he turned 16, Noe got a driver’s license. When he was 18, he graduated with honors from Rome High and was accepted to Shorter College, where he worked to pay his tuition (he did receive $20,000 from the Hispanic Scholarship Fund) and played varsity soccer for four years.
Noe earned his degree, but because he didn’t have the proper paperwork, he couldn’t find a job. When he finally found work, it was with a construction company that paid him in cash. He did not have a driver’s license because a change in the law prevented him from renewing it once it expired. Without a license, Noe could not buy a tag or insurance. Most days Danny Wilson drove Noe to and from work, but could not the day Noe was pulled over.
Now Noe faces deportation to Guatemala.
Home state: Georgia (state)
Country of origin: Guatemala