227 Matching Annotations
  1. Jul 2021
    1. Rodolfo: Literally, I spoke to a person who said, “Man, if I do bad things here they're going to want to keep me here.” What type of mentality is that? That they rather commit crimes while in detention so they can stay in the United States but not even that, they are going to be locked up.Rodolfo: So, that reality, that part where their mind has set on, “Okay well, I'd rather be in jail here then go back to my home country. Because I'm going to be, at least, with my family here, so they can go visit me and stuff like that.” That's very.., that's horrible. So yeah, that. That would be awesome if somebody is in detention, if somebody is detained, they can get visits from their family. Just people who are detained, you know?Sergio: Just wanting to hug your mom—Rodolfo: Yeah. Because a visit does all the difference, man. You know what I mean? Seeing that little help, it's like a beacon of hope, you know? Okay, well, one day or hopefully or just keeping that alive.Sergio: I think that's all the questions I have right now, I might come up with more later to ask you again. But right now, do you have anything on your mind that you want to share or talk about?Rodolfo: Man, it's been awhile since I spoke about any of this, but I feel I've let everything... or for now because I have a lot, a lot more. But for now, I feel like it was good. It's like a little therapy session as well, man. Honestly, to be quite frank with you, that's what I was looking for, man. Because I don't really have any friends like that, and I don't know anybody out here like that and it's just great to finally speak and be heard.Rodolfo: I know it's your job and I know it's your school and everything but man, I feel like you really were listening to me and thank you. Thank you man, really.

      Reflections; Feelings, Hope

    2. Sergio: So, do you think a lot of deportees, when they return, turn to crime?Rodolfo: When they return to what, I'm sorry?Sergio: To Mexico.Rodolfo: I think a lot of the deportees, when they come back, yes. But I think more about their family—the inability to help your family member, the person who you love is one of the most horrible... it's a horrible feeling, not being able to help, let alone help one of your family members.

      Return to Mexico, challenges

    3. Rodolfo: Now I still haven't been pointed towards the right direction as to how to go about doing that. I mean, I've looked for help but I always come to a dead end. And it varies from city to city. Because somebody who I was with in the detention center—we left the same day and everything—but he's from Monterey and he actually he actually got 30,000 pesos from the Mexican government. I'm not sure what branch it was from or where exactly it came from, but he showed me everything. He proved it to me, so I know there is help, but I feel like there is not that much awareness.

      Feelings, despair, frustration

    4. Sergio: Did the Mexican government provide help in that transition?Rodolfo: The Mexican government, they provided some help. They provided 50 pesos when I first got here. And they just give me a whole bunch of pamphlets of school and housing, right? But I feel as though independent organizations were the ones who ultimately would have helped me a lot more. When I first got off the plane, they told me about all the resources, all the help, all the things that their company or their organization did for other people, deportees.

      Return to Mexico, first impressions

    5. Sergio: What was your experience when you got back to Mexico?Rodolfo: My experience when I first arrived in Mexico, when I first got back in Mexico was surreal, it was a blur. I'm terribly afraid of heights. That's my fear. Not so much anymore but yeah, heights are not my thing. I remember being on the plane and it taking a turn, and I remember seeing all the buildings and I saw everything and I even scooted up in front of my seat to see and it's like I completely forgot that I was afraid of heights.Rodolfo: And I felt happy and I don't know why. I don't know if it was because I was finally going to be free. And before it turned, before they told all the people, all the agents or the officials to sit down, they took the handcuffs off and they took the shackles off and I just, I'm like, “Whoa, okay, this shit is real. This is real.” And it did that turn and we finally got down and I saw the... we were passing by all hangars, the military hangar, the presidential hangar, certain company's hangars and whatever.Rodolfo: Got off the plane, and I just remember looking back and looking at my hands and not seeing handcuffs or a police officer right next to me and I felt happy. But then I got on the phone and I called my mom and she was just happy that I was out and everything. She started crying and I then started crying too but then... that was just very mixed emotions. And the first couple of months, they were all right until I started figuring out that the individuals who are my family, as a matter of fact, who are supposed to help me out here were just after the money.

      Return to Mexico, first impressions; Feelings, Excitement, Happiness, Relief

    6. Sergio: Definitely. So, how do you feel, do you feel like American…?Rodolfo: I don't want to say I feel like American. Spiritually, me myself, as an individual, I feel like now that I've been in Mexico and been living the real life of a real life Mexican—because man, it's hard out here, you know?—I feel like if I say I'm American, I feel like I'm betraying who I am. Because I have American… Yes, I'm from... Because even then I can't even say I'm American cause I'm not from there, that's why I'm here, right? But the way I feel, yeah, I guess I am what they call me here, el gabacho, the American, the white boy. Do I feel it? I feel it only because I miss my home and that's what I want to be in order to be okay over there. I mean, if that's what I have to be in order to be okay over there and then, okay, yeah, I'm American.Rodolfo: But when I'm amongst individuals, Mexicans here and everything, my own people, I'm a Mexican.

      Reflections, Identity, Global/Human, Bi-cultural, American, Mexican,

    7. Rodolfo: I'm a victim of sexual abuse in the United States and there was a police report made and everything. And I've also been a victim of gang violence. I was never, you can check my background and everything. I was never into gangs or anything, but around the area I lived in there was a bunch of gangs and... I was beat up two or three times bad just by walking home. And it was all documented, I had police reports and everything. And because of that I was in therapy for while. My mother sought out a help from a psychiatrist because of the sexual abuse I had as a child in California, as a matter of fact.Rodolfo: I took Risperdal and a Ritalin, Risperdal for the anxiety and the Ritalin and for the ADHD. So, we tried everything. The mental health side, the mental health asylum, everything. But it was just going to take longer and longer and longer and I was tired of it. I didn't want to be locked up anymore. So, finally I just told my mom, “You know what man, that's it, I'm done. I don't want to do this anymore.” She asked me, “Is this what you want to do?” And I told her, “Yeah.”Rodolfo: She told me, “You know what? I'd much rather see you over there and be free then not being able to see you here at all.” Because there was a lot of people that went to go visit their loved ones and they used to get picked up. Sometimes they wouldn't even let you see your loved ones and right away ask you for your identification, your social security card, your nationality and everything and they would get picked up.Rodolfo: And I always told my mom, “Don't ever come visit me. Don't ever come visit me because if you do, chances are they're going to take you too.” And you know, that would always break my heart because I would want to see my mom. I'd want to see my dad and everything, but I wasn't able to. So, that experience was just horrible.Sergio: When you were in the detention center what were the conditions? Did you have access the medicine you needed? Did you have access to food and water?Rodolfo: The company that made the jail was called GEO Corp and they were actually, I'm not going to lie to you, they actually were pretty good, health-wise, not so much security-wise. A lot of things would happen in there that definitely shouldn't have ever happened. But with the food and everything, it was good. In my opinion it was because of the company. I feel as though if it was up to the government... Thank God it was an independent company that was hired by DHS as opposed to if DHS were to make their own jail, I feel they would be completely different.Rodolfo: It was [Pause] a pleasantly... there's no way to describe it, it was bad. It was bad, but for what it was I guess it was okay. I don't see there being an in-between or any pretty way to paint that picture as to how good or bad it was in there. Because at the end of the day you're deprived of your freedom. You can't just pick up the phone whenever you want and call your loved ones because you've got to pay for that too. You got pay for that. And if you want to take a shower, you have to buy your soap, right? You've got to buy it yourself, you've got to buy everything. And now you're becoming a liability for your family, you're becoming another bill.Rodolfo: You're becoming another bill and that's what I didn't want. So, that's why I started working. And now, older, I'm becoming another bill. So, I don't get it. You're taking us away from the jobs that we have and everything. You know? So, take us back to our country. And I'm not sure if it this is a fact or not, but I was reading when I first got in here, there was a time where there wasn't enough field workers for, I think, avocado—or, not avocado, I think it was oranges or something like that.Rodolfo: And I remember me saying, “Well, there goes all the deportees. There goes all the people you guys deported. Where are the people that were so outraged because we took your jobs? Go ahead, there you go. There are a lot of vacancies, making these open for those jobs, go ahead, man. All yours buddy, knock yourself out.”Rodolfo: But nobody wants to work those jobs, right? You see what I'm saying though, right?

      Leaving the US, Reason for Return, Deportation, Voluntary departure, Family decision, No hope for a future in the US, Detention, Treatment by; Time in the US, Violence, Sexual Abuse, Gangs, Bullying, Fear of, Jobs/employment/work

    8. Anita: Of those occasions immigration never picked, and never gave them to them... Chicago's a sanctuary city.Rodolfo: No, Chicago's a sanctuary city, yeah. That's why I don't understand why I was picked up. The day I got picked up, I was driving to work. I parked my car and out of nowhere a Ford truck, it was unmarked truck, they didn't even have the DHS seal on it. I didn't understand it, because I even told them all, "Isn't this a sanctuary city? Can you guys do this, is this against my Constitutional rights? I'm not that sure, not that well-educated in that aspect of it, but here, give me a book, I'll read it and I'll tell you what it is. I'm not stupid bro." That's why they separated me from the other people I was with, because it wasn't only Mexicans that I was with. I was with somebody from... I was with two Somalians.Rodolfo: They were brothers actually, two Somalians. I told everybody, "Man, don't sign anything, don't talk, don't say anything. Just tell them you want a lawyer and that's it.” I remember they told me, "Shut up," and they put me in a different cell, because I kept on telling everybody not to sign anything. Yeah, that's what I didn't understand—I didn't understand how they were able to go get me, but as I understood then and now, obviously federal laws are always gonna trump state laws. That's in the door, that's why you still see the dispensary in Colorado get raided, because it's a federal offense, and not state offense. I was literally a federal walking broken law.Anita: That's sad.Rodolfo: That's the way I saw it. Even though I'm cool, I'm all right and in Chicago, a sanctuary, but that's only state. They can come and just tear the place up into whatever they want because they're the government. And we can't do anything about it because I'm not from here.Anita: I'm gonna have to go in another room, can we pause for a second?Rodolfo: Yeah.Sergio: So, after you were detained, how was your experience? What happened?Rodolfo: After I was detained, I've got to say my experience going through the immigration, it was something I had never experienced in my life. I mean, I was never deprived of my freedom. And it wasn't because I committed an actual crime. I didn't go and take somebody's laptop, or I didn't go into a store with a loaded gun and ask for money. No, it was one of the most horrible experiences I've ever been through. It was more their idea of housing me because I'm not from there or it was...Rodolfo: [Pause]. I remember when I first got picked up, they took me to Wisconsin—I'm sorry, they took me to Rock Island, Illinois—for processing. That was the processing center.

      Time in the US, arrests, detention

    9. Sergio: After your mom told you couldn't go on that trip, how did that affect the way you were involved in school, the things you wanted to do, did that change? Is there anything that you...?Rodolfo: I didn't put as much effort as I did anymore. I knew, at the end of the day, I'm not eligible for scholarships. I don't get any aid, I don't get anything. In my mind I thought, “Man, what's the point of really working hard in school if at the end of the day, I'm not gonna get any help?” My mom is having to work to put me through college. No, I don't want this, so I just thought, you know what, I'm just gonna give her what she wants, my diploma, my high school diploma. From then on, if I want to do something, it'll be by my own hand, out of my own pocket. I didn't want her to... Not that I was a burden or anything, my objective was for her not to work that much. That's it.Rodolfo: After she told me that, I'm like, "Well, okay, what's the point of really working hard and putting your best effort into school if, in my position, I won't be able to surpass US citizens." Then the aspect of financial aid, or any aid at all, I'm not gonna have any of that. I tried it with the fake social, but obviously it didn't go through. Nothing happened. Yeah, it changed a lot. It changed the way I viewed everything around me. Like, spring break all my friends would go certain places out of the country, and I used to get invited and, "No, I can't go man, my family doesn't think..." It would always have to be lie after lie after lie. I didn't want to... for one, I always had that idea of like my mom and my family always told me, "Don't ever tell anybody you're an immigrant. If somebody has that knowledge they can do you harm. They can take you away from here, they can take us away from each other."Rodolfo: I'm seeing it now, with the families going across the border, and them being separated. I didn't understand it at the time, and man, now I do understand it. I didn't know how it really was until I finally got put in handcuffs and got shipped to an immigration facility.Sergio: What do you think you would have wanted or end up being before you found out? What kind of things... Like you were on debate team that was—Rodolfo: I wanted to be a lawyer, man, that's what I wanted to be. That's what I wanted to be, a lawyer. It's funny, because when I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer. Then after that I'm like, "I want to be an immigration lawyer, that's what I want to be now. I want to be an immigration lawyer.” I was already on the right track to being a lawyer, but then when that happened, it really opened my eyes more to, "Okay, let's help my people." I didn't realize... I know individuals over there who are citizens, and they're panhandling because they want to. They're on their own addiction or for whatever reason right? Or people who are just living off the government, but then I see some of my family members, or my friends’ family members and they're not citizens but they have businesses.Rodolfo: They have a business, they have trucks, they have houses, they're great. They're not living off the Government, they're not asking for a handout. They're living better than what a citizen is living. It's all about how much work you put in, right? If you hang around people who don't want to do anything, then you're not gonna do anything. I remember Gerald Ford always told me that. He was like, "If you want to be a millionaire, hang around millionaires. If you want to be successful, hang around people who do successful things, but if you want to keep doing what you're doing, and just be a little caddie or whatever, stay here. Stay here and maybe one day you'll do something else."Rodolfo: He was very blunt in that aspect like, "Always do a good job. I don't care if you're a shit-shoveler, you're gonna be the best shit shoveler there is.” That always stuck to me, that's why whatever I do, it's always been 100%.Sergio: That's good.Anita: Can I speak? I'm Anita, I'm the director of this project.Rodolfo: Okay.Anita: I'm really pleased to meet you—Sergio: Likewise.Anita: I'm amazed at your incredible story. When you talked about the trip to DC, the debate club, and you got very sad—Rodolfo: Yeah.Anita: ... what made you sad, and did it make you feeling... Do you remember what your feelings were as you sort of found that all these options were gone to you?Rodolfo: Well, it was just mixed emotions. I felt sad because I contributed to the team a lot. I wasn't just there, and it made me sad because I wasn't going to be able be with my friends, my teammates. It also made me mad because all my life, all my short period, my whole time here in Chicago or whatever, I don't think I've done anything bad. Why shouldn't I have the privilege to go if I put in the same work as they did? Only because I don't have a social security number or a document that lets me buy a plane ticket and go over there? I think about it in a different—at the same time, I was a little kid too—I just cried a lot. That night I just cried a lot because I knew I wasn't gonna go. My mom spoke to the, I'm not sure what my mom told her, but see, I don't think she told her that we're undocumented, and I can't fly.Rodolfo: Yeah, I just remember that night feeling very sad, very sad, but then it turned into anger. It was like, "Man, why can't I?" It was always just that, "Why can't I? I put in the same work, and just because I wasn't born here, I can't fly?" I even looked into bus routes and everything to DC and stuff like that, but my mom was like, "No, you're crazy, you can't go alone." She worked and everything, I just felt sad, mostly sad.

      Time in the US, Immigration Status, Being secretive, Hiding/lying, In the shadows, lost opportunities; Reflections, The United States, Worst parts of the US, US government and immigration, Growing up undocumented, Dreams; Feelings, Choicelessness, Despair, Legal Status, Disappointment, Discouragement, Frustration, Sadness, Jaded

    10. Sergio: You know that was different from a lot of other people in high school probably too.Rodolfo: Yeah, it was a big difference for my friends and I, because they all got their license, they all were able to get their ID and everything. And I wasn't able to do it. Then when I was asked, "Hey man, why don't you get your license?" Only some of my very, very close friends—probably like two friends—knew that I wasn't documented. Then, when we spoke about it amongst other friends, they knew that it was like another secret you had to keep. Yeah, it was different with other kid. Sometimes I'll be even jealous, because I'm like, "Damn, if only I had been born a couple of miles North of the border, or West of the border, or whatever, I could be in your position.”

      Time in the US, School, High School, Friends, Best friends, Social acceptance; Time in the US, Immigration Status, Being secretive, Lost opportunities

    11. Anita: Did Gerald Ford know you were undocumented?Rodolfo: No, Gerald Ford didn't know I was undocumented, no. I was still very young at that point. My mother and my family always told me, "Don't let anybody know you're undocumented.” If somebody finds out, for whatever reason, there's some people who just are plain out racist or don't want people like me in the States. Sometimes they just do things to... I don't know. That's what I understood and that's what I took in and that's what I applied to my life. It's like living a secret, it was like living a second life or whatever. It’s like, "Oh shit, why do I have to lie, why?" I guess it's neither here nor there now, right? I'm here in Mexico.Anita: That must have been incredibly difficult. I know personally, because I've had to keep secrets.Rodolfo: Yeah, I guess it's one of those things where you think it's never really gonna affect you, until you're in the back of the DHS, the Department of Homeland Security, van. You're next to a whole bunch of people you never met, and they're also in the same position. Some don't even speak English. You don't really understand how immediately it can affect you until it affects you. I never thought it would affect me. Okay, well I mean, I'm working, I'm going to school—I'm in high school—I'm doing this, this and that. Some of my friends who are students already dropped out. Did everything, they’ve already gone to prison and back and everything, and they haven't even hit their 21st birthday.Rodolfo: And I'm still good, I'm still good. I may not be a straight A student or anything, but hey man, I'm still here! Why can't I have the same privilege as you all do? Why can't I get my license? You know how happy I was when I got my license here, damn. I love to drive, that's one of my passions. Always, always, always I love to drive. I couldn't get my license over there. I remember even in high school in drivers ed, I knew what the answer was, but I asked my mom, “Hey mom, can I apply for drivers ed, so I can get my license? “She was like, "You know you can't get your license." Again, one of the primary things, I’m like damn, I'm just not gonna be able to drive all my life? Or if I do drive and I get pulled over—as a matter of fact, that's the reason why I got deported, driving without a valid drivers license.Rodolfo: I never got why the paper said, "Driving on a suspended license." I would always ask them, "If I don't have a license, why is it suspended?" They just told me, "Because you have a drivers license number, but you don't have a drivers license? I'm like, "Okay, so if I have a drivers license number, why can't I get my drivers license?" "You don't have the proper documentation." I'm like, "But I have my..."Rodolfo: One day I thought, “Well why don't I just grab the driver license number and have somebody make me a fake drivers license, and put the drivers license on there?” But see, if I get caught with it, now I'm in more trouble, and now I'm seen as a real criminal, because now I'm going around the system once again. That's why we don't want you here, because you're gonna do things like that. [Exhale] I haven't talked about this in a while. It just makes me want to…I don’t know.

      Time in the US, Immigration Status, Being secretive, Hiding/lying, In the shadows, Living undocumented; Reflections, The United States, US government and immigration; Feelings, Frustration; Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, Documents, Driver's license, Social security card/ID

    12. Sergio: Did you ever work in the US?Rodolfo: Yeah, I worked all the time, I never stopped. One of the first jobs I had…My uncle worked at a restaurant called, Baker's Square in Chicago. It was on the corner of Tui and Pratt. I really, really, really wanted—I think I was in fifth or sixth grade—a phone. I wanted a phone, it’s called the Psychic Slide. Phones used to flip, but this one slides. I wasn't gonna ask my mom for it, so I asked my uncle. "Hey man, I know you work at Baker's Square and I know around the holiday season it gets really busy. Can I help you? Can I go?" He's like, "Well, yeah, if you want." I used to wake up like 3:00 in the morning, and I used to go and help him out. After that, I really liked making money and I really liked dressing nice, I liked having my nice haircut or whatever. My very, very first job was in Wilmette, Illinois. I was a caddie. Yeah, and then—Sergio: On the golf course?Rodolfo: On the golf course, yeah. Wilmette Golf Course actually. I remember I was always the first one there. They used to choose us, when everybody got there, "Okay, you come with me, you come with me." I used to always go there and there was a gentleman by the name of... Man, I forgot his name. Like the President, Gerald Ford, that was his name Gerald Ford! The only reason I remembered was because of the President. He used to always get there around the same time I got there. He finally asked me, "Do you want to be my personal caddie? I don't want you working anymore with all these other kids, because nobody wants to work. Do you want to be my personal caddie?" I'm like, "Yeah, absolutely." It was going really, really well and everything.Rodolfo: I got to high school, I had a number of jobs. I worked at Subway, I worked at Chili's, I worked at... What was it? Outback Steak House, but then I finally just got to the Cheesecake Factory, and that's where I stayed the remainder of my time. The remainder of my time I stayed there, and I started from the busboy and I finally ended up being a bartender. One of the head bartenders, one of the head servers, they used to pay-out people and everything. Obviously, I didn't have my social or anything, but I was a little bit older than what I really was. When I first got there, when I first, first started working I think I was like 14. Obviously you can't work that young, I think actually, I was 18, at 14.Rodolfo: I didn't see it as anything bad. I knew that if I got caught with my fake ID and my fake social security card I'd get in trouble, but that's why we're there, that's why we worked. I didn't get a fake ID to go party or go get into clubs or bars or anything. The main purpose of it was for me to be able to get a job, and so my mom wouldn't have to work all those hours that she used to work. She used to work at a Burger King, overnight. I used to barely see her, and I didn't want that anymore. I told her, "You don't have to work that much if I start working. We can help each other out, we can, we're a team.” It was only my mother and I until I turned 14, when she met my stepdad. All throughout that, it was just my mother and I.

      Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, Documents, Careers, Food services, Athletics

    13. Sergio: Have you always known that you were undocumented?Rodolfo: Have I always known that I was undocumented? When I was younger, when my mother and I arrived to Chicago, I remember my aunts telling her, "Don't go out that much. Stay indoors, because if they see you, they can take you." I'm at a very young age, at that point, I think I was six or seven. Adults are talking in the room and you hear them tell your mom, "Don't go out that much. If they see you out there, they're gonna grab you." I thought like, “Whoa, who's gonna grab us, who's gonna grab mom?” I didn't understand the concept of the legal side of migration. Why we're not supposed to be here. I'd never quite fully understood why I wasn't supposed to be there.Rodolfo: Until finally, one time my stepdad, he told me, "You need to go to school and do everything that you need to do, because we're not supposed to be here." I asked him, "Why not, why can't we be here?" He told me, "We're immigrants, we come from a different country. You weren't born here, I wasn't born here, and this isn't our country. People don't want us here because they say we take their jobs. Or they have a preconceived image of what an immigrant is." I still didn't understand it yet, I didn't know why. You go to work, you pay your taxes, you do everything as my American parent's friends do.Rodolfo: Everybody... I go to their house and, yeah, they have big ‘ol houses and mansions and stuff like that, but at the end of the day, they go to work, they have a job. I don't see you out here stealing or doing anything, you're not causing any harm. Why can't we be here? He told us, "Well, I mean, that's just the way things are." I didn't understand that until obviously I grew up and then I found that out. When I finally really, really understood what an immigrant was or why I was an immigrant, it was the day that—I was in a debate team in my middle school. We won, in the whole district we won. We won the top prize. We went... Not national, I think it was... Yeah, nationwide, we were supposed to go to DC.Rodolfo: We were supposed to go to DC. I remember this then and it broke my heart, so I want to even cry now [Emotional]. Damn. I asked my mom, "Can I go?" She's like, "No you can't." I'm like, "Why?" "Because you can't fly." I'm like, "Why can't I fly?" She said, "Because you don't have a state ID, you're not from here." I'm like, "Damn." Then, I think she told the school... She made something up, but that's when I finally knew it. Like, "Damn, this shit is real, this is real." Then after that I just, "Okay, whatever, I'm just gonna see where this takes us." Yeah, that's around the time I found out.

      Time in the US, Immigration Status, Being secretive, Hiding, In the shadows, Lost opportunities, Living undocumented, Not knowing status, Learning status

    14. Sergio: What about school?Rodolfo: School? One of the first memories I have from school, after Phoenix—I wasn't going to school in Phoenix, actually, I think I even skipped kindergarten—we moved to Long Beach, California. And the only thing I remember from school was my mom waking me up probably about four or five in the morning. The sun wasn't even out yet, and she would walk me to this random lady's house. Actually, she wasn't random, but she was just some lady I didn't know. There was two other kids there, and I would be in uniform. That was the first time I actually wore a uniform to go to school. I was there, but I didn't really remember that much. When we moved to Chicago, that's when everything changed.Rodolfo: I was a little bit older. I remember I went to Jordan Elementary. It was in the North side of Chicago. We were there for a very brief moment, because then we moved to Evanston. Evanston was literally right next to Chicago. The school I was attending was called Orrington Elementary. The reason why we moved, once again, is because she wanted a better quality of life for me. Where I was at, it was all English, there was no Spanish. Obviously, there were Hispanic kids who already spoke English, but there wasn't... She, herself didn't know English, so how could she teach me, so how could I be integrated into a school that doesn't even accommodate for individuals or kids who don't know English?Rodolfo: She moved schools, although we were still in Chicago because we needed... what was it? Proof of residency. We lived out of district, and she would get fined or I wouldn't be able to go to school there. The point is I went to school to Orrington Elementary. The program was called the TWI (Two Way Immersion). It was a bilingual program and that's where I learned my English, that school. Friends and everything. I feel as though like, that's why I learned my English so well, because I really, really wanted to learn it. I always heard kids at the park or at the store, at Target, at Jewels, or whatever and everybody spoke English, right? I just felt fascinated, I was intrigued by it.Rodolfo: It was a whole different language that I didn't know, and I wanted to master it. I wanted to be able to talk as they spoke, or talk as they talked. School was a very cool experience. I always had a lot of friends, and I was always the life of the classroom. I wasn't probably the best behaved kid, but I was always integrated in to what was going on with the school.Sergio: Do you remember any teachers or people?Rodolfo: Yeah, absolutely. Ms. Mule, Ms. Mule was my second or third grade teacher, I'm not sure which one it was. She was awesome, she always help me out with the English, always. Even in parent teacher conferences, she would literally always talk to my mom as if she'd be really interested. She would show genuine interest in what was going on with, not just me, but with the Hispanic kids. Kids who had trouble with English or weren't doing the best academically. She always would tell me, "Don't worry, you're gonna get it. You're gonna learn it." She had such a big heart.Rodolfo: Still even, my mother and I still talk about the teacher to this point in time. She tells me, "I remember Ms. Mule and she used to use hand gestures. She would always be like, 'Yeah, for this or for that.'" Even though I knew I wasn't the smartest or the most best behaved kid, she would always have that initiative to get us there. Get us to that point. Yeah, that was one of my favorite teachers. Man, I value that so much actually now. I miss that teacher. Another teacher was in fifth grade, his name was Mr. Stoom. He was Argentinian, he was from Argentina. He was another great teacher. He always told us, "Don't ever forget where you came from. Your roots are who you are, even though you all are coming from different parts of the world, don't ever forget who you are and where you come from." That's one of the biggest things right now, I'm kind of ashamed of.Rodolfo: I'm not, because I was so... What do they say, "Americanized." In Chicago, I was so in America. I never dedicated the time to open a book or even Google something of my home country. Now that I get here, I don't know what is going on. Just barely a couple of months ago, I found out Mexico is a third-world country. I didn't know that. I go to Polanco Fendi, Prado, Gucci, Armani, Louis Vuitton boutiques. To me, that's not a third world country. Yeah, that teacher was the one who started opening my eyes up more to my surroundings.

      Time in the US, School, Kindergarten, Elementary, Learning English/ESL, Teachers, Mentors, Cultural acceptance; Reflections, Identity, American; Time in the US, States, Arizona, California, Illinois

    15. Sergio: What's one of the first memories you have of the US?Rodolfo: One of the very first memories I have of the US, was, I was in a truck with my mom—I'm not sure if this was before or after the fact, that we had already arrived because we arrived in Phoenix, Arizona—was somebody asking my mom, "Have you and your son ate?" I remember my mom telling him, "No, but I have a sandwich here and some snacks for him." He went, "No, here, you're in America now, you're in Phoenix now, let's go get a burger." I remember that somebody bought me—I don't know if it was her or him, the driver—a kid's meal from MacDonald's. This is when they had... I'm not sure…it was like the little hand-held games. I'm not sure, I think it was the Rug Rats or something like that. I remember getting that little toy and thinking, wow, it's a kid's... It had little fries and a burger, and you get a toy.Rodolfo: It was the first time I had ever saw that, and I got really happy, because I was playing the little game and all that. I thought that was the coolest thing in the world. After then, we went into a room... it couldn't have been more... It was just a standard living room, but there was probably like 50 or 60 people in there. Some of them were sitting and it smelled horrible. It obviously wasn't the best place. I guess it was just for people waiting for their relatives to go pick them up or something, I'm not sure. It was just my mother and I and I remember there was a lady with a big pot, and she was just cooking. I'm not sure what she was cooking but we went into another room and all I remember hearing was a big slam.Rodolfo: I looked back and it was a cage. It was literally like they fashioned a metal door with metal bars between the thresholds of the living room from end to end so nobody could get out. Then the windows were the same, they had burglar bars so nobody would get out. I was wondering, why is this happening? At that time, obviously, you were a kid, you don't understand what's going on. First I got fed, I have a little game, and now I'm in this steel cage that smells horrible. I remember somebody arguing with the other person that, "The bucket was full. The bucket was full." I was hearing that, "You need to empty out this bucket." I realized that was the bathroom, that's why it smelled so horrible.Rodolfo: I remember the guy just closing a curtain, and just telling me to, "Shut up." That's when I felt fear for the first time. Even though I was in the desert and everything, that's the very, very first time I felt genuine fear. I didn't know what was going on. I felt it because my mom felt it. She was just hugging me, and that was like the last thing I remember. After that I remember just waking up in the apartment complex. In a room, but it was completely different, it was somebody else. I guess these people knew my mother, because they spoke to her by name and everything. That was one of the very first memories.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the US, First impressions, Restaurants, Age, Awareness of what was happening; Feelings, Fear, Happiness, Anxiety

    16. Sergio: Why did your family migrate to the US?Rodolfo: The reason why my family moved to the US was because both my grandfather and my biological fathers struggled with addiction, with alcoholism and drug abuse. They were just not very... Mostly my biological father, he really wasn't always there, and he was always very violent towards my mother. My mother had me when she was 14 years old. When she got pregnant everybody decided well, okay, she messed up. She is this, that, like very, very taboo. She wasn't really accepted in the family anymore. It wasn't so much my family and I moving to the US, it was just my mother and I when she was 16 and I was two and a half years old. They weren't really interested in what was going on with me or my mother. She just wanted a better quality of life for her and for myself.Rodolfo: In Mexico at 16 years old, with no type of education past probably middle school, she knew she wasn't gonna get very far. I guess she made that decision in order to have a better quality of life for her and myself, she went on. She was 16, and I don't know how she did it. I don't know the details and all that, but she met the right people, or she got in contact with the right people, and she went over there. She went to the United States. To this day, I still remember a lot of the things, even though I was very, very young. It's something that I always tell everybody that I meet, it's not just for this interview.Rodolfo: I always remember the bad things that happened or the very... I don't know if it's because it had such a big impact in my life and my mother's life or just because of how everything was set up. I remember everything that happened from start to finish. From the beginning where we got picked up, to being in the desert. I still remember eating cereal with water. It was... I don't know, it was very, very... I feel like it was... it obviously had an impact psychologically, because I still just have a lot of anxiety when I'm in certain places that I'm really accustomed to. A two, three year old in the middle of the desert, it definitely had to have an impact on me.Sergio: How old were you when that happened?Rodolfo: I was two and a half years old, so that's why I'm saying it's very odd for me to be able to remember that at a very, very young age. It wasn't only that, just even when I was here, when I was two, two and a half, I used to remember asking my mom certain memories that I had. She would say, "Oh you were one year old, one and a half years old, how did you remember that?" It was always very, like a violent, violent memory that I had. It was more so like my father being drunk or high or whatever and coming in the house. Taking any little money my mom made for the week, in order for him to keep on doing what he was doing. Just coming in and just tearing up the place.

      Mexico before the US, Mexican Childhood, Memories, Family; Mexico before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Violence, Domestic Violence, Border Crossing, Desert

    1. Billy: And jazz helped me discover that because it's like a chain. African American people help each other out through their music, that helped other people out, that helped me out. Eventually I took my friend out of a heroin addiction because of that, because of the music. And I started crying when he told me. He was like, "Dude, I just wanted to thank you because you took me out of my heroin addiction." I actually did something. So that music was really important for me. It gave me an identity.Anita: So, you were attracted to African American blues and jazz?Billy: Yeah, because my brother was listening to it and so I'm like, "Dude, what are you listening to? This is weird We usually listen to rock." He's like, "Man, this is called blues, bro. This is a really cool music, and it has to do with African American people back in the day and it tells the story of America."Billy: So, I just looked into it and I became obsessed with it. I couldn't stop. Once I discovered Louis Armstrong, that was just it. I could not stop playing jazz and so yeah, in North Carolina, I was just feeling kinda crappy and that music came at the perfect time.

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Music; Feelings, Despair, Hope

    2. Anita: That's pretty cool.Billy: Yeah, I'm sorry for doing that just, I have to burst out and sing.Anita: Yeah, no that was great. That was fantastic. So, as you can tell, Billy is a musician.Billy: I love music, I love to sing. It's just... it's like a form of therapy for me. Yeah. It really is.Anita: Do you sing Mexican stuff or just...?Billy: You know what, it's embarrassing because a lot of people tell me, "Oh, sing this Jose, Jose song or Mexican traditional songs,” and I don't know them and so it's like, "Bro, I'm sorry. I don't know it." I only play grandpa music.Anita: But it's grandpa American music?Billy: It's American music history and if it wasn't for that there wouldn't be a lot of genres today. I really like that old stuff, for sure.Anita: And how did you get exposed to that old stuff?Billy: So, that was in North Carolina. I was actually going through a really big depression. I didn't know what to do anymore, being illegal in the U.S, not being able to find jobs, not being able to go into college was difficult for me so I was falling into a depression. And then I came across this guy called Robert Johnson. Robert Johnson is the king of the Delta blues. He's one of the most important American musicians, ever.Billy: So, I started listening to his music and just the pain and the story of him uplifted me. He was letting me know, "You know what, you're healthy. You're young. Look at these African American people back in the day, what they went through and compared to what you're going through? Don't be a sissy and don't complain."Billy: So that music just uplifted me, and it gave me energy and it let me know, "Bro, you don't have to just be this kid with”—because I had a lot of anxiety—"This kid with anxiety. You can play music and make people feel good." And so that helped me out a lot and eventually that led me to, and this is going to sound weird but, it led me to discover the purpose of what a human is because, listen to this, when you play music, you're helping other people out, right? And you're really contributing to the change that you want to live in the future.Billy: And I was, like, "Dude, what's the purpose of a human being? Why are we here?" And it's simply to help others. That's all it is. It is to contribute to the change you want to live in and it's very fulfilling when you help somebody. And so that let me know, "Dude, you're here to help others and, yeah, just do it."

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Music, Playing, Favorite; States, North Carolina

    1. Anne: That's great. It sounds like you've got great goals and that you'll be able to achieve them. One last question before we end. Do you think there's anything the Mexican government should do to help people coming back from the United States to integrate into society? Are there things that you see that are important to that?Juan: Yes. There's a lot of things that the Mexican government can do. Well, personally, I have family here, my aunt, and she was nice enough to allow me to stay in her house. In that part, I didn't struggle to have a house, but there's people who do come back and don't have any family here, or they do have family, but they've been rejected by them and they don't have anywhere to stay. I don't know if maybe having shelters for them.Juan: I know New Comienzos helps people who … Sometimes they do go to the airport and they do welcome them to Mexico. I haven't seen any other community do that for their own people. New Comienzos does stand out because they do go out of their way to make you feel at home. When I had just recently got here, New Comienzos helped me out as well and I felt like I was part of a community, that I wasn't alone, that I have somebody else to help me out.Juan: If maybe helping out New Comienzos grow bigger, or making new communities for people who do come back, get deported, help them with shelters, work, emotionally. There's a lot of things that the government can do, a lot of programs that they can provide. For example, my program that I want to give out, making houses out of plastic for people who can't afford them. I can make them affordable so they can live there and they can have this at home.Juan: Then, build a community where we all help each other, change the way people see things here in Mexico, have them have a different point of view in life, grow as a community, help each other out. There's a lot of things that the government can do, but, unfortunately, won't be done because of the current government that we have. When we get into politics, there's a lot of things that just— we all see positive things, but with all the corruption here in Mexico, it's hard.Juan: Unless we change the government and we put somebody who's a doctor or an architect or an engineer to become president and they have a different point of view, not just the political view, we won't be able to change anything. It's more of a Mexico thing. I guess we're not going so far; we have Trump right now. I'm not sure how you guys feel about Trump. The way I see, we provide power to the wrong people all the time.

      Reflections, Mexico, Policy to help integrate migrants back into Mexican society

    2. Juan: As a community, we always do wrong. When I was in the US, we had Bernie. I love Bernie, I wish he would have been president, but they chose Hillary instead, and Hillary lost against Trump. Then I come to Mexico, and we had all hopes that this new government was going to do positive things. He is making a change, but it's going downhill right now. My long-term goal is to be able to change the way people view things, because Mexicans can be selfish, they can be ignorant.Juan: That's because that's how they were taught since they were little. What I want to do is change Mexico and take out all the potential that we have, because we have so much potential, we just don't do it, so does the US. The US has so much potential, one of the top ones with the potential, but because of right now with the leaders that we have, we're not able to provide it. Then again, I guess that's overall as a society. We want to change this, let's change this or change that, but we can't, because the person who is ruling is not going to … They have other things in priority.Anne: Maybe you'll be a president.Juan: I want to be president, but I want to make a change [Chuckles].Anne: That's great. Well, thank you very much.Juan: Yeah, no problem.

      Reflections, The United States, Mexico; Feelings, Dreams

    3. Anne: You go back to Mexico and you got to college. Was it hard making that transition?Juan: Yes, it was. The thing is, since I knew I was going to come back I was determined to go back to college. Before I came back, I made sure that I went to the state’s—I got my high school diploma stamped by the state, by the Provo School District. I got a stamp, I got all my papers before I came back so that made it a lot easier for me. Because I know people who come back and want to go to college, but they can't because they didn't do what they had to do before they came back and then they just give up.Juan: They're like, "It's going to be so hard to get that, so I just don't want to do it." I thought of my future and I was like, "No, I've got to get this done," so I got it done. I came back, I put in my process of getting my high school diploma and all my years over there of studies renewed. Or how do you say it? Validated.Anne: Validated.Juan: Get it validated, and it did take six months but I got the answer back. Everything is good and I was able to go back to college. At the beginning it was hard, because obviously everything was in Spanish, and my Spanish wasn't that good in reading or speaking or even writing. It wasn't perfect, but I did manage to do my best, and at the moment, from the six semesters that I've been in college right now, I've only failed one class. That was in my first semester and it was history.Juan: Because, again, going back to the Spanish, it wasn't so good, that I wasn't able to pass the class. But now my Spanish is a lot better and, right now, I don't think I'm going to fail any classes because I'm set. In the beginning it was hard adapting to the classmates, to the culture and stuff like that, but I'm managing right now. I'm halfway through my career, I'm looking into different projects, like I mentioned, the Airbnb. I'm looking to finishing my career strong and start my quest as an entrepreneur.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Bureaucracy, Language; Feelings, Dreams

    4. Anne: So a couple of things to reflect on. When we talked to young men similar to you who went as children and parents were working in the US while they're growing up, a lot of them turned to gangs and criminal behavior. You did not.Juan: No.Anne: What do you think the difference was?Juan: I don't know. I guess some people… I would say my dad, he provided me with the role model. Because I told you, my dad is a hardworking man. Since we were little, we were nine or ten, he would make us go to work with him, even on the weekends, even if we would just go and pick up trash or even just to be there, he would make us go. In the way he taught us, that if you want something you have to go out and do it. No one is going to get it for you.Juan: In my situation, my dad was a role model and he made it so gang affiliation or violence never came to my head. I had cousins. One of my cousins was gang affiliated and he is older than me for two years or three years, so I saw that he was in a gang and he had a lot of friends and, in a way, it did push me to want to be like him because I saw him, he had power, but I always knew that gang affiliation wasn't my thing.Juan: Because, again, through sports, school, my dad, going to work, that helped me not get into that. I guess people who do get in gangs, I don't know if they feel alone or they feel by being in a gang you have a new family who has your back. That could also have them go towards a gang affiliation. You don't know their background as a house, if their parents are not well, or if they had a dad who was abusive or a mom who was abusive.Juan: A lot of things come from home when it comes to gang affiliation, or the people that you hang out with, the people that you surround yourself with. Fortunately, I was surrounding myself with good people who came from good families and showed me different things in life that didn't have to do with gang affiliation. When I was in high school, there was a lot of people who were in gangs. I was friends with them, but to the point where I wanted to be in their gang or affiliated with them that just didn't come to my mind.

      Time in the US, Gangs, Resisting affiliation

    5. Anne: Do you think being in the US changed your life, changed you in any significant ways?Juan: Yes, because I lived in Provo, where all the Mormons are, and most of them are humble, most of them are nice people. I guess I got used to that. So at the moment, right now, I don't think I will ever adapt to the way people are here in Mexico. I don't know if you've met Mexicans who are from not the center, but the outside of the cities, their personality is just a lot different than a US citizen. They have different thoughts, different priorities, which makes them have different personalities.Juan: In that way, I am thankful that I grew up in the US, because the way that I am, I consider myself somebody who's humble. I don't really like to get in discussions or stuff like that. I'd rather just do my own thing, be respectful to everybody. The way you treat me is how I will treat you, that's the way I will always treat people with respect and stuff like that. In that way, I am thankful that I grew up in the US because I do have a different lookout in life.Anne: What do you miss most about the US?Juan: The vegetation, the nature, because I remember in the US I can go out in the soccer fields and there's actual grass. The mountains.Anne: It's beautiful.Juan: Yes. That's what I miss most about it, the nature.

      Reflections, The United States, Favorite parts, missing, Mexico, Worst parts about being back

    6. Anne: How long have you been back?Juan: I've been here for three years.Anne: Is it hard?Juan: At the beginning it was hard because … Getting adapted to Mexico and not being with my family, but I was determined. I'm still determined—like I told you, right now I'm in college. I'm halfway through my career and, just recently, two weeks ago, I quit my job so I can start to look into … Because I'm done working for another company. I want to start my own company, and I don't know if you met Mauricio, he's one of the teachers here.Anne: Yes.Juan: You could say he's been my mentor now because right now he has his school of English and he's showing me the path of how I can be an entrepreneur. Right now, my goals are to, first of all, finish my career and then start off Airbnb. We're looking into that. We're looking for a potential house in Tepoztlán, which is an hour and a half from here, which is a really tourist part.Juan: Hopefully, once we get that going, we can get some houses here in the city, in the center. Then that way I can manage that then pay off school and work with that. My main goal is to be able to pay back … So my parents can say that they're proud of me, that the help that they provided me, it wasn't for nothing. Because how I see it is this thing could have gone both ways. I could've come back to Mexico and then I could've been in depression and started hanging out with the wrong people.Juan: Not go to school, not get a job, just not care of what had happened. But I decided to not go that route, to actually put an effort in my life, to have the ambition to grow as a person individually, also as a career, to grow. So, one day my parents can be like, "We're proud of you and we've always believed in you and the help that we provided you wasn't for nothing." I have a lot of goals in life. Actually, dealing with architecture.Juan: My plan is I want to have enough money so I can build houses out of plastic—not in the center because it's already big enough. I want to build houses out of plastic in the outside of the city, in Ixtapaluca, Chignahuapan, the outside parts of the city where it's really rural, really rough sizes, and help back to the community, be able to provide with houses that they are able to afford, but there are also houses that are … How do I say it? Houses that are … I had the word.Anne: Environmentally sound, maybe? Good for the environment?Juan: Yes. Good for the environment. Yes, to have a decent home. Because not a lot of people here have that. Supposedly the law here says that every Mexican citizen has the right to have a decent house and obviously they don't follow that. I want to be able to provide that to the community. Right now, I'm not looking into the making the profit for me. I want to give back to my community, make it grow.Juan: Because there's a lot of potential in Mexico that I didn't see because I was in the US, but now that I'm here, I see how my actual home country is. I know if I work hard, I can make an impact to my society. I can make a change, and that's pretty much my goal. I want to make an impact. I want to use my architectural skills and my construction skills that I'm developing right now.Anne: That you're studying in school?Juan: Yes, I'm studying architecture. I want to be able to … Right now, I'm starting to comprehend how I can make it possible, how I can make houses out of plastic. They're already making it happen in Colombia and they have another method of, here in Mexico City, making houses out of plastic. I want to come up with my own research but I know it takes time, it takes dedication. I'm willing to work for it because it's something positive that I want to give back to my community.Juan: When I had first come back, my plan was to graduate from college and go back to the US, because that's where I feel happy, but that's no longer my vision. I want to stay here, I want to help out my country because I love Mexico. I love the culture, I love the people. But unfortunately, because of the politics, the corruption, Mexico isn't so well. I know me, as an individual, I can make an impact on society, on the communities. I know that with my career as an architect I can make it happen.Anne: That's amazing, that's great, that's wonderful. You have great dreams.Juan: Yes [Chuckles].

      Return to Mexico, Education, College, Jobs, Occupation, Feelings, Dreams

    7. Anne: In the US, it didn't happen?Juan: My plan was, when I was 16 I had received DACA. I was one of the first ones who had received it—because that's when it had barely come out. I applied for it, I got it. I think I was a junior in high school. My first job was as a dishwasher, and then from there—Anne: You got a green card so you could go to work?Juan: I don't consider DACA as a green card. It's more like a permit to work.Anne: A permit to work.Juan: Yeah, I had DACA, so my plan was to graduate high school, work for one or two years, save up money, then go to college. That was my plan, but a situation happened—I think I was twenty. No, I was nineteen about to be twenty. I got accused of something, which was a really big deal, and it all went downhill from there. I got accused and then I was working one day and the cops came looking for me and they were like, "Are you Juan?"Juan: I'm like, "Yes," so they're like, "You're being accused of this and that," and then I got sent to jail. I was being accused of a first-degree felony, so they were like, "If you're found guilty of a first-degree felony, you can take up to six to twenty years in prison." Right there, my whole life was—I hit the bottom. I was nineteen with a first-degree charge and it all went along, my parents, they got me a lawyer.Juan: I was in jail for five months fighting my case and then they found out that I wasn't guilty, so this is something really strange because—Anne: They found out you weren't guilty.Juan: Yes, I wasn't guilty. I was proven innocent, but the thing is that since it was a first degree felony, they usually don't drop it down. This is what I found out when I was in jail—because you learn things when you're in jail—that when you have a first-degree felony, they drop it down to a second or third degree and then they give you a plea. How do you say it? Yes, a plea.Anne: A plea.Juan: That wasn't my case, because I couldn't live with the felony on my record. From a first-degree felony, they dropped it down to a Class A misdemeanor, so obviously I wasn't guilty at all. I was proven innocent after five months [Chuckles].Anne: Couldn't they just wipe it out altogether? Why did it have to be a misdemeanor?Juan: Because the state couldn't lose, that's the thing. When you're in jail, you learn a lot of things and my lawyer at the moment, he explained everything. If we were to take it to trial and the state loses, it's going to look bad on them. Obviously, they're not going to let me live clean. They're going to want me to take one charge at least. So, what they did was, from a first-degree felony, they dropped it down to a Class A misdemeanor.Juan: They couldn't take off all of the charges because that would mean taking it to trial—it's going to cost a lot of money—so they were like, "Accept the plea deal and then you're free to go, but you will have the Class A misdemeanor. With time and with the lawyer, you can remove it from your record, but not a felony. A felony will always be on your record.” So, I took the deal, and then as soon as I took the deal, I was free to go, but immigration got me right there.Juan: Immigration got me, they removed my DACA, and after that I started my process with immigration. I was in jail for, in total, eight months. Five with the state then three with immigration. I think I would have been able to stay if I was married to a US citizen or if I'd had a kid, or if I had something that tied me to the US. But since I was nineteen, I wasn't married, I didn't have any kids, I didn't have anything that tied me to the US.Anne: The Class A misdemeanor, that's one of the misdemeanors that is disqualifying for DACA?Juan: Yes.Anne: Did they know? I guess your lawyer knew that this was going to happen.Juan: Yes. He knew that they were going to remove DACA.Anne: Though he told you that it's the kind of misdemeanor that you could expunge from your record?Juan: Yes.Juan: He did say we can stay, take it to trial, and here's the big dilemma. You could either win with the jury or you can lose with the jury. If you lose, then you can look up to twenty years in prison. But if you win, you live clean you know? But do you really want to take the chance? Taking it to trial does take a long time. It can take up to a year or a year and a half in jail, and I was already five months in jail. I'm like, "I don't want to be here anymore."Anne: You said that you were accused of a felony. Was it a fabricated accusation?Juan: Yes, fabricated accusation—do you mean was it made up?Anne: Yes.Juan: Yes, it was made up. It was a made-up accusation.Juan: The funny part is that once I was out of jail because … When I was with immigration, the judge found me … I wasn't a danger to society or anything like that. He let me off with a…How do you call it?Anne: A bond?Juan: With a bond, yes. Actually, it was a $10,000 bond. Then my dad came up with the money fast so that he could get me out of jail.Juan: It was something that, like I said, I'm just glad it's over with but it's an experience that I went through that sometimes I do hate myself for putting myself in that situation because I could say, "Well, maybe that night I should've just stayed home. I shouldn't have gone out and I should've just…" Because at that time, I had a good job. My brother was doing good, my family was doing good, my parents, they would go camping every weekend or they would go fishing. They would go out.Juan: I would provide help financially to my parents, so we were all doing good. My brother and I graduated high school. We were looking to our future—everything was doing good. We were looking into getting a house. Sometimes I do feel guilty. I’m like, because of the situation that happened for me, my parents' plans, they all went downhill and I'm just glad that they … Because one thing that I remember is that when they first took me in jail, they're like, "You have one call."Juan: I called my dad and I was crying. I was like, "Dad, I'm in jail." He was like, "Why?" I'm like, "They're accusing me of this." And he just said, "Don't say anything. We're going to get a lawyer and just hang in there." My dad, he did everything in his power to help me out. He didn't know what happened [Emotional], but he believed in me because he knew that the kind of person that I was, and so then my mom ... All my friends, they didn't help me at all. It was my parents who went to the trials and stuff like that. [Chuckles]

      Time in the US, Higher Education, Dreaming about, Arrests, Misdemeanors, False accusations, Prison, Feelings, Sadness, Tragedy, Disappointment, Despair, Regret, Dreams

    8. Anne: You were enjoying school to some extent, and soccer. Did you get in trouble at all?Juan: When I was in high school, I did get in trouble because I did get in a couple of fights, but to the extent to say that I was a trouble maker or I wasn't disciplined, or to say that I didn't care about school, no. I consider myself not a good kid because I did get in trouble, but a kid who cared for his well being as in school-wise. I wanted to graduate, I wanted to continue to college.Anne: How old are you now?Juan: Twenty four.Anne: You wanted to go off to college, but that didn't happen or did it happen?Juan: Right now I am in college.Anne: That's good.Juan: Yes. Yes.

      Time in the US, School, Working hard, getting good grades

    9. Anne: What was family life like with you and your brother and your mother and father? Did you guys speak English at home? Did you do American things, activities? Do they work a lot? Tell me a little bit about family life.Juan: Right now, my dad, he's always been the boss of the family. He's always worked, he works in construction, and as you know, Utah, with the climate change, it snows, it rains, all of the climates. Since he works in construction, he does work outside all the time, so even if it snows or even if it rains, even if it's minus five degrees outside, he still goes out and works because nobody's going to give him the money to provide for his family.Juan: In a way, my dad, you can say he's one of those hard working men who doesn't look out for himself, but rather looks out for his family. In my house we spoke Spanish all the time because of my mom. To this day, she doesn't want to learn English even though we tell her to learn English. My little sister, she doesn't speak Spanish, she speaks more English and with her it's different. We tell her, "You have to learn Spanish because it's going to help you," but she doesn't want to learn.Anne: Is she a citizen?Juan: Yes, she was born in the US. So my parents didn't really adapt to the American culture. They always wanted to follow Mexican traditions, even when it's Mother's Day over there … I think here it's May 10th but over there, when is Mother's Day?Anne: I think it's the second Sunday of May, so it could be different days.Juan: We could take that as an example. They'd rather follow Mother's Day here in Mexico than over there. Also Christmas, I guess the one thing they did adapt to was Thanksgiving. We don't celebrate that here in Mexico, but they do celebrate there, and they did adapt that. Another thing, Easter day. You go out with your family, you hide the eggs as a tradition, no? They adapted to that, but here in Mexico they don't do that. They don't even know about that. In a way they wanted to keep their Mexican culture alive even though they were in the US, but they also wanted to adapt to the things that they did there.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Mexican traditions, Holidays, Spanish language, US traditions, Holidays

    10. Anne: What position do you play?Juan: It depends. I could play center mid or forward. But ever since I got back to Mexico, I haven't played soccer. I guess it's a personal thing. I don't find soccer fun anymore. I did play soccer—my cousin who lives here with me, he has a soccer team. All of his friends play with him, but I just don't feel like I fit in, so I played a couple of games with his team and it doesn't feel the same. I don't feel the same playing soccer as if I were to be playing with my friends in the US, so I don't know. It's been a year, year and a half, since I played soccer. I just don't feel the same about it.Anne: That's too bad.Juan: Yes [Chuckles].Anne: Do you follow the soccer leagues or national teams at all?Juan: I used to be really into the teams, but not anymore. Right now my focus is on other things and on the things that I used to think of. Right now, I'd rather focus on other things than keeping up with teams.

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Sports, Soccer, Favorite teams

    11. Anne: Did you make friends in school?Juan: Yes. You could say I was lucky because I was able to make friends and I was able to adapt to their lifestyle and to their culture, but there's other kids who had the same situation as me and they weren't able to adapt. The Caucasian kids, they just didn't accept them—as in, for me, they did accept me. I don't know if it's because of the way that I was or my personality, but I didn't have much trouble with that.Juan: I did see that other kids who had the same situation as me, they didn't get accepted because—I don't know in that scenario what people looked at or why it was that I was lucky to get accepted when others didn't.Anne: How about your brother?Juan: My brother the same. I guess we were into sports, we played soccer, we went to school activities. In a way that also helped us to be able to adapt and to get along with other kids. I guess we didn't close our circles or we weren't closed-minded, it was other worlds. We just wanted to learn from the different culture. We didn't really struggle that much to adapt, but then again, there's other people who do struggle.

      Time in the US, School, Fitting in/belonging, Making friends, Extracurricular activities, sports

    12. Anne: How long did it take to learn?Juan: To learn, I guess you could say by the end of high school my English, it still wasn't fluent, but the accent wasn't there as much. After I graduated high school, when I was in call centers, that's when I was able to practice my English on the daily, and I was trying to copy the way that natives spoke it. But it took me 10 years to be able to—Anne: But you were studying in an English school.Juan: Yes.Anne: You just felt your English skills were not great.Juan: Yes, they weren't great.

      Time in the US, School, Learning English/ESL

    13. Anne: Did you cross the border with your family?Juan: No, so my mom, she did have to walk when she crossed the border, meaning she had to get smuggled in, so she crossed by walking in the mountains. My brother and I … my dad found a lady who had two young sons who looked like us. What she did is when it was night time—I was eight, my brother was nine, I still remember we were in the back seat—and then, like any other family, we crossed the border.Juan: The guy from immigration, he just dimmed his light at us and they let us pass, so we didn't struggle. We just crossed with the car like normal, but my mom, she did struggle. I think she took three weeks. From what she tells me, it's the worst thing that could happen to her. Because whenever immigration were close by, they had to hide. I guess it's do or die because people do die when they cross the border and she's one of the lucky ones that was able to make it back to their families.Anne: It's a rugged trek.Juan: Yes, it is.

      Mexico before the US, Border crossing

    14. Anne: What did your dad do when he was working in Utah?Juan: From what my dad told me is, initially, he worked in a farm… I think it was strawberries, something to do with fruit. He would pick them out, but I think he was there for a year, a year and a half, he saw that he wasn't making much money so he started to get into the construction industry. That's where he was able to save up money so we can go with him, and after that, he's always been in the construction industry.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Jobs, Construction

    15. Anne: Were you living in that rural area before you left?Juan: No, before I left, I was living here in Mexico City, but not in the center. I was living in the outside of the center, where they were barely making houses. In a way it is, as well, rural parts because the conditions that we lived in weren't the best. We did have a roof over our heads and we did have food, but things could have been better when I was younger.

      Mexico before the US, Mexican childhood, Memories

    16. Anne: Let’s start by you telling me a little bit about the circumstances behind you coming to the United States, whenever you came, and how old you were, what your impressions were, what motivated you or your family to come.Juan: Why I had to come back to my school?Anne: Why you went to the US in the first place.Juan: Initially when I was five years old, my dad went to the US to work. He was there for three years, and then he was able to save up money to have my brother and my mom cross the border and be with him. My dad, I don't know why he chose Utah, but in specific, Provo. That's where I grew up.Anne: Provo.Juan: Yes, Provo [Chuckles]. What my dad always says is that he wanted to provide us with a better future because my dad comes from outside of the city, like the states in the south of Mexico. He lives in the small villages where the houses are still made out of mud or their houses are barely standing—where the actual Mexican culture comes from. I guess we could say the indigenous people. That's the kind of place that my dad was coming from. He just wanted to provide us with a better future than he could provide us here in Mexico. He wanted us to go with him to the US and to be able to create a better future and better opportunity for us.

      Mexico before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Economic; Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, First impressions, Living situation

    17. Juan: Initially when I was five years old, my dad went to the US to work. He was there for three years, and then he was able to save up money to have my brother and my mom cross the border and be with him. My dad, I don't know why he chose Utah, but in specific, Provo. That's where I grew up.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Age

    1. Claudia: My first question for you is why did you or your family decide to leave Mexico, and how did you cross the border?Yosell: Let’s see. I think I was about three or four months old when I crossed the border the first time. It was just, you're going to cross the border, and so I crossed the border through, it was TJ [Tijuana] at the time. And I was living in San Francisco for maybe like two years. After that, from what my dad tells me, and to what I remember, we were just moving around the U.S., and quite a couple of places.Yosell: From what I do remember, I used to live in Vegas with an aunt there. I was doing my elementary school and then after that I moved out to Utah and started doing a little bit of my middle school and after that I was kind of moving around a lot of places, I guess just working—my dad got me a job working for construction. And I was doing my high school online, a kind of homeschool thing. That was pretty interesting. I would come back to Mexico quite often. I would kind of just jump the border and come see my mom, and then I jumped it again.Claudia: And you would go back?Yosell: Yeah.Claudia: How many times did you say that you did that?Yosell: Six or eight times just jumping it.Claudia: You were over there without your parents or anybody?Yosell: With my dad. I was already with my dad.Claudia: How did it feel to be separated from your mom?Yosell: I don't know if it would be a big thing since I was always kind of with my dad, and I would see my mom almost every... I would come back every Mother's Day or Christmas kind of thing. Come back to see her, and then I would just basically just jump it again. Since dad knew people that would cross the border quite often, that's where they would do it.

      Mexico before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Economic, Family Relationships, Those who stayed in Mexico, Those who were in the US

    2. Claudia: I see. Did you like school? What did you get up to in the States?Yosell: In the States I finished my high school out there, and I was actually studying a little bit of college, but after the dumb Trump kind of thing came in place, I was just like, "Eh." And my mom had cancer at the time—she was fighting her cancer. So I ended up just saying, "I'm going back out to Mexico to live this time and actually live out here." I ended up just coming back, and just forgetting about college over there, and came back here to Mexico to actually live. And of course I was actually helping my mom with the cancer thing.Claudia: What did you do in the States? What did you like to do for fun?Yosell: Out in the States?Claudia: Yeah.Yosell: I actually had a sponsor for snowboarding and surfing.Claudia: Holy shit, that's awesome.Yosell: That's basically what I did. I just got paid to do that. And when I wasn't working with that, I would travel a lot with my dad. My dad would work with construction. I would just be with my dad or do my thing, and that's it, basically.Claudia: What did you like about snowboarding and surfing?Yosell: Let's see, snowboarding. I would always go back out to Utah, to Salt Lake, cause I loved snowboarding there and plus we'd always get free gear out there from the sponsor. The best part I probably like out there was camping out in the mountains. I really like camping a lot, I don't know why, it's just something I always did like. [Chuckle]. And from surfing, I don't know, it was always really into water.Yosell: I can remember when I was just a little kid, my dad would actually take me out to San Francisco and Venice Beach and all those kinds of beaches to just kick it. And I would see a bunch of my cousins surfing, so I think that's where it came on. I think I like almost any other sport, really, it's just like something that my dad put us into. He would take me, and I have two little brothers, out dirt biking a lot.Claudia: When you say you had a sponsorship, does that mean that you competed?Yosell: Yeah. It usually would take us out, and my dad would actually come with me, since I was still a minor, and it would just get a couple of videos into it, just do my stuff basically. That's all I would do.Claudia: Did you ever see yourself doing that when you were older?Yosell: I actually used to get paid for that out there, but just since I did end up just coming out to Mexico, I talked to my sponsor—which his name was called Jones, he was my manager out there—and I told him, "Hey, you know what? I'm going out to Mexico." And I got to say thanks and that's it. And he actually tried—when I got out to Mexico, I had contact with him a lot—he's telling me, "Hey, I want to see if we can get you a green card or something." I kind of didn't want to go back out to the States. I kind of just wanted to stay here. I really didn't even know Mexico, so that was part of it. I surfed a couple of times here in Mexico, but it's expensive out here to do something. You can't really do much.

      Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, Careers, Athlete, Family, Friends, Hanging out;

    3. Claudia: How long did you live in the States?Yosell: Let's see, about 24 years. Out here in Mexico, I've probably been here for like a year and a half. Just barely, I guess.Claudia: What was it like coming back to Mexico? You said you made the decision on your own?Yosell: Yeah, I mean, I already did know about it just a little bit, so it wasn't too bad. It was just basically like Los Angeles, it's the same thing, really. Just the differences, the corruption out here, and how people treat you. I would probably walk down the street, and I would always get a dirty look or something. I'd always get checked by the cops here, that's a constant thing for me.


    4. Claudia: What's been the hardest part back in Mexico?Yosell: The hardest part here in Mexico is actually I'm trying to live here with the economy that they have. One day transport is cheap, the next day it goes up, and then it keeps going up, and you're just like, "Oh." It's just really hard to keep up with it.Claudia: What have you been up to in this past year and a half that you've been here?Yosell: This past year I moved in with my girlfriend, so I've been here ever since, and we met each other here. So I ended up moving out with her, and I'm trying to do my university but it's kind of hard and stuff like that.Claudia: What are you trying to study?Yosell: I was actually doing a graphic designs and stuff like that.Claudia: Cool!Yosell: That was always something I did like. And now in the States I actually had an administration, so that was probably one of those two.Claudia: Are you currently working or what are you doing?Yosell: Yeah, currently I had a cousin that got me to work here at T-Tech, so I guess that was it.Claudia: Do you like T-Tech?Yosell: Yeah, it’s a pretty interesting place.Claudia: In what ways?Yosell: It kind of reminds me of the high school out in the States. That's basically that's all I can say about it. [Chuckle]Claudia: In what way does it remind you of a high school?Yosell: With all the people in there, basically it's a high school. That's how high school is out there. It just reminded me exactly like in California high school.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Employment, Jobs, Call Centers, Community

    5. Either you join something and you're known as hardcore, you're known as somebody, or you don't join anything and you get bullied around. That's what I could say.Claudia: Did you join anyone when you were over there?Yosell: Yeah. I got jumped in, 15,16, with a family kind of thing when they're out there. That was basically not a really big choice for me. All the family was in there, so that's all I could say on that.Claudia: How was that?Yosell: Basically, there's a very big process into it, which is kind of, I don’t know. Probably we shouldn't talk about it too much.

      Time in the US, Gangs, Affiliation, Bullying

    6. Claudia: Why? Do you think it's because of all the tattoos?Yosell: Probably, that's probably why it is. The way you dress.Yosell: Since I do remember I was maybe 17 or 16 when I started getting tattooed drunk.Claudia: Here or in the States?Yosell: Out in the States.Claudia: What did you like about tattoos?Yosell: Basically, the story it tells. There's a lot of things into it.Claudia: Do you have a favorite one?Yosell: My favorite one would probably be like I have these two angels here. Those are my two brothers, so I decided to get them, and I got my mom tattooed on my head.Claudia: Oh wow, that's amazing.Yosell: That's probably one of my favorite ones. Let's see, I had a cousin that got shot out in the States out in Utah, so I ended up getting a Salt Lake tattoo right here.Claudia: Oh, I see.Yosell: I guess there's a couple. I got these two right here, it's probably my favorite tattoo, actually. It says—Claudia: Did that hurt a lot? I know that's a stupid question, but I'm just very curious.Yosell: [Laughs]. It didn't hurt quite as much as I thought it would, it was just more like, "Oh my eyes are really like, tiring," kind of stuff, so that didn't really hurt. I think the worst I've ever had hurt was probably right here on the collarbone area. Yeah, that's probably the worst.Claudia: We've heard from a lot of people here tattoos are kind of associated with gangs and criminal activity over in the States, and that's why a lot of migrants when they come back get profiled. Do you think that's true?Yosell: I have to tell you, I'm going to guess that's really true. Because it's just something really common up there. Either you join something and you're known as hardcore, you're known as somebody, or you don't join anything and you get bullied around. That's what I could say.

      Time in the US, Tattoos, Meaning

    7. Claudia: In what ways do you think that being in the U.S. all that time shaped who you are?Yosell: I think the only way I can put it really is just being strong. Because basically you got to learn how to mature in a faster way than you'd probably do it here. I've seen a couple of family members or friends here that are like 30 years old and they're still living with their dad and mom. They're just like not doing anything for their life, and opposed of people out there, most of them that I do know were just living by themselves and doing their thing. I'd say out there it's probably not that good because you’d get, because most of the people would get into some kind of a drug addiction or something like that. I’d say, here, here it'd be probably the same, but out there it'd be easier to make money. Here it's a lot harder. That's probably what's the difference here to there. That's what I'm saying, I think out there you learn how to be strong. When you come here, you're just like, "Oh." most people get depressed or frustrated here. Others actually know how to move on and continue. That's probably how I see it.

      Reflections, The United States; Feelings

    8. Claudia: Well those are pretty much all the questions that I had, but now I want to give you a chance if there's anything else that you want to add, or anything that you want to tell me that you'd like me to know or anybody else who's listening to this, or whatever you want to say.Yosell: Let's see, I like the program that you guys are doing, it's actually something very interesting that I haven't really seen around here, so that's probably a good thing. And other than that, I think you guys pretty much got everything. It's not that much into details, but I think you guys got it all.


    1. Anita:Was he impressed?Beto:[42:45] He was impressed. He was impressed. When he taught them how to do the equations, I already knew how to do them, and when he taught them how to do the geometrical, that's how you call them, the geometrical, Pi and try to get the– He drew a circle and, in the circle, just to get the equation for you to, on the circle, make a pentagon, things like that. I already knew how to do those in my head. "You already knew?" "Yes. That's what I learned here in Mexico."Anita:Was he surprised that a Mexican knew that?Beto:Yes, very surprised. He was very surprised, and he wanted to know how, and I showed him how. He used to-Anita:Was he respectful at all?Beto:Yes. Yes. He was. I remember one time he got me, it was like [unintelligible 44:03], I mean they had this ticket for breakfast at that time when you go pick up your breakfast and he's like, "Here, I'll give you an extra for you to take another breakfast tomorrow in the morning or lunch." "Thank you, teacher." I was just learning. "How come you got all this?" "Because I learned it in Mexico." "They know more than us?” I don't know, but here in Mexico I learned the hard way. Teachers were very tough at that time. I had teachers that they actually pulled your hair if you didn't bring your homework at that time. That's the teachers I had. When I got there it was like, mathematics was like-Anita:Abraham Lincoln?Beto:No, no, I didn't know who that was. I knew he was in in Washington sitting down right there in a big sculpture. That's all. It's like, "Abraham Lincoln. Something about the Constitution." The Constitution? No, I don't know what it is.Anita:But you learned.Beto:I learned, yes. They used to put us, those cartoons for politics, I remember I don't know how else to call it. I remember that with cartoons they used to tell you about the amendments, the Constitution, who Abraham Lincoln was. I didn't understand them. After a while, I just started comprehending English and learning. But it was very difficult.Anita:Did you recite the Pledge of Allegiance?Beto:

      Time in the US, Learning English; Time in the US, School, Middle School

    2. Anita:Remind me finally, where did you learn your English?Beto:I learned English in California.Anita:How?Beto:[37:17] I went to middle school. I learned the hard way because my dad actually just put me into school like from one day to another, and it was like I was in the middle of nowhere. I felt like a little ant. Everybody was like, "The new guy" but I didn't know what they were talking about. And you feel very, very tiny listening into everybody. They put me into ESL classes as well. Now that I'm 41 years old and trying to remember when I was like 13 years old, I'm thinking at that time it was 1991 when they had these ESL classes. Where did they get these ESL classes from? At that moment, there wasn't that many immigrants. Everything in California was pack of Americans. It was an all-American state. They had this ESL class that they put me in. Most of my friends talked in Spanish. I was feeling like home. But it was just a certain class for me to learn how to say parts of my body and clothing. After that you need to go to history class. "Huh? Okay." You got to learn who is Abraham Lincoln. "Okay. I heard about him." But then the language, I just heard the teacher going, "Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah."Beto:Okay and I understood “Abraham Lincoln,” and that’s all. "Abraham Lincoln." "Good. What about him?" Yes. It was difficult. Math? I didn't talk at all. I was good at math because I learned –here in Mexico, they're very good at math and still they are very good at math. My algebra teacher – It was a Chicano girl. I remember that Chicano girl. The teacher pointed at me for something and then the girl told me, "Hey he's calling you. The teacher is calling you." She said that in Spanish. "Mm-hmm. What you want me to do? What does he want me to do?" "He wants you to go to the board and complete the mathematic there.”

      Time in the US, School, Learning English/ESL

    3. Anita:That's fascinating. To go back to something else, I asked you what you missed from the United States. Let me ask you that again. You said you missed the tastes. Can you expand on that?Beto:I miss the taste. I miss the relaxation, everything that's around in the States. It's very –you don't stress that much. I used to travel around at work and the view is beautiful. There's a lot of places that are beautiful. I haven't had a chance to travel here. But the food, the American stuff, the things I used to do early in the morning like to go to this American restaurant and ask for my hash browns, my bacon, jar of orange juice and a coffee, it’s just amazing. The cook was my friend and, he knew me already. "Hey Beto." "Hey my friend. Same?" It was amazing. Something that we don't have here. Something that's missing here when you go in, the way they treat you, it's beautiful.Anita:What do you mean the way they treat you?Beto:Like they always smile at you. They actually say good morning, good afternoon. I never had a bad experience at a restaurant. Most likely, in a public area, never had a bad experience.Anita:When you went in there, he remembered your order.Beto:Yes. They remember my order. It was amazing because they got me there. Now I know why Starbucks puts your name on the little thing because by putting your name, it's like you are part of this place. They make you feel like you are part of that specific restaurant. Not like what you see in the movies. But I had a lot of restaurants where I used to go in, and they were all my friends and they told me here, "Why don't you change your name when you, when you make- " "I don't have to, everybody knows Beto."Beto:I go, they know Beto everywhere. Every time it's like, "Beto, hey Beto, amigo, same?" "Yes. But now make a little bit more toasty." It is beautiful. I mean I got the taste of American food and all of the areas. I even went to Chinese places. There's a lot of people there. I mean I never had a bad experience. It was good.Anita:The last thing is, tell me this lasagna story again.Beto:Oh, the lasagna.Anita:Then I'll let you go.Beto:[31:47] Okay, well we're talking about discrimination in this case. I was just cooking lasagna and my family told me, "What are you doing?" "I'm cooking a lasagna. You guys want some?" This was a beautiful lasagna in a crystal base. They told me, "Why don't you cook something Mexican? You're in Mexico." "What do you want me to cook, beans?" "Some beans, I don't know, something Mexican." "But I love lasagna. You guys want to have some lasagna?" "No, it looks nasty. No." This is one of the things that you encounter when you're here that we're talking about people that are trying to learn and people who don’t want to know what's going on. It's like, "Taste lasagna. Have a little taste?" "No but it looks nasty." "It's just pasta there and then tomato. Take a little taste." "No, I’ll just go back to my kitchen and have some beans and chicharron and all this Mexican food."Beto:I mean, I like it, but I also like to have something from over there or what I used to eat over there. I brought my microwave. I'm living like I’m in the States. I mean I try to make my living like in the States: nice and easy. When I met my wife, I had all my stuff, my cooking stuff. She was like, "What is this?" I have my [inaudible 00:34:04] I don't know like heat, not the microwave. The other one.Anita:A toaster oven?Beto:Toaster oven, yes. "Why is that? What's that for?" "Well, I cook lasagna, and I make potatoes with cheese and I put a lot of stuff on it and I cook there." "I didn't know you cook." "Yes, I do.” Sometimes I don't like to eat a lot of greasy stuff from here. I do want something else. I want something that can remind me of the States. That's true. I cook. I also make, for myself, big pieces of meat, and I cook them there. Yes. It's like, "Why are you like that?" Because I used to go to restaurants, Black Angus. Oh my God, beautiful meat. I love meat. That reminds me of the meat. I can even have it medium like I like it. It's not that I really love to cook, but I have to cook because I want a little bit of over there.Anita:What's the food that most reminds you of over there?Beto:American breakfast. It reminds me the most. American breakfast is the best. Sausages. I love sausages. When I had my first sausages with honey, it's like meat and sweet, but that taste in your mouth, it takes you to some other place. Like, this is good. It's like the American breakfast with sausages and bacon. I used to put a lot of honey syrup. It's like, "This is great. Let me have another one." Or I used to stop by in the mornings. That's one of the things that really reminds me, because the morning there, everybody's awake early and there's a lot of places already open for you to have this good American breakfast. It reminds me a lot because you go there, and I have my hash browns, bacon, my big orange juice and coffee, American coffee. Here, well it's very tough to decide. There's nothing like over there. It reminds me a lot.

      Reflections, The United States, Favorite parts, missing

    4. Beto:I'm pretty sure the call centers are doing their best to help us out, but I don't know. It is very difficult. You're actually waiting to see what's going to happen. Every time you go to a call center, you wait to see what's going to happen next. Okay, I'm here right now. This is a good account. I'm getting my money, but what if it moves? For us it's difficult because, as being in this business, I think it is a business, I got to invest my time and I’ve got to save money because I don't know what's going to happen next. That's why I've been in so many call centers here.Anita:You told me you've been to a lot of centers.Beto:I've been to a lot of call centers, a lot. Tell me about it, you can ask me about the call centers, the things I’ve done, the accounts. I've been to a MasterCard, Kohls, I've even sold packages for cable TV, all those things. You get to learn too. That's one of the advantages because you're learning too, because you're managing money, people's money, you actually get to know. I mean, on my end, that's what I've learned. I don't talk bad about the call centers. I learned a lot. I never, well, in the States I never had a credit card due to the fact that I was an illegal immigrant. But here I have been managing people's credit cards, and it's like, "Oh, I didn't know about this." I mean, right now I'm in a call center where you lease phones. I was surprised about leasing phones. I never heard about leasing phones. I heard about leasing TVs, leasing cars, but phones?Beto:Right now, I'm leasing the phones and have to explain to them that they're not financing the phones. I learned other stuff, like when you finance, and you rent is a completely different thing. You’re learning a lot. you really get to learn a lot about call centers.Anita:When you call up these call centers or customer service and you end up at a call center, people know so much. With all this movement, how do you master everything you need to know to be able to offer that service?Beto:Okay, well actually, at every call center... It's amazing when you go in and apply at a different call center. Because the first time I got to a call center, it was difficult for me when the company moved. For me, moving to another one is like, "What am I going to do? I just know how to manage this system." But it’s amazing that most of the call centers have a similar system. They manage a similar system. I mean they all go and manage this system called Abaya, which is the one that you get to answer the phones. Most companies have the Abaya. I really don't know why, but all of them are similar. Okay?Anita:Mm-hmm (affirmative).Beto:After that, most of the steps that you follow are the same. Even though they're different products, the steps are very similar. You don't get really trapped in like what am I going to do next? No, it's very similar and they actually give you a very good training and you get to know, “I used to do this at this call center.” I used to manage, for example, setting up a credit card to make a payment. Most of the systems are the same. It's like, okay, I know how to do this. Most of the accounts you get the personal information about the customer, so you have to get the customer's information. You know that you have to set it up on tabs and all the squares but it's very similar.Anita:But dealing with Kohls, are we talking about the clothing? Dealing with customers calling about Kohls and dealing with customers calling about leasing a phone is a completely different product.Beto:Right. Different products, same process.Anita:How do you learn about the product? Don't you have to know about the product?Beto:Yes, they teach you about each product and how it works. The similar thing is at every call center you must ask for personal information. After that then it goes to product, which is not difficult. It's just the process that – in this case, for example, Kohls, clothing product. They teach you. You don't have to learn about each and every clothing. No, it's numbers. All of the clothes go by certain numbers that you'd have to click in. It's called S-K-Us, right? Here in the phone industry, we manage the phones, but it's the same at Kohls because you're not managing clothing, but you manage a number. Okay? You click on the number and the basic number pulls out the brand of the phone. I know on our end Samsung Galaxy or an iPhone is called iPhone or Samsung, but in this industry it's a number. That's why you don't really get to move like, okay, I need to learn woman's miniskirts or a woman's bra or a bunch of phones. Like, "What am I going to do?" I mean it's been a long time. “Nokia? Somebody is asking me for a Nokia? They're gone.” But yes, you just put on the number and it's amazing. “Nokia It's been a long time since I've seen you. I had you once, and you fell down, but you never die.”Anita:Is it boring?Beto:Sometimes it is. It is something that is very routine. It's a routine. Especially when you're back-to-back, when you have one call after another, then it is boring. Even the call centers try to help you out with certain days, like, "Okay, we'll take you out for, I don't know, a little breakfast." Still, you're going back to the call. It is boring sometimes. It's very stressful. Managing people, customer service, face to face or on the phone, is difficult. Dealing with people is, I'm not going to say the worst because we have to deal with people, but it is very, very difficult.Anita:You're dealing with angry people.Beto:I deal with very angry people. Yes. I have to breathe. I put myself on a little mute. I listen to everything they got to say. Sometimes they tell me, I mean what customers tell me is like, "I'm not angry about you, I'm angry about the product. I'm angry about the company." But I have to take it because I'm still the company, right? At the end, you're the company and you work for this company. You’ve got to talk good about the company that you work for everywhere you go. You have to go back and say, "Yes ma'am, let's go ahead and verify what the issue is, and I'd be more than glad to help you out with whatever. Let me exhaust my help. Let me see the most I can do for you. Even if I have to talk to my supervisor and you need to talk to him, but it has to be fixed." That's how it is.Anita:You also told me yesterday about the ways in which you have this kind of network of people who all moved, spread news.Beto:Yes. At a call center you turn out to be friends with everybody. For example, I left a lot of friends at some other call centers. If I move on for better pay, we just move to another call center and verify if they actually pay good. I have friends that we manage to, we actually call each other, "You know what? I'm here at this call center. They're paying, I don't know, 3,500 3,200 why don't you come over?" That’s like, "Okay wait, but don't come yet. Let me just get my first paycheck, and I'll let you know if it's true." So it’s like, "Okay, let me know." I have to wait. I’ve even waited 15 days or if he just got in, for example, on the 5th of a specific month, I have to wait because they don't get paid exactly on the 15th. They would probably get paid on the 31st, and I’d have to wait a whole month waiting for him to show me his paycheck.Beto:"You know what? Yes, it is true. They're paying this much." Then I have to go, "Hey sir, I've got to go." "Why are you going? Why are you leaving?" "Well, I found a better place." Most likely they don't retain you, they don't try to keep you because this is a very rotating place. You rotate time to time. That's how we communicate through this networking as you call it. "I'm here, I'm at TeleTech, come here, there's a brand-new account and they're going to be paying good." That's how we travel around.Anita:Let's say you’re in TeleTech or you're in one place and some place opens and it's a new account that pays better. What happens to the old account? Everybody leaves and then what?Beto:Most likely everybody leaves. It's like somebody is crying wolf. "Let's go," and eventually they all leave. I mean they say, "I'm sorry" but I don't know what exactly happens. I've seen companies that, for example, there was a brand-new place, an AT&T. As soon as they opened, everybody took off. The call center got empty.Anita:The other call center?Beto:The other call center was empty. They started setting up advertisements everywhere. "Hey, we need people, we need people." But that's how it is. That's basically what we want is really, we're trying to get a place with stability and a good pay.Anita:Do the other call centers raise their pay?Beto:Not the call center, there are accounts that pay good.Anita:But the ones that lose when everybody runs off to AT&T and leaves their other jobs. Do the other call centers sometimes increase their pay to retain?Beto:No. No. I guess we talk about it. You asked me about what happens to the new immigrants that come here. They're the ones that come on to take our place because they don't know what's going on. They just, "Oh, a call center. I'm going to get 2000 pesos, I don't know, every two weeks." It's good because they are new immigrants. Even if we know about it, and they become our friends for a little while before we move on to the other call center. We let them know, "You know what? Why don't you come with us?" But they're afraid. "No, I need to get experience." As soon as they get experience, "What was I thinking? What happened in my head that I was stuck right here?" That's what they do, and then they call us up. "Hey, do you think they're still hiring?" "Yes. Come over."Anita:Roughly what percentage of the people in the call centers lived in the States, and what percentage are Mexican would you say?Beto:Okay, I will tell you in my head that 25% are from Mexico, 75% are immigrants. People nowadays, from here, start learning English. It is becoming very popular to learn English. I've seen people from here that don't need to work. They actually just try to improve their English, and they get into a call center.Anita:As a way of improving their English?Beto:Exactly. Not to get money. Well, they actually are taking advantage of it because they're getting money, and they're learning English. That's the 25%. Some of them, because they're in school, they learned it maybe by playing games. When we're in training and we have to actually introduce ourselves, I'm amazed that they learned English playing games online or by watching movies. I was like, it took me a lot in the States to learn English because I was just listening to English. But it took me a little while and they're just like, "Oh I learned it by watching, I don't know, Finding Nemo and Toy Story.” I'm laughing at all of it, "Yeah you did. Yes." We've had this guy introducing himself, he actually knew the Toy Story song and I was like, "Yes, you did learn English with Toy Story." That's the 25%. Some of them, they do need it because they're actually in school here, they study they're actually just trying to keep on learning and move on.Anita:What's the relationship between the two groups? Is there like a solidarity between the returning immigrants and then the Mexicans?Beto:We're together. We're actually together. We become very good friends because this is what happens when they learn English, they get to learn the culture. They get to learn the American culture by all these games, by watching the movies. We can have a conversation. If someone here does not have the same ideas, we don't actually have this problem. Some of them ask us, "Hey, you've been in the States, how is this? How is that? You've been to Disneyland?" "Yes." "Mickey mouse is big?" But that's simple stuff. They don't ask much. I'll give you another example. I had a friend that didn't know, "Hey, what is a money order?" "That's like a voucher. We don't have these here." “Oh, that's a money order.”Anita:A money order?Beto:A money order. Yes. "I don't know what's a money order." "Okay. That's a voucher. You go to the liquor store, you go to the store, you ask for certain amount and then they put some numbers, and that's money." "Really? How come we don't have this here?" "Here I don't think that’s going to be a good idea." They don't know those things because they've never been there. But that's certain little things.Anita:That's really interesting because a lot of other people talk about the discrimination that they face here for speaking English.Beto:Right.Anita:It looks like things are a little different in a call center. It's like an oasis maybe.Beto:Right. Because they get involved with us. They want to know. They are a very curious people that already learned or are trying to learn the language. “We're planning to go to Olive Garden, we're planning to go to Chili's, but that's very expensive. But, I mean, we like Chili's. We want to go Olive Garden. Let's go.” Just for being curious, they learn. There are a lot of Olive Gardens. We have Wendy's here in Reforma. We’ve been there and they're surprised, like, "Is this in the States?" "Yes, it is in the States." Beautiful burgers, so you want to try them out. That's basically what, we don't have this discrimination in between people who want to learn the culture and the stores because most people here are not very curious about it. Most of them, I should say. There's very few people that learn.Anita:This is a sort of mini little group who are actually interested.Beto:Right. College guys, university guys. Here we have a name for the guys that just live with their parents and they don't work. We call them Ninis [00:26:06]. They also are the ones that learn English a lot because they don't do anything at home but watch movies, play games. But they're very curious. They get to be very curious too.Anita:They don't discriminate against you.Beto:No, not really. No. They actually want to know more. They stick with you. They stick with you and we learn from them because we actually don't know where a place is. "Hey, we want to try another thing" especially food or restaurants or maybe a bar. " Oh, you've never been to this place?" "We don't even know where it is,” “Let's go." We learn from them too. "Oh this is a nice one, I've never been here." We actually get together, and they learn, we learn, and at the end we become very good friends and that's when we become the network. "Get over here, what are you're doing there? You're getting little money. Come with us. Here's better now."

      Return to Mexico, Jobs, Call Centers

    1. Anne: Yeah.Ben: Them shelters can't possibly hold all them people, they can't. And so, all these people running around—they're running around the monument right now—laying there around. I see them laying around, the same people laying on the streets. But here in Mexico City, it's not that bad. You go to the border and the border cities where all along the Texas border, those are main dumping grounds for ICE [Immigration and Customs Enforcement]. All these border detentions that are on the border states, they're daily buses are driving and dumping people off. Detentions from up north, they wait until they fill up a plane, or planes, then they ship them. But here, they catch. It's every day they're dumping people. And there’s gotta be something done about that. I think that there's assistance for just about any and everything else. I do think that it would be in the best interest of the government to assist deportees that are coming back. It would probably save them a lot of money—it'd probably save them more to get them home and give them a little bit of cash, give them a bus ticket home to where they're from, and it would be a lot less expensive than all the chaos that's going on right now.Anne: Seems that the US also has really ignored the whole problem, the families that they're breaking up.Ben: Yeah.Anne: You've thought about that, in terms of US policy, ways that they can eliminate the hardship that your family is going through because you're here?Ben: Yeah.Anne: I mean not just the financial, emotional but everything. And it seems like it’s not even in the equation.Ben: Yes, that's true, that's not even in the equation. [Pause]. That's tough. But yes, I think [Pause] that [Pause] they're not looking at individual cases when looking at this immigration issue. I mean if they really, if the immigration person were really doing their job, then the judge did his job and really take the time to look at each individual case, some of these separations wouldn't happen. But they're not doing that, to me they're just trying to pile up numbers. I know many a case where…Just an example, one gentleman, taking care of his family, has residency, he's a legal resident. One DWI and it's over with, he's gone.Anne: He's a legal resident?Ben: A legal resident. One DWI and that's it, he's gone. And I've known of others that had up to three and they're still there. I know some that have felonies and they're still there. Then one DWI, that's not being fair. The biggest injustice I think is going after all these Dreamers and using the information that they filled out on their DACA paperwork to go track them down. I agree that there has to be some type of people should be picked up, but they're not chasing those people. They're going for the easy numbers because, you know what? Those guys they don't have paperwork where they can go pick them up, they’re not going to school here, going there. It's harder to catch them, so you know what? We can drum up 10-15,000 people right here, beef our numbers up. We got the addresses, let's just go get them.Ben: And that's kind of what they're doing, not really doing their job. Just to say that “We're doing something.” With 9/11, I remember that they, within the first few days, 20 something hundred arrests that they were attributing as terrorist arrests. But you know who they were picking up? They were picking up Mexicans most of them. It was not 20 something hundred Middle Easterners. But regardless, they were numbers. They had to show that they were doing something. But that's that [Chuckles].Ben: The US, there's a lot that they could be doing, because they can deport 100,000, but they know they gotta replace those 100,000 for the workforce. One thing I know is I know the ins and outs of labor in the US. That is one thing that I do know. And I do know that there's unwritten policies that look the other way, look the other way while we get this done. We need this done, look the other way. Hurricane Katrina was one, we had immigration, immigration was about the only police patrolling the area at the time and they weren't bothering anybody—it was hands off until they get this cleaned up. And once all the toxic clean-up was out of the way, then they started to enforce, but still not full force again.Ben: So, there's a lot to the government, part to blame there. Instead of locking them up, they should really create some type of labor program.Anne: People can come and go.Ben: People can come, instead of coming across and, to me, instead of somebody going to work over there and pay $6,000 to a coyote, they could pay $1,500 at a processing center to apply and get placed in a job by the US government legally. But you know what? US government don't wanna do that, because they want to keep them costs down. And so, does private business, they need to keep them costs down. It's like, would you like to pay $30 for a Big Mac? [Laughs].Anne: You’re saying that McDonald's is just using a lot of undocumented and paying them really?Ben: Well the whole concept of migrant labor, the migrant labor force, is to keep the cost of products down and housing as well. If it wasn't for migrant labor and this underground labor networks that are operating, a $250,000 house would've probably cost you a million. And a lot of people wouldn't be able to, a lot of people can't afford a $200,000 house [Chuckles].Anne: No. Well I thank you very much.Ben: Thank you all for coming, coming to help us out and spread the news.Anne: You’ve probably been asked this question, but do you consider yourself an American? A Mexican?Ben: You know, honestly deep inside, American. That's how I've always felt. But right now, after this happened, it's like have you ever, there was a book called The Man with No Country, are you familiar with that?Anne: Yeah.Ben: That's, when I was deported, that's the first thing that, that's what came to my mind, The Man with No Country, not here, not there, not accepted here, not accepted over there. And when I got here it's like, no paperwork, no drivers, no identification, and I had a harder time getting a driver's license, getting my voter registration—which is the main source of ID here—the toughest time here then I did getting ID in the United States. And I was illegal in the United States and I was able to, anything I needed, I could get over there. And here, I'm here, I had a hard time. It took me a few months.Anne: It's really too bad.Ben: Yeah. Kind of rough. I don't know if it had been easier here, in the big city, but over there it was pretty rough, hard getting around.Anne: Well, I wish you the best of luck.Ben: Oh, thank you—Anne: I think that you're, you think you're going to be fine, so I think you're going to be fine. And you must be very proud of your family, they seem really great.Ben: Oh, I am, they're going, they're moving forward, that was the purpose of heading that way.


    2. Anne: I see.Ben: I mean it's a nice house. It's up in the mountains and I had a lot of family members, including my wife go, "Why are you leaving? Why are you going to Mexico City? You don't need to.” I go, "Well one I'm going, I want to be involved in helping these people. I gotta go out and do something, I know I can still do something, I need a job. I need a job, I need a real job.” Raising goats and sheep is fine and it was common people and stuff, but I'm a busy body and I need to do something.Ben: And then I became aware of New Comienzos and when I seen that, that's what I want to do. I want to go down there, I want to be involved in that. I want to be involved in that because that's something that I know I can help and contribute to. And at the same time, I can get me a job down there and I'll stay put. I'll come back and visit every now and then, but I'm a city person [Laughs].Anne: Yeah. So, did you fight the detention or no?Ben: No. When my first, I was detained when I was 19—well no, I got in trouble when I was 19, detained at 27. That time, I signed away, I didn't fight it. So, this time, I had no rights. I could not fight anymore because I'd already signed away. This time around, I probably would've fought it, because I had the money this time. Even if I knew I was going to lose, at least I knew I had the money for the bond and I could put it off two, three, four years. But, the first time I didn't have the money. So, I said, “Sit here two years and wait and then probably get deported? No.” Unfortunately, this time, I just, there was no rights that I could—Anne: And have your kids or your wife been to visit you?Ben: Yes, they have up there. Hopefully once I get settled here. My wife was supposed to come here in May, like around my birthday, which was the week before last. But when my son got this scholarship, well he said, "We gotta go,” so her and my daughter both drove him down to Orlando and they went to Disney, like we used to always go to Disney World. We would go at least twice a year. There was one year that I had two projects that ran over a year down there and I bought them season passes, because it was easier for them to fly down on the weekend and come see me. And when they come down, if you buy three individual park tickets, it's more expensive then the season pass.Anne: Yeah.Ben: But they're still keeping up the traditions [Laughs]. They're still going to Disney.Anne: And you spent a lot of time volunteering while you were in the states.Ben: Yes.Anne: So, it seems like, does that make it a good fit to try it here?Ben: Oh yes. Yes, it's voluntary here, it's a different theme here. It's a stronger, I feel it's a stronger theme. Not that my volunteer work back over there wasn't, but my volunteer… Like helping out at the school whenever I was in town, I would let them know that I would be in town and I was available to substitute if one of the teachers needed a break or was going to be missing. And I was qualified to take the classes on.Ben: But I also was a volunteer English teacher when they started, they started a Spanish church. When that Spanish church started, it was actually my father that was the preacher. My father was at another church, but when they wanted to do that, I talked to my father to see if he would, because they asked me to, but I was honest, I go, "You know I'm not that knowledgeable of the Bible, to be able to. I don't want to stumble over myself.” And you know when people are barely getting into a church and you say one thing but then you contradict yourself, you're going to destroy their faith.Anne: Don't want to do that.Ben: No. And I did a lot of volunteer work there at the church and the school. It was great. And they've been right by my family's side, they're still going to church there and anytime that they need anything, they're right there. But good thing …. they've been fine. My wife, she's got a pretty good job. She worked for a mortgage company, so she does pretty well. And my daughter helps out too now that she's making money. It's been a long ride. [Laughs].Anne: So, we hear a lot of stories about young men who come over as babies or toddlers and then for some reason get caught up in gangs or crime. What was different for you? Why do you think that never happened?Ben: Well, I can tell you that I think, probably the single most important thing, the most important thing in a person's life is environment. Parenting is important, but you can have the best parents in the world, but if you have them in a bad environment, your parenting is not going to supersede the environment. And that's one of the things that I focus with my wife is that—well my parents, they provided a good environment. And when I got married from my life experiences, I stepped that up a bit. I told a lot of other relatives, this is one thing I've told a lot of other relatives, this happens a lot in America—not just with Mexicans or Central Americans, Blacks or whatever—is a lot of people yell out racism or discrimination.Ben: And I sincerely believe that sometimes we discriminate ourselves, that we put it on ourselves, because we teach that to our children, because weekends we all want to go get together with other relatives, other friends of our own ethnicity. And that's not really what America's about and that's not what I taught my children because that's not how I lived my life. I was out with everybody, congregating with everybody, and that's the environment that we brought our children up in. We brought them up in their church—I was talking to you earlier, our church and the school that they went to was part of the church. We were the only Hispanics.Ben: But that doesn't mean that we didn't allow them or try to get them to forget who they were. We didn't, because we brought them around our relatives, but we let them see that environment and so that they felt comfortable. So, when they got out into the world, they're comfortable around anybody and they're not looking at colors or whatever. And they don't feel like they're different and they don't feel different. I honestly, I think I felt more different when I got back here [Laughs].Anne: Right.Ben: Because it was really kind of weird. But over there I didn't, but I think environment is one of the most important things. If you put a good person in a bad situation, in a bad environment, sooner or later he'll break. If you get a bad person that's never known what life is really supposed to be about, guide him a little bit and give him a little time, and if he's willing—Anne: It might work out.Ben: Yeah, it might work out.Anne: Interesting. So, you achieved your dreams in America.Ben: Oh yeah.Anne: Do you have dreams now for yourself here?Ben: Yeah. My dream here is, one, to help here and I can't say it's a goal that's going to be met. And the other is I'm going to have here what I had over there and I'm confident that I can make that happen.Anne: And will you make it through construction business, or will you make it through…?Ben: Right now, I think that there's other areas here that I could probably succeed in without jumping into the construction business. We have land back here (in the family home) and a buy little bit of cattle, make some money here. There’s just several different ideas. But I know that I can excel in a job here, because there's several people here that are making some pretty high incomes and just, some pretty much as telemarketers, but just there's some call centers with some good bonuses. You're not going to get rich there, but you can make a good living.Anne: Right.Ben: But there's some opportunities right now.

      Return to Mexico, Jobs, Community, Opportunity, Family Relationships, Feelings, Dreams; Reflections, Mexico, The United States

    3. Ben: That's all I can do. But I'm still grateful I did very well and my family's not hurting. If I felt that they were hurting, I would risk it all and head back. But, they're comfortable, they're doing well. And I think, well I feel that I set a standard for them, to strive to be more, to strive because they all had, including my wife, when we married she was kind of shy and her self-esteem—not that she had low self-esteem—but she really didn't believe that much in herself. But right now, she's shining, she's doing really well, and she's holding it together for both kids at that age to still be living with her, other than my son right now in college, that he went, that's to say a lot for two parents. But for a single parent, you gotta hand it to her.


    4. Ben: Yes. Real nice life. And my children, they didn't know that I was illegal until it happened. And we had…Well there was a reason why we didn't want them knowing because children can tell others. And then also they just wouldn't understand. When they were a little bit older, like my son in junior high and my daughter barely starting high school, do you remember when Lou Dobbs went off on his rant? On CNN, when he started all that. When Lou Dobbs started ranting, it was like every day on TV, the other school children were talking about illegal ladies and this and this. And one day I got home and my wife, the kids were already in bed, and she told me, "You know what? Vanessa came up and asked me if any of our relatives were illegal aliens.” And I told her, "Probably about time we started explaining some things to her.” She goes, "No, with our relatives yes, but as far as you, no. You can't"Ben: So, we didn't. And it was just, once they did find out, I really don't know, I'm really not sure how they really feel. But it had to be—Anne: They didn't find out until you actually—Ben: Yes.Anne: And they're adults now? Or young adults?Ben: Yes. And my daughter, I know it had to move her because after my daughter, this is her graduating from Indiana University with honors, very decorated.Anne: Beautiful.Ben: Her major is paralegal studies. She's still studying, she wants a law degree.Anne: That's great.Ben: And she did her internship at the Marian County prosecutor’s office. She graduated and upon graduation—well before she even graduated—she had secured a job. She's got a job, she's got her first job, right now she's a paralegal for immigration family law.Anne: Oh wow. Wow.Ben: So, I guess it has something—Anne: Sure.Ben: My son, just barely last week he went to get settled. He was going to IUP [Indiana University of Pennsylvania] in Indianapolis, but he just got the Disney scholarship and it's a full scholarship, so room, board everything. And he just got settled last week in Orlando. So, he's going to be there for a little while.Anne: And what school does that go for?Ben: I'm not exactly sure, some university there in Orlando. I haven't had a lot of contact since…They were busy over there, when they were over there, I was busy heading this way.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Being secretive, Family, Children

    5. Anne: So, you built your company, your wife was a US citizen?Ben: Yes.Anne: And your two children?Ben: U.S. citizens.Anne: U.S. citizens and you sort of had a really nice middle-class life, right?Ben: Yes. Real nice life.

      Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, Small business owner, Careers, Construction

    6. Ben: But over twenty, 22-23 years.Anne: 23 years? And were you worried about getting deported those 23 years?Ben: Right after my daughter was born, yes, every day, the thought would cross my mind. I had many brushes with Immigration, as we're in the construction business. Many times, job sites would get raided and the only thing was just to keep cool and walk straight up to them. Don't walk away from them, if I seen them walking this way, I walked towards them instead of walking away from them. I walked towards them.Anne: So, they probably, you being the head guy, they didn't think of you as much—Ben: No, but during the raids I don't think they had any idea of who was the head guy or not.Anne: Oh.Ben: Because a lot of the times, a lot of these raids, I was all covered in drywall, compound, white compound all over me, almost like if you got paint all over me. But I just wouldn't…I would just walk right up to them. And there was another gentleman—this was amazing because he didn't speak English. And there was three times these raids that Immigration come up and you're talking about over 10-11 people just scatter. He would never run; he would stay put. And one time he was up on a scaffold and immigration officer, it was one vehicle pulls up front and just one officer, I knew that everybody else were all around in the back because there was a big old wall.Anne: Yeah.Ben: And so, he finally gets out and comes inside the house and he walks right past me and that happened a couple times where they would just walk right past me, didn't even acknowledge that I was even there, nothing. I go, "Is God making me invisible?" [Chuckle]. It really felt like that because this time he didn't even acknowledge me, just walked right past me. He didn't see me. Anyhow, he walks up to this other person, he's on the scaffold and he goes, "[Spanish 00:27:11] papels hombre?” and from up there he goes, "Yeah.” And pulls out his wallet, left him alone. Walked away.Ben: And it was three times with that one person. And then after that last time that I was with him that happened, he goes, "Look at that, they're taking all these poor guys that don't want to go. I want to go back, I want a free ride back. But they don't want to take me.” And I spoke to a cousin of his, it’s probably been about three years ago, and I asked him about him, and he says, "To this day, he don't have his residency, he never got his papers.” He's living in Atlanta now by the way, or he was when I talked to his cousin. His cousin goes, "He's in Atlanta, but to this day he never got his papers and he's never been deported.” And I go, "Some people are lucky and some are not".

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Feelings, Fear, Legal status

    7. Ben: And so, we left, and we went to Acuña across from Del Rio (Texas) and then, "No, just wait for me across the bridge. I'll be right there.” So, "No, no no.” So, I got a taxicab straight across the bridge. But I had already had my Texas driver's license and social security card brought to me in case they questioned me, then I could say, "US.” And that's all I did, just told them I was a US citizen, they just…It wasn't like it is right now. Right now, even a US citizen is going to have trouble getting across the bridge [Laughs].

      Time in the US, Arriving in the US

    8. Ben: I didn't want to waste two years. So, they deported me, I asked the judge to sign, and I signed and that same evening I was on the bus to Lorado, caught a bus to Saltillo, , and then this was a day before Thanksgiving, when I arrived in Mexico. And then I stayed there in Saltillo up through December, through Christmas. Christmas my parents came to visit, and my girlfriend had come to visit too, my girlfriend had come to visit around Christmas and then they left.Anne: They were all citizens?Ben: Yeah. And then we had plans to get married and my girlfriend, she was willing to come live here, give everything up in the states and live here, even though she's a citizen. So, I said, "Well if you really feel strongly then come on.” So, she came to Mexico and when she arrived here in Mexico, I went to pick her up at the border, she came on the bus right across from Eagle Path. So, I met her there and then brought her back to my family's house.Ben: Then we get there and we're there—and then my parents had arrived there too—and she goes, "When are we heading back?" because she thought we were going to Saltillo, because I told her it's a big city, better opportunities there. I go, "Oh we're not going to Saltillo.” She goes, "Well where are we going?" I go, "You think I'm going to sit here and years later we're going to be worried about our kids, where they're at, because you know they're not going to stay put here. They're going to jump that border.” And I go, "So what are we going to do?" "Well I'm going to take that risk right now, I'm going to jump it right now.” She goes, "No you can't.” I go, "You watch me. Let's go, we're leaving tomorrow".

      Leaving the US, ICE, Deportation; Return to Mexico, Family Relationships, Reunification

    9. Anne: Yeah. So, in Texas, you couldn't get a license, could you?Ben: I had a license, I did.Anne: So how did you get it?

      Time in the US, Documents, Driver's license

    10. Ben: The business started blossoming when we were in Texas. I had told my wife to give me…Within five years we'll have a house and we'll both have good vehicles, dependable vehicles, but it's going to take a while. Well within a year and a half from when I started, we bought out first house and we both had good, dependable vehicles. However, it was still tight when I took a project on in Akron, Ohio. And when I took that project on, I did not want to go up there for many reasons. One, because I had this immigration issue on me and I'm going near the Canadian border. Another, I didn't really want to be away from my family.Ben: But when these customers get persistent, "What's it going to take? What's it going to take?" And I said, "It's just out of the question. I can't go up there, I got all these jobs going on. Plus, I got bad equipment, my equipment’s old and if my equipment breaks down up there, I'm not going to be able to meet the schedules and we're all going to be in trouble.” "Is that it? Really?" The last price he had upped the price of what the contract was to pay, and the pay was fine. I had other reasons why I didn't want to go. Well when he says, "I'll throw in a brand-new texture machine on top of it, but I'll sign off on the paperwork after you complete the project.” And I go, "You'll do that?" "I'll do that and when have you known me to not keep my word?" And I go, "Done deal.”Ben: One of those texture machines, the price tag at that time was about $30,000. Right now, it's probably closer to $40,000 because we're talking about 1996. And he followed through, I came up to Akron, when I got up to Akron though, they had projects, there were projects everywhere, Kentucky, Michigan. And the pay, the pay was awesome. And that is where it really, within I think about the second month that I was up north, it just completely changed.Ben: But I hadn't seen my wife and children since I had taken off up there. So, I told her to come up there and visit and I started discuss with her. I go, "Look these other jobs,” and I had already said I was going to take them, but I didn't tell her that. I told her, she says, "What if you go to be traveling?" I go, "It's worth it to be traveling back and forth, but I'm not going to be traveling back and forth. We're going to just take the kids; we're going to move up here and we're going to be together".Ben: And so that's when I moved them to Indianapolis. We stationed in Indianapolis although I did travel quite a bit. I was on the road quite a bit because I had later ended up with jobs as far down as Orlando, Florida. And I ended up in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina to repair a bunch of apartments which we had worked on before. But it was a pretty wild ride, but we really were doing really well, and it was really amazing.

      Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, Small business owner, Earnings, Careers, Construction; Time in the US, States, Texas, Indiana, Louisiana, Florida, Ohio

    11. Anne: So, you were in Texas initially, is that where you got married?Ben: Yes, in Texas.Anne: Your wife. When did the business start blossoming to help you move out of Texas?

      Time in the US, States, Texas

    12. Anne: So, you dropped out of high school to help with your dad because he was sick and then you got your GED without studying.Ben: Yeah.Anne: And you then went to community college. The community college, the courses that you took, were they designed to help you with your business? Did you think about that?Ben: Yes. The courses that I started taking were courses that I figured would help me, not just in my business, but in personal wealth later. For instance, I took business management, small business management, was one of the courses that I focused on. And then the other course was psychology-- definitely something that I knew would help. Then real estate finance because I figured later with accumulating some money I could invest in real estate. Understanding real estate finance was a very very important factor in me being able to grow my business later. I didn't know that at the time, but later I purchased my first home and then we purchased a home up in Indianapolis. And then when I hit a point where I needed to grow, I had the opportunity to take bigger jobs and bigger contracts, I didn't have that much capital to be able to take that much more on.

      Time in the US, School, Higher Education

    13. Anne: And did your mom work too? Or just your dad?Ben: My mom, she worked quite a bit, but there was a period when my youngest sister was born, she ceased from working and she stayed home with her for a few years. And then once—I think my sister was about four years old—then she went back and started working again until we were doing good in the construction. When I jumped into the construction and started my own business, then my dad went to work for me. And when he went to work for me, then my mother didn't have to work any more. We were really doing pretty well, we did pretty well. Did a lot of construction projects all throughout the Midwest and eastern seaboard. Lot of government projects.Anne: Really?Ben: Yeah. A lot of low-income housing for the government.Anne: So, you moved around, it wasn't a local company that just stayed—Ben: I based my company in Indianapolis and the main reason that we ended up based in Indianapolis is that I had a project going on in Akron, Ohio, one in Indianapolis and then I had two coming up in the Kansas City—in both-- Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas. And I knew it was going to be a lot of jumping around, and I figured well Indianapolis will be right in the center. So, I rented an apartment there for me and my wife and my son and my daughter; my son was a baby, but my daughter, she was like four years old, or three years old.Ben: And then right about after that, we bought a house. Well, no, my wife wanted to enroll my daughter in pre-K to get her going because her age. Her date of birth and the cut off with the school, they won't let her in for regular elementary school. So, she found this church and she told me, "There's this church that's got pre-K and we're going to get her started there.” And I go, "Well okay, go ahead.” So, we enrolled her there and we ended up getting involved with that church and we were the only Hispanics at the church at the time, whenever we did it. But they were good to us and they still attend there.Ben: That church, they started building one year on, every year they would add a year onto the school. And my daughter was one of the original students. So, she's one of the original students. The first original student to go all the way through the academy and graduate.Anne: What's it called?Ben: Cornerstone Baptist Academy in Indianapolis.Anne: That's great.Ben: Yeah.

      Time in the US, Family, Parents, Jobs, Children; Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, Careers, Construction

    14. Ben: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yes, I felt normal, I had a lot of friends and our high school, the high school I went to, there was very few Hispanics- period, very few blacks. If you looked at that high school, if you pulled it up—well actually they made them remove the confederate flag, because the confederate flag was part of, it was the school football team logo and it was on their helmets. They were called the Southland Prairie Warriors, and when they ran out on the football field, they carried the confederate flag—and the high school flew the confederate flag up with the Texas and US flag—which it would make you think the opposite. I can't say that the school was…Of course there were a few people, but I did okay. I didn't feel out of place and I felt pretty well accepted by others.

      Time in the US, School, High School, Fitting in/belonging

    15. Ben: And then after dad got better and went back to work, I still stayed working there and then I need to go back to school. I didn't want to go back and start and be behind the class. So, I became aware of the GED program. So, I went and took the GED program, I didn't even study for it, I just went and took it and passed it. And I started taking community college courses before my classmates graduated [Laughing]. Already had a jump on them!Anne: That's great.Ben: I thought it was too, but I still miss the graduation experience and all that. I missed out on that, but regardless, I kept going and I just went mainly into construction, stayed with drywall and did really well. When I married Bena, I started a business of my own and it struggled at first, but then I was persistent and everything just, it just changed from one day to another. But it was really rough going at first; it was like working, working and then this money comes in and then it goes all out. And then finally, poof and from there everything changed.Anne: So, when you were in high school, did you feel like just any other American kid?Ben: Oh yeah. Yeah. Yes, I felt normal, I had a lot of friends and our high school,

      Time in the US, School, Working hard, Graduation, Self-taught, Higher Education, Jobs/employment/work, Careers, Construction

  2. Jun 2021
    1. But as I mentioned before, for me to get stuck in a call center is a dead-end point. You don't go farther than what you're expecting to. This I learned, maybe I didn't also tell you about the story that I have encountered all over the call centers, which got me to getting my own business, a small little business, which is like a little grocery store. I found out that every time I used to go to a call center, I used to go down the stairs, try to get something to eat, a snack, and I saw this guy selling a lot of stuff down there. I used to give them almost like 50 pesos every time I went down to eat. That's when I was like, "Okay, what am I doing here? They're making more money than I'm making, and they're just here for a couple hours." That's one of the things I actually encountered in the call centers. You're there for eight hours. Nowadays, you don't get your lunch paid, which is like, it's another hour extra of your life because you have to travel two hours from your house all the way to work and then you have to travel back two hours from work to your house. It's very difficult.Beto:Like I told you, a dead-end point, because you might get to be a general manager, right? You're relying a lot on the companies, on the accounts, I should say the accounts because a call center, they also rely on the accounts. If the account moves and you already become a general manager or supervisor, if they moved back to States, you're going back to [_____] again. You go back to [_____], you go back to start at where you started from, like the beginning. I decided to stay where I'm at, which is just a regular agent. I mean I don't have any problems, such as if I become a supervisor then the money that you get, it's like, I was getting this much for now I'm going back to zero. I'm going back to my regular pay. That's the way I see it. After that, you hit the wall. You don't actually get to move forward.

      Return to Mexico, Jobs, Call Centers, Dead end

    2. Anita: We're good. I'm back with Beto after having messed up with the recording yesterday. Rather than going over everything, tell me about what it's like to work at a call center.Beto:Well, a call center is a great place. I have nothing to say bad about call centers because basically you're in the process of making money. Right?

      Return to Mexico, Jobs, Call Centers, Opportunity

    3. Anita:Were they worried that the Chicano's were sort of gang members-Beto:Yes. At that specific time, I remember I didn't know about the drive-by shootings because I've been, well we were afraid of those at that time and that's what they were trying to avoid. Since I had my childhood right here, which I remember too, I didn't like Chicano that much or the gang members at all. I don't have tattoos. When they, "Oh I put on my new tattoo." I just gave them my like sign here. "Good for you." Don't like tattoos. I just look at them and go, "Good for you." But that's it.

      Time in the US, Gangs, Tattoos

    4. Anita:You think that having your childhood here made a difference because you went later.Beto:Yes.Anita:A lot of the people we talked to who went as children became sort of street people. Because you went later you think it was different?Beto:Right. I believe because of what we had before here in Mexico. We had a lot of pressure at school. I don't know, this new expression about bullying is brand new. Bullying. You didn't have this here in Mexico. There was no bullying. You just got out of the school, "Okay, why are you doing this to me," and you fight. That's it. No words, no nothing, no bullying. It was like, "I'm not fat. I'm not skinny. I'm not short." No. Teachers were very, very strict. Also, my cousins my age, we lived this experience with the teachers who were very strict. You don't do this, you don't do that. I remember them having my hands or my fingers together and they had a ruler, and they hit me if I didn't have the homework, if I was misbehaving. Teachers were very– you have to respect them at that time. When you go to a different country, and you had this Chicano culture that there, I mean, no respect. It was like, "No, that's not what I learned."Anita:Kids who are undocumented, boys who went to the States as very, very young children sometimes become part of gangs. You believe that because you went to Mexican school and you had a certain set of values, you went a different way.Beto:Exactly. Most people that I met in the States, we had these ESL classes. I should say that 70% lived here, and the values that you mentioned, the values were very, very settled. Not in the next 30%, the ones that maybe because of here they just were immigrants, and they were poor. I mean, I'm not saying that I was rich, I was poor too. But I mean they were having a hard time here in Mexico. Probably they were trying to find out what they were going to do with their lives.

      Mexico before the US, Mexican childhood, school; Time in the US, School, Learning English/ ESL, Gangs, Resisting affiliation

    5. Beto:Right. I believe because of what we had before here in Mexico. We had a lot of pressure at school. I don't know, this new expression about bullying is brand new. Bullying. You didn't have this here in Mexico. There was no bullying. You just got out of the school, "Okay, why are you doing this to me," and you fight. That's it. No words, no nothing, no bullying. It was like, "I'm not fat. I'm not skinny. I'm not short." No. Teachers were very, very strict. Also, my cousins my age, we lived this experience with the teachers who were very strict. You don't do this, you don't do that. I remember them having my hands or my fingers together and they had a ruler, and they hit me if I didn't have the homework, if I was misbehaving. Teachers were very– you have to respect them at that time. When you go to a different country, and you had this Chicano culture that there, I mean, no respect. It was like, "No, that's not what I learned."

      Time in the US, School

    6. Even though we were kids, we knew like, "I don't like this, this Chicano, this gang member thing." I was invited many times to join them because of discrimination with them. I never had this bad experience with an American telling me, "You're a wetback."Beto:No, I had the bad experience with Chicanos telling me I'm a wetback, and I had a lot of fights there. I used to tell them, "You know what? I'm a wetback, but guess what? I know what I am. I'm Mexican. You don't know what you are. You don't know. Tell me what you are, and I’ll respect you." That got me into a lot of trouble, a lot of trouble because that's what my mom told me. "They don't know what they are. You know what you are. You're Mexican. They don't know." She taught me about it. “You know, they go to Dodger Stadium, they're Americans, hotdogs, beer, all this. Cinco de Mayo, they're Mexican. So tell me what they are.”

      Reflections, Identity, American, Mexican; Time in the US, Gangs, Bullying, Resisting affiliation

    7. Beto:"Do you ever go-" "Yes, I go to the Dodger Stadium." "Okay. How do you feel?" "Good. A new thing. That's a new thing. That's an American culture thing.” “You joined them, right?" "Yes." "But what are you?" Mexican. You don't have to be wearing all these Dodgers thingys. Because I used to wear my regular clothes to a Dodger Stadium whenever. You don't go like wearing you cap and, "Oh, I'm a Dodger fan."Anita:Did you wear a Mexican Jersey?Beto:No, it was regular. Yes.Anita:Were you a soccer fan?Beto:A little bit, not much. I was more into American football when I was little. I just admire when they used to train at high school. I loved that.Anita:Who was your team?Beto:At that moment, we had this team which was the LA Raiders. They were my actual team and the Rams. Yeah, but I don't know what happened. They moved to Oakland. We don't have no more, like, the LA team. It is in Oakland, but we don't get this feeling like, "Oh my team."

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Sports, Baseball, Soccer, Football, Favorite teams

    8. Anita:Final question, did you have American friends too?Beto:No. Well, yes. A few of them, but I was in middle school. After high school, not many. It was all mixed up. Americans actually started moving when the Chicano movement was there, they started moving. High school I didn't have that much American friends.Anita:Who were your friends?Beto:Mexicans and black people. A lot of black people. I met a lot of black people.Anita:They accepted you?Beto:They had to.Anita:What do you mean?Beto:It was very tough because they wanted us to stick with them as, I don't know. Schools are like– they do have certain stuff going on with gang related things and country stuff, and they wanted us to be part of them. Whenever an American would say something or do something, we're together, but we actually said, "No." We're good friends. But that's it.

      Time in the US, School, Middle school, high school, Fitting in/belonging, Making friends; Time in the US, Friends, Diversity, Social acceptance

    9. Anita:You had a strong home environment. Your mother and father were there?Beto:Yes, yes.Anita:They were happy?Beto:They were happy because they didn't know what I was going through. I never told them my experiences at school because of the respect I have. I knew if I would tell them something that I was going through, because of Mexican culture before, they were very strict. I was afraid of telling them, "You know what, I'm going through this struggle at school, these difficulties" because my dad would tell me, "You're just going to study. That's why you're going. You're just going to study. Don't pay attention to anything, and I don't want you to do anything stupid. You're to go to school and that's it."Beto:I knew his answer already. I knew what he was going to tell me, so I just decided just to continue with my stuff. Now that I'm older. We have this conversation. I had this conversation with him. "Did you know about me having these difficulties with Chicanos, with black people? Did you know they wanted me to become a gang member? Did you know all this?" "No. How come you didn't tell me?" "Because I was afraid of you knowing that I was having this problem because I knew you weren't going to do nothing. You, you, you were not going to take me back to Mexico because we were already here." He's like, "I didn't know."Anita:How did you resist becoming a gang member?Beto:I resisted because I really didn't like it. Because of the culture here in Mexico, you don't fight for a street. Don't fight for a street. We fight, I mean we have this argument, because you took maybe something off me but not because of a street. We know it's stupid. We're like, "Oh, that's your street? You own it? Go for it." I'm like, "It's your street? What about the street? That's good.Anita:Thank you so much.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Expectations, School, Fitting in/belonging, Bullying, Gangs, Resisting affiliation

    1. Anita: And what are your hopes now?Ivan: Well, my hopes are now to stay here. I want to stay in Teletech. I've been here for so long—well, not so long, but since I started. And so many people that are being there, they're already gone. So, we started together, but there's only like three of us, but I want to stay there. I want to stick around. Yeah.Anita: Well, I wish you all the best.Ivan: Thank you very much.Anita: And I hope your children come and visit you soon.Ivan: Yeah, hopefully very soon. Yeah.

      Reflections, Feelings, Hope, Dreams

    2. Anita: So here, what's it like working at Teletech?Ivan: It's a pretty nice job actually. I like dealing with customers. I like taking calls, it's nice.Anita: But don't people scream at you?Ivan: Not if you talk to them, you know? Like you got to talk to them... But I mean, I do get kind of irritated sometimes. [Chuckles].Anita: What irritates you?Ivan: Sometimes the customers, they don't understand, they don't know where some stuff is at. It just—sometimes it gets irritating after a while. Yeah, but it's a good job. I can't complain.Anita: So, I wonder if you can tell me—I know this is a little fake—but because it was so moving to me, in your own words what you told me outside.Ivan: Yeah. What I like about this job is that it makes me feel like at home, like in the States. Once I go in there, I forget about everything. Just when I do go out the reality hits me and I see that I'm not in the States, I'm in Mexico City. But I do like to be in there. If I could, I'd stay in there. Like I do overtime, I like to be talking with the customers, you know, in the States. Yeah. We have a good conversation sometimes.Anita: Do you talk about lots of things about—Ivan: Well, we talk about the shows, you know, the programming, what's available to talk about in TeleTech.

      Return to Mexico, Jobs, Call Centers, Community, Opportunity

    3. Anita: And so, how did you manage not to get involved in a gang when so many people did?Ivan: I just never stuck with the wrong people. My parents were too strict.

      Time in the US, Gangs, Resisting affiliation

    4. Anita: When you were growing up, were you part of a gang?Ivan: No, I was never. These tats on my face. I did them because of my kids. They all start with the letter A and at the time I only had three. So, I only have three stars because they're going to be stars. And I did them on my eyes because they're always going to be in my sight. So just three stars. They're my stars. And like, all my kids start with the letter A.Anita: What are your children's names?Ivan: Abigail, Aubrey and Austin. And Emily, but I didn't have her at the moment, at the time before.Anita: So, you did that after you came back here?Ivan: No, I did that when I was in jail in Arizona.Anita: You did the stars?Ivan: Yeah.

      Time in the US, Tattoos, Meaning

    5. Anita: Did you work in the U.S.?Ivan: Yes, I did. I had a lot of jobs in the U.S.Anita: What kind of jobs?Ivan: Restaurant jobs. My last job was painting. I used to be a painter. I used to paint houses, interior and exterior houses. I actually went and painted the Braves stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.Anita: Really?Ivan: Yes.Anita: You painted the Braves stadium?Ivan: Yeah, I painted inside. With one of my bosses. We painted the inside of that stadium. The hotel, it's called the Omni Hotel right now. Yes.Anita: Wow. How many years did you work in the U.S.?Ivan: Well, ever since I was fifteen or fourteen. My first job was at a Rainforest Cafe, down in Arizona.Ivan: I did the work for, I worked there in a couple of jobs. I was a janitor. I used to work for ASU.

      Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work; Reflections, Feelings, Pride

    6. Anita: How did you learn English?Ivan: By going to school. I went to preschool, kindergarten, then I went to middle school, high school.Anita: So you went to school? Until what grade did you go to school?Ivan: I went until twelfth grade.Anita: You finished high school?Ivan: No.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Learning English, School, Kindergarten, Elementary, Middle school, High school, Struggling, Dropping out

    7. Anita: Why did you migrate to the United States?Ivan: I didn't. Well, my parents took me when I was a kid. I was only like three years old and so they took me to the States. I was a little boy. I did not know.Anita: Do you know why they took you?Ivan: They wanted a better life.Anita: How did you enter the U.S.? With a visa or did you just cross the border?Ivan: We just crossed.

      Mexico, before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Economic, Other, Feelings, Choicelessness; Time in the US, Arriving in the US, Age

    8. Anita: How old are you Ivan?Ivan: How old? I'm twenty-seven years old.Anita: You were born in Mexico?Ivan: Yes. I was born in Mexico.Anita: Where in Mexico?Ivan: In the city of Mexico.

      Mexico, before the US, Mexican childhood

    1. Anita: So, you said you wanted to start off by singing a song?Billy: Yeah, well I’ll sing a song. [Singing] “Well I guess you wondering where I'd been. I searched to find the love within. In my world only you make me do for love, girl, what I would not do. My friends wonder what is wrong with me, but I'm in a daze." Alright. That's it.

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Music, Playing, Favorite

    1. But English I did, I went through elementary, middle school, went to tenth grade in high school, then I dropped out of high school to go help my father. He started a small construction business, but then he got sick and he was hospitalized for three months.

      Time in the US, School, Elementary, Middle school, High school, Learning English/ESL, Working hard, Dropping out, Illness, Jobs/employment/work

    2. Anne: So, you were playing this game with the tapes—Ben: With the tapes and stuff and then later we started elementary school and then once I started elementary school, it changed. Well my mother had a rule, she goes, "No English inside of the house.” Before, it’s “Speak English, speak English,” but once we started school, she goes, "I don't want you all speaking English here inside the house” to me and my brother. And we used to think that’s because she didn't understand, but it was because she wanted us to practice the Spanish.Ben: And when I would get home from school when I was going to kindergarten—my brother would get out an hour later—I would get home and my mother would give me these little comic magazines, Mexican comic magazines, and she'd have me read them. And then she would make me write letters to my grandmother. So that's how I was able to learn a little bit of, keep the Spanish and English. But English I did, I went through elementary, middle school, went to tenth grade in high school, then I dropped out of high school to go help my father. He started a small construction business, but then he got sick and he was hospitalized for three months.

      Time in the US, School, Kindergarten, Elementary, Learning English, Arriving in the United States, Living situation, Homelife, Parents, Expectations

    3. Anne: And how did you learn English?Ben: How did I learn English? English, when my father was working at the horse stables of course I grew up around it because the owners of the stables, they would talk to us in English and they would give us candies, they would let us watch TV. But my father also had a tape recorder and he had some English cassettes. And, when dad was at work, my mother would have my brother and I sit there, and to us at first it was like a game, to be able to punch the play and the rewind and all that. It did help and that's the first actual learning encounter, as far as applying yourself to try to learn, was that little recording machine.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Learning English

    4. Anne: So, obviously, you don't have any memories of that. But why did your parents decide to take you?Ben: Well, they decided to take me because of hardships here. My father had already left to the United States. He was already working over there when I was born. My brother was over, I had an older brother, but he left to go work over there. Then, once I was born, he came back, gathered my mother, my brother and I, and took us with him, back to Dallas, around the outskirts of Dallas.Ben: He was good with horses, so he was working at a horse stable, a very prominent horse stable, that caters to most of the people around SMU, or Southern Methodist University, that keep all their horses there. So, mainly it was to give us a better life, because things are bad around that little town. There's no opportunities.

      Mexico, before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Economic, Family reunification

    5. Anne: You said you went to the States when you were three months old?Ben: Yes.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Age

    1. Angelo: There could have been more people that heard my story, there could have been... Somebody should have said this is not right. Somebody should've said the police report is not right. I promise anybody could read the police report and it makes no sense, it makes no sense whatsoever. And I just feel like somebody could have said, "Well, hold on, this makes no sense at all. You know, let's ask him what happened." But it was never, "Okay, what happened?" It was always, "Okay, you did this." So that's where I saw the bad side of the United States legal system where I literally had no voice—and mainly being in Texas. I mean, in Texas literally, I was the bad guy because a little baby got hurt.Angelo: And so it was very hard, it was very hard. Even in jail there were people that would fight their cases and just because a woman said something—you didn't even have to actually do it—just because a woman said, "You know what, he did something," it was, "You're going to jail," just because of an outcry. So having this case of a little baby being in Texas, and just hearing all these stories, I was like, "There's no way that I'm going to get past this." And literally the very first offer was 30 years. 30 years, super aggressive, they put in that out of those 30 years, I had to do minimum 25 years. And it was just so scary for me because that was not me, I wasn't what they had on paper. I was not that person, I was different, I was completely—Isabel: Opposite of the criminals that you were surrounded by?Angelo: Exactly. And just hearing all these stories of people going through things in jail of all these things, I told myself, "Why are you here then? You're not supposed to be here. Why am I still here after six months? Why am I still here after a year? Why am I still here after me finally signing for some time?" I was like, "Okay, it's all going to be over. You're going to go home, you're going to see your mom." And then out of nowhere you get this paper that says order of deportation and you're like, "No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. That's not what's supposed to be happening. No." And so it was like literally the world ended, and everything was taken just so fast. The only things that I have left is pictures just because of the situation that happened, I am not on good terms with the mother of my kids. And all I'm left with is pictures and just memories and that's the hardest. Not being able to just have some type of context, some type of pictures, or recent pictures and updates, something, something, something, it's very hard.

      Reflections, The United States, Worst parts; Time in the US, Arrests, False accusations, Prison, Feelings, Despair, Frustration; Leaving the US, Court proceedings, Reasons for Exit, Deportation,

    2. Isabel: Despite your own experience with the US justice system, you have like a larger faith that it is still like less corrupt than Mexico. Is that kind of what you're saying?Angelo: Well, it's very difficult because in the United States, when I would think about corruptions or anything like that, I think about families getting separated, all this stuff that's going on now with the news, with the President. Those are the bad things that I see up at the United States, about just this one guy has a problem with -- had an argument with one Mexican one day and it ruined his image for the rest of his life, and now a whole country has to has to suffer because of that. And I feel like the corruption here in Mexico is more inside of Mexico, more of being corrupt here and not having to do anything with any other countries or anything like that. But I do feel like there could've been more done.

      Reflections, The United States, Favorite parts, missing, Worst parts, US government, Mexico, Worst parts about being back

    3. Isabel: That's awesome. Well, I hope you pursue that dream. Just some general questions that we like to touch on, you can take them whichever direction you want. Do you consider yourself more Mexican or American or do you consider yourself Mexican or American?Angelo: American.Isabel: American, 100%?Angelo: 100% American.Isabel: Why do you think that is?Angelo: Because just everywhere that I go, I have a certain way of walking around. I smile at everybody, I smile and nobody smiles back [Both laugh]. So everybody just looks at me weird. And whenever I talk on the phone, I talk loud, I laugh when I'm on the phone, I don't hide my laughter. And I guess just the way that I eat, walk, the way that I talk, people notice it and there's times where I get stared at or people just look at me, up and down with that face that you think you're better than us, or you don't belong here. And I feel more American just because I grew up in America and I'm used to things being done right. Not so much corruption, not so much all this other stuff that goes around, people hitting on each other and all that stuff. So I just want Mexico to be somewhat like America in the legal ways, just because I'm so used to things being... it wasn’t 100% in America, everything wasn't 100% right, but there was justice, there was some type of justice and I don't feel like that's something done here.

      Reflections, Identity, American

    4. Isabel: If things had gone a different way, and that moment that you describe hadn't happened, what do you think you would be doing, like what would be your dreams to do in the United States?Angelo: To have my store, to have my restaurants. I want my restaurant and I still want it.Isabel: What would you call it?Angelo: All styles, all around the world restaurant. That's what I want, all around the world restaurant. Something from every place. And that's what I wanted to, I want to travel the world, I want to learn every single style of cooking. I got Italian down, I got American style down, and I had a little bit of the London, English, all that. And I just want to keep learning, and I want to expand my portfolio, I want to learn as much as there is, and that's my dream one day to have my own store, maybe here in Mexico—most definitely here in Mexico because I really don't see any chances for me to go back.Isabel: So that's your plan for Mexico too, or your dream?Angelo: My dream to have my own store. That's my dream, that's my goal, to have my own restaurant, that's my passion. I love the reaction from the clients and I just love making good food.

      Reflections, Feelings, Dreams

    5. Isabel: Yeah. I understand how you would really not want to ask anything from your dad, but it seems like you had to ask for help there. I skipped one part of the story and I just want to backtrack because I think it’s important. You were held by ICE [Immigrations and Customs Enforcemen] for detention for two months?Angelo: Yes.Isabel: Two months. Do you mind just touching on the conditions or like the treatment you experienced there?Angelo: As soon as I got into immigration…it was Houston. So I mean the immigration center, was, I can't say it was things falling down, things breaking apart, it was all right. What the thing that was scary, very scary was that before the first time that I went to court just talking to people, they will tell me that they'd been there three, four years fighting their case. And they had moms and dads that were United States, residents, citizens, and they were still there fighting their case. And I would ask them, "If you don't fight your case, what happens? And they said, "Well, you know, they deport you tomorrow." And I called my dad and I told him, "Look, dad, I don't want to be here three, four years. I don't want to be here. I'll sign my deportation."Angelo: And whenever I went to court, even though I had already told that to my dad, I still tried to fight for me being there, I talked to the judge and the judge told me, “You have a criminal charge in the United States and you're considered a threat, you're considered a criminal and you're considered a threat to the safety of our citizens.” Those are the exact words that he said, “You are a threat to our citizens.” And I told him, "Okay, well hold on. I have 20 years here, I have four kids here, my brothers are here and my whole family's here. You can't tell me this." And it was literally a one, two, three step process with him. There was no emotion with him. It was, "No, this is your option, sign, fight your case. But I guarantee you right now that you're not going to win your case."Angelo: So it was like, "Why are you giving me the option to fight my case if...[Sigh]" So I told him, "Okay, well let's sign." And literally the next day, that's when I got deported. And it was just me not wanting to be there, seeing everybody at immigration being there three or four years, and literally they had more chance of staying than I did. Favors were more on their side than they were ever on mine. So I said to myself, "If they can't do it, what makes you think that you're going to be able to stay?" And that was my main decision for me signing the voluntary deportation so I wouldn't be incarcerated anymore. I didn't want to be treated as a criminal anymore. I never felt like I was a criminal, and I got surrounded with criminals.Angelo: I got surrounded with people that -- I had to change my whole way of being. I had to exercise a lot, I had to change my way of being, I had to be so cold, so reserved just stay to myself because I didn't want anybody to mess with me. I wasn't meant for that. I was meant to be a father, I was meant to be a household person, I wasn't meant to be imprisoned, and it even got to me and I told myself, “No,” because there will be a lot of guards that would tell me, "You're a dirty Mexican." And there will be a lot of times where I would question myself, and I said, "Okay, well your bunkmate, he's here for murder, he's spending here his rest of his life, you're getting treated bad. Well, maybe you are a criminal, maybe you should just start being a criminal." And it was just so hard for me to stay focused on, "No, you got to get out of this, you're going to get out of this."Angelo: And at any given moment it would've been so easy for me to just explode or something bad to happen, and I just had to concentrate so much on just getting through that. Every single time that I got called something, it was just put your head down and, "Okay, no, you're right." And it was like that throughout the whole time of me being in prison and in immigration. It was just that, "You're a dirty Mexican." And there was nothing that you could ever say to them. If you said something to them, it was a five-year charge added to you. So it was just keep your mouth shut, do what they're telling you, and just keep your head down and stay out the way. And that's literally how I survived being in prison. I stuck to myself and I didn't mess what anybody.

      Leaving the US, Reasons for Exit, Deportation, Detention, Reasons, Framed, Court Proceedings, Judge, Imprisonment, Other inmates, Guards, Treatment

    6. The very first thing I did was go to a store, and I bought a beer and I asked the lady at the store, "Will I get in trouble if I walk around the streets with the beer?" And she said, "You'll be fine. You have two or 300 pesos, right?" I said, "Yeah I just came back from the United States, I have money." “You'll be fine, if somebody pulls you over, just give them that and you'll be completely fine. “

      Return to Mexico, Interactions with police, Corruption

    7. Isabel: And that was kind of like your early experience, kind of struggling to be back in Mexico and come to terms with not being with your family. So where did you go from there, not only just job wise but, also, how long have you been back? And like what's been going on since then?Angelo: Well, from there they said I needed some time for myself to think. So I got offered a trip to Cancun, they paid for a month for me to be in Cancun. And literally I just vacationed and spend some time there. And I went with a cousin and we literally had so much fun that I said, "You know what, maybe things will be alright. From the difference of coming here to the state of Mexico and going to Cancun, Cancun was more lifestyle of what I was used to, more English, everything was so pretty. So I was like, "Okay, well they have places like this in Mexico, so maybe I could do this, maybe I could bring my kids down here."Angelo: And I spent a month in Cancun. And from there I came back to the city and I tried Uber. It was very difficult for me because I didn't know the traffic, how it worked. Literally all the speed bumps, I would pass over them going very fast and people would freak out, but I would just always tell them, "You know what, over there in the United States, they'll let you know if the speed bumps are coming" [Both laugh]. And so, I wasn't able to do Uber; I got kicked out of Uber. I tried doing my studies, that was very difficult and I'm still not able to do it because they won't validate my credits that I have from high school. They said that I have to go literally start from elementary all the way up. So I couldn't continue with my schools.Angelo: That got put on pause. And so I started visiting Mexico City. I started walking around Mexico City, the nice areas and that's when I started learning about these call centers. I applied for a call center, and it seemed all right money, compared to what everybody else was making. And, you know, it wasn't anywhere close to what I was making the United States, but for this lifestyle of me in Mexico City, it was all right. And that was difficult for me as well because I lived in the state. And so I would have to transport three, four hours to get to my job. I would have to wake up at 4:00 in the morning and get to my job at 8:00 in the morning. And I'd come home at 11:00, 12:00 at night.Angelo: And so that went on for about four or five months until I literally said, “I can't do this anymore.” I resigned from AT&T, and I've literally been stuck since then besides from my mom giving me what she can—my mom doesn't work so the main income is from my father. Me and my father not having that awesome relationship, I feel shameful asking for him for anything. So, there'd be times where my mom would send me $10, $20, and literally got me two or three days, and that's literally how it's been going on for past couple of months.Angelo: Until recently I was staying with family, and one thing led to another—my aunt from the United States visited and she did not like how things were going for me. She said, "You're just sitting around, and you have no need to work because people are sending you money, so I'm going to give you a need to work." [Chuckles]. And she kicked me out. And literally that was two days ago. So that's where I found New Comienzos. I've been running around trying to try to get help because literally right now, I'm on my own. I literally had to break down to my dad. I broke down, and I told him, "I need your help. I need you to be there." And he heard me, and so just yesterday I got my apartment, and, you know, moving forward.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Employment, Economic well-being, Continuing education, Jobs, Occupation, Call Centers, Dead end

    8. Angelo: No, it's actually the very first time that I've been able to tell this without actually crying or anything like that because I don't want to embarrass myself or anything. Yes, it's very literally very hard. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, right now my kids are in birthday season—my kids literally have birthdays back to back. So I mean, it's literally hard. My first Christmas here, I had no idea it was already Christmas until I saw lights. So, I literally just stood in front of them where I was staying—I was staying with my uncles—and I just stared at the lights and just broke down. And there's many times where that happens to me. There's a car that I used to have, or let's say McDonald's or any little thing, a pretty park—I walk by a pretty park—and I just picture my kids. So, it's very difficult mainly because of my kids. That's all I wanted to be, a father. I want to say that I gave them everything. And it's just very hard not being able to, for all that work to just be taken away just like that.Isabel: Yeah. I mean especially when you're saying like being a father, being a good father and talking about not being able to forgive your own father for the way that he treated your mother, being able to rise from that, to be the man that you want to be. Not having that figure as a father, like knowing you don't want to replicate that.Angelo: Exactly.Isabel: And the cruel irony of then still be pictured as that person that you never wanted to be.Angelo: Exactly. And that was my main goal, just like you said it, that was the perfect words. I wanted to be someone that my father was never to me and to my family. So, I said “I'm going to be the best father,” and I want to say that I was, but it just got taken away. It's very hard because my kids right now, they stay with their grandparents—they don't have a father. I think to myself on Father's Day at school, what are they making? Who are they giving the projects to? My oldest son, he remembers me.Isabel: You mentioned that your return to Mexico was very difficult, you had a lot of struggles, like all the alcoholism, also finding a job, socially. Do you mind just going into some of the obstacles you ran into on your return?Angelo: On my return to Mexico, my very first day here in Mexico, I spent the night in on the border, in Tamaulipas, Mexico. And literally I didn't want to do anything else. The very first thing I did was go to a store, and I bought a beer and I asked the lady at the store, "Will I get in trouble if I walk around the streets with the beer?" And she said, "You'll be fine. You have two or 300 pesos, right?" I said, "Yeah I just came back from the United States, I have money." “You'll be fine, if somebody pulls you over, just give them that and you'll be completely fine. “So that was the very first thing I did getting here to Mexico. There's so much alcoholism in my family that when I got here in Mexico, I said, "Okay, well it's in my blood. Let's go for it." And literally there will be times where I would just go out and buy a vodka bottle and go to my room, buy some orange juice and just literally drink until I passed out. And that went on for about half a year until one day, I guess I got really sick. I had the hiccups a lot that three or four in the morning, I was making too much noise.Angelo: I literally do not remember this, but there were people banging on my door trying to get in. Nobody was able to get in, they had to break the door down. And from what they told me, I was just in a corner and just literally choking on myself, with so much hiccups that, and I was just [inaudible]. The next morning and everybody sat down with me, and they literally—Isabel: Who’s everybody?Angelo: My uncles. I was staying at my uncle's house, so my uncle's family sat down with me, my cousins, and they had to pull me straight. They literally said, “You're not right.” They didn't talk to me too much because just them saying “You're not all right,” it clicked into my head that it was a very, very, very first time that I blacked out drinking, the very, very first time. So I told myself, "How do you not remember this happening? How do you not remember any of this? Or why are they telling you this? What did you do?" And I just saw my father all over again, and that was it, that's when I stopped drinking on the daily.Angelo: Yes. Because depression is a big part of my life. In the United States, I got diagnosed with bipolar depression, so there's just times where one time I could be happy, and then I think of something and literally my world ends. So getting here to Mexico, that was my escape, that was my answer, that was my... I can't say it wasn't the answer because for me my goal was to destroy myself, my goal was to get mugged in the middle of the street. There would be times where I literally walked around the state of Mexico three, four in the morning, just in the middle of the street, just looking for trouble. I wanted somebody to find me, I wanted somebody to…you know, all these dangerous streets that people were telling me, I wanted that, I don't know, I wanted to just destroy myself.Angelo: I wanted to get beaten down, I wanted for something bad to happen, and it was very hard. So whenever they had to break down the door, it was a big eye opener because they had to call my mom, and my mom did not know any of this. And my mom's a very big important part of my life, even over there she would always help me with stuff. She would always run around with me, she would always go shopping with me if I needed anything for my kids, she was always right there, if I needed babysitter, she was always right there. So whenever they had to call my mom, and they told her, "You know what, your son is doing this" [Emotional]. That brought so much shame to me, and that's when I said, I told my mom, "I'm sorry, I'm not going to do what my father did, so I'm done." And that was it. That's when I said, "I'm not going to do this again to my mom."

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, family separation, mental health, Family relationships, feelings, sadness, disappointment, frustration, despair

    9. Isabel: Just in the moment when your baby fell off the bed, was she pushed back onto the bed and then that—Angelo: It was because of that same reason that she did not let me leave the room. And so I got her, and I moved her away from the door. I literally got her and I tossed her on the bed and that was me not thinking.Isabel: That is just such a tragic…Like it's the worst way that could have gone. Again, I'm so sorry that it went like that. And thank you for sharing that, and that was the most difficult thing to -

      Time in the US, Feelings, Tragedy

    10. Isabel: Yeah. I mean, that's incredible. And it sounds like you're really making a life for yourself and for your family in the US. So can we, I guess start to move into the events that brought you back to Mexico? Just going into those in more detail.Angelo: Okay. Well, I remember the date perfectly. It was November 12, 2015. That's the day that me and my baby mama, wife, girlfriend argued. It was a very childish argument. Do you want me to go into full details?Isabel: Whatever you're comfortable sharing. I know we talked about this in the survey, but we'll just reiterate it.Angelo: Okay. So we started arguing, my girlfriend was a type 2 and was that explosive type 2, where she always had to get the last word. And if we weren't done arguing, she would continue the argument even if I needed a breather, she's, "No, we got to talk because we have to talk." And so that day it was basically like that. We were arguing, one thing led to another, she fell on the bed and my little six month baby went flying. As soon as I saw that I tossed myself, and I swooped her up, but—Isabel: Swooped up the baby?Angelo: Yeah, but it was too late, her ear hit the floor. Her ear hit the floor, and I tossed myself, so I hit a bunch of furniture and bunch of stuff fell on top of us. And baby started crying and she wanted to take off with my kids—I love my kids to death.Isabel: Kids? So it was the baby, and also?Angelo: Yes. I have four kids in total. My oldest kid was barely going into elementary school, so that was the main reason why we always argue a lot, because I told her if my kid's going to start elementary school, he's going to stay in one school. We're not going to have him moving around from school to school just because we're arguing or just because we have problems. If we're going to do this, we're going to be a family, and we're going to get through this. And that was the main reason why we stuck together, I would say the last couple of years, because even though we didn't have that much love for each other anymore, it was basically we loved our kids too much for us to do anything else. And so, she wanted to take the kids, so I absolutely didn't let her. There was a point where I called the police because after the baby stopped crying, she wanted to put her in the car seat, and I told her no. And it got to the point where we were literally tugging at the car seat.Angelo: We were playing a tug of war at the car seat with a little baby in a car seat. I told my little brothers, "You know what, I need you to sit down and help me." Because we were alone at the house and I didn't want anything to go wrong. So I told my brothers, I need you to help me, I need you to sit down right here and see what's going on. Well, I have two brothers. I told one, “Sit down and see what's going on.” And I told the other one, “I need you to call the police.” I called the police and they told me, “It's a civil argument, we can't do anything until one of you puts your hands on each other, then you can call us.”Isabel: How old were you?Angelo: I was 21 years old. I called the police multiple times, they never came. It got to the point where I was sitting in the living room, and out of nowhere I see my baby mama grab her things and just take my daughter. I had two boys and two daughters. My two boys were the oldest and the two daughters were the youngest and the baby of course. And she took the toddler, the two-year old, she took her by the hand and left through the back door. As soon as she did that, I called the police again and I told them, “You know what, this is way out of hand. She's literally taking off with my kid, she's out of control. I don't want her to be detained, I don't want anything, I just don't want anything to happen to her because she's crazy right now, she's super mad and I know her, the way she drives, something's going to happen.” They never showed up. I promise you if they would've showed up then, anyways—Isabel: No, I‚Angelo: If they would've probably showed up then, the first time that I called them, everything probably would have been…I probably wouldn't have ended up deported. So, she left with the kid—Isabel: Are the other kids at your house during this time?Angelo: Yes. At that point I had told my brothers, "Take my kids, go watch TV and just keep them entertained." So my wife took off, me and my kids spent the afternoon in my mom's house. The next morning, it was around seven o'clock in the morning, I took my newborn out to get some sun and I was out there talking to my mom. While talking to my mom, she paid attention to my little baby and she said, "She has a bruise." And I asked her where it was because I hadn't seen it and she told me, “It's on her ear.” And right away I started putting things together and I said, "My little baby got hurt, something happened." I didn’t tell my mom at the time what had happened, and then I told her, "What do I do?" And she said, "Okay, well maybe it's a spider bite. We need to take her to the clinic." We took her to the clinic, as soon as we got to the clinic, all fingers were on me. They asked me, "Where's the mother?" And I told her, "Well, the mother's not here."Angelo: "Well, we need the mother because this is not a spider bite, this is a bruise. And we need you right now immediately to take the baby to the hospital, and there's no way around that. You need to go right now because we have people that are waiting for you." As soon as I got to the hospital, I was greeted by a detective. Literally the whole hospital was running around trying to figure out what happened. That detective from the little city that I was staying—it was a very little city and very, very, very little city. So by all these arguments with my girlfriend, they had already gotten to a point to where they knew us. They knew we were a toxic couple, there was always things going on, there was always cops needing to control the situation or calm it down.Angelo: So, by the time I got to the detective, she did not want to hear my side of the story. She said, "The little baby got hurt, I have four children, I'm going to put you behind bars." My wife got there, they asked her what happened and she said, "It was his fault." This was around 1:00 AM in the morning, I had planned to stay there with my little baby throughout the night. I was in the restroom about to take a shower, getting ready to lay down. I had already given my keys to my car to my sister because she didn't have a way home. So I was literally preparing the water for me to take a shower and they knock on the bathroom door, I come out, and they said, "You need to leave the room immediately. You need to leave the hospital immediately. And in the morning we're going to have an order for your arrest." And I told them, "Okay, well hold on. What's going on?" And they said, "We can't tell you anything, you just can't be around the little baby."Angelo: I told him, "No, I can't leave. I'm not going to leave my little baby." And they said, "Okay, well you can leave right now, or I can give you a ride home, if I can give you a ride home, then I'm going to have to go ahead and read you your rights." I didn't know what's going on, with them saying that I panicked, and even the hospital ladies were literally scared and they didn't know what was going on. And they were on my side and they told the police officer, "No, no, no, hold on, hold on. He doesn't have a way home, but we're going to get him a taxi. We're going to get them a taxi, we're going to give him the taxi pass and he should be good to go." So they gave me the taxi pass, I went home, nobody showed up the next morning. I called them around half the day because by that time, throughout the time that I was in the hospital without me knowing, they had already went to my house and picked up my other children.Angelo: The next morning, after them telling me to leave the next morning, I called the police station and I told him, "You know what? I need to know whether my kids are all right, where they're at, I need to know what's going on, I need to know something because you haven't told me anything, I don't know where my kids are at, I don't know if they're with their mother, I literally don't know anything. I need you to tell me something." And they told me somebody will get in contact with you soon. I spent a month waiting. I was working, I came home, my mom was crying on the couch and she told me that they had an order for my arrest and I told her, "Okay, well what's next?" And she said, "I don't know son."Angelo: I told her, "Okay, well I'm going to go tomorrow and I'm going to see what's going on." The next morning, I was on my way to the police station, I was walking because obviously I didn't want to take my car. So I was walking to the police station, it was a couple blocks away. When I was walking towards there, I guess they had went some other way where they hadn't seen me, but the police were going to my house and they didn't see me walk into the police station. So they went to my house and they asked my mom, "Where's he at?" And she said, "He's walking to the police station as we speak." Literally it was like, I was the biggest terrorist in the world. They closed down the streets, they put fire trucks, they had detectives, and literally they greeted me with, "Mr ____, how are you doing?"Angelo: So hypocritical because after them saying that they threw me on their hood and put cuffs on me, and I was literally in front of the police station when they did this. So a town so small, everybody saw, all the neighbors, schools, everybody saw. And I was like, "Really? I'm literally in front of police station. Why are you doing all this?" And I was just the biggest terrorist at that time. And I'm getting into jail, they told me that I was being charged with serious bodily injury because it turns out that in her ear she had a little bit of internal bleeding, and they weren't sure if that was going to affect her or not. Thankfully she was only at the hospital for one day, but I didn't know that, I had no idea.Angelo: So literally it took them about a month for them to build their police report. Once I got to read the police report, it made no sense whatsoever. The detective literally twisted my words because once the detective was at the hospital asking me questions, she asked me, "Who did this?" And I told her, "You know what? I know how this goes, my mom works for the state. My mom has her own daycare." Me and my mom went to the clinic, me and my mom came to the hospital. If at any time I was going to think, "Hey, you know what, maybe I'm in trouble. I would have given the baby to my mom and I would have not presented myself, but I'm here with my baby. I have my baby in my arms, this is my life. You can't tell me that you're going to put the blame on me. I wouldn't be here if I feel any type of guilt." So on the police report it said Angelo ____ brought the baby to the hospital because he feels guilty.Angelo: And so that was a done deal. Once I got into prison, got my lawyer, there was a pretty good chance of me fighting it. First three months, I presented myself to the court. Well, they took me to the court because I was already detained and my first offer was 30 years. They told me 30 years or fight your case. Ended up waiting six months, and they went down to 25 years, ended up waiting a couple of more months, they didn't go down at all until my lawyer said, "This is where we're at. You want to protect your wife so much, you love her so much, you don't want her to go to jail, you're planning to throw away your life, 25 years.” She literally took out her phone and showed me a picture of my wife in Miami with some other dude, and then—Isabel: Where are the kids?Angelo: With their grandparents. And then I told my lawyer, "Let's go to trial, I'm going to fight this." The next day the state called me, and they said, “We're going to offer you three years.” And I told my lawyer, "Okay. So what's going to happen?" She said, "You've already done nine months. You've got to do a couple of more months and you'll be good to go." And I said, "Okay, well, I'm not going to put the mother of my kids behind bars, I'm never going to do that ever in a million years, no matter whatever she's done, I'm not going to be the person to do that." So I said, "Okay, I'm going to do a couple of more months, it seems that I have an immigration bond, so I should be good to go." As soon as I got to prison, immigration bond was gone. I got my papers for deportation and my road ended because I thought a couple of more months and the nightmare is over. But I ended up being deported.Isabel: That's just like a series of people twisting and it does sound exactly like a nightmare. I'm so sorry that that happened.Angelo: Yeah.Isabel: I totally get what you're saying. Like, “If I'm here and I'm carrying my baby, if I was guilty, why in the world would I be here?” Like there's so many steps that I feel like for me so clearly indicate you not being guilty. I think it does kind of get back to problems with US authorities and the immigration services where it's like obviously you're undocumented, or they see that you're Mexican, they're going to assume and paint the picture they want even if you in no way fit that picture that they want. And it's so out of your hands because they have all the power in these situations.Angelo: Exactly.Isabel: I just really want to clarify your story for this, in the altercation with your girlfriend or wife, when the baby was on the bed and she was trying to leave with her. And you were saying, "Please don't, you're not leaving with my children." Like, when you said you're in a toxic relationship. Did it also get physical sometimes?Angelo: It got physical. It got physical because there were points where she would stand at the door and that's the only time it got physical because she would get hit by the door. I would try to pull the door and she literally stand there and, I insist, and pull the door even harder. There was one time where we were playing tug of war with the door, and I let the door go and out of nowhere I just see lights—I see lights. Yeah, she hit me, she hit me in my eye. And I grew up with my dad being an alcoholic, I grew up seeing that happen to my mom. Even to this day, I can't forgive my dad. Me and my dad, we can say we love each other, but I will never forget that.Angelo: So that was always in my mind. I have a sister, I have a mom, I'm never going to touch a woman. So whenever I saw lights, I was like, "Okay, that's going to make you feel better, go ahead." So at first, she started slapping me and then I saw lights because she punched me in my eye. As soon as she punched me in my eye, I was like, "Okay, okay, okay. it's not slaps anymore, you're out of control." I held her, she was facing the wall, she bit me. She bit me so hard that I literally I threw her, I literally let go and she hit the wall. She hit the wall and I think she said she bit her lip, I'm not sure what the police officer said, but she ended up spitting up blood because at that point she told me, “Get out of the house.”Angelo: And at that point, we were living by ourselves and I told her, “This is my house, I'm paying rent, there's no way I'm leaving. You can go to your room, I'll stay in the living room, I'm not going anywhere.” So she picked up the phone to call the police, at the same time I picked up the phone to call the police. And so we were both on the line with the police. I waited outside for the police, I waved them down. I literally waved them down and I told them, "Hey, you know what, this is what happened." They took pictures of my eye, they took pictures of the bite, and at the end of the day it was my fault because a woman got hurt. So that was the only point it ever got to a physical altercation.

      Time in the US, Relationships, Having Children, Complications, Break-ups, Domestic Abuse, Violence, Feelings, Despair, Tragedy, Arrests, False accusations

    11. Isabel: And you said you became a chef—you started at Applebee's—can you tell me what the restaurant experience was like becoming a chef and moving around from there?Angelo: Well, when we first got to the U.S , my dad got into construction and so after a few years he got tired of that physically—it was very physically demanding—so he got into the restaurant. By the time I was 16, he had already had his status. He was a very good cook, so he brought me along. I was under his training from then on. I got that spark again, to want to do something, because I saw everybody, how they treated my dad, and literally just because I had his last name, it was, "Okay, you got the job." And my dad was at a very prestigious level to where many people would call him offering jobs or—Isabel: Your dad was undocumented as well?Angelo: Yes. When I saw that, I was like, "Okay, I might not be able to go to college, but maybe I could become a manager, maybe I could have my own kitchen, maybe I could have my own store, my own restaurant." And so being under my dad's training gave me that spark. I overpassed my dad, there were points after three years in a restaurant where I wasn't my dad's son anymore, I was my own person. I could go up to people and they would be like, "Yeah, I know who you are." At first it was all like, "Okay, who are you?" “Well, I'm ____ son.” “Oh wow. Okay, well here you go.” But then after a while it was, "Okay, well we need you because we've heard of you and we need you to pick our store back up." And so after that, that was my goal to have a restaurant, my own restaurant.Isabel: What was your favorite restaurant to work at?Angelo: That's very difficult, but I would probably say Applebee's just because that's where I started, and it just brings so much memories of me learning, me getting that experience, me burning myself a lot. And so yeah, that was probably the best time of my life, working at Applebee's.Isabel: Even though you went on to surpass your father?Angelo: [Affirmative noise].Isabel: It's really cool. So, you have kind of like this going…Start pursuing cooking and kind of earning that prestige or going after your father. But then you also mentioned that you're doing this because you had to support a family. Were you living with your baby's mother at the time? Were you together?Angelo: Well it was very difficult because at the age of 16, my father had legal problems. He ended up going away for, I would say, half a year-a little bit more than half a year. Throughout that time, there was a point where I had to basically become the man of the house. My mom doesn't drive, so I would take her to her job and I would bring her back. There was many times where I had to drive at three or four in the morning. So at the age of 16, I wanted to become that. I wanted to become that man of the house. And really that's the main reason why I had my baby, because I said, “I could do this, I want this, I want to be a father, and I'm going to be a father.”Angelo: And so, at the age of the age of 16, I moved out of my parents' house. After three months of working, I moved out of my parents' house, got my own apartment. And I ended up working two jobs at a time to be able to support my family and be on my own. After a while it was very difficult. So, there were plenty of times where we'd be on our own, and then something bad would happen financially, and so we'd go back to our parents' house. It was just basically on and off being on our own and not being able to make it.Isabel: So you said you were 16, so did you say you were older when you were renting a house or an apartment or anything that you'd pretend?Angelo: Yes, when I was 16, I had to get fake IDs, fake social security cards, and so that's how I got my apartment. Even 16, I looked older than what I was, so it was really no problem for me to apply for an apartment, or anything like that.Isabel: Did the restaurants that you would work with or the people there know that you were undocumented or that are younger?Angelo: No.Isabel: How old were you when you were becoming the chef?Angelo: 16.Isabel: That's incredible. I'm learning how to like... the other day I Googled how to cook chicken [Both laugh].Angelo: It was very difficult, but I wanted to do that. I saw my father, and I wanted to be him. I wanted to be him.Isabel: So, I'm just still trying to wrap my head around this. So, I know you started at Applebee's, but when you started at the last restaurant you work for, it was this like English, British kind of style. It's more on the other ends of the Applebee's spectrum?Angelo: Oh very.Isabel: Very much like more high end?Angelo: [Affirmative noise].Isabel: How old were you when you were a chef for that restaurant?Angelo: I was 20, 21 years old.Isabel: So that's kind of like where your career span…still so incredibly young. So how old did they think you were when you were working for them?Angelo: Then I could say I was 21.Isabel: Okay, so then that's fine.Angelo: Yeah.Isabel: That's enough credit.Angelo: Yeah, by then they knew who I was. There was points where I would get called in from other stores and they would tell me, “Leave where you're at and we'll give you $3 more.” Literally, I've never made minimum wage. And so that's basically how about how I got to $15.50 at the end. The reason I went to the British restaurant was because I was at Applebee's, and me and my dad would bump heads. He was the top chef, and I would also be considered the top chef. So whenever we would work shifts, it was all like, "Okay, so who's in charge?"Isabel: Literally too many cooks in the kitchen.Angelo: So that's when I said, "Okay, well I got to be on my own. I got to do my own thing.: And thank God I was able to do it. I put my mind to it and I got my name out there.

      Time in the US, Jobs/employment/work, occupations, chef, feelings, pride, dreams, excitement, hope

    12. Angelo: Yes, it was very difficult. Growing up like, up until middle school, I was all about school. I was in honors, AP classes, all of that. There was a point where one of my teachers—one of my reading teachers—basically just had me by myself because whatever she was teaching wasn't enough for me. She had me on a college level reading. I forgot the book, The Count of Monte Cristo? The Count of Monte Cristo.Isabel: That's definitely college level [Laughs].Angelo: Yeah. So—Isabel: In what grade?Angelo: I was in the eighth grade. And so that was awesome for me because I feel like, “Okay, I'm not from here, but they're praising me, and they're saying I'm doing good." And I'm sorry, what was the question?Isabel: No, no, that was perfect. I was just saying it's a hard dynamic, like refusing those opportunities.Angelo: Yes. And so after middle school, I was also into poetry a lot. I got a reward and I was asked to go to Nevada to receive the reward in front of a bunch of people. The website was legit—it was if you search poetry on Google, it was the very first one that came up. It was even to a point where you search my name and my poem came up. I got a mail certificate inviting me to Nevada, Las Vegas, Nevada to receive that reward. I ran around the house; I told my sister. But at the end of the day, it was that risk of if we go, we're going to get pulled over, and we're going to get deported. So, you can't receive that certificate.Isabel: And this is a poem you've written yourself?Angelo: Yes.Isabel: What was it about?Angelo: I think it was a love poem, it was most definitely a love poem, yeah.Isabel: I love poetry too. I only imagine how awful would be to when you pour yourself into a piece of art, like poetry, and then get recognition for it, and how amazing that feels, but then having that last hurdle that you can't go over.Angelo: Yeah. So, once we got that established that "No, you can't." Basically, for me it was like, “So what's the point? So what am I working for? If I finish high school, I'm not going to be able to go to college, what's the point?” And I really never saw a future after middle school.Isabel: Yeah, I feel like some students in high school have a hard time staying motivated knowing that they might be able to go to college someday. So, like being a high school student and knowing that you can't because of the law, I can only imagine being very discouraging in terms of doing that work. You mentioned you stopped going to school midway through your junior year, so what happened there and where did you go from there?Angelo: Well I dropped out of school because I had a baby. So from then on it was basically work, work, work. And that was basically my life after junior year—just work and work.

      Time in the US, School, Working hard, getting good grades, Extracurricular activities, poetry, Struggling, Dropping out, Immigration status, lost opportunities, in the shadows

    13. Isabel: Did you have anyone to talk to about this or is this really something that you just had to go through individually?Angelo: My sister, me and my sister—my sister's one year older than me—it was basically me and her. If it was her being offered something, we would just console each other. We would just tell each other, "No, you did good. It doesn't matter if you don't get the reward, it doesn't matter if you don't get the prize, you did it, you got that mail certificate." So it was just me and my sister.Isabel: So like in those situations, you might receive potential opportunities but like, no, you can't pursue them?Angelo: Yes, it was very difficult.

      Time in the US, School, School, Working hard, Struggling, Feelings, Solidarity, Family, Immigration status, Lost opportunities

    14. Isabel: So definitely…When I asked you the question, Do you fear the US authorities, that was a dominant part of your childhood?Angelo: Most definitely. Going to the United States from Mexico my dad still had a drinking problem so there was a few times where authorities had to be called. And many of those times, it was basically the road was ending because my dad was going to get deported and we were going to be left alone. It was basically family running around crying. I saw that many times. So, whenever I started getting to the age of into peer pressuring or I would have a friend that said, "Let's go do this," I'll be, "No, I'm going to get in trouble." Or, "No, I'm going to get deported, I'm not from here." And even in school, that was a major discrimination because we had Chicanos—which would be Hispanics that grew up in the United States, that were born there—and then we had the Wetbacks. And so that's what I was always considered. And even with Latinos, I was always discriminated, "Oh I have papers, you don't have papers, you're a Wetback." And so that was very, very, very difficult for me.

      Time in the US, School, Fitting in/belonging, Discrimination/stigmatization, Feelings, Fear, Legal status, Gangs, Resisting affiliation

    15. Isabel: What did you have to learn? What was picking up the different cultural experiences like?Angelo: The main thing was learning how to interact with others, because it was very hard. I feel like an outsider so I wouldn't really go up to people, I wouldn't go up to any other races. So it was very hard, I would really stay to myself and to that just one friend. Even sports, I couldn't do sports because I didn't feel like I fit in. I never felt like I fitted it in. And throughout all my school experiences, I never felt like that belong to me because there was many times where I had opportunities for my academics to get awards or be presented with some stuff, but I was always told "No, you're not American so you can’t do that. And there's no way that you're going to go to another state they're going deport you on the way there, we're going to get pulled over.” And so, I really didn't see a future there for me.Isabel: Where was that message coming from? Is it just your day to day interaction with people—like the way you felt othered—or did people explicitly say, “You have no opportunity here?”Angelo: Mainly it was my parents. My parents wanted us to keep to ourselves. My parents just raised us with that mentality that we're here, we're your family, there's nobody else. So you go to school you come home and that's it. So, any other projects, and the after-school activities, didn't even come to mind because I didn't see it for myself. I couldn't seem to picture myself having fun in after-school activities. It was just that mindset that, "Okay, I got to go home because we're not from here and something bad might happen."

      Time in the US, School, Fitting in/belonging, Struggling, Feelings, Disorientation

    16. Isabel: Yeah. I mean, it's really hard to pull back on those memories. From the ones that you're more sure of like going into school, any friends or teachers that stood out?Angelo: I remember going to school, it was very scary for me because I didn't know the language. There were many times where I would just cry. The teachers would try to comfort me, but I would just scream—I didn't know what was going on. Even times when I was in pain, I couldn't tell anybody what was going on. So it was very difficult. I did have one friend, and that was my closest friend. I was very young, so it was like I needed that, to have somebody support me. You know, obviously my parents were there, but maybe they spent more time trying to get them situated, and not really introducing us to the American life. So it was, basically go to school, you're on your own and then come back in your home. So it was basically like I had to learn everything by myself.

      Time in the US, School, Learning English/ESL, Struggling, Feelings, Fear, Frustration, Despair, Sadness, Solidarity

    17. .Isabel: (pause) Is there anything else you would like to reflect on or you people to know like before we wrap up?Angelo: I plan to have a future, I'm going to have a future, and it's not going to stop me. It's been hard, the past couple of years have been hard, but I still have kids. I want them to be here, so this is not going to stop me.Isabel: Thank you so much for sharing.

      Reflections, Feelings, Dreams

    18. Isabel: And you mentioned you were young, four years old, and you were given something to go to sleep throughout the car ride, could you then maybe trace back to your earliest memories in the US, like what you do remember?Angelo: My earliest memories in the US would be probably me seeing sunlight, because I remember we were in a trunk at one point.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Age, First impressions

    19. Isabel: So, just to start, a couple questions, for the reasons for migration. I know we covered in the survey, but just like reiterating what motivated your family to migrate from Mexico to the US.Angelo: Well, it was really to the point that my dad wasn't doing anything productive here in Mexico. We were staying in a one-bedroom house with my grandpa, it was all of us, it was a really small room. My mom spent a lot of time being depressed, my dad was an alcoholic, and my mom literally told him, "I'm leaving. And you can come or not." So yeah, it was basically for a better life for me and my mom, my siblings, and that's the reason that we went to Mexico.

      Mexico, before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Other

    1. Mike: I feel like I'm here for a reason and whatever I need to do to help, or whatever my little part I have to put in, I feel like this is why I'm here, and I'm just waiting on that so I could go back and just be with my kids.Anne: Well thank you very, very much.Mike: Of course.Anne: I think you're going to do great things.Mike: Thank you. Hopefully one day. One day. I just believe

      Reflections, Feelings, Hope, Faith, Determination, Dreams

    2. Mike: I used to give my mom crap about that, because I was like, "Why couldn't you just start your life right here? What's so wrong about this? That you put us through all this stuff that we have nothing over there?" And then I realized when I came over here—I actually cried, because I'm like, "Damn, she did all that for us to have a better life."Mike: And it hit me in the face. I was like, "Damn, my mom went through a lot of sacrifices and it sucks." I was embarrassed because I'm like, "Damn, I didn't do anything. I didn't do anything with the blessings that I got." I felt bad. But in a way I feel like everything is for a reason.

      Reflections, The United States, Growing up undocumented

    3. Anne: Sometimes we ask people just to reflect on some patterns, or ideas related to deportees and I was wondering, you like many young men you came over with kids and growing up in the States for whatever reason end up getting in trouble. Why do you think that is, that it's such a prevalent pattern?Mike: I feel like it has a lot to do with you realizing that it's not like people say, because in America you're taught to believe if you really want something you could achieve it. And when you realize that that doesn't apply to you, that's what I feel like that's the big spiral down that you go to.Mike: Once you realize that it's not really how you were taught to believe, or not for you in that case, I feel like a lot of kids just give up and lose hope, because it's already hard as it is. Not being able to get a job and still trying to do things right without breaking the law. And then when you realize it's never going to change for you, man, you just like, "Whatever. Okay." Or, "If I can't get it like this, I'm going to get it like that."Mike: And a lot of thing is survival too. A lot of people have to survive. A lot of people don't have the luxury of being able to get up, go to work every day. A lot of people wish that they had a job. Would kill to just get up early and just get that paycheck. I know a lot of families that they have to go through the most, but they still do it, because they have to. They have no choice. And it's way better than here. And I didn't understand that until now.

      Reflections, The United States, Growing up undocumented, Reasons for getting in trouble

    4. Mike: I feel like in a way I'm American as well, because I went through a lot of stuff that Americans go through. Yeah, I've actually gotten into politics. I felt like I was actually a part of that, but it sucks when you realize you're not. But yeah, I feel like I'm both in a way.

      Reflections, Identity, American

    5. Mike: But I believe that if you're really, really dedicated, anything is possible, and I feel like that country made me realize it. That hope. That even though I'm here, if I made it out there I could make it out here. And I just love America. There's nowhere else that's the same as that spot. It taught me a lot of things and I feel like both of them are like my mother countries. They're just like my stepmother. But I love both countries to death.

      Reflections, Feelings, Hope, Faith, Dreams

    6. Anne: So I think that, that's something that's really important to remember. When you think of yourself, do you think of yourself as an American, or Mexican, or something else?Mike: I feel like I'm a Mexican American. You learn to love your country when you're young, because of your parents and your culture, but at the same time you see all these opportunities that are given to you by going to the United States. And a lot of things that people say in the United States is bullshit.

      Reflections, Identity, Mexican, American

    7. Anne: And so your dreams are the same? US, Mexico, that's what you want to be?Mike: Yeah. I still don't know because I don't even know what road to take. There's so many, but I just want to help. Like I said, I want to be the person that I never had growing up. I don't know what that is though still, or whatever it is.Anne: You're very young.Mike: Yeah. I feel like I'm getting old [Laughs]. Sucks.Anne: Well, not having a childhood you must feel way older than your years.Mike: Oh yeah.Anne: You’ve got a lot of time ahead of you to really achieve those dreams.Mike: Yeah. Now I kind of believe it and it's kind of like, "Okay, yeah. You could do it."

      Reflections, Feelings, Dreams, Hope, Determination

    8. Anne: What were your dreams When you were in the US? What were your dreams?Mike: It's funny as I used to always have a dream of me actually speaking. You know how Martin Luther King did? And this is crazy because I always had this dream every night where I'd be speaking just like him and I'd have crowds just like him. I still feel like I'm going to change society in a positive way.Mike: I don't know why. I'm just the type of person that I care about everybody. I see the bigger picture, because I used to be selfish and only for myself, but I got my eyes open. I just want to be a help. I want to be the person that I wish I had growing up. That's what I want to do. Whatever it is.

      Time in the US, Feelings, Dreams

    9. Anne: What is it you miss most from the US?Mike: My kids. My kids. That's the one thing that I just—I don't even need anything. It's just my kids.

      Reflections, The United States, Favorite parts, missing

    10. Mike: I don't know is the grace of God, man. When you do good, when you take care of responsibilities that you don’t have to, I feel like you get blessed in a way. Because this guy's got money. He's got a house. He's got cars. His boss loves him.

      Reflections, The United States

    11. Mike: I had a choice where I could've been just like, "Fuck it, I'm not going to go anymore." But I just told them straight up and I was like, "Can you guys just give me a chance?" And they're like, "Yeah, dude. Just come back whenever you want. You don't have to wait those six months since we didn't fire you, or anything like that."Mike: So, yeah. Hopefully I'll find something. They actually told me they had some openings here, but if that doesn't work out, I know I could always go back to Teletech. Hopefully something's got to give.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Employment, Jobs, Call Centers, Opportunity

    12. Anne: So do you have a job now?Mike: No, no.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Employment

    13. Anne: Your dad? The one who kidnapped you?Mike: Yeah.Anne: He's back here?Mike: Yeah. I had nowhere to go. I didn't even want to come. I still—Anne: Are you living with him?Mike: No. I have my own spot. Oh no, trust me. No, no, no. I have my own spot. But when I didn't have anything, he would be the one that I would go to, because I had nothing. So he got me an apartment. I ended up moving from that apartment because I found out some stuff. Let me tell you how my dad is so you could get a sense of how kind of grimy.Mike: I remember this is the first time that he played me too and I was like, "Oh I got to watch out for this guy." So they charged me 200 pesos to do a whole bag of laundry, right? Well I hadn't remembered that when I first moved in, I had a smaller bag of laundry and my dad gave me the receipt and it was like 600 pesos, right?Mike: A couple of months later I had gone to the laundry place and I had an even bigger bag, because I had bought more clothes. So I know I had more clothes than before. So they gave me the receipt, and it's written 200 pesos. I told my dad, "Dad, remember the last time you told me that it was this," he started laughing like in my face, like, "Oh, what are you talking about?"Mike: And that's when I knew I was like, "Damn, I got to watch out for this guy." You know what I mean? Because they love you, that's your family, but they feel like you got it—because you're from there, or you came from there, or your family's going to support you. So he'd always try to get as much as he could. That's why I felt like I got to kind of stay away from him. Those are the people you've got to love, but keep your distance from.

      Return to Mexico, Family Relationships

    14. But other than that, Mexico has been good to me. I’ve gotten blessed with that job.Anne: At Teletech?Mike: Yeah. Teletech. I had to quit though because I was moving.

      Return to Mexico, Jobs, Call Centers

    15. Anne: And how long have you been back?Mike: Since October. So like eight, nine months, right? October, November, December.Anne: So what is it like here?Mike: I can't say it's been bad, but it's really hard to try to adjust to everything. My kids are the thing that really hits me. It’s the hardest at night—just knowing that you used to sleep everyday with them in your bed. And just when you're alone in that bed, just thinking about everything, that's when it really hits you. It just like bop right in the face.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Family separation

    16. Anne: So how did that lead to your final deportation or voluntary departure?Mike: Remember I told you that I had lost my papers and that's when my son was you know? I had lost my jobs and stuff. So it was really hard sometimes to provide for my kids, because sometimes there wouldn't be people that wanted tattoos, or there wouldn't be people that wanted a haircut.Anne: That’s what you did. You cut hair and—Mike: Yeah. I had to. That's the only thing that I could do. And I remembered to try to be good with the mother of my kids, I went after she invited me to go with one of her friends because they had a hotel in a resort casino. And I remember that I just wanted to please her. I wanted to make her happy.Mike: So again it's really hard to make someone happy when you can't provide for them. So every little thing, I was just trying to be kind of a kiss ass. And yeah, I went with her. I didn't like her friend. I hated her friend. It's just one of her friends that always made her do bad stuff.Mike: So I never liked hanging out with her, but I was like, "I'm going to try it, just because I'm trying to make her happy." And that's the day I got caught up with the blunt in my ear and the security caught me. From there on, I had to go to court fighting the cases and then basically I just like—Anne: So you were detained?Mike: Yeah. For like two days I believe for the blunt in my ear.Anne: What is a blunt?Mike: It's basically a wrap. A brown wrap that you put the marijuana in. It's just like a cigar. Have you seen this Cuban cigar? That's what it is. All they do is they cut it in the middle and they put weed inside. That's what a blunt is.Anne: How did they find it?Mike: I had it in my ear when I was coming out of the—there was a hotel and the casino and in the middle they joined and in that middle part there is security. So I was walking out going to the casino and they seen it in my ear and they're like, "What is that?" And I was like, "Aw damn, I'm done." I knew it so I was like, "Dude, I'm done."Mike: They took me downstairs, checked me, and then they let me go. But then they told me that I had a court date. Little did I know in the next two days somebody came to pick me up from ICE, so I had to go with them. They placed me there for a couple of days, more. Two or three days more. I stayed in the ICE facility for two or three days and then they let me out and then that's when I had to go to court. Keep going to court. Keep going to court until finally I couldn't stall it anymore.Mike: So they were like, "Dude, you got to do something. You either going to jail or to fight it, the case. But you're going to jail. You've got to be in jail and you can't be out while you're fighting this case, or you do a voluntary departure and you go." At that time I felt like I wasn't any good to anybody. I didn’t want to be a burden on my family." So I just left. This is just something that I felt like I had to do. I knew if I ran away, I was never going to be able to provide for my kids, because I was always going to have to try to find a way to provide for myself. And I didn't want that for them. So I just did a voluntary departure. I just said, "Screw it."Anne: And the case that they were... I mean the criminal act was possession of marijuana?Mike: That was it. I still got the paper. I got all my voluntary departure, everything.Anne: How long until you came—Mike: I could go apply anytime I want, but just because of that, I feel like that's going to have some issues. It's going to bring some issues up. But they didn't say, "Oh, you have to wait this long to do it." No, because I did the voluntary departure.Mike: I could've gone and fought the case and did all that stuff, but I was like, "No dude. Don't do it. Because if you lose, you're really not going to be able to come back and then that's going to be something that your kids are going to have to pay for." So I was like, "Nah, man." I just left. I'm just trying to do the right thing right now. Sometimes—

      Leaving the US, Reasons for Exit, Voluntary Departure, Detention, Reasons, Drug possession

    17. Anne: So then you went into a depression you said.Mike: Yeah, I still feel like I am. Sometimes it just hits you. Sometimes you're just alone in that bed and then everything just comes at you all at one time, and it sucks. But I tried to fight it as best as I can, because I know out of all these bad things that I'm going through, something's got to change.

      Reflections, Feelings, Despair, Sadness, Determination

    18. Anne: And how old were you?Mike: I was like 23, 24. Around there.Anne: So they gave you the social security provisionally, and then took it away when they realized—Mike: Yeah. And it takes a long time the process for immigration. So I had some time there, actually I was like a year and a half, where I was doing everything legal. Doing my taxes, getting my taxes back, just doing everything that normal US citizens got to do. And then just one day I got that letter in the mail and I just had to give it all up.Mike: I remember we had to go in this office, we gave everything back and then they told us like, "Basically don't get in trouble, because that's your ass" [Chuckle]. I was just stunned. I'm like, "How could people do you like..." You know what I mean? Especially me growing up, I wanted to be something in my community. I wanted to change for the better. I felt like I could have contributed to my community, not only to my community, but basically just become something that people look up to or follow. But it didn't work out like it does.

      Time in the US, Employment, Documents, Social Security card/ID

    19. Anne: So after your son was born you did not stay with the young woman, and she kept the baby and you just visited him?Mike: No, no, no. I got us an apartment. I was working, I had gotten a car and the thing was crazy because everything started working out all by itself. I feel like it was blessing, after blessing, after blessing. And at that time, that's when I was getting my work permit. I got my social. That was all at that time. So I was able to provide for my kids. I was able to provide for the mother of my kids.Anne: You have more than one kid?Mike: Yeah. I have two kids.Mike: Same mother. Oh yeah, we had that kid because she was pregnant before, but she had a miscarriage. Or, I don't know what they call it, but the baby died in the womb.Anne: A still born baby?Mike: It was alive, but I think the [Exhale], hospitals since they didn't—you know when babies are really young, it takes money to take care of them?Anne: Premature?Mike: Well he was six months and her water broke. He was still alive and they told us that they could take him out, but he was going to have problems. So they made us feel like he wasn't going to survive, and they let him die in the womb.Mike: And then when we found out, we tried to put a lawsuit on them, but it was too late. But they felt bad. They still feel bad, because every year they send us cards, all the nurses and staff. So I know they did something wrong. I know they did.Anne: That was the second pregnancy?Mike: That was the second pregnancy, but since that went wrong, the mother of my kids just got like depressed. Have you heard of a rainbow child? It's when you have a kid after the first one passed away.Mike: So that was our rainbow child, Eli, and that's when I started going downhill, because my stuff got denied. I didn't have the privileges that every normal US citizen gets to have. So I had two kids, no way to provide for them.

      Time in the US, Relationships, Having children, Complications

    20. Anne: Yeah. You were talking about drugs.Mike: Oh yeah, drugs, man. It's just it didn't really get to me. But I could see if I didn't have that motivation in myself, I could see how it would be really easy to just go down a spiral and just drug binge. But luckily thank God that that didn't happen to me. But weed I would usually use it a lot, because it was my coping mechanism.Mike: When you smoke, it makes you feel like nothing is important. All your problems go away basically. And it was just like a coping mechanism to just go on every day with my life. I felt like if I didn't have that, there was no point. My life was whack.... There was one point in time that I had to smoke before I do something fun.Mike: It got to that point and it sucked, because I'm like, "You had so much energy. You did so many things and now it's like you got to smoke weed to have fun." You know what I mean? But that's the only thing I had a problem with. I've tried drugs, but it never really got something to where I could say like, "Dang bro, you're addicted. You need to stop."

      Time in the US, Drugs, Taking

    21. Anne: Did you have trouble with drugs?Mike: Yeah. Marijuana. I feel like some people don't classify it as a drug, but at the same time, when you're depressed or when you're going through stuff, it really affects you. It affects every decision that you make. And, of course, everybody—I've tried drugs, I'm not going to say exactly which one, but I've experimented.Mike: I've never really liked it though. I don't like to be high because I used to fight a lot. I would always see that when I would smoke, I would always get beat up.

      Time in the US, Drugs, Taking

    22. Mike: That was my mentality. When I shouldn't have thought like that, I should have been thinking like, "You're not from here. You got to watch out. You need to get something going on because, you got another life that depends on you." But it was crazy, because it's a mood swing. It's like you want to do good, not just for yourself, but for your family, but at the same time you're just like rebelling because you didn't get to live the things that you did.Mike: So it's like you know you're supposed to do this, but you're like, Ah, whatever. And then you just end up doing that. But then when you do it, you're like, "Damn, why did I do it?" You just reflect back on it. And it was always a freaking struggle in my head man. Just trying to do the right thing, because I felt like the world owed me all the time I lost. You know what I mean?

      Reflections, Feelings, Frustration, Regret

    23. Mike: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.Anne: So how old were you then? 21?Mike: Yeah, around there. 21, 22. That's when I was... That's when my baby, I knew he was going to be born, or he was born already. At that time, I just wanted to do good for my family and try and grow up, because I always took everything as a joke. I feel like I'm still 18 and I'm 26 already. I feel like I didn't have a chance to live my childhood.

      Time in the US, Family, Children

    24. Anne: So you said that you liked it, because it got your parents upset?Mike: Oh yeah.Anne: Was this your mom and stepdad?Mike: Oh yeah.Anne: Why were you so mad at your mom do you think?Mike: Because all this stuff that happened, I kind of blamed it on her. Slowly I started saying because of one decision that she had made, all our lives got messed up, even if she wanted to or not, point blank period. But then I didn't think on both sides. I was really young, so I would always be like “Me, me, me.” When I started getting older, I realized like, "Dude, she only did it to give us a better life."Anne: So you are saying the decision to come to the US was what...Mike: Not even that, it's just getting with my stepdad. I'd always had trouble listening to male authority, just because I didn't have that at all. So every time he would tell me to do something, I'd get so mad. I just want to punch him in the face. And it sucked, man, because he would always try to tell me stuff—he would do it for my own good.Mike: He would never get out of hand talk to me, but I would always explode on him. I would treat him like the parent that I never had who wanted to be back in my life. So you know you could kind of treat him like however you want? That's how I would treat him. And I just started realizing over time my dad just—this guy really cares about us. He's providing for five kids and still doesn't ask for anything.Mike: It just started growing on me and we started getting along and it started getting better. But yeah, I would not get along with my mom, or my dad at all. And my mom was—I feel like a lot of Mexican women and men, they have something against black folks even if you want to or not. I feel like that's racist too, because my mom would always be like, "Why do you hang out with them? Why do you do this? Why do you do that?"Mike: I'm like, "Because they're cool, man. They're like... I feel like these are my people. They've gone through the same struggles, a lot of the same stuff that happened to them. They would happen to me." So I would always bring them over, and I remember one time my mom got so mad she grabbed an orange and threw it at my friend, but my friend was so tall, he just caught it.

      Time in the US, Family

    25. Anne: You talked about your association with kids that weren't the best in high school. Did you get in trouble?Mike: Oh yeah.Anne: Did you actually get arrested?Mike: Oh yeah. A couple of times. But it was my high school year, so it never stayed in my record, but I was getting in trouble constantly. And I liked it, because my parents would have to suffer. That's the sucky thing about it. Looking back at it now, I put my mom through a lot of stuff, and it sucks.Anne: So what kind of crimes did you commit?Mike: Basically it was just petty things. They would always catch us for skipping school. One time I remember my friend went into a gas station and stole some cigarettes, which is—how do you grab the cigarettes in the back counter? And I was with that guy. Fights. I also loved fighting. It's just a way of me just getting my anger out.Mike: I got a lot of disorderly conducts and it was for fighting. It's just something about fighting that just releases the stress. It just releases my anger. And since I didn't want to take it on my family, I would just always, whoever wanted it, I'd be the first one to step in. And it's crazy because I was the shortest one I remember. I was the shortest one man.Mike: I used to hang out with a lot of black people, so I was always the shortest one. I was always doing the most man. And I was like, "Dude, what's wrong with you?" Then everybody would be like, "Dude, calm down." You're like one of those mad chihuahuas. And I was like, "Dude, you're so right. I got to stop, man. I got to stop." Which is crazy.

      Time in the US, Arrests

    26. Mike: No, that was actually... She was still in high school. She was in senior year I believe. I wasn't in high school anymore, I was working at that time, working for the Solar Spot. I had barely started working for the Solar Spot and she kind of gave me motivation to do better. When you have somebody, you want to take them out and do extra stuff. So you're like, "Yeah man, I got to get this money."Mike: And that was another motivation that helped me kind of get up at a higher level than I was. But it was just a lot of stuff. When you have kids young, you think you want something, but you don't know. It's just like you think you like the person but you don't like them. You just like them for their looks or their body, and that was my mistake. And yes, she actually told me if I wanted to marry her.Mike: I didn't like her and I didn't want to do that to her. But she was just wanting to help me out so I could get my papers, but I couldn't do it to her, man. I just imagine myself like, "Damn, she's going to marry me." And then like, "What if I'm not the right one, and then she's going to have to go. She's taking that sacrifice for me. I don't feel like that's fair."Mike: So we never got married. I never fixed anything. I could, I had the chance because at that time they told me, "Why don't you put your papers in?" My boss—damn, that guy has helped me a lot. His name is Richard Perkin. Man, that guy's like a second father to me. He did everything he could to try to help me out and my status, but at that point it was already too late because they had denied us for—Anne: Denied what?Mike: Remember when I told you that my mom put in the Visa U or some stuff like that? Since they denied us, they wouldn't give us another shot. I had to wait a certain amount of years.

      Time in the US, Relationships, Falling in love, Having Children, creating families

    27. Anne: You talked about you had you first kid, when you were how old?Mike: I believe I was 20 when I first had my kid.Anne: So you were involved with—Mike: No.Anne: Girls before that, and—

      Time in the US, Family, Children

    28. Anne: So you dropped out of school what year?Mike: Senior year.

      Time in the US, School, Dropping out

    29. Mike: That was a good day. I remember my mom came home and she asked me, "What did you get?" And I had her crying too, because you know? But that was really good. That's why I liked that good side of me, that out of all the bad stuff, there's always good.

      Reflections, Feelings, Joy

    30. Mike: Exactly. Exactly that's what I'm saying. There was a couple of schools that they did see that we were going through financial difficulties, so they signed me up. I remember my teacher, Ms. Garcia—I'll never forget her, she's an angel. She signed us up for this program where you could go ride along with the cop and you would go to a store, you had $200 and you could buy whatever you want.Mike: And I remember I bought my whole family stuff, and I had the whole cops crying. The whole department was crying because of all the kids, I was the only one that got something for their family. The cops looked at that and they're like, "Wow, you're so young, but yet still you're family orientated."

      Time in the US, Mentors, Teachers, Police: US

    31. Anne: Just one more... Couple more things about school. So you came back to Arizona after two years of being kidnapped? Did someone give you some therapy. I mean did you go through therapy or counseling at this time?Mike: We weren't from there, so we didn't get any of that. I remember my mom signed us up for this Christmas thing, because we didn't have any money. And this was before I got kidnapped. She signed us up for this little Christmas thing and we weren't accepted, because we weren't from there. From the United States. So that program didn't apply to us, they said.Anne: But your school should have. I mean—Mike: Exactly. Exactly that's what I'm saying.

      Time in the US, School, Lack of mental health resources

    32. Mike: So yeah, I feel like it was around my freshman year, everything started going downhill, because I used to be in events, classes, and all my teachers loved me. I would have conversations like this with my teachers and they'd be amazed sometimes like, "Wow, this kid has so much insight. So much to talk about." And they would always encourage me, but the thing about it is I wouldn't feel like that.Mike: I would always feel like, "I'm not shit. What are they talking about? What do they see in me that I don't see in myself?" And it sucked because other people looked at my potential and I put myself so low that I didn't even look at that. Every time they're like, "Dude, you've got so much potential." And I'm like, "Yeah, right dude, what are you talking about? You just trying to butter me up man."

      Time in the US, School, Teachers

    33. Anne: So when did you stop feeling for your family, and feeling like you'd fit into Christmas and such?Mike: That was going on high school. I think it was my freshman year, because like I said man, it's just all these things that happen to you, there's just only so much you could take to where you're like, "You know what? Eff it." You're just done with everybody and you're just like, "You know what? If life paid me back like this, then why should I care?" You know what I mean? And it makes me feel like inferior at times.

      Time in the US, Family, Rejection

    34. Anne: That's really tough. So did your other siblings have similar experiences as they reached adolescence in high school or do you think it was more you?Mike: I feel like I kind of took the burden of kind of being the man of the house that, that kind of just wore me down. So my brothers and sisters seen that and I was kind of like the black sheep, but I was like an example. Like, "Oh, don't be like him." So I feel like I wasn't there to help them, or to actually guide them like a big brother should, but at least I was like, "Okay, don't be like him." You know what I mean?

      Time in the US, Family

    35. Mike: Just going through everything, it kind of made me not have feelings for anybody, because when you have feelings for somebody that's a way that somebody could hurt you. So it's like you block all that out and you don't want nothing to do with it, because that way you can get hurt. I'm sorry, I'm going off topic.

      Reflections, Feelings, Jaded

    36. Anne: Was it a gang or just a bunch of kids?Mike: It was gang members. I used to hang out with people that they didn't care for themselves. I remember walking into my friend's house and the house was just like, "Oh my God." It was like a tornado went in and I usually don't hang out with people like this. I was so scared just being in that house and I just started getting used to it, because those are the people that I could not relate to, but I had something in common like, "Okay if you're not ish, then I'm not an ish either."Mike: So we relate and I feel like kind of adopted. They kind of adopted me. The streets adopted me kind of in a way. I didn't really have a relationship with my family. When there was a family events or anything, I felt like an outcast. I would never go to them. Christmas, I was always in my room. Every little... It's just weird man. Everything messed me up. I feel like traumatic. Just the trauma of everything.

      Time in the US, Gangs, Camaraderie/family

    37. Anne: So you were talking about in high school you found out that you would not be able to get a legal job. Started getting in trouble. What kind of trouble?Mike: I started hanging out with the wrong kind of kids. These other kids that wouldn't go to school and I noticed what type of kids I was hanging out with. I noticed the difference, because there's productive people that make you want to do better, and there's this people that just see you and they want to see you do as bad as them.Mike: So they kind of drag you down under. I felt like I just wanted to fit in kind of because all my life I felt like I wasn't equal—I don't know how to explain it. It's just I just wanted to fit in kind of, not feel like I wasn't as good as them, because I felt like I was always inferior, because I didn't have the things that they had.

      Time in the US, Gangs, Affiliation, Camaraderie/family, Fitting in

    38. Mike: And you know what's crazy? My mom actually signed us up for this program. It's called Visa U , which is a process for the immigration and it's just one route that you could go.Mike: She signed us up, but the people that were doing all the paperwork for us basically lied to us and basically committed fraud, because they told us that through this for certain we were going to be able to get papers, because we went through some kind of a violence.Anne: With your dad?Mike: Yeah. But they didn't tell us that if he wasn't from there, that it didn't apply to us. And since he's not a resident, or he's not anything, they just took it all away. But they gave me a social security card. They gave me a work permit. They gave me everything that I needed. I even got my taxes one year [Emotional]. I got $3,000 back, put my taxes on my wall, like I'm really doing it.Mike: But then out of nowhere, stripped everything from us. We didn't know what to do. There was no... Just got to go back to the old things that we were doing. But luckily, I was able to cut hair and do tattoos, and I was able to get by.Anne: So the violence that you encountered didn't qualify, because the perpetrator was not a us citizen. Is that what it is?Mike: Yes. Which was my father at the time.Mike: And then when they strip that away, that's when you kind of want to take your anger out, because you're like, "Wow. What else can I go through?" And then it starts raining just kind of like that scenario. But yeah, it's hard. It's hard.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Broken system

    39. Anne: So I don't know if you follow what's going on in the US. There's a law, that probably won’t get passed in the Senate but just got passed in the house, that basically says that if someone like you, graduates from high school, or is on the way to graduating from high school and hasn't gotten in trouble, you can get a conditional residence—Mike: Right.Anne: And get a social security card for ten years. Ten years conditional residence. And then if you get employed in three years during that time you can get permanent legal access.Mike: Oh, okay. So that was the Trump administration when they came to an agreement, right?Anne: No, they haven't reached an agreement, but it's this new dream. If you had known that all you had to do was keep going to school and you could get a social security card and you could have a path to citizenship, would that have made a difference, do you think?Mike: Yes. I feel like yes, if I would have known earlier. But at the same time, once you start living in Arizona, or anywhere in the US, you kind of start thinking like you're from there. I was telling the nice lady from earlier, Anita, that once you get used to it, once you think that you're from there—that was my mistake, because I started not caring—you just start doing stuff that if you don't have papers you should know you're not supposed to do. I got kind of carried away and was trying to get the whole world. Because I didn't have my papers, I was trying to go after everybody. I'm like, "Okay. So if I can't work, cool, I'll just do my own thing, or I'll just do this, do that."Mike: I feel like if I was a little more informed, it would have gone a different way, or a little more help, programs or anything. I feel like I could have still had a fighting chance.Anne: Yeah. I mean the hope is that there will be policy that will give hope to people like you that as soon as you finish going to school, you can then get a social security card, you can get a job, you can make a life for yourself, but currently—

      Reflections, The United States, Policy to help migrants

    40. Anne: And you think that when she told you that getting a job was not an option, you think that broke you?Mike: Yeah. That really hurt like a lot, a lot. Oh man, I'm getting emotional, now because that sucks when you hear that stuff.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Lost opportunities; Time in the US - Feelings - Despair - Legal Status

    41. Mike: And I wish I had that energy in high school, but I don't know what happened. I just lost that. They took everything out of me. But yeah, when you get that motivation, I feel like anything is possible, because I learned how to draw, and I learned how to talk to people. There's a language barrier that's really, really hard. If you don't know English, you don't fit in.

      Time in the US, School, Learning English, Fitting in/belonging, Struggling; Time in the US, Feelings, Frustration, Despair, Regret

    42. So since my parents were always fighting I used to be scared to go home sometimes you know? And it sucked.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Violence

    43. Anne: Yeah. So tell me about school. You said you were smart.Mike: Oh yeah, I love... So since my parents were always fighting I used to be scared to go home sometimes you know? And it sucked. So I would always try to focus every little bit of energy on my schoolwork, trying to be the best at it, because I wanted to show everybody even if you don't got nothing, there's still something. There's still something to fight for.

      Time in the US, School, Working hard

    44. Anne: She got remarried to your stepdad?Mike: Yeah. My stepdad. She got with a guy before that and had a kid and then she got married to my stepdad. My stepdad was the one that actually kind of changed our lives, because we didn't have anything and he came into our lives and he got a better job. He started wanting to do better for the family that he just basically adopted, and—Anne: None of the children were his?Mike: None of them, they still don't have kids. So I look up to that man a lot, because he's done a lot of sacrifices. At the same time, we're like the push he needed. So we both helped each other out.Anne: They're still in Arizona?Mike: Yeah, he's actually married to my mom. They got a house. I don't know how they do it, but they're blessed. Good people, do good things, I feel like you get blessed. Yeah, good karma just come back.

      Time in the US, Family

    45. Anne: But you talk about doing well in school. So when were you out of school besides when—Mike: Those two years. Those two years I was out of school and stuff. And then I was in school with my mom, but in the mornings I would have to help her. So sometimes I would have to miss school, sometimes I wouldn't go to school. So then it was chaos.Mike: Sometimes you'd go to school, sometimes you wouldn't. It just depended on if you had money or if there was food on the table. But I got used to it. There's just only so much crying you could do basically until you're like, "You know what? You just got to have that solid heart so nothing can hurt you."

      Time in the US, School, Struggling

    46. Mike: Yeah. But we were used to it though. I was used to it at least, because growing up my mom didn't have a job so she couldn't provide for us even if she wanted to, because she's illegal. So what we would do is we would make fake CDs, and every morning I would just wake up, go to different little towns and stuff, sell CDs.Mike: That's how we made our money and we made a living. And I remember growing up way too early, man. I used to cry sometimes, because I would wake up at 5:00 in the morning. I'm like, "Dude, I'm a little kid I don't deserve this." You know what I mean?Anne: You would sell CDs before school?Mike: I didn't go to school. I would just sell—Anne: With your mom?Mike: Yeah. I would sell CDs. Me and my mom would be the breadwinners basically. There was no other way. I was the only one that talked English, and it was just hard.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Expectations, Jobs

    47. Mike: Yeah. I didn't go to school, because my dad thought that if something happened... And I remember one time the cops came to my house, because my little brother was playing outside and it was school hours. And they're like, "What is this kid doing outside?" And I remember him crying outside, because the cops got him. And I was like, "Oh my God, what do I do?"Mike: So I opened the door and my little brother rushes in crying. And then, I don't know, by the grace of God, they left us alone, but they told us that we had to be in school, this and that. And from there we moved. A month later, that's when he got caught up with the thing.Anne: So basically he would go to work, and you would be in charge of the kids?Mike: Yeah.Anne: That's a lot of responsibility to put on—

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Expectations, Siblings, Caring for them

    48. Anne: What was it like living with your dad for those two year?Mike: It sucked. It sucked so bad. We couldn't go to school. We didn't have papers. On top of that, we're not from there. So we don't have papers. Not papers, but you know how you have to get the medical shots. We had to redo all of that stuff. So my mom got the shots, did all the immunization records and all that stuff. When we were with my dad, we didn't have none of that. So we had to redo it again.Anne: You didn't go to school for two years?

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Lost opportunities

    49. Anne: How old were you?Mike: I was 11, 12.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Age

    50. Mike: And it took a whole month for the cops to come to my house. So I was with my two little brothers and my little sister was born by that time. She was like three, four. We stayed a whole month with nobody just by ourselves in the house. And I remember this—Anne: How old were you?Mike: I was 11, 12.Anne: And you were the oldest?Mike: Yeah. And that's that right there... I could see why single mothers and people that just don't have any help, why they stress, or why they go through all that stuff, or why they treat their kids bad and stuff, because it’s hard taking care of kids. I remember not having anything. On the last day of the month, I opened the freezer, and there's nothing in there. Nothing at all. And I'm like, "What am I going to do? What am I going to feed my little brothers and sisters?" And then I was just like, "You know what? I'm just going to go to the store and just steal something. A bag of chips, whatever." So I go in the store and the guy was really nice. He was an Arab guy. He was always telling me, "Hey, just pay me back tomorrow."Mike: And I had remembered he had already done that. He gave me a bag of chips, and he just told me, "Pay me back whenever you come." So I was like, "Dude, I can't do that again, because I don't have no money this time" [Emotional]. So I remember I prayed to God. I prayed to God. I was like, "Please God help me. I don't want to steal from this man. He's really good guy." And, oh dude, this is crazy, because I look in my pocket—I had the chips in my hand and I was acting like I had money. Sure enough, I reached in my pocket, and I had a dollar. A freaking dollar. I was like, "God I know you're real." Because at that time I was like, "Yeah." But I got home, opened the little bag, put some lime, put some hot sauce, feed my little brothers and sisters.Mike: Then I'm telling you, we were so hungry that I had some seeds, some plants—the garden seeds and stuff. I went outside thinking that they were going to grow in a couple of days. I made myself a little garden, I was planting them, and I was like, "Please, God..." When I was praying, I was like, "Please God, let me get this food so I can feed my brothers and sisters, because I don't know when my dad is going to come.” And right when I look up, I see two officers. A lady and then a man. They said they were US Marshalls or something like that. They took us.Mike: We stayed with them for a couple of days, and then they flew us back to Arizona where my mom was staying at. So yeah, those two years being away from her, my dad had lied to us and said that she didn't want us anymore because she had another kid on the way. And yeah, my dad didn't care. He just lied to us and said that my mom didn't want us.Mike: So, I was thinking like, "Why do you want us back? You say you didn't want us.” Little did I know all that. She told me all this stuff that happened and I just started busting down and crying. And I was always mean to my little stepsister too. But once I learned about how my dad, when she was a newborn, put her in the closet with my mom—got my mom butt naked and put her in the closet—and left her there and then took us to Texas… I used to be mean to my little sister, but after I heard that, I was just like—me and her just got close and stuff. Yeah.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Siblings, Caring for them

    51. Anne: You said your dad wasn't with you when you crossed the border. Was he—Mike: My dad—Anne: Already in the States?Mike: My dad was already in the States. But a couple of years passed after we crossed the border, my mom and my dad didn't get along, and my dad was really controlling and abusive. So my mom ran away and took us to Los Angeles to live with my uncle. And, at that time, my dad didn't know where we were, because my mom was really scared.Mike: She took us to Los Angeles to live with my uncle, and I remember we moved back to Arizona, because we thought my dad wasn't there anymore. Well, we were staying in this little spot called Conway, Arizona—like two, three months. And at that time my dad found us—because one of my family members told him where we were—and he tied my mom up, went in there with another guy, masks on and kidnapped us.Mike: He took us to Texas for two years. We were actually on the news as missing children. If you look me up, I have all our photos. We were gone for two years, and the reason that they found us was because my dad was actually trying to rob a wheel store—rim store. He broke in and the police got him, and they took him to jail, but they had no idea who he was or he was being looked for.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Abuse, Violence

    52. Anne: That’s really tragic, and I'm hoping that you'll be able to soon go over. But sort of leading up to all that, so when you crossed the border, did you end up living in Arizona?Mike: Yes. I remember the first place I got to was Tucson. We had gone to Taco Bell. I love Taco Bell. That's why I love Taco Bell. I remember that now. I was like, "Damn, why do I like Taco Bell?" But yeah, I remember I came in a Taco Bell and I had thorns from the cactus stuck in my feet and I remember they got infected.Mike: All this green and pus was coming out and a lady from the Taco Bell gave us some food, and let us stay with her. Really good people too. I remember that every time I think about that. But we started living with them and then we started getting side jobs here and there. There was also a point in time where my dad and my mom really didn't get along.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, First impressions, Living situation

    53. This is the reason I got deported—over a blunt.

      Leaving the US, Detention, Reasons, Drug possession

    54. Anne: How old were you?Mike: Just like 24, 25? I'm 26 now. This is recent.

      Leaving the US, Age

    55. Everything was good, but I got caught with... What was it called? Something in my ear. A blunt in my ear. And it was in a hotel.Mike: It was a hotel casino. And the security stopped me and they told me, “What was that?” And since it was marijuana was illegal they told me I had to go to jail. So I went to jail. I stayed a day—

      Time in the US, Arrests, Felonies, Drug offenses

    56. But I looked for a job. I was blessed to find a job actually with my stepdad. My stepdad did all the solar stuff—solar panels.Anne: Solar panels?Mike: Yeah. So I started working in the solar business with him, and it was actually good money. Really, really good money. From then on I started working with him. Everything was good,

      Time in the US, Feelings, Hope, Excitement, Determination

    57. Mike: Yeah. And right there, from then on I was just like, "You know what? It's whatever. What's the point of even trying?" It kind of messed me up, got me depressed a little bit. I started hanging out with bad people, doing the wrong things, and I dropped out my senior year.Mike: I remember that day. Damn, that was crazy. I don't know why I did it. I just like... I just said, "Screw it. Nothing's ever going to happen for me, so why even try?"

      Time in the US, Feelings, Despair

    58. I was doing a lot of extra stuff, but once I started getting into high school, I noticed all my friends getting jobs and having new shoes and this and that. And I would ask him like, "What are you doing?" And he was like, "I just got a job. I got a car. I got this."Mike: I could see them--that they were advancing in life, and I was still in the same spot. So I asked my mom if I could get a job, and that's when she broke it down to me that I wasn't even from here. And that was right there like a slap in the face.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Lost opportunities

    59. Mike: After that I got to the United States and I started going to school. I didn't really know English, so that was kind of tough, but I picked it up quick, because kids out there are just like—or kids anywhere you know how they could be. So yeah, I picked that up, started actually excelling in a lot of classes, and that kind of was like the motivation to keep going farther with my education.Mike: I was doing really good. I was actually doing advanced classes, and this was all from first grade onto middle school.

      Time in the US, School, Learning English/ESL, Working hard, getting good grades

    60. Mike: I was in kindergarten when I crossed the border and, yeah, I remember it was tough.

      Time in the US, Arriving in the United States, Age

    61. Mike: And I remember it was me, my mother, my two little brothers—my sisters weren't born at the time—and the two coyotes, the people that cross you. Yeah, I remember that, because that was really, really hard. Just being three days in the desert, especially when you're like three or four, that right there just takes a toll—Anne: Is that how old you were?Mike: I was in kindergarten when I crossed the border and, yeah, I remember it was tough. I remember we didn't have any water, and the coyotes had beer and I was so thirsty and they kept telling me, "No, you don't want this. You don't want this." But I was so thirsty, I just took a drink and it was the best thing in life. [Laughs] I think that's why I kind of like it now, but I don't have a problem with it, but...

      Mexico, before the US, Migration from Mexico, Border crossing, General, Coyotes

    62. Anne: I was not present at your survey, so I don't know much about you. So maybe we could just start by you telling me about the circumstances for you, going to the US, how old you were, your first impressions, why you went or your family went.Mike: When I was really young, I had gotten accident that required surgery and I needed to get that surgery done, so when I went to the hospital and get it done there was actually a couple of people from a criminal organization that were supposed to, I guess, kill somebody in there. I remember this like it was yesterday. I had a little breathing mask on and the doctor was telling me to breathe when he counted the eight, I could just hear the gunshots.Mike: And I remember waking up in a bus, because my mom had gone inside the hospital, grabbed me and got on the bus. And I remember waking up kind of like, "Where am I?" And she ended up telling me all that happened, because of that we decided—well, my mom decided—that she wanted a better life for us. So we ended up crossing the border to Arizona. It actually took us three days.

      Mexico, before the US, Migration from Mexico, Reasons, Violence

    1. Luisa: I had to go through hell in order to get my paperwork done for school—through hell, and then I still had to do two years. If that was somebody else with a little bit less drive or a little bit less enthusiasm, they would've given up and they wouldn't have continued with their studies. They would've said, "Fuck it. Why? They're putting me against the wall. How am I supposed to do anything?” Anyone else for sure would've, and I know a lot of cases where they're like, "Dude, it's just too hard. It's too hard to keep going. They're asking me to do everything that I've already done, and what they're asking me to do is subpar compared to the education that I've had." So it's extremely discouraging.

      Reflections, Feelings, Discouragement

    2. Anita: What has Mexico gained by gaining you?Luisa: I think they've gained a lot. I think Mexico has gained a lot, but they don't know how to appreciate it. They pretty much throw us aside. Unfortunately, the Mexican government does not think that people who are returning from the States have anything to offer, and they're dead wrong about that. Honestly, if you look at a lot of these people that are coming back, they have so much to offer. They have so much to give and they have so much drive and they're hungry, but they don't make it easy for us.Luisa: I had to go through hell in order to get my paperwork done for school—through hell, and then I still had to do two years. If that was somebody else with a little bit less drive or a little bit less enthusiasm, they would've given up and they wouldn't have continued with their studies. They would've said, "Fuck it. Why? They're putting me against the wall. How am I supposed to do anything?” Anyone else for sure would've, and I know a lot of cases where they're like, "Dude, it's just too hard. It's too hard to keep going. They're asking me to do everything that I've already done, and what they're asking me to do is subpar compared to the education that I've had." So it's extremely discouraging.

      Reflections, Mexico, What Mexico has gained

    3. Anita: Only two more questions that are more reflective.Luisa: Yes?Anita: One is this idea about what did the US lose by losing someone like you?Luisa: I'm pretty sure if I wasn't going to be an oncologist, maybe a neuroscientist or a neurosurgeon. People like me, I'm driven, man. I'm extremely driven. When you grow up with all of these people telling you that you can't, you want it more and you want it more and you have this hunger inside of you that you want it and you need it and you're going to make it, and I'm pretty sure I could run laps around all these fuckers that were born citizens. So they did—they lost somebody who can better society. I'm pretty sure I had a lot to offer … in a lot of senses.

      Reflections, The United States, Deportation, What the US has lost

    4. Anita: [So you studied international relations] Why international relations?Luisa: International relations because I am a fucking citizen of the world. Every time somebody asks me, "Where are you from?" I have no idea how to answer because I don't feel Mexican and I don't feel American. I don't know what I am, so fuck it. I'm going to be a citizen of the world [Chuckles]. I'm going to take all of this and I'm going to be international. That's it. That's it. We're going to be international. That's it, because genuinely, honest to God, I don't know how to answer when somebody asks me.

      Reflections, Identity, Global/Human

    5. Anita: What was school like?Luisa: Hard at first. I was bullied at first. I remember … because my Spanish wasn't the best. When I got here, I had not practiced my Spanish in so long. I knew how to read and write, but my grammar was not the best either. I had kindergarten education. That's how long I [Chuckles] … everything else, a lot of my teachers were understanding.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Discrimination/stigmatization, Language, Continuing education

    6. Luisa: I do. I remember my dogs. I remember my mom. I remember my dad. I remember my grandparents. I remember everything, and they didn't remember anything. Their entire life was over there, so that's just my bitterness. We moved back and I was so depressed. I don't think I've ever been that depressed in my life. I had to go back to high school because … even with the IB program. I killed myself. What was that worth, all that effort, and all that [Chokes up]? What was it worth? Nothing. I had to go back to this broken education system in Mexico which I could run laps around the fucking curriculum and I had to redo it in order to go to university, and fuck, that sucked.Luisa: I was extremely depressed. I didn't even want to leave the house because I didn't want to be reminded of the fact that I was not in the States anymore, because it was ugly. It was ugly where we lived.

      Return to Mexico, Challenges, Mental Health

    7. Anita: Why didn't they stay behind?Luisa: I think my mom felt guilty. I think she didn't want me to be by myself. She felt guilty that she didn't allow me to apply for DACA, so she's like, "Okay. That's okay." Eventually my sisters are going to have to go through this and let's do it now so the change doesn't hurt them as much when it comes down to it. They had it a little easier, I think [Chuckles]. They didn't have to go through it twice, or maybe that's just my bitterness, but I had to go through that uprooting and going into a strange country twice [Chuckles]. They don't remember Mexico at all, so I don't think they remember any of the life that we had here.

      Leaving the US, Reasons for Exit, Following a loved one

    8. Anita: You returned to Mexico?Luisa: I made the decision of returning, and I uprooted my sisters. My little sister was a year old when we left. She knew nothing about Mexico. She barely spoke Spanish, so I selfishly made everyone move back to Mexico.Anita: Because?Luisa: Because I wanted to continue my education.

      Leaving the US, Reasons for Exit, Higher Education in Mexico

    9. Luisa: Yes, and that's when it had come out. Right when I had graduated high school was when DACA came out, and my mom said no. She made me feel extremely selfish for wanting it. She let me know that, "You know what? Yes, you're going to get what you want, but you're going to affect all of us." But in my mom's mind and I think in every single Mexican or undocumented person's mind is that distrust of the government. That they're going to have you in this database and they're going to know exactly where you live and who lives with you and where you are. I don't want that, and she did not allow that. I know. I know. I could've, but I didn't.Anita: Did you fight?Luisa: My mom? No.Anita: You just accepted it?Luisa: [Pause] Yes and no. It took me a while. I was even going to marry my best friend, E___. I was like, "Let's get married. Let's get married." He was my best friend, but he didn't know why I wanted to get married [Laughs]. In my mind, I was like, "Fuck it. Let's do this. I'll get papers and I'll continue my education. That's fine. Once we're married, he's stuck with me. I'll tell him then.” [Pause] I even thought about that. I was getting extremely desperate, but—Anita: How did E___ think? What did he think?Luisa: When I told him I was moving to Mexico, he offered to marry me too so I would stay behind. I think he kind of knew at that point. I think E___ knew. He wasn't a stupid guy. He called my mom mommy. He wasn't stupid.

      Time in the US, Feelings, Fear, Legal Status, Disappointment, Dreams, Frustration, Despair, Friendship

    10. Anita: Did you qualify for DACA?Luisa: Yes, and that's when it had come out. Right when I had graduated high school was when DACA came out, and my mom said no. She made me feel extremely selfish for wanting it. She let me know that, "You know what? Yes, you're going to get what you want, but you're going to affect all of us." But in my mom's mind and I think in every single Mexican or undocumented person's mind is that distrust of the government. That they're going to have you in this database and they're going to know exactly where you live and who lives with you and where you are. I don't want that, and she did not allow that. I know. I know. I could've, but I didn't.Anita: Did you fight?Luisa: My mom? No.Anita: You just accepted it?Luisa: [Pause] Yes and no. It took me a while. I was even going to marry my best friend, E___. I was like, "Let's get married. Let's get married." He was my best friend, but he didn't know why I wanted to get married [Laughs]. In my mind, I was like, "Fuck it. Let's do this. I'll get papers and I'll continue my education. That's fine. Once we're married, he's stuck with me. I'll tell him then.” [Pause] I even thought about that. I was getting extremely desperate, but—Anita: How did E___ think? What did he think?Luisa: When I told him I was moving to Mexico, he offered to marry me too so I would stay behind. I think he kind of knew at that point. I think E___ knew. He wasn't a stupid guy. He called my mom mommy. He wasn't stupid.

      Time in the US, DACA, Eligibility, Fear

    11. Luisa: I was set to go into a good future. That's what it was, but when it came down to it, my mom was like, "No. You know what? You can't. You don't have papers. You can't continue your education here. We cannot afford to pay your entire tuition. We cannot afford to pay for your housing or your books. Each book, that's like $5000 for books. We can't do that. I'm sorry."

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Lost opportunities

    12. Luisa: I remember I had a personal project that I was supposed to work on my entire year. I did that in three days. The day I was supposed to learn to sculpt, I learned to sculpt [Pause] in thirty minutes and then [Chuckles] I sculpted something—a huge tiger—and I turned it in and it was one of the top. There were about 140 people that turned it in. It was one of the top twenty projects and I did that in three days, so it was still not a challenge. So I started doing extracurriculars.

      Time in the US, School, Working hard, getting good grades, Extracurricular activities

    13. Luisa: I wanted to be challenged and I did my research. Whitney Young is supposed to be for people who are gifted and I wanted to be challenged. I wanted something more. Everything has always been extremely easy for me. When I put my mind to it, I get what I want. It sounds bad, but it's true. I think the problem with human beings is that you’re your only true enemy. You block yourself from doing everything in life, and the moment that you accept you can do everything, you can actually do everything [Laughs, sniffles].

      Time in the US, Feelings, Determination

    14. I've never felt challenged by any of my teachers. All their curriculums I've laughed at. I run circles around my teachers and most of them hated me because I'd finish my work and I'm pretty sure they hated me. I remember this lady. What was her name? I don't remember her name, but she was redheaded with glasses. She fucking hated me, man, because I'd laugh at pretty much all her work. I'd finish it in seconds and she'd get so frustrated with me because she's like, "Ugh. What am I supposed to do with you?"

      Time in the US, School, Teachers

    15. Anita: How did being undocumented affect your education?Luisa: Being undocumented affected my education. The first time was when I wanted to apply to Whitney Young—when I wanted to go to a different high school. I had the grades for it [Chuckles]. I've always had the grades for it, but they were asking … I don't remember what kind of document they were asking for that scared me into not applying, and I was like, "You know what? Let’s not. I don't want to. It's not worth it if I get deported. I don't need to be—it's not necessary." So I went to my local high school, which … not the best high school, Washington High School, but they had the IB program.Anita: Why'd you want to go to—Luisa: Whitney Young? Because I've never felt challenged by any of my teachers. All their curriculums I've laughed at. I run circles around my teachers and most of them hated me because I'd finish my work and I'm pretty sure they hated me. I remember this lady. What was her name? I don't remember her name, but she was redheaded with glasses. She fucking hated me, man, because I'd laugh at pretty much all her work. I'd finish it in seconds and she'd get so frustrated with me because she's like, "Ugh. What am I supposed to do with you?"Luisa: I wanted to be challenged and I did my research. Whitney Young is supposed to be for people who are gifted and I wanted to be challenged. I wanted something more. Everything has always been extremely easy for me. When I put my mind to it, I get what I want. It sounds bad, but it's true. I think the problem with human beings is that you’re your only true enemy. You block yourself from doing everything in life, and the moment that you accept you can do everything, you can actually do everything [Laughs, sniffles].Luisa: That's what I wanted. I wanted a challenge. I wanted something more. I wanted teachers who actually listened. I wanted teachers who paid attention. I didn't want teachers who were bored and sick of it because these students are like Puerto Rican and gang members and they don't matter. I didn't want that. I wanted somebody who cared, but I didn't get that. I kind of got it. I got the IB program, which was great [Chuckles]. Still not a challenge. It was still not a challenge.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Lost opportunities

    16. Anita: You used a metaphor --Luisa: Being undocumented in the States, I think it's like being a bird in a golden cage. That's what it is. You're not allowed to go anywhere. You're not allowed to move. You're not allowed to do many things, but you're in this pretty golden cage that looks nice and you have certain things, but you don’t know what it’s like out there. It's awful. It is. It's like being in a golden cage.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Lost opportunities, In the shadows

    17. Anita: Last time, you told me a lot about how being undocumented affected your life. Can you talk about that too?Luisa: Being undocumented is being in the shadows. You feel this entire barrier between you and your friends and your teachers and the people that you're around and surrounding yourself with. You can never get too close to someone because you have this big thing lying in front of you. You can't let them know, so they don't really know you. It's a big part of it. You can't share the fear with anyone. You can't share this anxiety that you live with every single day. My mom was driving around and every time she'd drive, it was anxiety. I'd feel anxiety because what if she got pulled over? My mom—she’s an amazing driver—but what if she got pulled over? What if we got caught? That's it for everyone. We're done. That kind of thing affects you and you're not allowed to tell anyone. You have to live in the shadows. Nobody really knows.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, In the shadows, Hiding/lying, Being secretive

    18. J___, who was a friend of mine, was undocumented and she said, "I am undocumented. I am a Mexican citizen. I am not an American."

      Time in the US, Feelings, Pride, Legal status

    19. Even when it came up, I could feel my heart shake and my palms get sweaty because I was so scared of getting deported. That was such a big thing.

      Time in the US, Feelings, Fear, Legal status

    20. Her mother, I remember one time she's driving me home, and she asks extremely aggressively if I am illegal or not. And I remember being scared like a deer in the headlights. “No, I'm not. I'm not.”

      Time in the US, Immigration Status, Hiding/lying

    21. Her mother, I remember one time she's driving me home, and she asks extremely aggressively if I am illegal or not. And I remember being scared like a deer in the headlights. “No, I'm not. I'm not.” I was so scared of this mostly because one of my uncles saw somebody—an ex-girlfriend, I think it was, pretty much accused him of being illegal. He was deported and we had this huge thing in our heads that if somebody knew we were illegal, we were going to be deported and ripped away from everything that we knew. So I was not allowed to tell anyone.

      Time in the US, Feelings, Fear, Legal status

    22. Anita: Tell me about being undocumented. When did you know? What was it like?Luisa: Well, I think [Pause] our entire lives pretty much we were just … I was not allowed to tell anyone. I knew I was undocumented probably my entire life, but I think it never really hit home until certain things started happening. For example, my best friend, a Yugoslavian, her family is extremely very, very white [Chuckles]. Her grandparents are Yugoslavian. Fun fact, her grandfather was in the Second World War. I got a lot of good stories from him. [Laughs]Luisa: He was a prisoner of war. [Pause] Her mother asked me—and I mean this girl would spend every single day at my home, or I would spend every single day at her home or her grandparents’ home. If my mom couldn't find me, she'd call L___’s mom and if L___'s mom couldn't find me, she'd call my mom, and that's how it was. Her sister would call me like, "Hey. Could you tell L___ that she needs to come on this day because we're going to have the family barbecue? You're invited, too, obviously." All family events I was invited to. I was at her cousin's wedding. That's how involved we were. We were best friends.Luisa: Her mother, I remember one time she's driving me home, and she asks extremely aggressively if I am illegal or not. And I remember being scared like a deer in the headlights. “No, I'm not. I'm not.” I was so scared of this mostly because one of my uncles saw somebody—an ex-girlfriend, I think it was, pretty much accused him of being illegal. He was deported and we had this huge thing in our heads that if somebody knew we were illegal, we were going to be deported and ripped away from everything that we knew. So I was not allowed to tell anyone.Luisa: To this day, none of my friends know that I had no papers. None of them. That's saying a lot because [Chuckles]—Anita: What did your mother tell you? Did she tell you you're not allowed to tell this? This is a secret and—Luisa: Yes, this is a secret. My mother did not allow us to talk about it. Even when it came up, I could feel my heart shake and my palms get sweaty because I was so scared of getting deported. That was such a big thing. I remember we went to this science center. The Argonne Science Facility—research facility. It's in Illinois, and when you go in—I'm not sure what kind of testing they're doing there—[Chuckles] but they ask you if you're an American citizen or not.Luisa: J___, who was a friend of mine, was undocumented and she said, "I am undocumented. I am a Mexican citizen. I am not an American." She was put into a little room and she was not allowed to go in. She was just caged in there and that was very … that marked me like, no, I can't tell anyone. I'm seeing what's happening to these people. I can't tell anyone, so nobody ever knew.

      Time in the US, Immigration status, Being secretive

    23. Anita: Let's talk about that in a second. I want to ask you one more question and then I want to ask you about being undocumented. You said that you didn't see your dad for a long time, and then all of a sudden…Luisa: Yes, my dad hired somebody to find us. My mom really did not leave any trace at all. She just pretty much left like a thief in the night, literally [Chuckles]. They eventually tracked us down and I got a phone call. We got a phone call. I think it was one of my grandparents who answered. Very reluctantly, they handed over the phone and it was my dad and I remember crying. I remember being hysterical. I remember being like, "Oh, my God. This is my dad. He's here. This is my dad. He's not gone.” It's weird, but I thought it was two different worlds and, in this world, I no longer can have my dad. That was the way I started to cope with it. The States were not my dad and this is where my dad was, so we were on different planets now. It was not something that was possible.Luisa: Then my dad came to visit and I remember begging him to take me with him, and my mom was not having it. She was not having it at all. By this point, I think he had already remarried, but she was not having it.Anita: Your dad came when you were how old?Luisa: My dad came when I was about nine. That was the first time I saw my dad after three, four years?Anita: You asked him to take you back?Luisa: I begged him. I begged him to take me with him. [Pause] That didn't happen, my mom was not having that shit [Chuckles]. She was like, "No, that's not happening with us."Anita: But she allowed him to see you?Luisa: She allowed him. Honestly, I respect my mom a lot for never speaking badly upon my dad. To this day, she will not say bad things about my father. Whatever may have happened with them, she knows that that's on them and she knows that our relationship with my father is completely separate from their relationship, and I admire that greatly because I don't think I'd be able to separate the two that easily. No, she never spoke badly upon him, but I think ... My dad said this in the entire life that I'm his favorite child, and I think that was also the way of my mother getting back at him for everything that he did to her, which is not right, but we're human beings.Luisa: When I would read, I would make certain facial expressions or gestures that reminded my mom so much of my dad that she would make me leave the room. She was like, "I can't see you right now. Leave the room. You're so much like your dad. Leave." It really affected her. I get it.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents

    24. I didn't have a normal childhood. I never got to learn to drive. I didn't go to drivers ed. I didn't get to travel with my best friend to DisneyLand because my mom was so scared of—

      Time in the US, Feelings, Fear, Legal status

    25. Anita: Something you said yesterday that you said you didn't tell me about was something about adoption.Luisa: Yes. There came a point. We were in the [Pause] process of getting our permanent residency card in order to be able to go to school, and the lawyer let my mother know that me and my sister—my other sister—were not going to make it because once you hit eighteen, you're no longer under the case that you originally filed, so the best option for us would be adoption. We would be adopted by an American citizen in order to get our American status fixed, and that was something my mom and I contemplated for a long, long time, and she was going to go through with it, but my dad put a huge stop to that and was like, "That's not happening. You're stupid. That's not a thing. These are my kids. You're not letting that happen."

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Living Situation

    26. Anita: Tell me about your mom's work.Luisa: [Sniffles] Because of my mom, I got to meet extremely interesting people that opened up my worldview more so than it already was, because reading transports you to different places and different languages and cultures and you learn so much, and you feel like you have actually been there, but you've never been. It's funny, but that's how it works. My mom, she started working for this store [unclear] and she was doing her design school, and they specialized in Muslim attire and my mom was like, "You know what? I'm going to be independent," so she moves aside. She starts her own thing, and she starts making a bunch of clothes.Luisa: I remember all of these black people coming to my home and they spoke Arabic with my mother and it was extremely [Chuckles] interesting to watch. We went to their homes, I think—[Pause] I don't remember his name, but my mom was extremely close to the main, main, main Muslim figure in the United States because there are not a lot of people who specialize in their attire. It's a very limited market. I think there's only about two or three stores that actually do it in the entire United States, and my mother was independent, so she was doing well for herself in that regard, and it was great. I got to meet a lot of people.Anita: Was that strange that a Mexican woman was designing Muslim attire, either for your mother or for the people for whom she was designing the attire?Luisa: It was strange at first, and I would see their faces when they would come like, “What…?” Then it just became normal. They became normal. It was completely normal. They were friends in the end. My mom was friends with some of these people in the very end. My mom's a beautiful human being. It was strange at first, but I think it was great. Ismael [Exclamation], that’s his name. His father died. He was the biggest figure and he took over.Luisa: His wife or his ex-wife was Mexican. He spoke perfect Spanish, so he and my mother were very—they would joke around. It was extremely funny to watch because when other people were around, this big, big figure would joke around with my mom and everyone would be like, "Oh, my God. What's happening?" But my mom was just that kind of person. His sons, I actually grew up with. I know his sons, extremely handsome, very educated people, very, very, very nice. I visited their home quite a few times in Hyde Park. They were great people.

      Time in the US, Homelife, Parents, Jobs, Diversity

    27. Yes, so Mr. R was someone beautiful and he taught me that [Pause] life is short and you need to seize the day. You need to take life by the balls [Chuckles].

      Time in the US, Feelings, Determination

    28. Luisa: I'm not sure if you're familiar with Maus, the comic books. I painted this huge painting because I painted as well [Chuckles]. Yes, I paint, as well. It was another emotional or creative outlet that I had, and I painted this huge thing for him and he still has it. I've asked him about it recently and he'll take a picture of the painting.

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Art, Painting

    29. Luisa: But yes, Mr. R was beautiful. He was a lawyer. He was a criminal lawyer. I'm not sure what kind of lawyer he was, but he hated defending people who were guilty. That man—oh my God I love that man—he hated it. He hated defending people who were guilty. There's this program called the “Golden Apple Program” where you can switch from being whatever it is that your career is to being a teacher, and it's what he did. Beautiful, beautiful man.

      Time in the US, Mentors, Teachers

    30. I actually have “the end justifies the means” tattooed on me.It’s tattooed back here.

      Time in the US, Tattoos

    31. I would stay after class for hours just discussing books that he would give me, and he would give me books out of his collection for me to read.Luisa: There was this one book by Clive Owen, I believe, something about the demons. I don't know. We had a huge discussion about that book. He would give me a bunch of books from his collection and we would discuss it. We would discuss the original.

      Time in the US, Reading, Favorite books

    32. Anita: You told me last time about your—Luisa: Eighth grade teacher.Anita: Tell me about it.Luisa: Mr. R. is the best teacher I have had and he changed my life. Mr. R is a beautiful, beautiful, beautiful human being. [Pause] I had a lot of teachers that would not … They would question me and they would ... All the stuff that I would write, they would question if I was okay mentally because of all this darkness [Chuckles] that I would write about, because a lot of my stories or a lot of my poetry was extremely dark. I don't think that's a bad thing you know. I think that's just trying to get rid of the … it's a catalyst. You're trying to get rid of everything that's inside of you, and that's how I did it.Luisa: Mr. R was the first one that recognized it as something good. We still keep in touch—beautiful human being. I knew this. He would speak to me like we were adults—like I was an adult. I was a thirteen-year-old girl and we had conversations like adults.

      Time in the US, School, Middle school, Teachers, Mentors

    33. Anita: You read philosophy, as well?Luisa: Yes. I've read Freud, Nietzsche. Crime and Punishment was a huge one. That one changed me a lot. There's this thought of, “are you above the law? Is anybody above the law?” Yes, I was big on reading. I loved reading [Chuckles]. Then absurdism. I'm big on reading [Chuckles].

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Academic, Philosophy

    34. Anita: You didn't only read fantasy?Luisa: No, I read historical fiction as well. I had an obsession with the Yellow Fever and the Bubonic Plague. I had an obsession with the original Los Cantos [Los Cantos de Maldoror], The Iliad, The Odyssey, Dante's Inferno. I was fascinated with Dante's Inferno, and then I got into Boticelli, the man who actually portrayed Dante's Inferno. So yes, I was a huge reader [Chuckles].Luisa: I was fascinated by human tragedy—extremely fascinated by human tragedy. There came a point where all I read was about the Holocaust, children's tales, Anne Frank's tales, and The Book Thief. I have a signed copy of The Book Thief because it is one of my favorite books ever. Have you read The Book Thief? [Exclamation] Great. I haven't seen the movie. Don't ever want to watch it [Chuckles], but the book … I don't know. [Pause] I don't know why I'm so fascinated by human tragedy [Pained Laughter]. And the Black Plague, huge thing. I got really into the Black Plague. That was about in the 1400s where Mr. Shakespeare was around and when Mr. Niccolò Machiavelli was around, as well. Yes, I was into history, historical fiction. I was into everything.

      Time in the US, Pastimes, Reading, Favorite genres, Favorite books