209 Matching Annotations
  1. Aug 2021
  2. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Sergio:        What do you think the US or Mexican government can do better to connect and reunite families?Cesar:        I think something that I don't think anybody touches on, maybe psychological help when you get here. Especially for us that have lived there our whole lives, like it's real difficult to decipher all those emotions and everything and being separated like that from your family. I think they need to give us more options and welcome us because we are Mexico. All that money that the companies make, the call centers and other businesses that hire bilingual people are making a killing charging dollars and paying us... I mean, we get paid all right compared to minimum wage, but we are helping the economy. And we're also helping the United States as well. Now whatever owner of whatever call center company and I think offer us a little more help.Cesar:        Because I didn't receive nothing. When I got that welcoming I was… I went to Chihuahua and I went to, I forgot the name of the place, but my uncle was like, "Oh, they can use…." I mean, my cousin, my little cousin came, he got deported, and I took them here and they said they help him. I went over there, made me fill out a job solicitud, I forgot to say it in English, really.Sergio:        An application.Cesar:        An application, and they said they will call me, I never received a call. I mean, that's in Chihuahua. I don't know what it's like here in Mexico. But as far as for newly deported people, once you're here you start learning, you start asking, you start... There's a community of people that have been deported as well. And not with the same backgrounds as myself, but we all can relate to each other and help each other out. At least the people that I know, that I can consider them my family. I live with a person like them. And he's been deported. His friend, he's been deported.Cesar:        Jamie wasn't deported but she's lived in the United States. I mean, she understands everything, the cultural shock. And so we consider ourselves a family because we don't have our family. We help each other out.

      reflections, policies to help returned migrants

    2. Sergio:        How were you as a student in school?Cesar:        Straight A student on a roll, spelling bee winner, et cetera. I was a nerd. I mean, I'm not wasn't, I am a nerd and I'm proud of it. That's good. I always try to be the best at everything I do. I give everything my best at everything I do. If I don't know something, I want to learn it, because goddammit, if somebody knows it, there's no reason why I can't. And so my dad pushed me to be that way, hard, work hard, work hard. So, I was always straight A's, always straight A's. I was so academically well, in middle school I got to go to Catalina Island for five days, paid and also do a migrant program.Cesar:        It was like, they just pick the best grades, honor roll all that students in the district and I was chosen and I got to go to Washington D.C. state capitol and see Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Pentagon, where they made the dollar bills, where they make the money.Cesar:        I remember my teacher bought a sheet like this of uncut dollar bill in a frame. But I went to the Arlington cemetery. I went and go see where the flag flame is, where Kennedy is buried and that's just... I always tried my best, you know what I mean? I know if I wouldn't have got kicked out from high school, I was working myself because I played football. I was starting varsity team and as a freshman, running back and safety and my brother was quarterback he was a junior. And my brother talked to some scouts and the scouts paid me and they just let him know and they told my brother and my mom and myself that if I kept at it with my grades and on the field, I was available for a scholarship at USC, University of Southern California, the Trojans.Cesar:        And so I think if my mom and dad wouldn't have got a divorce, obviously I wouldn't have gone through all the street stuff, I wouldn't have got kicked out because my dad would have been on me. And I would have went to college and got my college degree, I know that for a fact. And my life would have been different from what it is now.

      school, grades, student

    3. Sergio:        What made you sell that again?Cesar:        Because of the money, I needed money, I was gone for a year. I saw things that my family needed, my baby didn't have nothing. No crib, she was struggling while I was in there so the need or want to give everything that they need and want to your loved ones.Sergio:        So, when was the next time in prison?Cesar:        I've been in jail a total of nine years altogether, including the last time which was the time that I got out, but I was in and out of jail. I don't think I was ever out for more than three years straight, to where I would catch another case, catch another a case. Maybe three years max since the first time, but total of eight, nine years. Possession and then grand theft auto, possession of firearm, assault and battery, just being dumb. Not maturing.Sergio:        What do you think was the reason that made it... Maybe made you so involved again?Cesar:        It's real difficult... When you start seeing money like that and big amounts it's addicting. It's just addicting to know that you can help out and you won't need what... Why a person would have that want or need, well maybe because when my dad left, I didn't know what it was like to go without. My dad was home, he made good money. He was a butcher. He worked at Rouse supermarket. Well, it was Hughes turned into Rouse later on, by the Dodger Stadium. And when he was there, the refrigerator was always full, we went out, we had clothes, everything. When he left, there were a lot of times that I had to go without eating. I was a second the oldest, so I would see that there wasn't enough food on the table. So, I would tell my mom I already ate. Lies, so that my little brothers could eat. Because there was a lot of mouths to feed.Cesar:        And when you feel that, and what it's like to not have nothing, or to voluntarily give your plate up so that your brother or sister, your mom can be well, it's something that you never want to go through again. And I guess the addiction of the money, and being able to take care of that never having to feel like that again is what drove me.

      gang involvement, selling drugs, economic opportunity

    4. Sergio:        So how did you fall into it?Cesar:        It's real simple. My dad left. My mom and dad divorced when I was 12, 13. When he left, my dad was... He was on me. Study, he wouldn't accept the B, A's, A's, A's. Study, study study. He was on me. Obviously when I was a little kid I thought, "Man, I can't stand this guy." As soon as he came home, there was no more playing in the street, there was nothing. There was, "Go, get your ass and do your homework and study, study study." And if I am as bright as I am I have to thank him because he pushed me. But when he was there, he was there. He was a real father. What a father does. Takes you to the park, spoils you with some Chucky cheese and McDonald's whatnot. But when he left, that fatherly figure, that somebody that's right there on your ass was not there anymore. What was left was the guys on the streets. What are the guys on the streets doing? Selling drugs.Cesar:        And it's really a lack of a fatherly figure. And so I looked up to them, which obviously was not right, but you look for that attention from a male. And so when they show you attention, however it may be, you take it. Dad couldn't see me for as much as he wanted to. My mom had a restraining order on him so he couldn't see me. Even if he wanted to be there for me, he couldn't and so the time that he wasn't, I just got the streets. And obviously, the lack of money and home for a couple years I saw how my mom struggled to pay the rent, to feed us. So the money was an attraction, for myself obviously. It wasn't for greed, like, "Oh, I want to be rich and have fancy cars." It was, "I want to help me pay rent. I want to help have food." And it gives it to you, the fast way, obviously.

      gang involvement, lack of father figure

    5. Sergio:        Have you always known that you were undocumented?Cesar:        When I was in the States?Sergio:        Yeah.Cesar:        Well yeah. When I was going to apply for a job when I was 16, because that’s the legal age you can work in the United States only part time and with the permit from school. With the school, you have to get the permit. And so I didn't know I was illegal till I told my mommy, "I need these documents." And she's like, "Oh yeah, you need your residencia toma…. You need an ID. We need to go get your ID." And that's when I realized that I wasn't the... Well, I wasn't born in United States. I mean, obviously I was from the United States because I lived there my life, I didn't know anything else but that. But yeah at 16 when I found out that I was un... Not undocumented but, I mean, I was more...Sergio:         What was it like finding out?I mean, it didn't affect me in any way. Obviously, I'm proud of my culture, of being Mexican, but it was just like, "Oh, I thought I was born here." Like, "No." And she told me her story, her side of the story. Why she left and why I was born in Mexico.Sergio:        Did that affect you at all?Cesar:        No. I mean the only thing that affected me obviously... Well, it really didn't affect me at all because I could still vote, I could still do my taxes and it didn't affect me as far as having a stable life in the United States and all the rights that anybody else has, but as far as mentally it never affected me. I just thought it was cool being born in Mexico.

      finding out documentation status, growing up undocumented, applying for jobs undocumented

    6. Sergio:        So, when you were growing up in Mexico what do you remember?Cesar:        No, I never grew up in Mexico. My mom was living already in United States when she got pregnant with me. She got in a fight with my dad, as this is what everybody says. And she went back, she was eight months pregnant. She had me and a month and a half later, my dad came back for-Sergio:        For you.Cesar:        Basically, "Hey, you know what? I'm sorry." I don't know what problems they had but that's what happened. I happen to be born in Mexico just because they got in a fight and it was time to go. So after the month and a half, she went back to the United States and was living there my whole life.Sergio:        So you were living in the US until what year?Cesar:        31, which was 2013.Sergio:        So until you're 31, whole life there in the US.Cesar:        My whole life there.

      growing up in the US, being brought over as a baby

    7. Sergio:        Okay. So Sergio here with Cesar doing the interview. So Cesar, tell me why you and your family went to the United States in the first place.Cesar:        My dad was trying to look for a better future for my mom. And he went out there by himself first, was out there for about a year or two, saved up money to bring my mom. My mom got pregnant, had my brother, and then I come in. So the point of it all was just to give us a better future because obviously, the situation in Mexico was always critical.

      reasons for migrating, economic opportunity

  3. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Claudia:        I'm curious to see what you think. Why do young Mexican men in the United States turn to crime and gangs?Bryan:        Damn. Just the family, I guess. It sounds crazy. But maybe at the end of the day, it is part of the family. It was crazy, but that's really what it comes down to at end of the day. Maybe my mom would have been cool, my dad... I don't know, you feel me? I don't blame my mom for nothing, but at the end of the day, you feel me? I take responsibility, but I don't know, you feel me? I always thought about it. You know what I mean? What if it would've been cool, if… Fuck it. You know what I mean? What if my pops didn't have so many other kids? What's up with that? You know what I mean? Maybe he would've whooped my and ass instead. I don't know, you feel me? From smoking in the house, like I don't know. You feel me? Damn. My mom's a female. She gets tired and she'll just be like, "Fuck it. You fucking doing it."

      gang involvement, family

    2. Claudia:        Are you still involved with [gang name] here in Mexico?Bryan:        It's crazy you say that, but I'm not. I was. When I came back, I first came back, and I was showing up. You know what I mean? Like, "I'm here." I'm out here. For me, that's when you realize you just got out of jail and you're just like, "What the fuck? I'm high as hell." I'm like, "Well, damn." I looked around and started looking around like... [inaudible 00:09:28] was going to happen to me. So I was just like, you know what I mean? I left, left for the rancho [inaudible 00:09:33] for my family. I ended up getting kicked out and shit, but I was with them. I told you I was doing that [inaudible 00:09:39]. I was feeling myself. I was getting money. I was getting drunk every day. I even had a car and I crashed it. I was good. I was chilling. I ain't realize it until I got I just really just started thinking, I was like, "Damn. What's going on?" It was New Years and shit. You know what I mean?Bryan:        It was my first New Year's out. It was like, "Damn." I had last New Year's, I don't remember in the last New Year's home, you feel me? My last Christmas I had, my family went out, and I had an ankle bracelet, and my family left to go eat. They're like, "Oh, you're staying, you got the ankle bracelet. I'm not taking you." I'm like, "Damn. That's crazy. Say no more. It's cool, it's cool.” And that's the only thing I remember from those days, and that's crazy. Because that's the only thing, I don't remember nothing else. I was like, "I don't remember Christmas or birthday," I mean, at all.Bryan:        I be chilling. Like I said, I'm good. Like my birthday is April 24, and I got locked up, remember I told you, April 15, 2015, April 20th,  I got locked up. You know what I mean? But every day was like my birthday, feel me? I was chilling. That was that. That was cool. I just wanted, like I said, I just want to help people out, man. I want to get a chance to help myself and help somebody because at the end of the day, I'm not doing so good, like.

      return to Mexico, starting again

    3. Claudia:        So tell me about your life in the states, and basically how you got involved in the gang and all that.Bryan:        You know, it was like I said, it was always since like day one, you know what I mean? What is it like second, third grade? You know what I mean? We're doing bad stuff. My friend, it's just like in school, you know what I mean? We're getting into trouble. We're fighting, we're getting suspended. We're on the bus doing this, and the third, [inaudible 00:03:18] they're stopping the bus. We're doing dumb stuff in school. And I always remember, my friend, my closest friend, I still talk to him to this day. His brother was [Gang name]. And he just, you know what I mean? Brought us in, into it, just bringing this, bringing this. We just start meeting people and it was just, you know what I mean? You feel loved, and you feel you like this. You know what I mean? It's brotherhood. It's just brotherhood. At the end of the day, it's just all brotherhood. I'm realizing now, you feel me? But as I talk about it, I like it.Claudia:        Which one were you a part of?Bryan:        Which one, gang?Claudia:        Yeah.Bryan:        [gang name]Claudia:        You were [gang name] And how was that?Bryan:        It was cool to me. If you was that, you was the worstest thing in the world. It was just bad. And that's how I always like this. The joker, that's me. Like that, that's me. Batman. You feel me? Like that’s that.Claudia:        All right. I see. So what type of shit did you do back in the States?Bryan:        It just goes got as far as you never thought it would get, you feel me? I'm not going to lie. I'm not going to lie, I’m not gonna talk about details, but yeah, you just, you know what I mean, do gang things. Like you rob people, you hurt people. Who am I to rob? Take something from me? Who am I to like hurt you? You know what I mean? That's what I'm realizing now, but at the end of the day, it was always just he's not a part of it. He's got to go. [inaudible 00:04:53]. It's just all gangster.Claudia:        At what point did you realize that it was getting out of control?Bryan:        I never did.Claudia:        You never did.Bryan:        Just now that I realize it, you feel me?Claudia:        Now after you got deported.Bryan:        Yeah, I came out here, yeah.

      gang involvement, criminal activity

  4. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Sergio:        What's the conditions of detention like?Francisco:        It's actually bad. They actually treat you like a criminal. You kinda are like a criminal. It's detention and jail, they're completely different. You can…so yeah, it's normal, I guess you can say. They don't mistreat you or anything. It's just you're locked up. Your freedom has been taken away, and that's something that you don't know how to cope with. Everything to you looks bad, but I would say it's okay.

      detention, mistreatment

  5. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Anne:        Okay, so we're concluding here, but is there anything you'd like to say or share with the people who will listen to your story that you haven't said?Armando:        I just want to tell the people that actually there's... all these people there, not all of us are bad. Sometimes they push us to do something that we don't want because of the laws. I just want them to know that there is hardworking people over there that work. Most of my family, they all work, and we just want to live a better life. If one day they'll come over here and live here for a month, they're going to know why we go over there. They're really going to know. They're going to understand and say well... And, I just want to say that really I have... I respect the laws and everything, but I just want to tell them that we're humans as well. And we love the country, and if something would happen... When I was like over there, I did try to go to the Army, and I wish I was. I was a [inaudible 00:35:15]. And I did. I always thought about it, if something happens, I would always fight for this country, for America.Armando:        And, whatever after happened, I don't hate nobody from over there. Basically, I just want them to know that we're humans and we're humans and we got feelings and basically that's it.

      reflections, human, understanding, compassion

    2. Anne:        What do you miss most about the US?Armando:        My kids. My boys, I miss my boys. I miss my boys a lot [Chuckles].Anne:        That's tough.Armando:        Yeah, it's tough.Anne:        But you get to talk to them every day.Armando:        Yeah, but it's not the same [Chuckles].Anne:        Not the same.Armando:        Yeah.Anne:        When you were in the US, what were your dreams?Armando:        [Chuckles] My kids to have a better life, basically.Anne:        And they will.Armando:        I hope so. I really hope so.Anne:        So being in Mexico, your dreams really haven't changed.Armando:        [Chuckling] No. I still wish they have a better life, to be honest with you. Yeah.

      deportation, family separation

    3. Anne:        How old were you when you got deported? Well, it was seven months ago, so you were 29.Armando:        Yes, I was 30.Anne:        30.Armando:        30 basically because I'll be 31 about a couple more months.Anne:        So you had these three children and were you still with your-Armando:        Yes, I was still with my wife.Anne:        And just tell for the interview, what happened to lead to the deportation.Armando:        What happened, why did I get deported?Anne:        Yeah.Armando:        I remember this, I was going to work actually. I was coming back from work, and I was driving, and I remember I was going through a street and there was this sheriff, police sheriff right here, and as soon as I drive in front of him, he looked at me. I seen him look straight at me, and he pulled me over, went after me and pulled me over. And in Selma, North Carolina, right there when they take you to jail, as soon as they take you to jail, you got to fingerprint, and they'll send it to immigration right in that moment, and then if you're illegal, they'll put an ICE hold on you and it's over. You're not going out.Anne:        Did you do anything wrong?Armando:        No. It's just, that's what I was just telling you right there, as soon as they see you and you look Hispanic... See, a lot of police, they were so racist. Even when he stopped me, I told him, I said, "Look, I have my work clothes. I'm just coming off of work." I was speaking to him in English and everything. I didn't have the license, so I gave him my registration, that's what you get over there in the United States. And I said, "Look, I'm coming from work." And he's like, "Yeah, but you, I seen you suspicious." He said, "How about I check your car?" I said, "What are you going to check my car for?" He's like well, I seem suspicious and everything. I said, "Go ahead, check the car."Armando:        So he checked, and then he's like, "Well, you don't have no driver's license. I got to take you to jail." So I said, "Why? I wasn't speeding or nothing." He's like, "Yeah, but you don't have a driver's license," and this and that. So he took me to jail and by the time my family went to try to get me out of jail, it was too late. ICE already had a hold on me. So basically, that ended everything. And it was hard because I remember when I called my wife and told her about it, the first days, my kids were sick. They missing me. They still miss me. I talk to them. My oldest son, he's like, "Dad, I wish you would've been here for my fifth grade," when he go into middle school graduation. So I say, "You got to be strong. There's nothing else but we can do than be strong." I say, "It's hard for me as well." But it's something I knew eventually might happen, that end up getting deported. I just, now, I pray for her to be safe because if she's not safe, my kids ain't safe. And there ain't nobody else over there for her to watch after them. If something happens to her, it's over. So it's kind of hard.Armando:        So I always think about. And to be honest with you, I don't want them to come over here. I really don't... because it's so hard over here.Anne:        When you were there and you knew about the racist police, did you ever think about moving to a different area?Armando:        I did, but I was so used to being in that place, because I lived there for about 15, 16 years. And I thought about going to this... I was just talking to my wife back at that time to going to New York because New York, there's a lot of transportation, so really you don't have to drive a lot. And I thought about, I say, "Here, it's getting so hard to be able to drive." So I say, "Let's go try to move to New York," but it was so expensive over there. So I told her, I say, "If it keeps getting worse that we see it, then we're going to have to move. We don't have no other choice." But it was too late and I wasn't able to move. I got deported. Yeah.Anne:        Wow. So, you were in detention you said for—Armando:        A month.Anne:        A month. And then—Armando:        Immigration, and then I got deported.

      deportation, cops, racism

    4. Anne:        A lot of the people, the young men like you that I've talked to, who came to the States as children, not a lot of them, but a number ended up joining gangs or being engaged in criminal activity. And I'm just wondering why you think that's the case that some do, and why were you different? How are you different?Armando:        I think it all depends on the education that your parents give you. To me, to be honest with you—Even here, I'm 30 years old now, I'm going on 31. I still see the way of life that I don't want to... See, what I was like in school, I thought about my dad and my mom, the sacrifice they went through, I wanted to make it worth... I didn't want to end up them going through all this stuff, or how hard it is for me to end up joining a gang or end up getting killed for something... stupid, to be honest. So I always thought about I want to really be someone, make something... I always think about, you know I got to... try to become a better person.

      crime, gangs, education, opportunity

    5. Anne:        When did you realize that you were different?Armando:        That I was—Anne:        From the other kids, like that you were going to have issues?Armando:        Like what, to...Anne:        To get a license, or—Armando:        Where I want... Yes—Anne:        When did you figure that out?Armando:        When I was a kid, I didn't pay much attention because my dad back in that day, he had a driver license. Then one day, I remember my dad came back from work and he was sad. Because he used to drive a truck, truck work, and he's like, "I'm not going to be able to drive the truck anymore," he told my mom. So I looked at him, I say, "Why?" And he was sad. He's like, "Well, I can't renew my license anymore." So he's like, "I might even get fired." So my mom, she's like, "Well, I hope not because you got a good job and we got to pay rent and bills." Fortunately, he didn't get fired. He wasn't able to drive the truck, and he ended up getting paid a little less. So that's when I started growing up.Armando:        Then when I went to high school, I tried to get my driver's license. I went to apply for it, but I couldn't got it. I couldn't get my driver's license. They were asking me for a social security number, which I didn't have. So, that was when I started seeing that I was going to have issues as I was growing up now because I need to get a job, and see, over there, you've got to drive to your job, especially in North Carolina. There's no transportation like here, where I was living at. And that was when I started seeing stuff was going to start changing.Anne:        So, how did that make you feel?Armando:        I felt kind of bad. I did. Because it's hard when you're over there and you can't drive but to your home and to work, to the house. And every time you're driving, you just got to be like this, looking where's the police at? [Laughs] And see, where I was living, it was a place right there where there was a lot of racism. And it was a time back when if you were Hispanic, they would just pull you over, automatically. Where I was living, it was called  Selma,North Carolina. It was bad. It was like the police... I can't remember the sheriff's name. He even one day, he came out on TV, I don't know if you ever heard about it, saying that Mexicans reproduce like bunnies. I don't know if you ever heard about that. He offended the community so bad. So since then, I was like I got to get out of here. I got to move out of here. It was the Johnston County sheriff. He was just racist, real racist. Real, real racist.Armando:        A lot of my friends that I knew were from over there. A lot of people got deported, a lot. And I'm talking about working people. I understand if you're doing bad stuff, criminal stuff, but if you want to work, if you got your family you want to support. I understand it's another country, but there's people who actually go over there and really try to work and do something. That, it's hard for them to understand the life over here. And to be honest, I didn't understand it neither, till now that I'm back.

      growing up undocumented, challenges

    6. Anne:        What was home life like when you were growing up in the US?Armando:        It was fun.Anne:        When your father and mother worked, were they around a lot? Were they—Armando:        Yeah. Yeah. Actually, my dad worked all the time. My mom, she was at home, so she'd take me to school. And I had a lot of fun. I had a lot of stuff that I never would have got here, I never would have had here, to be honest with you, so these—Anne:        What kind of stuff?Armando:        I think I had a better education, to be honest with you. I had a, to be honest with you, better life of the way you dress, eat, and a lot of stuff that I'll see here's... Like, you know how the baby games are. Here, I seen a lot of kids, they always want, "I want a video game. I want this, I want that," but it's so expensive. So the mom, the dad, just barely make it here. That's another different thing over there. See, like here, when you go to a McDonald's, you got to take 500 pesos at least. Over there, with a dollar or two, you go buy your burger. Or your kids want something to eat, you don't need a lot of money over there, like a couple dollars and you buy them at least a dollar burger. Here, you're not [Chuckles]. Here, you got to have at least—Anne:        A lot, yeah.Armando:        So I did enjoy a lot of stuff from over there, that I knew that if I would've been here during my childhood, I would have never had.Anne:        Did you do sports or—Armando:        Yes, absolutely. I used to love to play soccer.Anne:        Yeah?Armando:        In middle school and high school, I loved playing soccer. And I loved my teachers. I ain't going to lie. I had some wonderful teachers, wonderful. I'm never going to forget my science teacher though. That was my best teacher I had. She helped me out a lot. She was real nice with me. She helped me out a lot, a lot, a lot. I had my science teacher and my social studies teacher. She was from French.

      growing up in the United States, school, friends, opportunity, family, sports

    7. Anne:        So you went to school. Did you make lots of friends?Armando:        Absolutely. My best friend was a guy named John White [Chuckles]. I'm never going to forget him. He was my best friend.Armando:        John White.Anne:        What was he like?Armando:        He was pretty cool.Anne:        Yeah?Armando:        He was pretty cool. His sister was pretty cool. But it was like his mom and dad. See, he was like my best friend in school, but I couldn't go to his house because his mom and dad were racist. They were. They didn't want him or his sister to have any Hispanic friends or black friends. And I didn't know till one day I went to his house and tried to go play with him... because he never told me. So one day I told my dad, I said, "Can you take me to my friend's house?" And he like, "Yeah." So I went and I remember I knock on the door and his mom opened the door and she's like, "Who you looking for?" And I said, "For John." And she's like, "What do you want John for?" I say, "Well, he's my friend. I want to play with him." She left the door and then he came out, he said, "I can't play with you." He said, "I'll talk to you tomorrow in school." And I say, "Okay." I didn't know what was happening. I thought he was grounded or something.Armando:        So next day he told my in school, he's like, "Look, my mom and dad, they don't like me to have Hispanic friends, Latino friends, Mexican friends, or even black friends." So I was like wow. I said, "Okay." But after that, we were still friends.

      United States, friends, discrimination

    8. Anne:        Yeah. Tell me what was different about the schools in the US.Armando:        Better education. Way better education. And I can even see it here now, that even around here, my nephews, for my little nephews, these schools are—you go to a school here and you can tell big difference how they are. And here the kids... One day I was working at a school, before I was working here, where I'm working at right now, and we were painting a school, and I seen these kids, they're talking to them, and the kids, "I'm hungry today, and I ain't got nothing to eat, and my dad didn't give me no money." I heard him and I felt bad because, like I told you, I have three kids. So I told the schoolteacher, I said, "Do you mind if I give her five pesos?" And she's like, “No, I mean, if you want to." So I gave them to her. It was a little girl. So I said, "Here." And she's like, "Oh thank you."Armando:        And then I thought about my kids. I say well, I miss them a lot, but I just rather them to grow in United States because it's a better life for them, better education. And here's... I know it's my country and I love it. I ain't going to lie, but it's just so hard, so hard. So expensive here. They pay you minimum wage. There's people that get 800 pesos, but 800 pesos is what you probably eat a week, especially with everything so expensive. It's very expensive.

      education, US versus Mexico, opportunity, challenges

    9. And I remember when we crossed the border, because I crossed the border. So when I first got there, to the first state I went to was North Carolina—I’m sorry, to California, ____, California. And when I remember when I first went through there, I was scared. Mom and dad were scared about immigration.

      arriving in the United States, California, first impressions, fear

    10. Armando:        Yeah, so when I first went to the States, I remember I was going to be eight years old, went with my mom and dad, and we were just looking for a better future, you know, better life.

      reasons for migration, opportunity

  6. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Anita:        So did you ever suffer discrimination in the States?Angel:        Not really, no. I mean, I know there is bad and good people all over the world, I guess I just happened to be lucky and hang out with the good people.

      discrimination, human

    2. Anita:        Okay. So what was it like when you were caught, I mean, what happened?Angel:        It was kind of scary because there was cops everywhere. There was a helicopter, there was someone that was keeping track of us behind us, I think that's who called the rest of the cops. Basically, they blocked like the whole... It was like an open field but when we got to the main town, it was covered.Angel:        We got there, and we saw a cop that pulled up, then there was two more, so we couldn't go into the street, so basically we just had to stay there for a little bit but all of a sudden we see two ATVs coming behind us and then that's when they caught us.Anita:        And we're talking about cops or talking about border patrol, the people in green?Angel:        Yeah, mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, basically they say, "We know you're there, just get out before we go in there and get you."Anita:        And so what happened?Angel:        They grabbed us, they handcuffed us. They put us in a truck, like the all-covered, then they took us to jail. They got our fingerprints, they got our pictures, paperwork, then they put you in jail for the night, then they transfer you to another place, another county, I can't remember what it was.

      deportation, cops, fear

    3. Angel:        The third time, basically at the border in Mexico there was a bunch of issues going on in Mexico, like pay to be safer... What do they call it? When you have, uh… like a store and if you don't want nothing to happen to your store, you'll pay the organization, like crime organization.Anne:        Extortion.Angel:        Extortion. So nowadays they extortion the people that try to cross the border, so there isn't that many coyotes that would try to help. The time that I tried to cross it was by phone, so they just walked us to the river, they say, "Cross the river, keep walking straight, we'll be in touch by phone." So basically they just walk you in.Anita:        This was the first time or the second-Angel:        This was the last time that I tried.Anita:        It was by phone?Angel:        Mm-hmm (affirmative).Anita:        Because coyotes don’t want… Coyotes... Explain this, with organized crime has taken over is what we're talking about, right? The border?Angel:        Yeah.Anita:        And so how does it affect the coyote business?Angel:        Well basically they have to pay the organized crime to not bother them but that comes out of your pocket, to pay them to pay the other people, and after that, they don't want to get caught by any immigration because they've been caught so many times that if they get caught one more time they can go to jail for life, maybe.Anne:        The coyotes?Angel:        Mm-hmm (affirmative), because they've been doing that for a long time, so basically they help you by phone.Anita:        So, how does the phone work?Angel:        They're… They’re calling you, because they give you a phone and they have a phone and you cross, they call you or you can call them.Anita:        And they pass you from person to person by phone or...Angel:        Nope, once you’re—basically they tell you where is a meeting point because you're on a hill and they say, "You see that big water tank over there? That's where you'll meet the person."

      ways of crossing, extortion, coyotes

    4. Anne:        Do you think that being a returning migrant, you're more vulnerable than you would be if you had stayed here and never gone to the States?Angel:        Uhm… Kind of, yeah because before I went to the States, I was going to do my military service and I didn't finish that. So I think that if I would've stayed here, finished my military service and I get all my paperwork right, I would've been somewhere else, I think. But in the other hand, I think that if my parents didn't get divorced when I was in the States, I would've been able to go to college and maybe apply for a residency or something like that. Because I was very young at the time they took me up there because I was like 12.

      challenges because of immigrating

    5. Anne:        So the last time that you left, why did you leave?Angel:        When I went to the States... I met a girl, we got married, she went up there with me. We had three kids there, uh, and her dad got really sick, so she wanted to come back and see him and her dad wanted to see the kids and stuff. I told her that once she comes to Mexico it would be hard for us to get back together again but we talked about it for so long and what she would talk all the time is about is to go back to Mexico, so I know that's what she really wanted, so I basically I told her to make the decision.Angel:        So she decided to come back to Mexico, two months later her father died and then her mom got really sick because of it, so she had to stay longer and after that, because I was paying bills in the States and I was paying bills in Mexico so it was just too much. So, I moved in with my brother to pay less for food and rent. I told her that I was going to save some money and come back to Mexico because it was just too much.Angel:        After that I bought a car, and I told her that it was going to be one year, whatever I saved I would just go back. I saved as much as I can and I put everything in my truck and drove down to Mexico.Anita:        Did they say anything to you crossing the border?Angel:        Nope. No, because, like, I thought they were going to stop me and be like, "Where you going?" But it's just a highway and it says, "Welcome to Mexico," you go through the bridge and there's nobody there, everybody's on the other side, on the Mexican border but if you're trying to come in, the American border is on the other side.

      returning to Mexico, family

    6. Anne:        While you were there were you frightened of the police?Angel:        I didn't have a clue that I was there illegally because we crossed the border in a car with somebody else's papers.

      growing up undocumented, knowing documentation status

  7. Jul 2021
  8. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Alejandro:        You know, I'd just be looking outside the bus. Like where am I at? On my inside. You don't see that in the US. You see streets are planos,(flat/paved)  beautiful streets right here, man. This is the only good thing about the city. And it's not even that beautiful, look what you got, you got bumps living outside the monument. you would never see stuff like that in the US. People outside of a historical, like, come on, man. Cops right here are so crooked, man. You got to be afraid cops right here, man. You got to be afraid of these guys. Like they know tomorrow we get paid. They know tomorrow as the fifth, you're going to see a lot of cops running through here. Just searching people for no reason just because they know we get paid. And they know like if like, if they're like they know who to classify, they classify.Alejandro:        Like they see you all tatted up. They see you like you're looking crazy and stuff. By the way they pull you over, because they immediately think that you got drugs on you. Life over here it's no joke, man. Like this is life right here. Right you actually got to know how to survive. Like to be honest in the US like you have it sweet, yeah, but right here, it's tough, man. Right here, like I said, you got to be on the lookout for everything. Everybody over here is crazy. Everybody over here can't be going to different neighborhoods like that. Like, man, come on. Like I said, like right away they know you're not from here.Alejandro:        They hate you for that reason, just because you once upon a time you had a good lifestyle, I guess. And they never had that, and right away they think you got money, just because you're from over there. But little do they know I'm as messed up as they are? I got to work, bro. Trust me if I had it like that, I wouldn't even be working. No, I can't be depending on my family, we've grown. I'm supposed to be providing for them. That's crazy.

      Living in Mexico, cops, corruption, bias

    2. Sergio:        So since you've been back, do you think you've changed your lifestyle and like your mentality?Alejandro:        Yeah, a lot. I mean Like how they say it out here, "estamos en México, no estamos en Los Estados Unidos." [We’re in Mexico, we’re not in the United States].[c] You got to. My mentality over there was not give a damn about anything and over here, you actually gotta fear for your life, you got to fear for your phone, for your freaking earnings and shit. You can't even wear a good chain around here, good shoes around your neighborhood without somebody noticing them and wanting to take it from you. Like yeah, it’s messed up.

      reflections, return to Mexico, changed mentalities

    3. Sergio:        What ended up happening that led to the start of your deportation back to the US?Alejandro:        I caught a case. That's what led me to get my deportation out here. I caught a felony case. But I was actually a juvenile still. I was 17. I had parole in __ County. I lived in the Aurora area and then I have parole and I went in ___County when I was living in the West Chicago area. And instead of them calling my parole officer, how they were supposed to when I caught my case, they just seen that it was an aggravated battery. I'm sorry, with bodily harm. Like I told you earlier, the Narcos actually, they seen us growing up. So I guess they really had something towards me that they always see me running into trouble, I guess.Alejandro:        So when I actually caught this case, they even told me like, "We're so happy that you caught this case cause now we’re going to be able to deport you." Literally that's like the exact words. And I was just like, I ain't think nothing of it, because to be honest with you, I never thought I was going to get deported. Never in my life, me as a child growing up thinking, “Oh, one day you're going to get deported.” No, I was like, "What's deported? What is that?" But like I said, I grew up with a mentality that I thought I was never going to be out here in Mexico. I knew I was Mexican. I came from a Mexican family. But, yeah. I never thought I was going to end up over here and actually going through things that I actually went through out here. Never in my life that I think I was going to be out here, man.Sergio:        So when you caught that case, did you think you were still involved because you thought you were never going to get deported, like it would have been different if you knew you might be deported?New Speaker:        Yeah, If I knew I was going to get deported day, I will probably calmed my butt down, I would have probably sat down. But, yeah, if I knew I was going to get deported, but I thought I still had a couple of years. Like I said, I was still a juvenile. Like I was actually just like, "What? They can't do nothing to me yet." Like I said, I never thought I was gonna  be out here, man. I thought I was still going to have... Even if I caught a case, I still thought I was going to have a chance like, Oh, I'm going to have a daughter spend all my life here. They can't deport me, they can't send me out there. I don't know nothing from out there. I ain't got nothing to do anything. What am I supposed to do out here?


    4. Sergio:        So I suppose, did you join gangs In the US?Alejandro:        I joined the gang.Sergio:        Just, it was one?Alejandro:        It was just one gang.Sergio:        And what did you think… what did that mean for you when you were joining?Alejandro:        It was just respect and money at the time. I mean, I just joined it for the money too. Like you're growing up all you want to do is have money and then you just see that they get it so quick and easy. You just want to go ahead and get, be like them. And it's just like I told you like  you grew up with them. So it was like, even if you didn't want to, you're from that neighborhood. So you're from the hood at the end of the day. Yeah.

      living in the US, gangs

    5. Sergio:        What's the first memory that you have in the United States?Alejandro:        First memories, just the leaves. They were colored leaves. The first thing I remember was going to the park. And then just seeing those colorful leaves. Snow. That was it

      United States, first impression, snow

    6. Sergio:        So my name is Sergio. I'm here with Alejandro. And we're doing the interview. So Alejandro, what was the reason why your family decided to go to the United States?Alejandro:        The reason why my family decided to go to the United States was because, I mean, financial help. We just wanted a better life. Get out… get out of poverty. That's the only reason why.

      reasons for migration, economic opportunity

  9. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Claudia:        And then last question, it's kind of similar, but why do you think that people in Mexico have a negative perception of returning migrants?Adrian:        Ah, that's a tough question. And I think, again, I've been through that already. Even among us, the people here at Hola Code, we ... I don't know. Sometimes it might sound funny, but sometimes we think it's kind of like a jealousy thing, you know? Sometimes we've had it actually, some situations where some Mexicans were like, "Why do you speak English if you're in Mexico now?" Sometimes, "Why do you dress like that if you're in Mexico?" It again, sounds stupid maybe, but they have that perception that, in a way we are back or that we are back because of bad reasons. That we maybe committed a crime or they think that, that we commit a crime, so that's the reason why we're back in Mexico. And in a way, sometimes it creates that bad image of like, I mean, you're a criminal. And we even heard comments, like, "You move to the US as a criminal, crossing the border illegally, and then you came back the same way. There must be a reason why you're back." It creates a bad image of like, it's a perception too. Again, media plays a big role too.Adrian:        Sometimes, again it's because we've experienced it here. It's a jealousy thing. It's hard to explain. Yeah. We have situations too, where they think it's kind of the opposite. The same thing that we've been through in the US is the same thing that we go through here in Mexico. Sometimes here, Mexicans think that us that came back, we came to steal their jobs too. And that just because we speak English, we have sometimes skills that they don't have. They feel threatened. They do. And we have, again, being here at Hola Code and hearing the stories of other guys that went through the program and they are already working, being back in that workforce. And you hear all these negative comments about being a Mexican that has been living in the US. And you hear comments like, "Why do they have the same opportunities that we have? We went to school here. We went to a five-year degree, and this guy just went to a bootcamp and now they're making the same amount of money as we are." Again, it's unfortunate that sometimes you feel like being back in your own country you will feel safe and that everything's going to be over and everything's going to be okay. And sometimes meeting these kind of people here too, this kind of make you wonder like, when is it going to be over? Sorry.

      bias, prejudice

    2. Claudia:        These last few questions are more like reflective, if that's okay? So, what can the Mexican government do to help Mexican returnees reintegrate into Mexican society?Adrian:        Yeah, it was in a way sad to realize that there is no actual program here in Mexico to help migrants returning. So, I think it will be great just to have any kind of aid program, just kind of like how to help people to recuperate, to maybe even work. A lot of migrants have skills that they learned in the US that I think that would be great to, if they can use the same skills here in Mexico, I mean, and it's help for their own country. So yes, I think there should be somehow a program to help. Again, even if it's just in a way, like a, how can I say it? Like a mental help too? I mean, some people go through super tough processes, and being deported or being in jail before being deported. And finding yourself in a country where sometimes you've never been here. I can just not imagine how it is for some people. So, I think they should have any help, any program.Adrian:        Maybe even just a guide. Once you're back here, this is what you need to do. I mean, being here at Hola Code, I realized sometimes too, some of them, they don't even have an ID. And it's like, you find yourself completely alone. It could be really tough. I mean, many of them go to shelters and they basically homeless. So yeah, it's sad that there is not any kind of program or help for people returning back, coming back.

      reflections, policy suggestions for Mexico, policies to help returned Migrants

    3. Claudia:        And in what ways do you think that having spent all that time in the US shaped who you are right now and what your beliefs are?Adrian:        Okay. I think the first thing it's like, again, living in places like New York and Chicago, being such multicultural cities, and meeting people from other places and even Americans, it opens your mind to, I mean, just being with people from other races and religions. It was exciting for me just to meet them. So now that I'm back in Mexico too, I see immigrants here in Mexico City too. And it's just like, it changes your mindset when it comes to migration too. You've been through a process and when you see people going through the same process, but now in your own country, you want to help in a way. It made me more aware of how should I spend my time too, with my people and the people that I love, because you never know. Again, being always afraid of kind of being taken away from the ones you love kind of makes you appreciate the time you spend with them.Adrian:        And it made me responsible too. When I was living here in Mexico, I never had a sense of kind of like responsibility when it comes to like, I don't know how to save money, how to administrate money and stuff like that. And those things I learned in the US too. How to be more responsible in general. How to organize myself better. What else? Yeah. I think in general, I always think of the term civic. I'm a better civic person. Yeah. I'm more aware of things too. I'm more aware of my surroundings and the people around me, of the social issues too in a way. I never got involved in to say things like, "I want to contribute to have a better planet or a cleaner planet." So, I got into a couple of groups like that in the US. Trying to clean your city, how to help people that are in worse positions than you are. I never did that, or I never had the opportunity here in Mexico. But, being over there kind of like made me aware of those situations.Adrian:        So, I think now that I'm back in Mexico, I would love to, now that I'm kind of over with the program with Hola Code, I would love to do some kind of social, anything. Anything where I can help others.

      influence of life in the US, New York, reflections, cultural differences

    4. Claudia:        And so how was it coming back to Mexico after not being here for 12 years?Adrian:        It's a readaptation process. I guess sometimes you don't realize how things change everywhere. You come back with the idea that things are the same, and you realize that they are not. People has changed, situations have changed. And it's a readaptation process where you're not mentally prepared to face the change that have occurred when you were gone. And it sounds funny maybe to say, but, I mean, I'm Mexican, but coming back to Mexico, sometimes you don't feel Mexican at all anymore. You feel like you're in the middle. It's a funny sensation of not belonging anywhere. I knew it wasn't American. But, at the same time I lived there for so many years that I felt like an American. And then being back here, it's just like, you don't feel completely Mexican anymore. And yeah, it's a little difficult to kind of readapt yourself to Mexican society in general. Yeah. It is a process. It is.

      return to Mexico, cultural differences, challenges

    5. Claudia:        And how did you end up back in Mexico?Adrian:        It's due to the same situation. Like again, I started seeing more people getting deported in the Chicago area, which didn't happen before. So, I was just honestly scared that it was going to happen to me at any time. And I talked to my family and I talked to my mom here and I just kind of told them, "You know what? Before anything happens, before I actually get detained and maybe deported, maybe it's just better for me just to go back." And then I found out about Hola Code and I'm like, "Maybe this is my chance or my opportunity to do something else with my life too." And that's why I decided to come back. Yeah.

      reasons for returning to Mexico

    6. Claudia:        Yeah. And what was it like to be separated from your family back in Mexico?Adrian:        It was hard. I think it's the hardest part actually. Not being able to see my mom and my little brother for 12 years, it's painful. Especially when you realize that there is like a disconnection, especially with my little brother. It's like, we got disconnected in a way. Yeah. Just not being able to see them physically, it's painful.

      family separation

    7. Claudia:        And do you remember your first day in the United States?Adrian:        Yes. We were in a house because we were in a group of people from different countries. We were basically in a house. We didn't know where exactly we were. All I knew was like, we were already in the US and that somebody was going to come to pick us up, basically. You didn't know what to expect. You're just in a house with people you don't know, and it was kind of the uncertainty of not knowing what's going to happen.

      United States, first impressions

    8. Claudia:        And how did you cross the border?Adrian:        Okay, I'm not really sure how my family made the arrangements, but they basically hired somebody. I flew to the border. I flew to Sonora and somebody was waiting for me over there. And we crossed through, well, basically we jumped the fence. Yeah.

      crossing the border

    9. Claudia:        So, my first question to you is, why did you leave Mexico and how did you cross the border?Adrian:        Okay. My family was going through a difficult situation and my father died actually, and my mom was struggling to bring money to the house. And at the same time, this was in 2017, no, 2007. And that's when violence started spreading through the country. I mean like the war on drugs of the Mexican government. And I was living in Michoacán at the time and yeah, it was pretty bad. I saw people getting killed. And yeah, my family made a decision that it was better for me just to leave before something happened to us. And in a way, me leaving represented economical help for my mom. And I just decided it was best for my mom and my little brother just to leave.

      reasons for migration, family, violence

  10. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Claudia:        And what do you think you'd like to do now that you're back in Mexico, what are your dreams?Marcos:        Right now I just want to focus on my family. My little girl, my little boy, my wife and if I get the chance to help my family, I will.

      living in Mexico, family, dreams

  11. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Isabel:        Do you think you will return to the United States someday?Moe:        No. Unless I could go in legally, yeah. But other than that, no.Isabel:        And why is that? Just not worth it?Moe:        I'm not trying to do more jail time for free. Jail time for re-entry? Come on, man, I mean that’s…Isabel:        How's that?Moe:        I spent two years, of my life in jail just because I was there illegally.

      reflections, return to the United States, jail, deportation

  12. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Sergio:        That covers everything. Well, actually, do you think that prejudice has stayed the same improved or worsened since Trump took office?Aide:        I think it's worse now. Yeah, because I think that if we were... Well, if I was over there, he's more like... He doesn't like immigrants, so he's really against that. So I think it will be like more difficult because there will be like more discrimination. And more like, I don't know. More people being deported. So I think that's like the worst part. I don't really think that Trump has done anything better for the States. I think he even got it even worse.

      Trump, prejudice, reflections

    2. Sergio:        Do you have anything else on your mind before we finish the interview? Or do you feel like you have to say about your experience about what can be improved. About what you want to see. When you said, "You were close to being the dreamer?" why didn't it happen?Aide:        Well, like I said, my dad decided to come back. So I was actually fighting for like kind of permit. Actually I had the paperwork for the DREAM Act. And I just needed my dad's signature. I was actually going to stay with some friends that said that they were going to adopt me. So I was a minor back then. So when we were actually filling up the paper and we were about nothing like so close to being able to become a Dreamer.        My dad decided to come back. And like I said, "I was actually planning on escaping from him and staying there." But it wasn't really possible because I was minor. So anything that I would be trying to do, they were like, no, you're a minor. And if your dad doesn't allow this to happen, then all you got to go with your dad. I wasn't really able to make my own decisions.

      DREAM Act, reflections

    3. Sergio:        Why do you think that so many people in the US have a negative perception of migrants from Mexico?Aide:        Why? Because everything that they show on the news like violence. Everything. Basically Mexico is like... Whenever they talk about Mexico, it's like, "Oh no, the violence, everything. The poor lives, the violence, everything." I mean, when I was over there and they would tell me like, "Would you like to go back to Mexico?" I'd be like, "No. Definitely not." Even though I didn't know. I was like, "No." Yeah.

      reflections, US perceptions of Mexico, prejudice, bias

    4. Sergio:        And what ways do you feel... In what ways do you think being in the US has shaped who you are?Aide:        A lot of things that like I said, I don't like to live like... I don't like to say, "Oh, I only have this type. I only have this amount of money." Well, no, I like to give more. I would like to be a better person. I would like to have a better life, like I said. And I think that's from those ideas and that type of lifestyle that I like are from the States. I would like to live like the way people live in the States. I think like people from the States, I don't think from like... I don't have the same ideas as people from here.Sergio:        Do you think you can ever live like people in the States here in Mexico?Aide:        It is possible, but it does take a lot of work. It's not like in the States. In the States, you can live a secure and peaceful life with not that much of work. I mean, you have to work, but it doesn't cost you that much. And here, no, you got to spend like... You got to be old until you can have the good life.

      differences between Mexico and the US, reflections

    5. Sergio:        When your family left and you started living in the United States, did you ever miss Mexico?Aide:        Not really. Because like I said, I didn't really do that many things here.  So the only thing that I miss from here was my grandma, my family. Family that I kind of remember having. So, but I didn't really miss Mexico. Even when they told me, "Hey, would you like to go back to Mexico?" I told him, "No, why would I go back to Mexico? I have everything here.” I mean, my friends. My everything. So it wasn't really in my plans coming back.

      family relationships, those who stayed in Mexico; returning to Mexico, what was left behin

  13. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Isabel:        Yeah. No. I think that's really interesting. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap up? That you want people to know?Nadxieli:        I would say you're not alone guys. You're not alone that way on that side, and you're not alone on this side. You always have a family or him to help you out. I would say that, you are not alone.

      reflections, unity

    2. Nadxieli:        I know. I know. I know. I know. To be honest, when all the... May I say something political?Isabel:        Oh, by all means.Nadxieli:        To be honest, when all the Trump stuff started, I felt safe here. Like, "Damn. If I got  caught right now. I don’t know what would happen." They scared me a lot, because I started to see some videos. So from my people right there, getting into fights just to survive, just because some American, I wouldn't say yelled at them, but some of them go all crazy. All of a sudden they hit us without any reason, and they're trying to chasing us, well not us, because I'm here already, right?Isabel:        Yeah. .Nadxieli:        But that's my people. We're not trying to attack anybody. We're not trying to invite any inside, take your stuff. We're just trying to survive. I would say survive.Isabel:        Yeah. Yeah. And it's scary that there had to be people who thought that way for Trump to be elected.Nadxieli:        It's amazing.Isabel:        Yeah.Nadxieli:        I'm wordless and speechless. I just can't believe it, that just one man can change all people's mind.Isabel:        Yeah. I think he tapped into something that was there in some factions, but I was talking to another person too, the difference is, people were deported under Obama. There was lots of deportations then, but Obama wasn't publicly racist.Nadxieli:        Yeah.Isabel:        And so Trump coming out and openly saying these things about human beings and acting this way is okay, opened the floodgates almost.Nadxieli:        Yeah. I think he used some key words, like “we.” We're doing this for us and something like that. That's why they changed their mind so fast. Yeah.

      US politics, racism, Trump, deportations

    3. Isabel:        Yeah. Can you tell me what maybe some of the challenges were adapting back to Mexican society from a different society?Nadxieli:        Definitely. Yeah. It seems like everything's new again. I already know here, but I don't at the same time. And people, when I came back, it's not that I forgot how to speak Spanish, that's nothing that you can also forget, right? But I was changing some phrases, and when people used to hear me and was like, "Where are you from?" "I'm from here. What do you mean?" "No, no, you're not from here." But get into that again is like, oh, here we go again, everything's new.

      Returning to Mexico, challenges, language, cultural differences

    4. Isabel:        Do you have any favorite restaurants in the US? Your favorite kind of food? Or some memories that you enjoy?Nadxieli:        No, not really. We can't afford any of that, but I used to miss tacos, because I know them already.Isabel:        Right.Nadxieli:        So when we were there, and we tried once, Taco Bell, it was like, "No. This ain't real. Uh-uh."

      Living in the US, food, cultural differences

  14. migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app migration-encounters-prototype.netlify.app
    1. Anita:        If you had stayed in the United States, what do you think you would have done in your life?MARIA:        Work, because I couldn't study anymore or I don't know, because when I came back, they told me that I couldn't study no more over there, "Just finish high school and that's it, and then start working." That's it.

      United States, employment, opportunities

    2. Anita:        But after that you had friends?MARIA:        Yes I did. I had friends.Anita:        Where they Americans, Mexicans?MARIA:        We were all kind, because I was already learning English. So I was already communicating with them.

      Living in the US, childhood, friends, language, English, Spanish

    1. Daniel: When I was young, living in Illinois, nothing but gang members all around, people getting shot all the time, people getting beat up all the time so that's how it was when he was young. When I realized that's not the one life I... That even though to me wasn't as bad as the world seemed like it is. It was still not legal. It was still against the law. When you're a gang member, you can't look left, you can't look right, you can't say this. You can’t be mad. They block you from all kinds of emotions. The only emotion for you to have with the law, it's you want to change and you're going to do right and be a right citizen. Sometimes you're just young and you don't know what you're doing. You just don't realize it till you grow.Daniel: Unfortunately, I didn't realize it till I was here in Mexico. I got here to Mexico, I had two kids over there in Georgia when I was 18. By the time I was 18, people tried to kill me about two or three times by the time I was 18. Plenty of my cousins got shot, plenty of my friends got killed right in front of me, across the street. All this stuff is basically all I lived till I was 18.

      growing up in the US, Illinois, gang violence

    1. Anita: And one question is do you think that the US government has responsibility for Roddy?Rodrigo: In some parts, I think, but they won't do anything. I mean, to be really honest with you, they never going to do anything because they have so many people over there. It's not just Americans. It's not Mexicans. It's everybody. It's all the Latin people, all the people from Europe or from Africa. There's a lot of immigrants from over there, and they, some of them, they already born over there. So, they're Americans, too. They don't even receive help.Anita: But what about Roddy being here. What kind of responsibilities – What do you think the US government should do to help Roddy?Rodrigo: Well, what I would like is probably just to help him with medical. That would be all. I mean, because over there, they give you that – How's it called? That program that they give you meals and all that?Anita: Yeah.Rodrigo: And they give you benefits. Well, for that, I mean, I work for it, and we used to pay our own things with your own work. But, I mean, I wouldn't ask for money. The only thing that I would ask is for medical assistance for him.Anita: What about for his school?Rodrigo: And schooling. Yeah. And that's one of the things, too, because on the future, one of the things that I want him sooner or later for him to go back is because I want him to go to school over there.Anita: He's got to learn English.Rodrigo: Yeah. So right now, my goal up to this point is I want him to go to an English school, and that's my new goal. I won't be able to do it in this month, but probably next month, he will start doing English. And not because I don't want to. It's because we need money to do all the process, too. I'm starting my track and probably not this paycheck, I can’t do it, but next paycheck, next month, I will be able to do it. And that's something that I really want to do because, to be really honest, I probably just want to stay probably right here one or two years more, and he may go back. That's something that I have. I want him to go to high school over there, just out of high school to go to college, so he could start the school over there already.Anita: And would his mother – could he live with his mother?Rodrigo: No. No. I grew up in California, and I got a lot of aunts for my mom's side. So, they will be able to take care of him, and plus, that's my other goal, too. For next years, I want to try to apply for my visa. I mean, I don't have no bad records at all over there. I didn't do anything wrong over there. I came over here to fix my papers. I have everything, but it didn't happen. So, I never tried to come back illegally, so I want to go and try to get my visa. If I get it, good. If not, I'm just going to wait for him to get my papers fixed. So that's my dream. I wish it will be done, but we will try.Anita: Those are great dreams. That's great dreams. Let me stop now.

      reflections, dreams, policy to help migrants

    2. Anita: Would you consider going back to the US?Rodrigo: Yes.Anita: Why?Rodrigo: Because I grew up over there, and to be honest with you, I miss a lot over there. I know I could do more things over there than over here, but you know one of the things that I don't want to go illegally, not anymore. I mean, I want to go legally, and I know it may take some time. But I could do it because my son and my daughter, they're from over there. They will be able to get my papers fixed. When that happens, I want to be able to go legally, and I want to go to work, do some things. Like how it was my American dream back when I was over there. Right here, I won't say that. At the beginning, when I got here, I didn't know nobody. It was really hard. I got in depression and a lot of things, but now, I mean, I'm living day by day, and I have to like it. I'm okay now. But, yes, I will go back one day. But I want to go legally, not illegal.

      reflection, returning to the United States

    3. Anita: Do you know about programs that support returning migrants?Rodrigo: Not really. No, because even right here if you check, they have help for madres solteras, [single mothers] but it won't happen to me because I'm a single dad. I won't qualify for that. I mean, sometimes it will be great just because you will get benefits like programs where they can go and do some sports or something like that. But I don't apply, and he won't apply either because he's not from here.

      reflections, policy for reintigration

    4. Rodrigo: He doesn't speak English, and she doesn't speak Spanish. So, I mean, he may understand a little bit, but some words and something. It's all the same thing. She may know some Spanish and words, but that's it. So, it's kind of strange. I mean, she doesn't speak Spanish, and he doesn't speak English.

      family, barriers, language

    5. Anita: So how did your daughter get in touch with yeah?Rodrigo: By her grandma. I had her grandma in Facebook, and we talk sometimes, and she got ahold of me by phone. I was like, "Great." I mean, it was for a long time that she wouldn't get in touch with me. She didn't even try to talk to me, and now she did. I'm like, "Well, this is one step, no, towards –.”Anita: Your friends with her grandma, which is your ex-wife's mother, on Facebook?Rodrigo: I get along with them, except with the mom. I get along with both sisters, with both brothers, and with the grandma. I mean, we get along, but with her, we don't get in touch at all. I mean, she doesn't want to talk to me, and I mean, that's fine because she's already with somebody else. I respect that. Plus, I don't want to know anything about it either. But there's something, she don't want… It's because she doesn't want... She will want it. She will be like, "You know what? I pay for the passport. She pays for this. We do this. We do that." So, he will be able to go over there, and my daughter will be able to come over there. We could be connected, but she doesn’t want to do that.Anita: She doesn't want to? But is she going to allow her daughter to come here?Rodrigo: Well, that's the thing that we were planning. I mean, I was telling my daughter, "Right now, I wish I could have the money to be like, 'You know what? I'll send you for the passport. And I have the plane ticket.'" But it's a process. I mean, I don't want to put things on the hurry. I want just to be little by little. Probably if not by when she will be 18, it will be different. Right now, this is one step. I know in one time she will be able to come and is sooner than before.Anita: When was the last time you saw her?Rodrigo: Oh, yeah. It has 11 years.Anita: It's been 11 years?Rodrigo: It's been 11 years, and I want to see her already. I mean, I want to see her. I know she needs me, and I need her, too.Anita: Have you spoken on FaceTime?Rodrigo: Yeah.Anita: So, you see each other?Rodrigo: Yeah. But, I mean, it's not the same. I wish it would be like I could have her here right here.Anita: Yeah. Does she look like you?Rodrigo: I will show you a picture right now. Let me see. Hold on. Let me see. She's really big, though.

      family separation, family reunification

    6. Sometimes he, like in the school, sometimes he gets racismo. I don't like it. I want him to go over there, too.Anita: He gets racism because?Rodrigo: Because he was born over there.Anita: But how do they know?Rodrigo: In the school and by the teacher, by one teacher.Anita: But how do they know? He doesn't speak a word of English.Rodrigo: I know but everybody around there knows him. They know who he is, and they know me, too, and they're like, "Well, he was born over there, but he doesn't speak English. But he's born over there. “Es el gringo." [he’s the gringo] I mean, that's how they tell him.Anita: And what does he answer back? What do you answer?Rodrigo: [to Roddy] Cuando te dicen el gringo en la escuela o el maestro que te decia, que decias? [when they call you the gringo in school what do you say?]Roddy: [inaudible]Rodrigo: Pero que le decias? Es la pregunta. [what do you say? that’s the question]Roddy: [inaudible]Rodrigo: He's always shy.Anita: I know. Except when he's dancing.Rodrigo: I know. [laughs]Anita: But what is he saying? What does he tell you?Rodrigo: On the beginning, he got upset because we talk about it. I was like, "You know what? If you want me, I will go and talk with that teacher to stop the bullying," because he's pretty much that. But he getting to swear me he doesn't care. He's like from here. He just, you know, nothing changes. It’s just like normal because he's been raised in here for almost all his life.

      racism, school, social acceptance

    7. Anita: Why did you move back to Minnesota?Rodrigo: Because I finished high school, and I couldn't go to the college, because I didn't have a social security number. So, I didn't have a way to keep studying. I had to work. The only work that they have over there, it was pretty much for people that don't have papers, was the fields. I didn't have a way to – a car or something to move.

      living undocumented, lost opportunities, education, employment

    8. Anita: And do you ever think about him going back to the States?Rodrigo: Yes. Last week ... I have another daughter.Anita: Yes. I remember.Rodrigo: I don't know if you ever remember that I told you. She's going to be 17 already next year, so she didn't talk to me at all before. She started talking to me last Sunday. She was like, "You know what? I want to go and visit you guys." And I'm like, "Great." Well, I was happy. It’s something that I would never expect. First of all, I never expect that phone call at all. Second of all, when she says, "Well, I want to see you guys," and I'm like, "I want to see you, too, Mija, but we had to wait for you to get the passport and everything." I know it's going to be a process and you know everything will cost money, but I will make it. Probably next year, she will be here, at least for a couple weeks, no?Rodrigo: But, yes, I want him to get the passport and everything so he can go, too. Later on, I want to see if I could get my visa, just to go and visit them or just to take him to visit and so he will be able to know his country. Because, believe it or not, he wants to go and see. Sometimes he, like in the school, sometimes he gets racismo. I don't like it. I want him to go over there, too.

      returning to the United States, family reunification; living in Mexico, racism

    9. Rodrigo:I'm worried because sometimes you never know what could happen. Sometimes they could go to the ... On the way to the school, there's a lot of danger sometimes, even to cross the avenues. Some people, there's a lot of bad people around here, too, sometimes, no? So that's why I'm worried. That's why I'm always trying to get a good job, to have the money so we could survive. At the same time, so I could be able to be with him, too, when he needs. Right now, it takes me time, but the job that I have, it gives me the opportunity to do a lot of things with him. So that's what I want, and I want to stay with that job for a while. I mean, it's really good. I don't make as much money as before, but I will be able to be at home to cook for him, to do things with him. So that's something that I really wanted to do because it's only him and me. If we don't take care of each other, who's going to take care of us?

      living in Mexico, education, raising children

    10. Rodrigo: This is East Concourse Servicing. It's just a call center, but it's a collision agency. I mean, it's pretty good. I wouldn't say, I don't make a lot of money, but I'm getting there. It's close to my house. I will be able to take him to school, and then he will have to go from school to the house by himself. But I know that he went to the school. I know he will be there, and I got time for him because I only work nine hours.Anita: You work nine hours per day?Rodrigo: Yeah. From Monday to Friday.Anita: What are you being paid?Rodrigo: Well, right now, the gross pay is $8,000. I mean, 8,000 pesos. I'm sorry.Anita: 8,000 pesos for ...Rodrigo: Per month. Plus with that you have 2,000 pesos in vales de despensa, that’s what they call the food vouchers they give you.Anita: Plus 2,000?Rodrigo:Per month. Plus a bonus that we could get. We could get from 2,000 probably three or 4,000 more. All depends. And I mean, it's pretty good because I got time to spend with him on the weekends. He's getting older already. I mean, he's not a boy anymore. He's growing up, so I have to take care of more of him. I have to be more time with him.

      call centers, employment, economic opportunity

    11. nita: Oh. What's been difficult?Rodrigo: Well, first of all is because for some time I stayed without a job. Why? Because I was trying to ... For me to find a job is really hard because I had to be with him. At the same time, I had to take care of him from school, so for me it was really hard. So, I found a job, but it was two hours and a half from my house just to go. And to come back, it was two hours and a half. It was almost four to five hours, so I wouldn't have time for him. And not just to take him to the school, to help him to do homework. It's really hard. But I stayed without a job for two months.Rodrigo: So right now, I found a really good job. I mean, it's really good. I work from Monday to Friday. It's 45 minutes away from my house, so it's really good. And then I got Saturdays and Sundays off.

      employment, opportunties

    12. Anita: Thank you for sharing your story.Rodrigo: No, thank you to you. I wanted to talk. I mean, this is something that is like therapy, because it helps me. Yesterday, one of my friends came, and she was like, "You need this. You need to go." I'm like, "Okay."Anita: And? How do you feel now?Rodrigo: I like it. I like it a lot. It's something new. It's something that I'll let everything go at this moment.Anita: You really sound like an incredible dad.Rodrigo: Thank you. I appreciate it.Anita: It's very, very moving.Rodrigo: I appreciate it. I've been here for a lot of time. It’s tough to be a dad sometimes. Sometimes there is things that I want to do, but I can't because I have to be at home.Anita: You know, I've been hearing stories all day long, about kids who went, and their Mexican dads abandoned them.Rodrigo: No, that won't happen.Anita: I'm ending my day – You are helping me.Rodrigo: No, I mean—Anita: You are giving me—Rodrigo: One of the reasons that I will never do that, is because my dad, when he was in the states, he left me.Anita: Your dad did it.Rodrigo: He left me. From that, I was like, “No.” From that, I was like, "No, I can't do that." I mean, I wouldn't do it. My son is my son, and he'll always be there.

      reflections, parenthood, single-parent

    13. Anita: You sound like an amazing dad.Rodrigo: I'm trying to. It's hard. Believe me. Two years ago, my mom passed away. So, she was the one that used to help me a lot. But now it got a little bit harder, because now he's getting a little bit older, and he's getting older, and the problems start.Anita: Yeah. You don't have a partner?Rodrigo: No. No, I'm single. [Laughs]. No, I mean, I used to have a girlfriend. But nothing else.

      parenthood, single-parent

    14. Anita: So, let me ask you just one final question about the deportation. Could you have done your papers earlier?Rodrigo: No.Anita: There was nothing you could have done?Rodrigo: There was a period, because on the beginning, I had my interview, in Ciudad Juarez, but they asked me for a waiver. So, when they asked me for the waiver, I will have to reschedule another appointment. When that happens, she didn't really help me out anymore.Anita: But when you were still in the United States, did you delay?Rodrigo: No. The processes, it takes too long. That's why they let me go—Immigration, when they got me, they let me go, because I was in the process for my papers. They told me to keep going to court.

      reflections, deportation, documentation

    15. Anita: So why is July 4th important to you?Rodrigo: Well, we used to get all together, like family, and fireworks, and it was the long weekend, so we would go swimming, we would go to the river. In Minnesota, it was the river. In California, it was to the ocean, to the sea, to the bay.Anita: Do you do hotdogs and stuff on July 4th?Rodrigo: No. Well, always, always, on Thanksgiving it was the turkey. On the side, they would make some Mexican food. Same thing on the Fourth of July. We would make some Mexican food.

      American holidays, food, tradition

    16. Anita: But I'm wondering, because your son came here so little, whether he might be more Mexican than you are in some ways.Rodrigo: Yes.Anita: Even though he's the American, and you're the Mexican?Rodrigo: I know. That's something that I will tell him. My son doesn't speak English. Some people will say to me, "Why you don't teach him?" I mean, I teach him some words. He knows, like I tell him, "Do your bed." He knows what I'm telling him. But he doesn’t know how to pronounce it. Why? Because at school, they only speak Spanish. They don't have an English class. He doesn't have nobody to talk English but me. I'm the only person.Anita: In his way of thinking, is he more Mexican in some ways than you?Rodrigo: Yes. Yes, even the way that he talks sometimes.Anita: The way that he talks, you said? Like what?Rodrigo: We call right here, we talk like Chilango, they have some different words. I'm from here, but I don't even talk that way. He talks that way. I'm like, "Mijo, why you talk that way?" I don't mind it, because he's a good boy. I'm not going to complain about him. Sometimes it's hard for me, because it's only me and him. Before, when he was a kid, I think he needed more of his mom. But now, we're getting there.

      single parent, parenting; identity, children

    17. Anita: Does your son consider himself Mexican at all?Rodrigo: Yes. Yes. He could be one Mexican, and he's completely the Mexican flag. He knows he's American, but he looks Mexican. If you will tell him, "Yes, I am from the United States, but I'm from Mexico, too." He will be like, "Mexico, Mexico." This is funny, because sometimes, when we had the soccer games, Mexico versus United States, we will be at home, and be like, "A quien le vas?" [who are you rooting for?] He will go, "Mexico." That's funny, because that's something that we would play with him because we would tell him, "But you're not Mexican. You have to go for the United States." He's like, "No. I go for Mexico."

      identity, culture, sports

    18. Anita: So, what about in your way of thinking? Do you think that there is anything American that's different about Mexican?Rodrigo: Yes. Yes. I mean, it could be a lot of things. It would be the persons, the way I think.Anita: Like what?Rodrigo: Like you know, the way I think right here, sometimes people are really close. They don't see further than what Americans can see. Americans can have liberty to do more things, and Mexicans, they're all tight. They don't let you do things. That's the difference. For me, like with my son, he's, right now, he's going to graduate from primaria [elementary school]. I let him go to sleep late. Some people, like my sisters, to their son, they don't see it that way. So that's something different. I let my son, with a cell phone. She's like, "No, my son is not going to have a cell phone until he's older." That's a difference that we have.Rodrigo: But I mean, I like it because I'm a single dad. I like to have communication with him, to be like, "How are you? How is school?" One of the things, I quit AT&T, that was one. It was far away from my house. I used to wake up at 4:40 in the morning. I used to be there before seven. I will get out around six, from AT&T, and I would be at home around, from eight to nine. That was from Monday to Friday. So, I didn't have time with my son. Now on the job that I have, I work from seven to three. I work from Monday to Friday. So, it's pretty good. But my son will go alone to the school, where I will have to pay a taxi, but I will go to pick him up out of school. That's something that helps me. I'm not making a lot of money like I used to. But I'd rather be with my son.

      cultural differences, raising a family, single parent

    19. Anita: So, did you become an American football fan?Rodrigo: Yes.Anita: The Vikings?Rodrigo: Yes. Well, pretty much, I'm not a fan for one team only. I like Vikings, I like the 49ers, and Oakland too—they have no difference to the Raiders in Oakland, because the only difference is that bridge. But yes, pretty much, I like a lot of teams that we used to do over there, that we don't do over here. But I see them doing it. From here, too, I've got some teams that I knew.

      American culture, sports, football

    20. Anita: Do you think that being in the United States, living there, that there are certain things that made you feel American in any way?Rodrigo: Yeah. Yeah. Because there is one thing, and I'm going to put it that way. Thanksgiving. Yeah. For me, Thanksgiving is like something that I had to do on my own. First of all, at my house, they were like, "What's this? Why you do this?" I go, "It's because I thank God because I have food on the table." That's something that we do every year. There’s some points, football, like baseball, basketball, things like that, that over here, they don't see it that way. But Thanksgiving, yes, it's something important.

      American culture, holidays, Thanksgiving

    21. Tim: So, I'm just wondering, does anyone ... I assume most of these calls are coming from the United States. Does anyone hear your accent and ever attack you?Rodrigo: Oh yeah, all of the time. That's in every call center here. I mean, that happens all of the time, that when you talk to somebody, and they say, "Oh, I don't want to talk to you. I want someone from the United States." The only thing that you control is, "You know what? I'll transfer you to the IVR—"Anita: To the what?Rodrigo: The IVR. "But I won't promise you-"Anita: What's the IVR?Rodrigo: When you call to customer service—Tim: An automated system.Rodrigo: Yeah. So that's when you will be like, "You know what? Okay. I will transfer you to the IVR, but I won't promise you that you will be speaking with somebody from the United States." They will get upset and they will hang up. Other than that, you will tell them, "If you want to talk with someone from the United States, you will have to go to the local office to do the process because pretty much all of the call centers are ... I mean, I'm working, right now, Alliance, I don't do any phone calls. I don't receive phone calls, it's pretty much back office. It's kind of different. But it's better, I think. It's less pay, but it's better.

      employment, racism, language barriers

    22. Anita: What was it like for you when you came back?Rodrigo: It was really hard.Anita: What was hard?Rodrigo: Everything. Because I didn't know my mom, because I left for so much time. I didn't know my brother and my sister because they never went over there. I came over here, I couldn't find a job. I didn't know how to work right here. It was everything different for us. Plus, because we had tattoos, they were kind of racist, like in the face. Because you got a tattoo, you cannot get a job. Then it was hard for me to find a job, because first of all, I didn't have all of my papers, like the security number that we have right here. So, I started working in a restaurant. From there, I started looking for other jobs. From there, I started working in a gas station. Whatever I will put the gas, and whatever they will give me, that's it. That would be what I get.Anita: That's it?Rodrigo: That's it. Plus, I will have to pay to the gas station for me working there. Yeah. When you go right here, and you see the gas stations, the people that work there, they only work for the tips. They will have to still pay for that, to the gas station, to be working there. Everything.Rodrigo: Then from there, I met this person, on the metro. And I found TeleTech. I started working there. I worked for three years. I started at zero, by nothing. I didn't know anything about call centers. From there, I went to [inaudible] for nine months. From there, I stayed there for three years.Anita: What company do you work for?Rodrigo: Right now, I started working for Alliance.Anita: The insurance company?Rodrigo: The insurance company. I got like three weeks that I started there. But before that, I worked at AT&T.Anita: AT&T?Rodrigo: Yeah. I haven't started working. I worked three years for TeleTech. As soon as I finished with TeleTech, I went to AT&T. I was already hired, and then I quit over here.Anita: So how long were you with AT&T?Rodrigo: A year.Anita: You did customer service for AT&T?Rodrigo: Yes. Customer service.

      returning to Mexico, challenges, employment, opportunity

    23. Rodrigo: He's an American. He's living with me. He lives right here; he goes to school right here. He's going to turn 12 years old next month. I can't take him back because he doesn't know his mom, and he doesn't want to know nothing about his mom. He wants to go back with my aunts, but it's kind of hard. He doesn't want to let me go. I want him to go over there, but he doesn't want to go without me, and I'm not going back without my papers. Illegally, I'm not going back.

      deportation, children, family separation

    24. Rodrigo: Yeah. I get off from work, and I would have to drive around 45 minutes. I got stopped by the stop sign, for the light, for the back-up light. It was a sheriff, and he just asked for the driver's license. I have only the permit license. So, he asked me for if I was a resident, if I could show any proof. I was honest with him. "No, I'm not." So, he right away called Border Patrol.Anita: Really?Rodrigo: Yeah.Anita: What year is this?Rodrigo: That was I think 2002? But from then, I already had a daughter right there. I was married.Anita: You were married to a Mexican?Rodrigo: To a Chicana.Anita: You didn't get residency?Rodrigo: That's another story. [laughs]. No, from there I got deported. They called Border Patrol. From Border Patrol, they told me that they will let me go, but I will have to go to court because I already had a daughter, and I was married, and I had a baby coming. So, from there, I went to court and everything. But when I went to court, they deported me. So, they gave me some time to come back to Mexico. So that's been, already, 11 years. They gave me papers, so I have to come back over here. I came back with my daughter, because my son, he was only three months.Anita: What about your wife?Rodrigo: She stayed over there. But we already made the papers, so we could fix the residence. But from then, I came over here, and this is a sad story. I came over here with my daughter, and she was with my son over there. She came over here, but she was pregnant from somebody else.Rodrigo: Yes. So, from there, she came over here, we tried to fix things. It didn't work out. I mean, it worked out for a little bit. She went back to have the baby, and she took my daughter, and she left me my son. So, she left, and she had the baby, and from there, she didn't fix my papers anymore. I stayed with my son right here. Right now, I'm a single dad.

      deportation, family seperation

    25. Anita: So, there were there other Mexicans who went snowmobiling and did all of this?Rodrigo: Yeah, pretty much it was Mexicans, Americans, because we would get along. Yeah, we would go. Even in, I still got friends from over there, they still go ice fishing, and they send me pictures still.

      friends, Mexican, American, pastimes

    26. Anita: Did you go to Mexican restaurants? What did you do with them? How did you hang out with these people?Rodrigo: Pretty much, they were from work. On the weekends, we didn't work on Saturday and Sunday. So sometimes they would show up at the house, and we will cook out. Even sometimes the weather wouldn't let us, we would cookout in the garage. That's something that we would do.Anita: What did you cook?Rodrigo: Everything. I mean, even they tried carnitas, carne asada. [grilled meat] I don’t know if you know tripa [intestine]Anita: Yes. They tried tripa?Rodrigo: Yeah. One of my best friends, he loves guacamole. It was something new for them at that time because it was like nobody knew that guacamole was avocado. It was something new for them. He would love that. He would always be like, "I brought some chips, you make the guacamole." He will show up at the house, and we will make it. He would get along with my aunts, with my uncles. He was like a part of the family.Anita: What food did he cook for you? Did they cook for you too?Rodrigo: No.Anita: They just wanted Mexican food.Rodrigo: Yeah. His food was pizza, that was all. Pizzas and hamburgers. Sometimes we would be like, "Let's go out to eat." "Yeah, let's go." He would go, "No, I want some pizza. I want some hamburgers." I would be like, "Let's go to my house, let's see what thing we can make." One thing he would love, it was tinga. I don't know if you know—Anita: Yes, I know what tinga is. My favorite tacos.Rodrigo: Yeah. We would make it—Anita: With chicken?Rodrigo: Yeah, with chicken, and onions, and chipotle.

      friends, food, pastimes, social acceptance

    27. Rodrigo: After finishing high school. Then from there, I moved back to Minnesota. In Minnesota, that's when I started working in a fiberglass company. We used to make snowmobiles, all of that kind of parts. Even the front end from the buses, they are made from fiberglass. Even parts for airplanes. We used to make them, because they're made of fiberglass. That's where I knew more English. That's when I started getting along with white people. Right there, I met more Central American people. That was more different, because over there, there is not a lot of Mexicans. So that's where I learned more skills in English. At the same time, how they lived. White people, how they lived, black people, how they lived. We will see a few black people there. But we will see Indian people, how they lived. Bosnian people.Anita: What was different about the way that the white people lived to the way the Mexicans lived?Rodrigo: Well, pretty much it depends on the persons because you could find a racist person, or you could find a person that tried to be a Mexican—or not to be a Mexican but get someone with Mexicans. That's when you compared those persons. Because some people, they don't care, they just see you, and some persons, they want to know how you lived, how everything goes. Some persons, they don't even care about you. When that happens, I got to know a lot of American people. We used to get along. I will say that they were my best friends.

      friends, jobs, diversity, racism, language

    28. Anita: In California, were your friends mainly Mexicans?Rodrigo: Yes. First of all, it was Mexicans. Then when I started getting to know them a little bit more, and then started speaking more English, then I started getting Mexicans that were born there, they’re called Chicanos. Other Mexicans. Pretty much, it was Mexicans.Anita: Did you have any friends that weren't Chicano or Mexican?Rodrigo: Pretty much in the beginning it was Mexicans. Then after that, it was more Chicanos too.Anita: What about others?Rodrigo: Not really. Not in California. It's because pretty much all of the people are Mexican or Chicano. You could find some other kinds of people, but that's ...Anita: What about school? Were there other kind of people at school? Or was everybody at school Mexican or Chicano?Rodrigo: No, I mean, it was ... How can I say it? Because I didn't know enough English. They would put you aside. Not aside, but they would put you, "Okay, you don't talk English, you have to go to ESL class." "Okay, you're American, you're fine, you went to English class." It was different because all of the Mexicans, that we didn't know English, we were all in the same classes.

      California; diversity; friends; language

    29. Rodrigo: Yes. On the summer. Summer I used to work on the fields, just two or three weeks, just to get some money to buy my clothes for the new year. So that's what I did.Anita: So what did you do in the fields?Rodrigo: Picking onions, and the cotton.Anita: Cotton?Rodrigo: Yeah.Anita: In the Central Valley?Rodrigo: In the Central Valley area. That's what I did. It was not a lot. I didn't work, like I say. I used to work for three weeks, and then from there, I would be at home. Just to get some money to buy my clothes for the new year.Anita: So, when you worked in the fields, you worked with other Mexicans?Rodrigo: Yes.Anita: Who were working full-time?Rodrigo: Yes.Anita: How was that? Did they say, "You lucky kid, you're going to school?"Rodrigo: No. Pretty much, I used to work with my aunts. One of my aunts, the one that raised me, she would go with me.Anita: She worked in the fields?Rodrigo: Yeah. She would go with me, and she would take a look at me, keep an eye on me, just so nothing happens, because, you know, the border patrol and immigration would go in the fields. So, she always was there for me. She's like the main [inaudible].

      jobs, living undocumented

    30. Rodrigo: Because they live over there. To be honest with you, one of the reasons that now I get it is because in Minnesota, they didn't have a lot of Hispanic people. So, when you apply over there to get an immigration—because my aunts, they were trying to get the residential for my uncles, for their husbands—it was more faster for them to do it over there. So, they moved over there. Then they started buying houses. That's why we stayed there, for a while. Then they come back to California when they get their papers, and some of my uncles, they stay in Minnesota, and some, they stay in California.Anita: Wow. So, was California better than Minnesota?Rodrigo: Pretty much, yes, and no.Anita: Okay.Rodrigo: I have to be honest with you, in California, there were more Latin people, more Hispanic people, more Mexicans. I will say that, where we live. It was easier for me because they have more programs on the high school to learn English. We have the ESL, ESL one, ESL two, ESL three. That helped me a lot. It was better because I was used to being always at home back in Minnesota, and over here, not, because it was more sunny. It was better. It was more familiar with Mexico.

      California; Minnesota; living situation, moving; language-spoken; diversity

    31. Then I went to the school, and it was really, really hard for me because I couldn't say, "May I go to the restroom?" I couldn't check anything. The first day for me was horrible. Because I didn't know English. I didn't know anybody. I was a really different person than the students from there. They just looked at me like, "Who are you?" Some people would talk to me, and I was like [gestures] with signs. Then they put me with a tutor. It was just pretty much, all the year, I stayed with the tutor all the time, just learning English.

      School in the US, middle school, challenges, language barrier, learning English

    32. Do you remember arriving in the US? Your first day there? That's what I wanted to hear about.Rodrigo: Well, pretty much, it was something different. I mean, you are used to be right here in Mexico, where I was used to being right here in Mexico. To go over there, to see different people, pretty much, the differences, how people speak, because it was really different. I didn't know anything about English. We were like, "What are they talking about?" We were like, "What?" That's the only word I knew. But it was pretty much good. But at first it was like even the TV, the news, everything was different. I was a kid. I mean, the way you see, I was a kid and it was really different. I tried to play with the other kids, but they couldn’t speak Spanish, and I couldn’t speak English.

      Arriving to the US, first impressions, learning English, making friends, challenges

    1. Claudia: And what was school like in the United States?Cuauhtémoc: When I first got there, I had to make friends the hard way. Actually my first weeks I got into fights because of the lack of speaking the language got me bullied pretty hard. It's kind of sad and funny at the same time that in the street that I went to live, it was nothing but Mexican people. But the fact that I didn't speak the language put me like as a subordinate. I've been considered an inferior because of like, "Yo, this dude doesn't even speak English." So that kind of made me a target, but I learned pretty quickly. I had to survive, I had to learn to survive the hard way. I had to become proficient at fighting to avoid getting beat up and that also fueled me in the sense that I pushed myself pretty hard in school just so I can catch up to the other kids.Claudia: Did you have any friends? Any teachers that you particularly remember that was influential?Cuauhtémoc: Yeah, there was a family, and I made friends with the dude my age. I actually got in a fight with him first. Why? I can't really remember why we fought, but after that fight—kind of like the fact that I stood toe to toe with him—he's like, "Okay, I respect you now." We got into a fight and his brother was like, "All right, this guy is a muchacho." Funny that after the fight ended, I actually went back home to cry. Yeah. I cried a lot because I'm like, “Dude I hate it here. I want to go back.” But the next day that same kid came and was looking for me, like, "Hey, let's play." I'm like, "Dude, we just fought." And like, "Yeah, so what? Let's play." I'm like, "Okay." So I felt accepted so yeah, I got introduced to his bigger brothers. He had a smaller brother and we just started playing and that kind of helped a lot break the ice, I guess, in a very violent way.

      challenges, school, elementary, making friends, getting in trouble

    2. Claudia: And do you remember your first day in the United States?Cuauhtémoc: Yeah, I was disappointed because I felt it was going to be very different when in my perception it really wasn't. Yeah, the streets were a little different, but I was expecting to see something more exotic like, "Oh wow, this crazy land of opportunity." But in reality it was pretty much the same.

      arriving in the US, first impressions

    3. Claudia: And how did you end up in the United States?Cuauhtémoc: So initially my father was murdered cold-bloodily right before my second birthday. His death occurred on April 2nd, 1992. I was born on April 24th, 1990—we were actually just preparing for my second birthday. The murder occurred in the streets of Nezahualcóyotl. My father was a judicial. He was doing his job, he was arresting people left and right, doing his job quite well actually. He was excelling. He was a very good agent and it appears as though he was targeting drug-related criminals. So, he was murdered at gunpoint with a machine gun. I guess he was shot like eighty times. That led to the impulse of my mom wanting to leave. One, because my uncles from that side of the family didn't want my mom to claim anything since we had a restaurant, we had like two, three homes, my dad had a few cars amongst other things, he had weapons machine guns and stuff like that.Cuauhtémoc: So, they didn't take my father's death lightly. They actually wanted to take me away from her and I guess because they felt that she wasn't apt to raise me since my father was basically the one paying for everything. My mom was taking care of business too, but she was mainly just there to take care of us. She didn't really work at that time, so they're like, "Hey, give him to us we'll raise him." Part of my family at the time was religious so they're like, we will give him a better home. So my mom decided, hey, this is not happening, that's my son and we're leaving. So I was in second grade when this happened, of elementary school. We took off, I got a tourist visa and we left. My mom actually left before me. Why? The explanation I got from her was so that she can check out the situation first and not put me in any sort of danger. So basically I stayed with my aunt an extra year. She took off and by the time she felt stable, she called for me. So, that's pretty much what happened.

      reasons for migration, violence, murder, Mexico

    1. Miguel: What would I say? I would say that the US is giving to Mexico human capital for free. Right? Giving human capital for free because of irrational politics. Because of politics, because of politics that might have some sort of racist undertones. I don't know. They're deporting human capital, they're I guess just giving away money to Mexico, right? Human capital. That's very strange. They're deporting human capital. They're giving, they're importing these great assets for free. Which is good, for Mexico. It's bad for the US. But because of this backward politics.Miguel: So, I would paint something. I would paint a picture of that. You know, this kind of caveman. I would paint a caveman and then just throwing away dollars to Mexico, right or something. Something along those lines, you know of backward politics not realizing that they're deporting human capital.Anita: So, in that human capital, are we talking, we're talking about people who are, like people who speak English. What about the values they come back with? Those experiences, is this something that Mexico gains from its migrants?

      reflections, politics, Mexico, United States

    2. Anita: What happened to get you deported?Miguel: I have a bottle of gin right here. [chuckles] No. Okay, so I was in a mall. I was a little bit drunk, I started talking about politics to the wrong people. The police came. They were military. They told the...Anita: They were military?Miguel: They were military guys. I was speaking to them. We were just speaking about politics and I was just telling...Anita: Where were you?Miguel: In the mall. And I was just telling them how I respect what they do, but they're an oppressive apparatus.Anita: They're an ... a what?Miguel: Oppressive apparatus. That's the word that I used. The exact word that I used before I got deported. I told, "You know, I respect what you do. You know, you don't know, but you are an oppressive apparatus. You do realize that, right?" And they're like, "No, you know", very patriotic. "No" and this and that and you kind of smell like alcohol. I'm just going to leave. I left. Right before coming outside, the police were there and were like, "Hey, we had some complaints that you were bothering folks here. You were bothering fellow military", you know, "Let me search you". I had a bottle of gin. Stupid. That's me.Anita: Word for word.Miguel: So, I had a bottle of gin -- he saw it, "Hey, you're coming downtown with me". And I told him, "Well, if you do this, there will be a lot of repercussions that you don't understand what's going to happen". I was already warning him, I'm going to get deported. I told him the whole picture, "I'm going to separate from my mom, you know. Just so you can keep that in mind". Because police officers can use their judgment and I had police officers that let me go. This guy was a rookie. This guy was into his job. "I'm just trying to do my job". And then I got pissed off and I told him, "I hope you can sleep well at night, because you don't understand what's going to happen. You really do not understand the gravity of this". So, yes, I went to ICE, born in Mexico, now I'm here because of that.Miguel: Not listening to my dad. My dad told me not to go outside. Because he knew that I was very -- I like to speak about politics. I like to speak about politics, and you can get in trouble. You can get deported. He told me that, those exact same words.Anita: He told you not to go outside? What do you mean? Told you not to go and get drunk or [inaudible 01:04:41]?Miguel: Not go outside... Well, he kind of knew what I was going to do, right? It was my day off. He knew I was going to drink some alcohol and maybe be loose with my tongue, right? And that's exactly what happened. Didn't go to a bar, went to a store, drank a little bit. Made me feel good. I wasn't being aggressive with anybody. So, you know, I was kind of ... I drank, but I wasn't aggressive. I was just more talkative than anything. Very talkative. You know, it's kind of weird, you know. But, yes, that's what happened, and you know I drank alcohol. A little bit tipsy. I talked to these military people, got them pissed off, they called the police, police got me, they found an open container, “Let's go to downtown”.Miguel: That's why I'm here, because of alcohol. Mostly not because of alcohol, I think mostly because of, you know, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I drank alcohol in bars and spoke to people, they were pretty rational, and we had some very nice conversations in the bar. You know, I learned a lot.

      deportation, lessons learned

    3. Anita: Are you a fan of AMLO?Miguel: I'm not a fan of AMLO, but I think that he's more proud of Mexico and he defends Mexico and he's not shoe shining the American boots, as the other... Kind of shoe shining, but not too much. Right? He did speak back to Trump a little bit. Right, he spoke diplomatically….Miguel: Trump is a populist. Populism is winning right now. That's my fear. Populism is winning. But that's because of the defects of capitalism. It hasn't worked for the average Joe. Right. Worked for the one-percenters. Even in the US. Right and I'm not a big fan of... I did vote for him [AMLO] because he was wearing Guayaberas. He was more proud of... So in terms of an image, in terms of the image, I like the image that he was presenting. That's why I voted for him. The other image was more, they were into this European image. You know, I like the fact that he's... and he's talking about Neoliberalism. I'm not a big fan of Neoliberalism, as well. Or privatization. So, I kind of like that, his rhetoric. [chuckles]Miguel: He is educated, actually the way he speaks to him, he's educating Trump and speaking rough to him, like a father would speak to a son. That's how he's speaking and he's very intelligent. He's also letting him know of the importance of Mexicans in the States, in the United States, in the U.S., right. But it's still kind of premature, no, right? His candidacy. I'm hoping that he would do something great. Right, because Mexico deserves it. But you know, you never know. Maybe I'll be the next president. Right? Maybe I'll do something about it, right?

      politics, Mexican politics, American politics

    4. Anita: So, wait a minute, they hear you talking about Heidegger, and Nietzsche, and Sartre, and Foucault. That must blow their mind --Miguel: [Chuckles] because they expect you not to talk about that. I say, "Well, you're actually educated. Nice then We can talk, right?” Yes, but I mean it is a surprise, though, to them. Especially when I refer them to books that I read before. Or even like tell them philosophers they never heard before. Right, like Ernest Cassirer, German philosopher, they haven't heard about him. So it is exciting to them and it kind of gives me a pass. It kind of does give me a little bit of a pass because I have something to talk about, right. And I have an idea. It's a little bit harder for me to express myself with their ideas in Spanish because of the terminology, because I read all of this in English. So my terminology, you know, I try to translate. It's a little bit hard. I'm kind of in a crutch when I'm speaking in Spanish in terms of philosophy, right. In English, you know, I can express myself pretty good, those ideas because I read it in English.

      academics, philosophy

    5. Miguel: The jail system is not the same. It's like a concentration camp, so you don't want to go to jail here. In the States, you could kind of afford to go to jail, it's a five-star service hotel, resort, and spa [chuckles]. Right, they cook you your food, they clean your clothes, you can study, you can become somebody there. Malcolm X, coming out of jail became Malcolm X. Right [chuckles]? It's a nice place. Compared to Mexican jails [chuckles].Miguel: Mexican jails, it's like a concentration camp. So, you have that in your mind, you don't want to go to jail here. You see the conditions, you're not, as an American, you come here, you're not dumb. You see the conditions here are different. And then when you have a job like that, like a call center, in an office, makes you feel good. Right, because in the States you probably didn't have that opportunity to work in front of a computer with air conditioning and being able to wear a suit and feel important. So, you have that job and so you see all this, and you got to take care of it. And then you get a nice girlfriend, that takes care of you and it's nice. Very traditional. And you see the opportunities here and you tell yourself, "Well, if I continue in this path, on this good path, then I can become somebody here. I can redeem myself". And people do redeem themselves and become better and probably live better than in the States.

      prison, prison system

    6. Anita: Have you been able to have these kinds of philosophical conversations here?Miguel: Yes, yes, yes. I talk about philosophy in mercados with old people, eating food, right? People are very educated here, and you do find people that can sustain a pretty good conversation. Depends where you go. Depends where you go, if you have that spirit, you're going to talk about it. But, yes, you do find spaces where you're eating, you start talking about God, you start talking about politics, then you turn it to philosophy. And I love talking about that. I mean it's very nutritious for your brain. You know and it's usually older folks, that you talk about philosophy. Younger folks, not so much, maybe I never had the chance to do that. But I had spaces, I had time to talk about that. People are interested in that.Anita: I've found a lot of people that we've spoken to, who we are speaking to in the United States that didn't go to college, some got in trouble, you know. [inaudible] And their reflective capacity, they're philosophers.Miguel: Yes, yes, yes. … They had a philosophical experience, right? An extremely philosophical experience, right [chuckles]? An extremely philosophical experience. That whole being deported is a philosophical experience, itself, you know. I mean, [chuckles] it really forces you to think about existentialism, essentially [chuckles]. About your life, the meaning of life, what am I going to do. It's a new world, I'm a new person. You become a new person. You reinvent yourself. Coming here, it's an extremely philosophical experience. And you're experiencing two different cultures. And you're learning how to adapt to those cultures. So it is philosophical, it is. You know, you're thinking about very important existential issues. It's an existential crisis essentially [chuckles]. So, it's urgently philosophical. In an urgent manner. You know and it forces you to think, it forces you to write. Some people don't do that, some people might get into trouble. I find that people that get deported from the States tend to avoid that criminal lifestyle that they had in the States and they come here to become better. That's what I've seen. And that's pretty amazing.

      culture, reflections, Mexican Culture, American Culture, philosophy

    7. Anita: Is Mexican society more patriarchal or is patriarchal more American?Miguel: [Pause] I mean traditionally it's patriarchal, right? But I think that there is a shift. There's been a little bit of a shift. At least the last girlfriend that I had, her mother was the one that had the pants in the house. And worked. This is the same father that hit her. But I mean, in general, we're speaking in general, I think it's more patriarchal than in the States. Honestly. I mean, if the father's going to buy something, they have to consult with the wife. You're not going to sell them something, if they don't consult with the wife. The wife has the final decision, really. And here it's more patriarchal, but there has been a little bit of a shift, but it's very rare. It's very small, in general, I think it's more patriarchal. Right?

      Mexican culture, American culture, patriarchy

    8. Anita: What's the difference between dating a Mexican person and dating an American?Miguel: Dating an American. There's a lot of differences [chuckles]. Well, first, Mexican girlfriends, they're very... Well it goes back to the individualism, right? It all goes back to that. The girlfriends that I had in the States, very individualistic. You couldn't, you can't dictate what they have to do. You don't own them. You know? If anything, they own you [chuckles]. Right? Women are very, very rough. I dated all kinds of races too. African Americans, white Americans, Chicanas, Asian Americans. They're all different, but what they do share is this individual, this feminism. “You know I have something to say. I'm just as important as you.” You know and learning how to compromise here. What I learned from the girlfriends that I had here is that you can pretty much do whatever you want. Right? They're not going to demand. Some that are pretty rough, they will demand stuff, you know they will be very loyal.Miguel: But what I see here is that women are very loyal. They want to, kind of clean your clothes and cook your dinner. I never had a girl from the States that's going to cook me some dinner or clean me my clothes. But yes, the girlfriend's here, they do that [in awe]. Very, with my mom, they get along though and they're cleaning together, and I don't know. It's very marriage-oriented mentality, right? Even though you’re boyfriend and girlfriend. They see you as their husband really. The way they treat you, the way I've been treated by the girlfriends here is that, you know, like a little girl, almost. Taking care of you, it's pretty nice. I like it. I like the way they treat you here, the Mexican girls.Anita: You like it better?Miguel: Do I like it better? I mean, kind of. I kind of like it better. But I kind of miss somebody, you know, telling me you're kind of fucking up here, you know [chuckles]. Don't tell me that this is right because this is wrong. It's good to hear that sometimes. Somebody to critique you. That's what I like about the American girlfriends. That critique. Right [chuckles]?Anita: So, how long's it take a Mexican girlfriend to move into this kind of, it's a marriage? I understand what you mean metaphorically. Is it immediate, is it once you're boyfriend, girlfriend and it becomes familial... or does it take a while?Miguel: It doesn't take a while, maybe within two weeks. I mean, not everybody's the same. The girls that I was dating were like that. You know, maybe because I was nice. I like to be a gentleman. Very gentleman with women, you know, open the door and—I learned that, to be nice. And I always tell them, your opinion is very important to me, and you're just as independent as me. I mean, I'm not better than you, you're not better than me. We're the same, pretty much the same. But it takes around two weeks already and you've got them in the bag [laughs].Anita: Do you get Mexican women to ever tell you're full of shit?Miguel: Some women, they do. Some women do, they do tell you, you're full of shit. Mexican women. But it's not very common. I only had one girlfriend tell me that. She was Mexican, but she was this type of feminist Mexican. You see, it's very different because there is…I don't know, it is very different here. It's very crazy. You do have Mexican women with a different tradition. Maybe the father wasn't around, maybe the father hit their mother. In this case, her father hit her mother - a very abusive relationship and her father was an alcoholic. So, she demanded, and she would tell you if something was wrong, but she would tell you with the Mexican flavor. Which is different, which is pretty cool, right? Tells you with the Mexican flavor, but it's very rare to find that.

      Mexican culture, American culture, dating, marriage

    9. Anita: Do you think that with the return of so many migrants from the US, that you guys are changing Mexico in any way?Miguel: I think so. I think, I think so. I see it every day. In terms of the lingo, in terms of the way people carry themselves. But there's some sort of hatred as well. I do see it. People who are prepared here, that have it, you know, college degrees. They went to very good universities. They see somebody like myself, bald headed—I'm not a cholo right? They see me bald headed, I speak English, they kind of, they see me... There's a lot of jealousy, right? So, they see you kind of less than them. They start talking bad about you, stuff like that. But I think, even though, they try to deny it, they are being influenced. Absolutely. By the arrival of Mexican Americans. There's no doubt about that.Anita: How do you think they're being influenced?Miguel: In terms of the lingo and the way they speak. The expressions they use, the way they carry themselves. That individualism is creeping in [chuckles]. It's really creeping in. It's unavoidable. It's like champagne [laughs]. Gives you an acceleration, it's bubbly and very pleasing. Some try to deny it, some don't. But I do see that, I do see that as changing though. Mostly the youngsters. Mostly the young people. Some are cool, like, "You come from the States, that's awesome” and they try to learn as much as they can from you. "What did you see, how do you say this, what is this song saying?", "Oh it's saying this..." So there's an interaction, there's a integration really because we date, you know, Mexicans here as well and, you know, they teach us stuff, we teach them stuff as well. And so, mostly ourselves [chuckles] we learn a lot from them. How to survive here.

      return to Mexico, influence of returned migrants on Mexican culture

    10. Anita: Do you think Mexico is less pluralistic?Miguel: I think so. I think so, but there is rare kind of Mexican though. Maybe not the general public, yes, but there is a rare kind of Mexican that are pluralistic. But I think, in general they're not. I think in general they do come with some baggage. They carry baggage. They've been domesticated. In the States we've been domesticated too, but I guess, if you're in the right place and you talk to the right people, you can have this pluralism of having your own world view. I think it's becoming more plural... pluralistic [struggling to enunciate the word]—I can't even talk right now. Pluralistic, that's a hard word for me, but overall, it's not that plural, pluralistic.Anita: What does pluralism mean to you [chuckles]?Miguel: Pluralism, it's everybody has their own... It comes from post modernism, right? Everybody has their own truth, there's not an absolute truth. Your truth is just as valid as the other man's perspective and it’s that perspective, ideas of world views. But here, I think since they're Roman Catholics. I think there's a little bit of that still in the subconscious of Mexicans. And some—I mean it's becoming more pluralistic nowadays. I do see that, but there's still that baggage of thinking collectively. That absolute worldview.

      reflection, Mexico, culture, pluralism

    11. Miguel: That's why I love to listen to jazz. Jazz is the greatest description of the US and of that attitude. Of keeping it cool and that rugged individualism, improvisation. I listen to jazz sometimes when I'm on the metro. And then another metro passes by and you're listening to jazz and then you see the night, the lights, the cars moving by. It's very inspirational [chuckles].Anita: You think jazz is a form of rugged individualism?Miguel: Absolutely, I think jazz is about rugged individualism. It's about a guy with his instrument, just making it up as he goes. Just making it up as he goes. And it's democratic, if you think about it, cause everybody gets to speak in jazz, even the bass player. If you listen to jazz, everybody speaks. The bass player—it's not only the brass. Some people just listen to the brass, but everybody has a story to tell. Everybody listens. Everybody has something to say. Everybody has a solo. I think that's the only art form that has a solo, and it's rugged individualism. It's the American initiative. That's what America is to me. That rugged individualism. That sometimes we don't have here in Mexico. It's very collective. Even though we say it's individualistic, it's not, it's very collective.Anita: Is collective good?Miguel: Collective is good. I love collective. You go to a family gathering and you eat pozole [chuckles]. You're breaking a pinata. They're inviting you to a lot of things. I've been to Itzapalapa, I've been to Tepito. I've been to all kinds of places, celebrated, very, very collective. People helping each other out when the earthquake happens. People are very collective. Which is good. I try to balance both. I try to balance the individualism of America and now in this new stage of my life, the collectivism. To be more collective. Trying to balance it out, maybe something can happen. A good balance can always bring a good result, I think. So, I don't know. I'm learning from the collectivism. I think it's good. It's not always good to be individualistic, right? There's another pluralism of the US. I'm still pluralistic, I'm trying to change that a little bit.

      music, culture, reflection

    12. Miguel: My childhood, my whole idiosyncrasy. My whole world view is shaped by the American perspective. That's why I see myself acting differently than most folks here. I have a different perspective of life.Anita: How do you see yourself acting?Miguel: [Chuckles] I guess I demand my rights. You know, I don't know, I don't have my head down [chuckles]. I'm confident. I walk with confidence in the world. I'm sure by myself and I demand my rights. My girlfriend, she doesn't want me to do that because she feels embarrassed sometimes. For example, just a common example, if we're walking behind somebody in their space or they're just blocking the whole thing, and there's space on the other side, I just say, "Excuse me, excuse me.” And my girlfriend gets mad because here according to this culture, you have to wait. People are afraid to say excuse me. Stuff like that. And I guess just the freedom of thinking. Freedom of developing my own world view, not following an ideology that's been traditional for many years. I shape my own world view, that's what I learned in the States. That rugged individualism [chuckle]. Which could be bad and good. I think it's mostly good to have rugged individualism.

      reflection, ideologies, United States

    13. Anita: Was your return to Mexico difficult?Miguel: Extremely difficult.Anita: So, I'm going to list a couple of things and you tell me. Finding a job?Miguel: It was difficult at first, yes ma'am.Anita: Are there economic challenges?Miguel: You know, paying the rent, without a job, paying light bills, gas bills. Talking to people and then people saying, "Where you from?"

      returning to Mexico, challenges, economic

    14. Anita: Did you follow US political news?Miguel: Oh yes, absolutely. I love politics.Anita: How'd you follow it? Family, friends, social media, TV, radio?Miguel: The New York Times or reading and talking to folks too. Talking to folks about politics. Watching the news, mostly the newspaper really. I love The New York Times. They don't sell them here. They're expensive here. I love The New York Times, because it's accurate and you know it's not as prejudice, it's more open. I like it. I think it's more open news. My dream – is maybe one day write an article in that newspaper.

      United States, news

    15. Miguel: Things happen for a reason. I'm here for a reason, you know. I'm here to do something. I'm not just here because I'm deported. I'm here because, you know, I don't know if you believe in God. I do believe in God. I think God put me here for a reason. Maybe to write a book, maybe to paint, cause I do see myself in that position. It's a little bit rough right now, but nobody had it easy. You know that’s in in a good position now, so, that's what I'm thinking, you know? I've been stimulated. I've been more mature here, actually [chuckles]. It's made me more rough. Made me more rough. More and more attentive. In the US I was kind of pampered. Because the US is the first world, so you're kind of pampered, you have everything. Here you become rough.Miguel: They have a saying, "Te crece el callo.” Callo is callus. You develop calluses. You know, when you play guitar. And then your fingers get hard. It doesn't hurt as much, and you play with more facility. It's the same thing here. I think you develop sort of a social callus. Makes you stronger, makes you faster. I think if I go back to the States, I'll be ten times smarter, ten times faster, ten times stronger, in terms of survival, really. Survival of the fittest because that's what I see here, in the city. Survival of the fittest [chuckles]. In every direction. That's the real God of Mexico. Instead of the Virgencita de Guadalupe and all that, the real God is survival. That's what they worship here.

      reflection, God, faith

    16. Anita: Adapting to Mexican culture?Miguel: Yes, I'm not going to lie. I love Mexican culture, but it was a little bit hard. Not the nice part of culture, like the art, the dances, the food and all that, but just being on the metro [chuckles]. Or on the bus, you know, little things that type of culture [chuckles].

      return to Mexico, challenges, culture

    17. Anita: Do you feel safe in Mexico?Miguel: I do feel safe. Even though people tell me stories, they get kidnapped or... But I do feel safe.Anita: Have you been the victim of a violent crime?Miguel: I have not been the victim of a violent crime, yet [chuckles].

      safety, Mexico

    18. Anita: What jobs have you had?Miguel: I worked in Teletech, just call centers, in general. Call centers, in general. I actually wrote a lot of poetry working in call centers about the mechanization of human life. Because in North Carolina it was so nice … It wasn't so urbanized. When I was working in call centers, I was developing ideas about mechanization of human life. I even have a poem. Maybe I can tell you later on.

      employment, Mexico, dreams

    19. Anita: Since your return, have you become aware of any programs that helps poor returning migrants?Miguel: I did. My dad even wrote a letter to the governor of Mexico City. Didn't really do anything, itwas a lot of politics coming back, not doing anything. They gave me a check. It didn't have any stub. The check was worthless. “Yes, come back. It's going to take three months, we're going to give you 13,000 pesos, so you can get your business started.” Didn't happen, it was just too many politics. It was too hard for me to get it. Too many coming back and forth and telling me incongruent stories. That's why I started working in call centers. My idea was to get a school of English, get this money, but that never happened. So that program is, it just really discourages you from getting that money. It's just too many, too many doors, too many hoops you have to jump through. So, it really discouraged me to take that and start—Miguel: [The program was] called repatriados. Right? And you do the whole process, the people are really nice, with a smile. But at the end, there's no actions, there's no—I don't know if you know Spanish, but my grandpa, he said "De lengua me como tres tacos, hechos.” Too much tongue, not enough actions. So it didn't really help me. It didn't help me at all. It sucked. I needed to work. I was getting money in call centers. I started here in Teletech, actually.

      policy for reintegration, employment

    20. Miguel: How long? Like three months. Three months detained. The whole detention, the whole deporting process. Different prisons too. I was in North Carolina, South Carolina, I was in Georgia and then finally Arizona. That was the only place they gave good food, chilaquiles [chuckles]. With a little bit of meat, but it was all right. It wasn't that bad [chuckles]. Eating soy, everything soy, right. Mystery meats, so that was pretty good. Eating beans as well, because they were trying to get you used to the diet of Mexico. Yes, because you have a certain diet in prison, you're about to get released, your stomach's not used to, so you can get sick pretty easily, so they were trying to get your stomach used to eating beans and tortillas. You know menudo. They had menudo with a little bit of meat, like one meat, floating in there [chuckles]. But it was good, it got you used to the diet here in Mexico.Miguel: When I first got here and I ate some tacos al pastor, that was like being in heaven [chuckles]. Really. That was heaven.

      detention, food, Mexican food

    21. Anita: How long were you detained for?Miguel: How long? Like three months. Three months detained. The whole detention, the whole deporting process. Different prisons too. I was in North Carolina, South Carolina, I was in Georgia and then finally Arizona.

      deportation, detention

    22. Anita: What caused you to leave the United States?Miguel: What caused me to leave the… I got deported, I got deported, unfortunately. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Wasn't supposed to be there. My dad kind of predicted it too—"Be careful son,” Cause he knew that I liked to talk about politics, that was my weakness. Talking about politics, to the wrong person that has power [chuckles].


    23. Anita: Did you qualify for the Dreamers program, the DACA?Miguel: I did. I did. I kind of screwed that up.Anita: Did you apply for it?Miguel: Didn't apply.Anita: Why?Miguel: Didn't even attempt to do it. I was working, didn't think I was going to get deported. You know, you think your life's secure and you're good. You don't need that paper, right, but... That's why I didn't, just neglect. Really, neglect. [Pause] that's really what it was, neglect. [Pause] that's my fault, really. I don't regret it though.


    24. Anita: Did you work in the US?Miguel: I did. I did since I was 17 years old. I worked for eight years.Anita: What jobs?Miguel: Mainly restaurants and some in construction, but mainly restaurants.Anita: What work were you doing in restaurants?Miguel: I started from the bottom and then went to manager. Busboy to manager all the time. And then a little bit of construction. A little bit of framing. Carpentry. I got more money for carpentry than in restaurants as a manager, but that's okay [chuckles]. Almost got my finger chopped off [chuckles].Anita: In your last job in the US, how much did you earn a hour?Miguel: How much did I earn a hour? I was making $20 an hour. $20 an hour. I think that's like a thousand, it was a thousand a week. 20,000 pesos a week. It's not bad. I wish I can make that again [chuckles].

      employment, United States

    25. Anita: Did you speak any English?Miguel: Nope, no English. Like Chinese when I first heard it. They just threw me in North Carolina. Just, "All right, good luck." And nobody spoke Spanish. I was the only Latino. So, I was the first one to inaugurate ESL in my school.Anita: Okay, stop about that. I'm going to ask you. I'm going to take notes.Miguel: Yes, I was the first one to inaugurate there.Anita: So, you learned English in the United States, at school?Miguel: In school and watching TV and obviously interacting with my brother. My brother was a big factor. You know, talking to him in English. That helped a lot. Playing video games, watching shows, that kind of incremented that.

      language, English, learning

    26. Anita: Why did you migrate to the United States? For economic reasons, for violence, for discrimination?Miguel: Economic. Absolutely, economic.

      reasons for migration, economic

    27. Anita: Did you go to school in Mexico before going to the US?Miguel: Yes, I did.Anita: How many grades?Miguel: Elementary.Anita: So, you did, what is it? 5th grade?Miguel: You know, 4th grade. 4th grade. And then I finished elementary in the US.

      elementary school, Mexico

    28. Miguel: Ciudad de Mexico. I had a teacher in University that used to say, "Miguel.” It's like, "No it's Miguel." She was Chicana. And she was like, "No, Miguel." She was really into embracing Mexican culture. So, I really come from that tradition when I was living in California. Embracing, you know? That's pretty cool.

      language, culture, school, cultural acceptance

    1. Anita: I have one more reflection question. Some women who we have spoken to who, like you, were undocumented in the States end up in trouble. Some become young mothers as teenagers, some join gangs. If somebody asked you, "Why does this happen?" what would you say?Melani: I would say that a lot of Latinas, especially young Latinas have kids or [join] gangs. Latinos have that mentality that you have to get married very young and that women are just used for recreation, having a family -- not for anything else because we have that type of … it's a man's world here. It's not a woman's world. So if things back home were kind of tough for women, here it's a million times worse, because we're really oppressed and we still have rights, but you still aren't respected as a woman, and so many women just go the easy way, saying, "Well I'll get pregnant early and finish it off and just live the rest of my life with my kids and dedicate myself to them," or some women don't want to do that and they just say, "Well, I want money and I know I don't have opportunities because of the economy and all of the things that are happening in my background, so I guess I'll just join a gang and do all these things so I can have easy money and opportunities for other things."

      Mexico, gangs

    2. Anita: I want to ask you one more question. Something that we're working on is… what the US is losing and what Mexico could gain because of people leaving like you out of fear or because of deportation. What do you think the US loses by losing people like you?Melani: Well, they're losing their own people -- people like me and thousands and millions of others that never really knew their country and grew up in the US and consider that their country. I would've given everything for it because I feel like that's my home.They're losing all our knowledge, what we could have studied and also given back to our communities and country: new research, work, new ways of thinking, new technology, and a lot of things that they could have had, but don't, [because] we can't.And when we come back it's even worse because you feel like there's no opportunity, no way out, because they put so many barriers here, like telling me that I can't go to college because—well, I understand it -- but a lot of foreigners come and they don't know any Mexican history and they go directly into college, and I don't understand why I can't, why deportees can't and why Japanese people or white people from England or Britain can come and go directly in without knowing any history or almost minimum Spanish?

      reflections, what the US has lost

    3. Anita: Family separation? Is that difficult?Melani: It's been hard because my parents are the only people I've known my whole life and they're my rocks, the people I go to for everything. So having them so distant has been really tough on me [Emotional]. I feel like I can't talk to my own grandparents because I don't have that trust and sometimes I just don't feel like there will ever be a connection since I've lost so many years of my life that I should have lived with them.

      family separation, sad

    4. Anita: I'm going to read you some things[from the survey] and you'll just tell me whether: ... finding a job, has that been difficult?Melani: It's been very difficult.Anita: Other economic challenges?Melani: Yes. My parents don't send me any money right now, since they're dealing with their own problems and I don't ask for anything, I feel like it's more of a struggle. I see my own grandparents struggling and I feel like I have to support them. I would always wonder when I was younger -- I'd be like, "Why do Hispanics all live together? Like grandparents, kids, grandkids?” But I understand now. It's not because they want to, it's because of economic reasons, because if you get seven thousand pesos, which is like three hundred dollars a month, you really can't afford anything, and when the houses here are over three to six million pesos, which is like six hundred thousand dollars, you can't really afford to live anywhere.

      challenges economic opportunity, family

    5. Anita: Oh, it's a call center. Do you feel safe in Mexico?Melani: So far I do, but my grandmother always tells me to be careful because there's a lot of people being kidnapped, or stealing, by the cartels. When I went back to my grandmother's house on my mom's side, she told me that there have never been cartels there until two years ago [when] a cartel came into the state and took possession of the state. They're everywhere now, and since they're there they threaten people that if they're not home by a certain hour, they'll kill them, and they do. And they charge every house [they have] to pay them a quota for their safety, and even though you pay that, you still get assaulted. My grandparents have recently begun looking for another house because they're really scared -- since there's so many murders and killings and assaults and a lot of robberies. They're scared, and I'm even scared for them. I think Mexico City is safer in that aspect, but danger is everywhere here.

      return to Mexico, cartels, danger

    6. Anita: Have you become aware of programs that support returning migrants?Melani: Yes, like New Comienzos. My mom always told me before I would come, "You should be a part of New Comienzos. I found out about it on the internet." And I said, "No, I think I'll find my own way. I don't think anybody could help me." And I came here and I was looking for a job and opportunities and college and I went to the best university here, which is UNAM [Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México]. And they told me that I would have to start over since I don't have any knowledge of Mexican history—not even the National Anthem.

      Programs to help those returning to Mexico

    7. Anita: So even though you were working in an immigration coalition that helped people apply for DACA, you didn't apply for it?Melani: I never applied for it. I even went to an attorney and they told me it's better if you go to Mexico before you’re eighteen—I mean after you're eighteen or before. After you're eighteen, you had to wait 180 days—I mean you have to not exceed 180 days—so you can be able to apply and not have that ten-year sentence of not being able to apply for a US visa.My mom would say, " you know what? It's better if you just go back to Mexico and go to a Mexican university and we'll support you from here, from the States."I came alone. I came a month ago. I told my mom, "I don't want to leave. I want to stay here [in the US]," because in my heart I felt like the government would do something for the DREAMers. In my heart I felt that, but my mom said, "You're just wasting your time. You need to leave, because even if they do something for DREAMers, it will take a lot of time to implement that law, and you would lose maybe one or two years of college -- you can come back and visit us," and I said, "Well, you're right."I applied to Mexican universities, but they told me I would have to restart my high school and that my ACT and my SAT weren't accepted. I would have to do their admissions tests, but they have a lot of requirements that aren't requirements back home, and so I decided to apply to other countries. I applied to Australia and New Zealand and Canada, and I got in all three of them in various universities. And I chose Canada since Australia and New Zealand are way too far away from Mexico City—it's like thirty-six hours.And I said well it's better if I go to Canada since it will be five hours away and I could come on vacation, and I applied. I got into four universities in Canada and I got scholarships from them.I chose one in Vancouver—Douglas College first, and I got a full scholarship from there. So I chose it and I went there three weeks ago. So, I came here [from US to Mexico] a month and a week ago—to Mexico City. The first week I stayed with my dad's side of the family.The next week I went to Vancouver to visit my school, and I also found out that in Vancouver if you study four years in a Canadian university, you can get your citizenship in the sixth year. And I thought that was a great opportunity, and when I went there, I felt like it was more immigrant friendly since all of them were Asian. Well, there's a lot of Asian influence -- Asian, Muslim, all types of cultures, a lot of Hispanics, and I felt like they were more welcoming and multicultural than back home.

      education, DACA, college

    8. I just felt more at home there than even Mexico, because here I still get discriminated against for not speaking my language well. And I get discriminated against because they're like, "Well, you're still Hispanic. You're not anything more. You're not special or you're not more than us just because you lived in the US."

      discrimination, return to Mexico, Spanish, English

    9. Anita: What does home mean to you?Melani: Home means ... at this point I don't even know what home means [Chuckles], because I think sometimes maybe back home because I know that's where I was raised and that's where I know people and that's where I feel like it's my land. It's like everything's mine because I've been there my whole life.But I don't even feel accepted there because since my state is seventy-five percent white, I would always get discriminated against for being Hispanic or always the question would be, "Are you legal or are you illegal?" And I would be like "I'm legal," but I never felt a part of the society completely because I would be illegal. And now that you say, "What's home?" I really don't know what's home because I don't feel at home here or I don't feel at home there and I don't feel at home in Arkansas because I don't have citizenship [Affirmative sound].

      home, identity

    10. Melani: [Pause] I'd be frightened and I mean—I just didn't like that life. I guess that's why I chose to come back here. But sometimes I question if coming back here was the best choice or not.Anita: let’s pause the survey and talk—Melani: I guess it’s because ... it's not home and people have a different culture and different ways of thinking and there's just so many differences. And when I came here it's just such a culture shock and I knew I should adapt, but it's really hard because of the culture and the mindset, which is more conservative. Back home it was more liberal and more accepting of women and different ways of doing stuff - it wasn't church oriented all the time [Affirmative sound].Anita: Yeah. So, you said “back home.” “Back home” for you is the US?Melani: Yes.Anita: You consider the US your home?Melani: Yes, I consider it home.

      reflections, return to Mexico, culture

    11. Anita: Sixteen years. So, let's stop for a second. You said you were afraid of US authorities. Tell me a little bit about that.Melani: I was afraid because from a young age—well, I really never knew that I was undocumented until I was eight, and my parents told me that I shouldn't be telling people about my family or if we're from Mexico. They kind of made me feel that I should be ashamed to be from here because everybody in society made you feel like that. And they told me that I had to be really careful who I talked to and what I say, since the authorities might come and get my parents.They told me never ... if they ask you to tell them that you're from here and your family's from here just avoid the question. I said yes, but I really never understood why until I would see deportations -- my family's friends getting deported and going through a lot of problems. Even for simple stuff like driving and just getting stopped for a light that was off or running a speed light or something, something that a regular citizen would do and nothing would really happen, but we would have it harder than them.I would always be scared, even at school, to even say that I was from Mexico or that my parents were from there or that we didn't have the same opportunities as them because they wouldn't understand, "Why can't you go to the hospital?" Or, "Why can't you apply for certain things, government things?" And I couldn't apply for stuff like that because I knew I was undocumented. So I would be scared to say so, and I would feel like the authorities ... If anything happened to any Hispanic or me or my family, the authorities would never respond, would never do anything because we weren't citizens and they would care less what happened to us. [Pause] like they say, we're like the modern slaves [Affirmative sound].

      growing up undocumented, living in the shadows, authorities, fear

    12. Anita: [Pause]You didn't speak any English when you went?Melani: No.Anita: But you learned English?Melani: Yes.Anita: How did you learn English?Melani: Nobody really taught me. I would just go to school and listen to everybody's voices—I just went into school knowing just basic English, like "Can I go to the restroom?" Or, "I'm hungry," or "I don't understand." Those were the three words I would know and I would just listen to a lot of voices and what they would say and I just quickly grabbed on to it.Anita: How would you describe your English skills now?Melani: Fluent.

      language barriers, English, self-taught

    13. Melani: It was horrible because my grandfather had three restaurants and real estate in Arkansas and he was the one that exploited my dad. In Arkansas at that time it was seven dollars an hour and he would give my dad three dollars an hour [Pause] in his restaurant, and my dad figured out that he would only employ illegals, and especially Native Americans that didn't speak Spanish—that they spoke dialects so they wouldn't understand what was going on—and since they didn't know anything because it was a new country to them, he could exploit them and never report taxes.Anita: Your grandfather who was originally from Mexico…Melani: Yes, and he came before 1983, which was the amnesty. Yeah, and he got his citizenship from that. His whole family got it, and then he went to look for my dad when he was eighteen or nineteen and he told him, "Come with me so you can work and we can actually be a family," because my dad had never seen him his whole life and my dad wanted a relationship with him he said, "Yes," and he said, "Maybe I can have a better job over there and stuff," and my grandfather was like, "Come and I'll support you." So my dad came and then later on, the next six months passed and he brought my mom and then another year passed and then he brought me [Affirmative sound].Anita: we hear about Americans exploiting—Melani: [Affirmative sound] and now it's Hispanics exploiting Hispanics.

      family, economic opportunity, exploitation

    14. Anita: Okay. How did you cross the border? Did you have a visa or did you just cross the border?Melani: Both my parents had work permits and they paid a coyote to cross me.Melani: I crossed through with a car in the desert. Well they had a contact that they had a kid that was around my age and they made me go through as a boy. And so—Anita: Really?Melani: Yes. As someone else's child. I got dressed up as a boy so I could cross the border with this other person, and my parents told me that I was supposed to be in San Antonio at seven at night because that's what the coyote told my parents, and they didn't find me until four in the morning.Anita: Oh my God.Melani: Yeah, so my parents thought I was already sold to the organ trade or something. My mom was scared and then she found the coyote but they had issues crossing and everything.Anita: It was a pretty scary experience?Melani: It was pretty [Affirmative sound]—Anita: Before they dressed you like a boy, did you have long hair?Melani: Yes I did [Affirmative sound], but they cut it all off so I could cross with them [Affirmative sound].Anita: You were two?Melani: I was two. I don't remember anything. They made me go as someone else's child [Affirmative sound].Anita: Did your parents tell you what happened? How did you get lost? Do they know?Melani: They said that the coyote told them that he was going to call them at seven as soon as they got there, but they never called them and they didn't know where to look because they had no other contact with him whatsoever. Until later on that night, they said that they got a call from him at four in the morning and my mom was already scared, but they couldn't go to any authority because it was something illegal to do. So they just picked me up and they just paid him off and then it was over.

      border crossing, coyote; border crossing, family reunification, fear

    15. Anita: Why did you migrate to the United States?Melani: My dad wanted to have a job in Arkansas because his biological father was living there.Anita: So would you say, for family reunification?Melani: Yes, and also for work.

      reasons for migration, family reunification, economic opportunity

    1. Dan: Well, basically, you really have to think more than twice about what you want and what you're willing to give up. In some scenarios, you don't think with your head. You think with your heart. Your heart, it's not wise as your head. Always think about the worst-case scenario. You always think about your worst-case scenario, if you're ready for it. And sometimes crossing a desert or crossing the river, you end up there. You have to think about it. You have to realize what it could be the worst. But always be alert for what is coming, but at the same time, know your own limits because you can say, "Yeah, yeah. I can do this. I can do this," but at the last minute, you might have not the motivation or you might not have the guts to do it. And you put your own limit to yourself. Whatever they do, just think twice.

      reflections, opportunity

    2. Dan: Once you cross the border without any proper documentation, you're up for anything. You have to be aware. They're not going to give you anything free. You don't belong there. Bottom line, you don't belong there. If you work for having a visa, then we're talking about, hey, you have rights because you went through the whole process. I don't think I'm not logical person, I think that I can think logically. And I don't agree with those American people that they live at the border and they take the job as a security officer and holding people. And they're doing somebody else's job because they don't want them to come. Let whoever is in charge of doing their job and mind your own business. No? Now, people that are taking the risks, they're going to have to pay their consequences sooner or later. But it is up to them if they want to pay them or how they want to live, how much they want to risk. Some kids, they cross the border, they don't make it. And their parents, their siblings, they're crying over on their hometowns because they didn't made it. But nobody forced them to do that. There's always risks for everything that you do.

      border crossing, US, living undocumented, fear

    1. Isabel: And then when you were arrested for driving without a license, they looked that up. You weren't given the chance to fight your case or anything?Pablo: Yes, I was, but I didn't want to.Isabel: Yeah. Why was that? Just didn't want to spend that much time in detention or anything?Pablo: Yeah. Yeah, because I would see a lot of people that they'd be fighting their case and they would be in jail for a year. And then after that, they'd still get deported. So might as well just deport me right away. I don't want to spend a lot of time just here, so that at the end you can just go and deport me anyways.

      arrest, deportation, jail, challenges

    2. Pablo: Yeah. I remember that this lady, the one that took me over there, she just told me to go to sleep so I wouldn't have to talk or anything. And I was like, "Okay." It wasn't hard for me to go to sleep, so I just fell asleep. And when I woke up, I was over there, everything was so different. So I was surprised... I don't know. I felt good.Isabel: What was different?Pablo: I mean, you can see everything... It was just… the city was just more clean, or I don't know, it's just a lot of different stuff. The stores and buildings and everything was just different.

      border crossing, US, first impressions

    1. Anne: So do you think that you are different having been to the US for those years? How did it change you?Laura: They changed me. I believe if I have stayed here in Mexico, probably I would never learn English. Probably, I would not have the opportunity that I have right now to travel to any other places because I like to travel a lot.Laura: So, when I try to compare myself with my friends, with my friends that we left in Iguala, what I see is that they didn't have the opportunity that I have, like to learn things, to meet some new culture, to meet people. Like they didn't have that opportunity. They stayed in that place, and they were absorbed by the violence, by the narco traffic, and everything. What I think is that I was really lucky. Kind of lucky because some things got complicated, but some things were really an experience, and they were a nice experience.Laura: I learn a lot from people from the US. They have a different culture, a different, like, you know, thinking. They don't think poorly. Always one more, and in Mexico we don't have that mentality.

      time in the US, lessons, reflections, culture

    2. Laura: Yeah, when I was in high school, I was really smart, so, well, not that smart, but the school told me that I can skip one year if I wanted. So they skipped me one year because I was really, well, I was having a lot of A's in all the classes. I was exceeding in all the classes, so they skipped me from sophomore year to senior year. So I didn't go into junior year, and when they skipped me, I didn't know what to do. It was too soon for me. So, that's one of the reasons that I decided to use that fake number. I didn't tell my mom, either, because she was going to be mad at me. She was going to have to be like, "Hey, why are you doing that? You know that it's illegal." But come on, we were illegal already.Anne: So your school didn't help you. They must have known that you were undocumented there at high school.Laura: They did know that we were undocumented and I have a counselor that she was trying her best, but they tried to help me. They actually gave me a scholarship to purchase my books. They gave me $1,000, some scholarship, but it was a need required scholarship [inaudible. But for some reason it was not enough. I went to live on the campus, but it was not enough with that scholarship.Anne: But they didn't advise you as you were applying for colleges about your undocumented status and how to deal with that.Laura: No, they didn't. They tried to guide me to apply to the scholarship. Well, I mean this school, but they don't have that much undocumented people in high school, and when they are undocumented, they don't actually like to study in school. Most of them don't like to go to college or they realize that there aren't able to study in college.

      education, undocumented, opportunity

    3. Laura: I was trying to get into the medical school. I was in liberal arts of science, but I changed my mind and I wanted to get into the medical school, but I couldn't. It was a lot of money. We didn't have any money. We did have money to get into the basics, but we didn't have enough to pay my school of course.

      school, education, opportunities

    4. Laura: At first it was awkward. I didn't want to go to school because the kids were all making bully. They were all bullies. I actually got into a fight about two times because the kids were always making fun of us, that we were like Mexicans. But after that, in high school, it got better.Anne: Did you make friends?Laura: Yeah I did, a lot. [Chuckles]. But in high school.Anne: Were they from all different?Laura: Yeah, I actually have a lot of friends. I have a Muslim friend actually. They were all different cultures because I went to a bilingual school as well, a bilingual high school.

      US, school, bullying, friends, growing up undocumented

    5. Laura: I learned by myself because back in the time, there was no ESL classes. So, when we went to Chicago, my mom took the time to get us into a bilingual school. And in the bilingual school, some of the classes were in Spanish and others in English, and I learn by hearing my classmates. And the teacher was always like, "Hey do this," and I'm like, "What?" And he pointed at what I had to do, so I learned by seeing and hearing.

      education, language, English

    6. Anne: Must've been good to see her.Laura: It was amazing, yeah. She was working and the coyote told us that she was working. Since we were the last two people with the coyote, the coyote took us to our mom. She was in a restaurant because she work as a waitress. And when we got there, she was crying. She was actually carrying dishes and the dishes just fall because she was really impressed. We haven't seen her in one year so she was really impressed and she drop all the dishes. We were all crying, you know. [Chuckles].

      arriving in the US, family, reunification

    7. Laura: Yeah, I do remember it. Well, I'm afraid of mice. So, when we crossed the border, it was actually really awkward for me because we went into a tunnel. It was really dark, though.Laura: So, when we went through the tunnel, I remember it was pretty dark. We have a lot of mice on our feet and snakes. Oh my god, even if you have the eyes open you cannot see anything because everything was dark. The coyote was telling us not to make any noises. I was like, “I want to scream because I'm feeling the mice on my feet. I just want to scream and say, ‘Oh my god,’ or ‘Ah,’ something, but I couldn't.”Laura: My brother, when we crossed the border—my mom has already been in the US for one year, so we crossed the border by ourselves]—when we went with the coyote, he was like, "Do not make any noises. We're going to walk.” I don't remember how much we walk. We were pretty tired. We can only carry one bottle of water and we have already taken all, and when we cross the whole border, there was a car. It was waiting for us. We went to the car, they put a bandage in our eyes so we don't see the road.Laura: The coyote was always telling us to not make any noises because the border patrol was going to get us caught. I do remember everything like the experience was yesterday. So, when we got in the—Anne: So, it was just you, and your brother, and the coyote?Laura: And the coyote?Anne: That was it?Laura: Yeah, it was me, my brother, the coyote, and another three people. It was a partner: the kid, one kid, and another, a man. We were like five people, six, seven people. Kind of remember—it was a long time ago. My mom was not there because we went by ourselves. She was already in the US so she pay to get us into the other side. [Chuckles].

      border crossing, coyotes; border crossing, fear

    8. Laura: Okay. When I went to the U.S., I was 12 years old approximately. I'm right now 26 years old. I used to live on Iguala Guerrero, and if you know, Guerrero is one of the poorest states in Mexico.Laura: So we were really struggling with a lot of payments. Sometimes we didn't have anything to eat. We ate tacos, and that was all we ate in a whole day. So the education was pretty bad. Sometimes we went to school or sometimes we didn't because, well, we didn't have money to go to the school.Laura: My mom was getting paid well, a really low wage. She was getting paid about 700 pesos per week. That's about ... I'm not sure. Is that $35 per week]? We were struggling a lot. When we went to the US, we're trying to look for better living, having to eat something. I don't know. Like, a lifestyle, a proper lifestyle.

      migration from Mexico, reasons, economic

  15. Jun 2021
    1. JC: Yes something of that sort because it's obvious that the United States at this point at least is nowhere near making a positive decision for neither the families or the deportees. Right? So they're not ready for it. And even if they start talking about it today, it will still be years before anything happens, and families are still rotting away. People are still suffering. Kids are still asking for daddy. There's somebody right now at this moment right now, I guarantee you ma'am, crying because their mom or their dad or both of them aren't there anymore. Because there are cases like that. So, I guarantee you right now there's somebody shedding a tear. There's somebody, and it's not just the people left in the United States, it's the people trying to get back, they're like “What do I do? I risk it? If I try to go back, they might not even allow me to even attempt to go back legally. What do I do? What are my resources?”JC: They need information. Right? I think that would be … I think having an area like that even though it sounds ridiculously crazy, would probably be the one solution that would be possible. That way the US could still have the US, Mexico could still have Mexico, and we that are neither here nor there could have our families. Right? Everybody gets what they want.

      reflections, policy to help migrants, United States

    1. Isabel: Do you think weed is just something to relax here and have fun, or do you think it gives you a break from where you are?Weco: Yeah, it can do both, depending also on the person. Every person's body is different. Every person takes it different. Me, I actually take it to relax me. Sometimes I actually just take it just to have fun, relax and chill, depending on the moment. There are days I work when I get so frustrated I just need to smoke to just relax my mind where I'm just like, "All right, I'm cool." Because it brings me to where, "Fuck it. It was just a phone call. It was his job. Fuck ‘em. It is what it is." And then when I'm with friends, we're just like, "Oh yeah, let's smoke. Just laughs." Right there it's just haha, giggles, laughs, you're just clowning on people.Isabel: Everything's funny.Weco: Yeah, everything's funny. You're just roasting. And I'm one of those. I get to roasting everybody. I just like to have fun. So, yeah. sometimes I do use weed to get my depression out.Isabel: Yeah.Weco: Sometimes it comes around when you get depressed being out here on your own. But like I said, I just smoke. When I smoke, it goes away. My mentality switches to, "Look, you're on your own. Why suffer? Why cry?" My mentality just switches quick, and I stop being depressed about it. It is what it is.

      drugs, weed, mental health

    2. I have been through so much in life. I just look at it as just whatever's going to happen is going to happen now. You can plan something for now, but shit changes. Sometimes things go from good to bad. Some things bad from good. You can't really tell life. It's destiny. I just made it to my mind where we're going to take it day by day. Whatever happens, happens. If I make it back, I would be so excited. If I don't, I don't. But at the end of the day, I look at it like either way, if I'm going to be here... I got deported 10 years. I've been here two. So, if I'm going to be here for 10 years, trying to be good and try to go back, I at least got to have some type of a life. I'm going to date somebody if I'm going to have more kids or whatever. But at the end of the day, I have that right to live my life. So, I just live it day by day.

      reflections, family

    3. Isabel: Okay. Before that time, can you tell me a bit about your childhood, going to school, what kind of friends you had?Weco: When I was seven, my stepdad got locked up. I remember that. He got locked up for trafficking drugs. He did some time. Me and my mama had to go somewhere.

      childhood; drugs, jail, father

    1. Sergio: Was your return to Mexico difficult?Josue: Yeah. Because I wasn't used to it. But yeah.Sergio: So, what was the hardest thing about it? What were some of the challenges you had?Josue: Like I said, I didn't know the city at all to begin with. I didn't know anyone down here that could even like tell me how to get a job ‘cause I've never had to get a job with papers. You know, the right way. I never did that. Yeah, so that would have been helpful.

      return to Mexico, challenges, employment

    1. Isabel: Well, if there's anything else you'd like to add, or you want people to know before we wrap up?Zayuri: What else? I mean, it's hard, really hard trying to leave everything. For example, my dad, I remember that he told us, "Don't even get too attached to your friends because you don't know if tomorrow we're still going to be here." So, it was like, “That's nice advice for my first day to school. Thank you. I'll make the best that I can with that.” So, I remember, that even talking to people for me was like, “What's the point? Am I going to see you next week? Probably not.”?Isabel: Not allowing yourself to get attached.Zayuri: To anyone, even on a friendship level. I was like, "What's the point?" For example, I could never had friends over because my dad didn't even like us to share the address. Because we were living on part that was full of other migrants, so he was like, "No, there's no gringos coming out to this area. You don't know how they're going to react. If something happens to them, and they're in the whole right to do it, but they try to call the police, you don't know what kind of problems we can get into." That was like, "Okay. So, no friends over. Can I go to other friends?" "No. No, no, no, no, no." So, you'd have to have McDonald's and go back here before sunset. All right. And that was the way to go. [Interview ends 00:40:08].

      reflection, friendship, difficulty, loneliness, undocumented status, United States

    2. Zayuri: Yeah, it was really annoying, because, for example, a couple of months ago, like two months ago, I got robbed here. That whole day was such a bad day for me. I don't remember much; I just remember the downhill of it. I went to a cineteca, and I had two phones by this time. I will say that one was mostly for work, it was very simple, it didn't even have a nice camera or anything. That phone had been in the family for like four years. It was first the phone of one of my uncles. Then he gave it to my grandma, and my grandma gave it to me. And it was still working. It had a couple of malfunctions, but it was working. That was my phone.Zayuri: Then I had a nice one that I bought with my savings because of the camera, because I wanted to take pictures and everything. On that day, I went to the cineteca, I went to the bathroom, and I dropped the one that was for my work and everything. I dropped it, and the screen just turned black. I was like, "Okay, this is not good." It did turn off. It did turn on, and I can hear it, but I didn't saw anything at all. I was like, "Okay." So, I was like, "It's not a big deal. I still have the nice one. I could just live with just one. That will be okay." I was trying to not pay that much attention to that.Zayuri: So, I was walking around, trying to get a couple of pictures. It wasn't even that late at night. It was like 9:00. There was still a couple of just people walking around because it was in [inaudible]. I was like, "Yeah, this is okay." I was trying to be calm because I still had the thing for the phone. I was like, "Yeah, it's not that bad. I still have this one." Then I got robbed. They took that phone—Isabel: In the same day?Zayuri: Yeah. They took that phone away, and they took my money. Then I saw a couple of police officers, and I told them—because he wasn't even running, the person who took my stuff. He was walking. I was like, "Yeah, he just robbed me. Could you do something about it?" And they didn't believe me because I had the other phone. So, they thought that I was trying to scam him. They were like, "Yeah? He took your phone? And why do you have one right there?" And I was like, "I can prove that they're both mine. I can unlock that one, and I can show you the pictures on it, whatever you ask me." They told me that they couldn't—how do you call that?Isabel: Pat down or legally search?Zayuri: They couldn't do that. I was like, "Yes, you can. I'm pretty sure that you can do that." It was like, "No, there's no witnesses. We can't do anything about it." I was like, "Okay. I think I'm going to leave right now." I didn't have any money with me, and my Uber with my credit card was on that phone. I was like, "I don't know how am I going to get to my house," and I was really, really far away from my house. I was like, "Okay, can you guys take me there?" I said that to the police officers. They were like, "No. We don't go that far. We just have to stay in our area." I was like, "So, what do I do now?" They were like, "Take a taxi." I was like, "Okay."Zayuri: I remember that I was so depressed because when I saw the police officers, I was like, "Yes! I'm going to get my things again!" I didn't even care if he went to jail or anything. I just really wanted my stuff, and I told them right there, “I don't care if he goes to court or if anything. I just want my stuff back. That's it. I'm not even going to press charge. I just really want my stuff. I need it. That's my phone, and that is my nice phone.”Isabel: You bought with your own money.Zayuri: The other one is broke. They didn't care. I remember I just got to the house, and I said to my roommate... She was like, "What happened? You look so sad." I was like, "Yeah, I didn't have a nice day. We'll talk about it in the morning." I just went to sleep. And in the morning, I was crying with her, and she was like, "What happened?" I was like, “I don’t know where to start” [Mimics crying]. That was really traumatizing in the beginning.

      interactions with police, profiling, mistrust, Mexico

    3. Isabel: Yeah. Yeah, that's also kind of some rhetoric we hear is, when someone spends time in the United States, then everyone assumes, oh, because you lived in the US for a while, you think you're better or you have more money or all these ideas may not even be true.Zayuri: No, it's not even true. So, my father told me, "You're about to turn 18. You go to Mexico." I was talking about going to college, and he said, "Oh, hell no! You're not getting to college in here." I was like, "Well, why not?" He was like, "Have you ever heard of a student loans?" I was like, "I think I have seen memes about it. That's about it." But I couldn't understand. Still, right now, it's a very abstract concept to me. How can you debt that much money by going to the school? How is going to college that expensive? That's crazy expensive.Isabel: No, I know.Zayuri: It's just way too scary for me. He said, "We can't afford to pay college here. If you want to go to university, it's going to be in Mexico, and choose a state where you have family because you are going to live with them." So, I went to Zacatecas, and I got into college. I didn't even last a semester. I drop out. It was just too much. It was horrible.Isabel: What was difficult?Zayuri: Everything. I mean, being away from your family and having to—I mean, they helped me out, or at least that's what my father said, but I still had to pay a part of the rent and food services and everything and having to work and going to a college at the same time. Also, especially in Zacatecas, the salaries, the wages, are so low. It was depressing.

      College, student loans, United States; misperceptions, college, United States; return to Mexico, disappointment, lack of opportunity, depression

    4. Isabel: No, what you did like, any subjects or activities or music, anything like that.Zayuri: Well, languages I always liked, and art class. Yeah. Music and painting mainly. I'm such a stereotype. [Laughs].Isabel: Of what?Zayuri: I'm really a stereotype because I also like things like math and all of that. But I wasn't even that good. I like it because I saw it as a challenge for myself, but I wasn't even that good.Isabel: Yeah, but that natural curiosity is still pretty unique. Like, oh my god, I'm not great at math, but I really love school and I want to do well. It would always make me so upset when somebody was naturally just really good at math and didn't care, didn't like it.Zayuri: Yeah. And what is motivating to become better is because right now I only speak good English and Spanish. That's it. Now, I've been trying to learn German for like a year and a half, but on my own completely, just me and the Duolingo and that's it. [Laughs]. But it hasn't been that good. One time I was in Zacatecas and I saw a girl, and she was German—I don't remember how I figured out that she was German.

      Hobbies, Language

    5. Zayuri: Yeah. It's just better for me, for my mental health in general because I also have anxiety. So, the noise really triggers me out, and I get headaches and stuff. I was like, "Yep, got to get out of here."Isabel: Yeah. You mentioned that you liked school.Zayuri: Yeah, I have always been a huge nerd. [Laughs].Isabel: I'm the same way.Zayuri: No, I really enjoy it. For example, nowadays, my brothers, they have better opportunities than what I had. For example, the things that I know about languages and music is because I looked for my way and because we were there. But growing up, my father always told me that we couldn't afford classes, and we couldn't afford to go to different schools and special schools for that. Now they're having it. Now that my brothers are here in Mexico, my father—well, my mom—because they separated. Now she's taking them to the languages school, and she's taking them to music classes and all of that. To be honest, I'm not jealous. I'm not like, "Why do they have that and I didn't?" I'm really happy for them. I understand that they are just getting better.

      Mental Health; Education

    6. Zayuri: Okay. I was around 12 years old when we got there. I remember that I was excited because my dad told us that we were going to be better there, that we were going to have more stability and things like that, you know, the usual stuff that they tell you. I got here almost three years ago when I was around 17, 18. It was really hard because I didn't understand what was happening, not fully. I knew that it was because it was better for the family, but I did get very angry at the beginning, but—Isabel: When you went to the US or when you came back?Zayuri: When I came back, I was really angry because I was like 17. So, it was a couple of good years, like five years.

      Coming to the United States, First Impression; Returning to Mexico, Upset

    1. Lizzy: So you're back in Mexico now, and you've told me you're not planning on going back to the U.S. So what are your biggest plans for your future, your hopes, your dreams here?Cris: So, my dreams here in Mexico, first I want to get my passport because if I have a chance to go to Australia, I want to go to Australia. That's my dream to go to Australia because they speak English and metal framing is a big business there, and that's right up my alley. I have a passion for building buildings, starting from concrete, and then erecting a full building. I take pride in that because I feel good about it. Something that I did with my own hands from my own knowledge, something that I learned from somebody else, but I know it, and I have it down. You know what I'm saying?Lizzy: Do you want to go there to live or to visit?Cris: To live. But if I can't, I would love to stay here. I mean, I love Mexico, hands down. I love being here. I don't mind if I can't go to another country. I'm okay with that. If I had to stay here in Mexico, my dreams are to either get into... I've always wanted to be an archeologist or historian. That's my passion. But my real, real passion that it's something that I really could get into is culinary arts. I love cooking. I love cooking. I cook for all my roommates.

      Plans, Economic Opportunity, Mexico

    2. Cris: Yeah, after I got... No, a year ago. Because I've been here a little over two years. Last year I was working over here at TeleTech and out of nowhere she calls me—and she wasn't talking to me... Three months after I got deported, after I signed everything to her and gave her all the money that I had hidden, she waited two weeks and then I call her, and I can tell in her voice she's not okay. And she's not wanting to talk to me.Cris: I went "What's wrong? Whatever you have to tell me I'm ready for it. Just let me have it, just tell me. Don't let me think about it, because that hurts me more than knowing the truth. I just want the truth.” And she starts crying, she's like "I'm sorry.” I was like "It's okay. Don't worry about it. I know what you're going to tell me.” She's like "I'm sorry, I tried to wait. I tried to wait." I was like, "Yeah, I understand. Don't worry about it.”Cris: She was like "I hope you can forgive me.” I was like, "Well, I hope you can forgive me." I was like, "You did nothing wrong. You're doing what you have to do, you're moving on. Because at the end of the day, you're on your own, you're a single mother. You can't do anything that'll make me mad.” I was like, "I support you, I guess. I love you and it hurts me to lose you to another guy, but I mean, so be it.” And then she started crying and she hung up on me.

      Deportation, Family Separation, Child Support

    3. Cris: So, then she got back with me, she was like, "No, even if it's his, I want to be with you.” Because I told her, “Even if it's not mine, I want to be with you. I love you.” She was my first girlfriend. I got with her, and I was with her, that was it. I decided from an early age that's who I want to spend the rest of my life with. So yeah, I mean we were together for 12 years, up until I got deported.Lizzy: That's what broke you up?Cris: Yeah, the deportation. She said you know what, I can't do this. After I signed the house over, the cars. After I give her all my money, because... At the end of the day I don't regret it. I regret what she did with it, but I don't regret giving it to her. Because at the end of the day, I did my part. I did the best that I could, sorry, I did the best that I could with it. I did the best that I could. I signed over everything to her, and I gave her all the money that I have hidden in my attic.Cris: Because ever since a young age, all my general contractors, they would tell me since the early age "Is it true you're married and you got a kid now?” like, "Yeah,” they're like "Boy you're dumb.” I'm like "Why?” they're like "Ae you one of them guys that go home and give her your paycheck?” I was like "No.” I was like "I give her what she needs to pay the bills and she pays them, because everything's in her name.” I was like "I'm illegal.”

      Deportation, Family Separation; Economic Well-Being, Having Children, Complications

    4. Cris: Yeah. Once when I was back home. I was a teenager, I was 15 or 16, I can't remember. I can't do the math right now, I'm really bad at math. [Chuckles]. Well the mother of my child, when she was pregnant, she left me. She left me for somebody else because she thought the baby was from him. So I got really, really depressed and I don't know, I've just been... Everybody back home calls me cry baby. Cry baby, that's what they call me, because they know I'm really emotional.Cris: I know I look how I look, but I look like a big bad tough guy, whatever. That's what everybody tells me, "You look like a gangster, you look like you don't even get sad,” or whatever, right? But no, a lo contrario, the exact opposite. I'm very emotional, very, very emotional.Cris: So when that happened, it was around the time I was a teenager, around the same time whenever I was hanging around with the gangsters. Well, they used to hide their guns in my backyard, they used to bury them. And that's one of the reasons why my mom told me that she would want me to leave, and I would tell her "You know what, you're right. I need to leave your house.”Cris: I went and buried up, got a gun out from the ground, and sure enough it was full of bullets. Well the whole day, I was putting it to my head. Because I was really sad. It was dumb of me to do this, but I mean I learned from it. It's just weird, because the whole day I was cocking it back and trying to do it. And it wouldn't work. It just wouldn't work.Cris: And so the night time comes, and because night time is the worst time for me, because I feel like I'm all alone. Nobody's there for me. I feel like I'm nobody, I'm nothing. So I got the gun, and I put it here, and I lay down. I'm praying the whole time, I'm like "God, let me go with you. I don't want to be here no more." And then I pulled the trigger.Cris: I thought I died. I honestly thought I died, because when I woke up everything was ringing and everything was black. I thought I was blind, because I went like this, so I thought that maybe it made me go blind. I was like, "I'm alive, but I'm blind.” I was like, "No. What did I do, what did I do?" So, I started crying, and I'm going like this, then out of nowhere... This eye is busted, it's swollen. I couldn't even open. This one was not that swollen. It was swollen, but not as much as this one, and when I opened it I just see red.Cris: So I sit up, and when I sit up, I felt like somebody threw a bucket of hot water over me. Because all the blood that was around me, it followed me and was dripping on me. I was literally spraying like a fountain, because I went like this and I just seen the blood pumping out. I was like, “Okay, so I'm dying. Just calm down.” And I stayed there, and I was like "Why am I not dying?” So I go to the restroom and I open my eye, and I just see that all this is just blasted open.Cris: So my brother goes in, he takes me to hospital, long story short. The doctors told me "You don't have a bullet in you, bullet came out.” And they're like, "You have somebody watching over you, because if that bullet, if it wouldn't have bounced off you bone, it would've went into you head and you'd be dead. If not, you'd be paralyzed from this side.” Because it was going to go into this part of my brain.Lizzy: So, it bounced off?Cris: It went in here, it messed up this, this was reconstructed. It came out here. It went in my nose and came out here. It went in here, when it hit here, you can imagine the impact. So all this was just open. I don't even know how it stayed so nice, they did a really good job.Lizzy: Yeah, you wouldn't know looking at you.Cris: Yeah, and you see this scar right here? That’s where the bullet came out.Lizzy: Little bit, it's a tiny scar though.Cris: It was a 25 caliber. Yeah so it wasn't that strong of a gun, but it was enough power to go into my brain. They're like "No, it's not your time." They're like, "Because the bullet came out.” I'm like, “What?” I'm like, “Okay, so...” I was over the whole depression thing, right? After, I was like, “Okay so, I didn't die for a reason.”

      Mental Health, Depression, Family

    5. Cris: Yeah. Oh it's going on three, in September it'll be three years. But it's crazy because ever since I was little I was bullied a lot, right? Now that I got older, a lot of people used to bully me back home, but they're littler than me. I grew. I was always in military school, so I was always into discipline. When I got married I let go, I got used to being a father, so I just let go.Cris: But when I would see people that would bully me in middle school and high school—I would see them on construction sites being the cleanup guys—they'd be like "I know you bro, what's up?” And I'm like "I don't remember you.” They're like "Yeah man, we used to be friends at this school.” And then after I talked to them, I'm like, “Where do I know this guy from? This guy used to bully me. Why did he try to act like I used to know him?”Cris: That right then just shows I could sit there and get my revenge, but there's no room in my heart. Like I said, there's no room in my heart for hate, revenge, or nothing like that. But like I said... I'm sorry, I kind of got lost there.

      Bullying, Forgiveness, School, United States

    6. Well, I mean, I haven't explained it to you, but I get really bad anxiety—really, really bad. To the point where my fingers go numb and then my toes go numb, and then slowly but surely all the electricity comes. It feels like electric shocks, and they'll come up my arms and my legs, and I know that since I've been through it so many times, I know what's coming next. So I try to get out of the subway.Lizzy: Do you get panic attacks?Cris: Yeah. I sit there and I think I'm breathing right, and out of nowhere, just my vision just going like this, and I feel my lungs like this little, and I'm sitting there, [Pants] I can't breathe. Then out of nowhere I'm just like "Oh, crap,,” and I can just see myself falling and I can't do anything about it. I get paralyzed and I just fall, and I go to sleep. That happens a lot.Cris: Here, it's worse. Back in the States I didn't really deal with it that bad, but when I got here…Since I stand out so much. And back in States it would be just overthinking, like "Oh, people are probably staring at me.” No, here, it's because they're staring at me. It doesn't matter what I do. If I'm smiling, they're staring at me. If I'm in a bad mood, they're staring at me. They're always staring at me. So I just feel that pressure on me. It affects me a lot.Lizzy: It's making your anxiety a lot worse here?Cris: A lot worse. [Chuckle]. I passed out in the subway about six, seven times. I got a phone stolen from me one time when I passed out, and my wallet. [Chuckles].Lizzy: Wow.Cris: Yeah, people here are always looking to get over on you. I've dealt with that a lot here—well, just with the cops. That time was the only time that I don't know who did it, nobody seen nothing. Obviously somebody seen it, but nobody seen nothing.

      Mental Health, Anxiety, Mexico

    7. Cris: But see in a way it's a good thing, because see down here, having this, since it's Native American... See the thing here is, there's two categories of deportees, There's the Cholos, gangbangers, and there's the neutral ones that don't get into that stuff. I'm on this side. So, I look like I'm from this side, like a Cholos.Cris: People always go to "Hey, where you from?” I'm like, "I'm from Puebla, but I lived in Oklahoma." They're like, "Nah, where you from Homie?” I'm like, "I was raised I'm Oklahoma.” They're like "Quit acting stupid, Homie. Where you from?” I'm like, "What, you mean like gangs?” They're like, "Yeah, Homie, what you banging?” I'm like, "I don't gang bang, man. I'm too mature for that stuff,” and then they get mad. They get made when you tell themCris: Because I mean, I don't hate it, but I'm totally against gangbanging and all that bad stuff. Narcotrafficking, I hate that stuff. I just don't like it, because it's like you're fighting over a street corner that's not even yours—it belongs to the United States Government. A gang that has three letters and two numbers, what do you get out of it?Lizzy: Why do you think that so many migrant young guys in the US end up getting involved in gangs?Cris: Absence of a father in all honesty. Because when I was a teenager, I started hanging out with gangs just to fit in. I got out of it like a year later, because I realized it wasn't for me. But yeah, everybody that's in there is either because their dads are in prison or their dad, or they left them. And they feel comfortable around their homies to where they feel like they're their brothers and they look up to them.Cris: In all honesty, people will probably tell you something else, but they're just trying to cover the fact that it's because of the absence of a father. Or lack of attention from their mother sometimes. Like me, my mom was always too busy working. So I would get suspended from school, I walk down the block and there goes the big homies. The big homies. [Chuckle]. And they're like, "Hey man, come over here. Hang out with us.” One thing leads to another, but that's how it starts: lack of attention at home.Lizzy: Needing a role model—Cris: There you go.Lizzy: An older figure.Cris: That's what it's all about. I mean, people will say "Man, that's a stereotype.” No it's not, I lived it. I know for a fact that's what it is because everybody that I knew that was my age hanging out with them gangsters, they were there for the same thing. Their dads were in prison, locked up or dead. So I think that's the main problem right there.

      Gangs, Family, Camaraderie, Fitting in

    8. Cris: Yeah, so I mean this is my older daughter's name. An ex-girlfriend that I had in the States, she passed away.Lizzy: Sorry.Cris: That's fine. It was in 2013, so I accepted it. This one, my brother wanted to practice. This is the only one that doesn't mean anything. [Laughs]. I let my brother practice.Lizzy: It's from your brother.Cris: Yeah. I love my brother, he's awesome. This one is symbolical, because ever since she passed away, I got this one. Because it's symbolical. Ever since she passed away, it's storms, and this is supposed to be lightning. And she's crying. So it's like ever since she passed away, it's been stormy days and sad days in the city, that's why it's raining on the city. [Chuckles].Lizzy: That's beautiful.Cris: And this is actually symbolic for her as well. She was Native American, she was from the Northern Cheyenne Arapaho Tribe. There's five princesses to each, there's Northern, Eastern, Southern and Western Cheyenne Arapaho tribes. She was one of the princesses of her tribe. They picked the prettiest ones and the ones that danced the best, their indigenous dances, and she was part of that. Yeah, she was a really awesome person. So I told them to do a Native American princess on me, but he ended up doing some Anime stuff. [Both laugh]. It was an Asian guy, and he skipped town after he did this. He knew he messed up, so he skipped town.Lizzy: It still looks Native, it's like Native American Japanese, mixed.Cris: Yeah, it's cool because I just love every culture. I don't hate it, I just wish it would look more Native American.

      Tattoos, Meaning, Multi-Cultural

    9. Cris: I just love everything about life. There's no room in my heart for hate. So I love every culture. I'm so intrigued by every culture. I love learning languages. Arabic, I know a little Arabic. A little Korean. I want to get into Russian, but—Lizzy: Oh, Russian's tough.Cris: Yeah, I mean the only thing I've learnt is [Russian 00:09:31], and that's just a greeting. That's good enough for me, at least I know one word. [Lizzy laughs].

      Love; Human

    10. Lizzy: Your arm is just full of Oklahoma pride.Cris: Yeah, yeah.Lizzy: What about these ones?Cris: This is Oklahoma City Dodgers. These two roses represent my two daughters, my oldest one and then my baby.Lizzy: You'll have to tell me more about them in a minute.Cris: Yeah. This just says pretty much, it's a Korean word, it's Elohim [Korean 00:08:55]. But Elohim is a Hebrew word, it just means God. So, it pretty much breaks down to God the Father and God the Mother in Korean, but it's a Hebrew word.Lizzy: Cool.Cris: Half-Korean, half-Hebrew. [Chuckle].Lizzy: That's very multi-cultural. I like it.Cris: Yeah, because—Lizzy: Korean-Hebrew tattoo.

      Tattoos, Meaning, Multi-Cultural

    11. Cris: Yeah. And that's normal. Well, back in the States it's not like that. No, not at all. Because back in the States everybody has tattoos. I know nurses and lawyers that have tattoos. It's nothing.Lizzy: The tattoos. You think people judge them more here, than in the States?Cris: Oh yeah. Especially mine, because they see mine and they're like "Oh, he has numbers on him. He's from a gang.” No, that's the area code to Oklahoma, look it up man. [Laughs].Lizzy: Which one, the 405?Cris: Yeah, 1405. I added the one because—Lizzy: One for the US?Cris: Yeah. There you go, you know. [Laughs]. Yeah, and then this is the Oklahoma flag.

      Tattoos, Discrimination, Mexico; Cultural Pride, United States

    12. Cris: No they don't even let me go to their... I've only went to my grandma's house three times. First time was with my dad. The last time I went, I went by myself and I rung the doorbell and they were like "Who is it?" I was like "I'm Cristian, I'm come here to see my grandma. My abuelita Marta." I was like "Who's this, is it my tia?" And they're like "Okay, just wait there, she's coming out.” And she has a walker. They made her go outside to talk to me. Yeah, that's how bad it is with them. They don't like us, I don't know why—it's because of the skin color thing, I don't know.Lizzy: You think it's because they have lighter skin, so they don't accept you?Cris: Because their roots, really. Because they have money, they have factories where they make fabrics and stuff. So they're loaded. When I first got here, I was buying stuff left and right for my cousins and stuff, so I guess they seen it as me trying to challenge them or something. I don't know. But me, I was just sharing the happiness with my family.Cris: They seen how I dress, they seen my tattoos, and they don't want no part to do with me. They don't want me talking to their children or anything like that. They don't want me to give them a bad influence, I guess—make them think "Hey look, his tattoos look cool, I want to get a tattoo.” I think that's really what it's about.Lizzy: They see you as a bad influence?Cris: Yeah, yeah.

      Family, Returning to Mexico, Discrimination, Racism, Tattoos

    13. Cris: Yeah, I do. Yeah and I love it. I never knew it until I met my family. They're from this little town called La Palma, over in Puebla. And there's deer there and everything, and there's a volcano. And I started meeting everybody, and they do the whole dance, the dance [inaudible 00:04:32], all that stuff. They dress up and they go to the big towns to make money and dance. They danced because they want to, because it's their tradition. But obviously they ran into foreigners that "Hey, can I take a picture with you?" and then the foreigners will give them a tip.Cris: After I found out I still have family here in Mexico that I didn't know, but they still actually lived like the indigenous, that was really exciting for me because I've always had this really, really deep passion for history. I just love learning history. That's my favorite topic, is history.Lizzy: That probably was really cool, connecting with that part of your family.Cris: It was, it was. Because see, they were more accepting than my other family. On my dad's side, my dad, his dad, has Arabic in him, and his mom is from Spain. Well you can imagine, they're both light-skinned, so my dad's really light-skinned. My dad is the black sheep of his side of the family. So his side of the family, they do not like us at all. They say that we're not even part—we're not even ___. They say we're not. They don't even claim that name. But I just pray for them.

      Family, Indigenous, Cultural Pride, Mexico; Returning to Mexico

    14. Lizzy: How is the racism in Mexico, how does that compare to racism in the US?Cris: Sometimes it's worse. Like me, I'm dark-complected. People that are Mexican and they're light-complected, they're racist against you. The one thing that I do hate about that part of society here in Mexico is the fact that they're very racist against the indigenous. And me, I love my roots. I mean I was raised around Native Americans, so I have that love for the indigenous people.Lizzy: Do you have indigenous roots?Cris: Not Native American, but from here, yes.

      Discrimination, Indigenous, Racism, United States

    15. Cris: I've always had tattoos, so they would think twice about offending me. They would just give me these looks. Say I'd go pump gas, "Oh, we don't got no gas right now.” I just seen a guy pumping gas. "I said we don't have gas right now.” “All right, sorry to bother you man. I'm heading out.”

      Tattoos, discrimination, United States

    16. Cris: So, I'll just leave, stuff like that, and you can tell it's because race. Which it's okay, I pray for people like that, because they're not okay inside. That's the only thing I've dealt with there, a little bit of racism. But at the end, as I got older—because see I've been working since I was 14 so I've been in the construction field all my life—I've met a lot of people that are downright racist, but when they meet me, they're like "You know what, for a bean eating"— they start saying that—they're like, "You're all right man.” I was like, “You know what, you're all right too.” So I have a lot of friends that were racist before they got to meet actually somebody from a different race, and they're like "You're all right.”Lizzy: That's cool.Cris: "You're not as bad as I thought. You guys aren't as bad as I thought you were.” [Laughs].Lizzy: You helped change their mind a little bit?Cris: Yeah, I still talk to a lot of my GE's, a lot of the contractors. And like I said, I don't blame them. They were raised around it. Most people are products of their environment, so that's how I see it. I don't judge them on how they act, because sometimes that's how they were raised. So it's like, I'm really patient with people.

      Racism, Discrimination, Friends, United States

    17. Lizzy: What was your favorite thing about Oklahoma?Cris: Everything. There's not one thing I don't like. The only thing I don't like about Oklahoma, is the outskirt towns where they're not too accepting of outsiders—racism. It's like everywhere, racism even exists here in Mexico. I've learned that so far. But that's the only thing I don't like about it. But I mean I'm really patient with people, so even when people would act rude with me, I would always talk to them nicely. Tell them, “Sorry to bother you, I'll go ahead and go back where I came from.”

      Time in the United States, Love; Discrimination

    1. And over here, when I started school, it was a little bit different. People do look at you different, everybody wants to ask you questions about over there, ask you how to say stuff. I'm not bothered by it, but it does get kind of annoying at some point. Everybody at all times, for every single thing. It's just like, everybody, at all times, for every single thing, and like people here go to school and they have English homework, I don't mind doing that, but then when we go somewhere and they're hanging out and every other thing, they're like, "Hey, what is that? Or how you say this or how do you do that or how do you say that or what does that mean or what does this..." It's like all right, I can't really do what I want to do because I got to go over here and translate everything else or tell you how to say all this other stuff just because. I don't mind, but it's like to a certain extent, at some point, I do want to think about doing my career for English. Pretty much being a teacher.

      School, United States; Jobs, Opportunity; Language, English

    1. 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.

      Children; Regret, Reflection

    2. 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.

      Imprisonment, Trials, Deportation

    3. 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.

      Economic Opportunity, United States

    4. 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.


    5. 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.

      Education, Middle School, United States

    6. 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.

      Undocumented, discrimination

    7. 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.

      Elementary School, Difficulties, Language Barrier, United States

    8. My earliest memories in the US would be probably me seeing sunlight, because I remember we were in a trunk at one point. And my family tells the story as a joke, I guess it. But it seems that they forgot us in the trunk for a little while. So yeah, that would be my earliest memories of you know, me being in the United States, getting out of the trunk and going to Walmart, trying to buy clothes, and just seeing everything brand new, everything was completely different. Honestly, that's the only thing that I can remember because I really don't have much memories of me being young not even here in Mexico. I can't remember.

      First impression, United States

    1. Anita: So what do these tattoos mean? The money and the-Angel: The star? I got it because I wanted to know if it hurted in the face. And again, I was young and dumb. And the money sign, I got it while I was in jail because all the things that I suffered and it was all for the love of money. It's like a teardrop money, because all the things I went through, it was all for the love of money. At the end of the day, I just wanted money and it wasn't the right thing to think about.

      Tattoos, Meaning; Regret, Reflection

    2. Anita: What about this one? What is that?Angel: Code of silence.Anita: What does that mean?Angel: I don't know nothing. I ain't hear nothing and I ain't see nothing. Don't ask me nothing because I wasn't there. That's what it means.

      Tattoos, Meaning

    3. Angel: For battery and , they arrested me and I finally went to the big boy jail and that's where it opened my eyes. It opened my eyes quick because I would see 40, 30, 50 years old in there. And so I would think like, "I know this ain't your first time in here." And so that would really make me think like, "Nah, I ain't trying to be like you, 50, still in here, still coming back, leaving and coming back a month later." You know? That's not me. I got to change my ways.Angel: And I noticed that when I was locked up, none of my friends answered the phone. Not one letter, none of that. So that really opened up my eyes more, and I finally started listening to my moms. Started getting my head straight, started having goals, writing down my dream, my goals, my plans. And as soon as I got here it was on. It was on with my dreams and goals and I'm still on that.

      Imprisonment, United States

    4. Angel: Not really. I'm not even going to lie, I ain't like school because the school I was going to... Well Middle School, ___ and High School, it was preppy and I wasn't like that and I wasn't raised like that and I wasn't raised in that environment. And so I ain't talked to nobody in high school. Nobody, except one person. That person would go out and brag to try to start some drama or whatever. Speak on the stuff that I would talk to him about to other people. So I stopped talking to people.Angel: But I ain't really talk to nobody at school. I would just go and just sit by myself, like in lunch period I would literally leave school because why would I go to lunch period? You feel me? That's the time to conversate with people. But I ain't conversate with people. And plus, I wasn't hungry. So I left, would leave and go home, then come back. Or if not, just stay at home.

      School, High School, Friends, Fitting In, United States

    1. Ana: I think it'd be really great for people to just probably do this kind of thing, and I’m grateful that someone started it, grateful that someone's doing it, and I really hope that it reaches a scope where everyone kind of becomes interested in this and not necessarily for my story or anyone's story, just because I think that sometimes humans forget we're all humans and it doesn't matter whether you're Afghani, whether you're Haitian, whether you're Dominican, Puerto Rican, et cetera, whether you're... So, it's important to know that no matter what background you come from, you're human, you just have to get to know the person. Yeah, there are assholes out there, of course. Everyone has that. Yes, there are really nice people and awesome people, but it's just the person and not their background. So that's it.

      Reflections; Empathy; Human

    2. I think I really enjoy the culture that they have work-wise. Work-wise, or at least, despite the fact never having worked there in school and such, it's a lot of no bullshit, you're here to do what you're here to do. And one of the things that for me has been really hard to adapt to here is that the culture in that sense is very different. Despite the fact that Mexicans are such hard workers and they are, sometimes they're also very lazy. And so I appreciate having grown up in a culture where you don't really beat around the bush. It's direct, it's to the point

      Culture, Work, United States

    3. Well, English would definitely be a skill that I would say the US gave me or the States gave me. The reality is that English is a very valued asset here. I'm not sure, I think around the world, eventually, because it has become the global language. So 10 years ago, when I first arrived and nine years ago, when I first started looking for a job and such, that's pretty much what sold me or what... I had zero prior experience minus the bakery, and I didn't even mention it because it wasn't even... Really, if I remember correctly, I don't know if it was just one or two weekends, but I didn't like it. So I was like, "I'm not doing this." And without any experience at all, it's hard to get a job. It's funny because they always tell you, "we are hiring people," but it's only people with experience. So all of that is hard, but English sold me in the first and only job I went to for that. Aside from the fact that when I first got here, my Spanish was horrible. So many of the jobs that I initially started applying to were over-the-counter jobs. So it was like Blockbuster, when it existed, or the supermarkets and such and people obviously wouldn't hire me. I couldn't even have a conversation in my interview because of my Spanish. So it was a big no. And it wasn't until funnily enough, my mom, who was the one who found out about call centers here. And she asked one of my cousins to take me to one, and that's how I got my first job.

      English, Language, Economic Opportunity

    4. my Spanish has gotten much better, but when I meet new people now, one of the first question tends to be, "How long have you been in Mexico?" "I've been here 10 years." And they're surprised to why my Spanish is still... It's like, "We can still tell you have an accent." Or when I get really nervous, my Spanish tends to fuck up. And they're just like, "But you've been here 10 years." And it's kind of like, "Yeah. Speaking Spanish, I've only done it for about six years."

      Spanish, Language; Return to Mexico, Language Barrier

    5. Ana: Definitely. I wouldn't say that people are harsh. I think that there's a little bit of human in everyone, but it's definitely not the same when you have papers. In terms of care, it's kind of... I don't know how to explain it but just, when you're in the hospital, people will make sure that your vitals are normal, or your vitals are stable. I think that's the word. But other than that, it was hell trying to get attention. It was my mom trying to ask, “What's wrong with her? What can they do?” Doctors just going, "She just needs birth control. Put her on birth control and that's it." Me going on birth control and nothing, not helping. And my mom just kind of desperate I would say, trying to get answers, falling again in the hospital, getting more blood transfusion. It was basically just base work. It wasn't someone actually asking you or checking to see if everything was okay, it was mostly of, "What's going on with you right now?" "I'm bleeding out." And doctors going, "Are you having an abortion? Are you…"—A miscarriage, sorry, here it's abortion—and it was just hard at that time because there was a lot of negligence also. For example, at the time I was still a virgin. And despite saying that I was not pregnant at all, there was no possible way, the doctors still examined me. And you know not being able to do anything legal for it because you couldn't, you're illegal. You can't sue the doctor for malpractice because you're not even supposed to be there. So it's always a lose-lose situation. So yeah, I would not say that it's comfortable being undocumented and needing healthcare.

      Undocumented, Healthcare; Frustration, Healthcare; Discrimination, Healthcare

    6. Ana: I don't think I actually know any, or I didn't make friends with any. I think my parents probably knew more of those situations, my situation, but on a personal level, no. In elementary, I don't remember anyone. I remember that there were people from other countries like Afghanistan or Bangladesh or Middle Eastern and Asians and such, but if I recall correctly, all of them were American citizens.

      Friends, Fitting In, Elementary School, United States

    7. From what I remember or from what I know, currently, my dad went to the States, I think he was there for about a year, and my mom decided that she wanted us to be with him so she took us to the States.

      Family Reunification; Reasons for Immigration

    1. I loved school. My first years, elementary and junior high, I was in a GATE program, gifted and talented education, I was pretty smart. I did really good. When I started out hanging out with my friends, that's what messed me up later on. And I didn't get in trouble a lot. I mean, I’ve only been to jail three times. Except I did a lot of time for it. But I mean, I wasn't going in and out of jail. I wasn't going to the halls. I've never been to juvenile hall in my life. It wasn't until I was an adult that I started getting in trouble. I mean, I had a little bit of run-ins, but I never did any time. I was pretty good. I was scared of my mom and dad, they whooped me [Chuckles]. So I tried to do good to please them.

      School, United States

    2. Abel: Okay. Well, since we were illegal, so we were scared because they were doing round-ups—I don't know what they call it when they start deporting everybody and the buses come. I don't what they call them…redadas. I don't know how they say it in English.Anne: Raids?Abel: Raids, yeah. They're doing raids. INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] raids and stuff at certain places. And we were scared it would happen at school and stuff. My dad, he was all right, but me and my mom were like, "No, we need to fix our papers."

      Raids; Fear; Undocumented

    3. Abel: I don't want to defend the gang culture, but, I mean, we weren't messing with innocent people. I mean, it was just a bunch of kids, we hung out. Our rivalry started from high school, from the football games. That's how our rivalry started, with the other schools and stuff. That's how we started having, I guess, problems with other cities and stuff. But I mean, everybody talked to us. People weren't scared of us. I mean, "Hey, how are you doing? What's up?" "Hey, Juan." They would talk to us. We only had problems with the people we didn't get along with. We weren't out there causing a ruckus. I never was involved in selling drugs. I never got busted for stealing. I never even got busted for shoplifting. I was a good kid. I just, I had that double life. I used to like to go hang out, but I always liked to work.

      Gangs, Gang Activity, United States

    4. Abel: Yeah, it kind of pulls you. That's all you see. It was funny, because like I said, you go out there, you see a beautiful town, but you don't know what's there until later. Because out there, everything's nice, compared to out here. It might be gang infested, but in the daytime it looks like Beverly Hills. You come out at night, it looks like Iraq.

      Gangs, United States

    5. You were talking about driving across the border. When you got here to the states, did it seem different to you?Abel: That I don't remember. Well, it was different, because as a kid I lived in the city, I lived here. And Monrovia, it was a quiet town for me. It was nice, it was a pretty town. Sidewalks and everything was, you know, pavement and stuff. It was nice. Park areas. I liked it, it was a beautiful place. I lived there all my life almost, just one spot.

      Childhood, Mexico; First Impressions, United States; Time in the US, Childhood

    1. I don't want to say that I'm Mexican or American. I am both. I'm bi-cultural. I just don't like that. I don't like what they say. I'd rather we say, "Hey, we're human. You and I are human." Yes, later on we get that, later on they tell us, "Okay, you were born in Mexico so that makes you Mexican." But since we're born, we're born as human, not even as a woman or a man. We're born as a human. Yeah. I get asked that question a lot.

      Human; Bi-Cultural