Disproving Myths, One Immigrant at a Time
by Jessica Hart, December 2013
Maurizio, as an undocumented child, was brought to the United States from Lima, Peru by his parents, for a better quality of life. Now, as a man and a good friend of mine, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maurizio and learning more about him. I have known him for eight years but never on a personal level. When Maurizio and his siblings were young, his father wanted a better life for his family so he decided to move to the United States. His mother, like most wives, waited for her husband to send money back home so they could reunite in the future. Through a travel visa with his mother and sibling, he made it to the United States and began his life as an American. Maurizio experienced gains and losses through assimilation, but he found more, and he even acknowledges that if he had a choice today he would not move back to Peru. As I interviewed him it seemed as though I was on a journey through his timeline of events and interesting stories. There are myths believed by some people that immigrants do not pay taxes or assimilate to United States culture. Through his story, Maurizio disproves these myths and shows us that he is more than political stereotypes.
While a lot of people think that the immigrants who are in the United States as adults made the choice to be here illegally, Maurizio shows that not all immigrants have that choice. I was surprised when he explained that his family was not very poor as I had assumed. They were actually a middle class family before migrating and they came to the United States for a better quality of life. His father had lost his job and decided it was best to move the family to the United States. Like a lot of immigrants, Maurizio’s father traveled to America alone until he was able to bring over the rest of his family. His mother worked for a prestigious bank back in Lima but was fired because her bosses decided it was cheaper to pay college students, rather than pay her multiple wages for all the positions she was working. Maurizio then explained to me that Lima does not have unions or laws to protect workers’ rights like in San Francisco, so they were able to fire his mother without justification. Both parents lost their jobs and they wanted better opportunities for their children. Maurizio made it clear that he had no choice to come to the United States because he was only a child. While boarding the plane to Houston, Texas, Maurizio was leaving behind the family maid, whom he seemed to have adored, and a dog that may no longer be living. Maurizio felt that he would have had a career if he was still living in Peru, in comparison to the job that he has here in S.F. He acknowledges that those were losses accumulated, but because of that he has gained perspective. During our interview, he said, ”Because now that I am older, I’d probably, like I said would not have the mindset that I have now, back then, I probably would have chosen to come here.” Understandably, like most children, he would have wanted to stay with what he knew, but as a mature man, he understands what his father wanted and is grateful that is he is now here. If he had been an adult at the time of living in Peru he would have made the same choice to come to America just as his father had.
While some Americans feel that immigrants move here to drain our country of resources, Maurizio’s story disproves this myth; in actuality, Maurizio’s family was always searching for something better so they moved around a lot to increase the quality of their lives. With his family, Maurizio moved around quite a bit during his childhood whether it was a bigger apartment for space or to an actual house because it was better for raising children. He moved four or five times with his family. When he turned eighteen, he moved in with his girlfriend at the time, and when they broke up, Maurizio then moved to a friend’s house with their family and still has not settled into a place of his own. Maurizio has now found a better place living with his sister and father. Although his rent is more expensive, he now has his own room and is closer to his immediate family. He mentioned that, in his future, he may move several more times before attempting to buy his own home. According to the American Journal of Public Health authors Tama and Jeanne Gunn, their study “Moving to Opportunity” stated that, after interviewing 550 families, “Boys who moved to less poor neighborhoods reported significantly fewer anxious/depressive and dependency problems than did boys who stayed in public housing” (Gunn 1576-1582). This article can help us understand the reason why most immigrant families move so often. Moving is not an easy task but oftentimes lead to a better quality of life if one moves away from urban areas or into safer housing within that urban area. Moving to a better place is often seen as moving to a place that reduces stress and/or provides opportunities. Each time Maurizio and his family moved, it was because they felt that moving would enhance their quality of life in some way. Evidently, their reasons for migrating to the United States had nothing to do with planning to use any of American resources. They wanted a life in which they can work, and comfortably provide for their families.
Through assimilation, Maurizio lost the sense of unity he once knew from his large helpful community, but has gained back a small portion of that unity among his extended family members. If one takes the time to get to know Maurizio, it will become obvious that he has an undying love for his family. I asked Maurizio what his concept of family was and he said that he has one large family and has allowed a small number of people to access that special place in his heart, which he keeps reserved for his family. People have to prove themselves as worthy; for example, his friend from high school and his roommate at the time of the interview gave him a place to live when he was kicked out of his ex-girlfriend’s apartment and had nowhere to go, so he considers him as a brother. After moving to California, Maurizio realized that there is a lack of unity among our people as compared to Peru. According to Maurizio, “…they might not help you with money all the time but, but they’ll always help you, like if you need clothes…” To clarify, neighbors in Peru will donate or let each other borrow clothes so that one can save one’s own money for something bigger such as college tuition. Maurizio emphasized that, in Lima, there is unity among their citizens but in the United States people have a more individualistic mindset and tend to mostly care for their own families and not their entire community as Peruvians do.
Maurizio seems to be very self-motivated; he describes himself as a simple guy who is easy to please. As long as his basic needs are met, he can handle the rest. What surprised me the most were his ambitious career goals. He reminded me of myself a little. He wants to be an auto mechanic and his own boss. After that goal is completed, he will move on to owning his own body shop and is even considering a career as a chef, owning his own restaurant. He also pointed out that, if he were living in Peru, he would have already had a career by now, with support he would have gotten from his Peruvian community and family. He made a point to stress that, even though he is living in America and there is a lack of support, he will not give up; however, things will take him a little bit longer to get started. According to The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, “The childhood experiences of entrepreneurs have found to be difficult, characterized by poverty, insecurity and/or neglect and personal tragedies, such as parents divorce, a parents death, family financial difficulties, and/or serious illness” (Drennan 231). This makes sense as a way of understanding why Maurizio is so ambitious. His parents were going through a divorce, he and his family had faced financial difficulties, and, although he has had an overall happy childhood, he has faced some personal tragedies that have taken a toll on his mindset and has shaped who he is as a man.
It is noticeable that a lot of immigrants who settle in America tend to start small businesses, whether it is an ice cream truck, street vending, food trucks or auto body shops. It is said that “…Economic migrants are described as tending on average to be more able, ambitious, aggressive entrepreneurial, or otherwise more majorly selected that similar individuals who choose to remain in their place of origin” (Chiswick 52). Residents who are born in America tend to be job-orientated. We are taught at an early age to think about what good jobs and careers we want to pursue after college and home ownership. As children, business ownership is not as emphasized as an option in getting a good job. This would explain why Maurizio is striving for more than just a job. This will help him in the long run; right now, he has to work different jobs to take care of any basic needs. Having his own business would allow him finally has some stability in his life if his business becomes successful enough. A business is never an easy goal but it is a goal preferred by a lot of immigrants because they don’t want to depend on anyone else to take care of them: they prefer to do it themselves. Maurizio is a citizen now and has the option to apply for general assistance but hasn’t. He wants to take care of himself with the money he earns.
Americans assume that undocumented immigrants like Maurizio at the time do not pay taxes. A lot of immigrants use fake social security cards and, through those social security numbers, they can work, pay state taxes and those taxes are taken out of their paychecks under the number they are using. Because those number are not theirs, they do not receive the benefits Americans would receive, therefore contributing to the American economy more than they benefit from it. Instead, America accepts cheap labor and taxes from undocumented immigrants and those working immigrants never receive tax benefits. They even pay gasoline tax, and sales tax. If undocumented people protest in any way, they risk deportation and, for Maurizio, he had already experienced a traumatic experience revealing to a classmate his citizenship status. Maurizio’s first job as an undocumented person was a dishwasher, as he waited for his papers to come in. During that time he worked, he was subjected to taxes and paid them.
It is believed that the U.S. is an openhanded country that has always welcomed immigrants from all over the world but this is a myth. Maurizio had to hide his citizenship status; otherwise, he and his family could have faced discrimination and deportation if they were reported during the time their travel visas expired. Maurizio was really young when, in confidence, he told his classmate he was not a citizen. Maurizio said, “They turn on you, use that information against you. I remember telling one person, I was really young um, I mean they made fun of me at the time and always making jokes about how there were going to tell immigration I was here.” He lost trust in people but also gained an understanding of what information should not be shared beyond family and why. Maurizio still carries that fear of trust and this just proves that America is not very welcoming towards immigrants as originally thought by a lot of Americans. According to Family Court Review, Robert Coles, a prize- winning psychiatrist from Harvard states, “Morality is not learned through memorizing lists or formulas. It is learned through being with others. It is learned through the example of others” (90). Anyone can become bullied, but we have to analyze the reason children would joke about someone’s immigration status. They hear adults talk badly about them and have learned that a lot of society disapproves of immigrants living here while undocumented. If we truly lived in a welcoming country, then Maurizio being an immigrant would not be the butt of children’s jokes. Children learn from their parents that immigrants are less valued members of society that are to be treated as third-class citizens. So, naturally, they think it is okay to tease undocumented children because the adults in their lives have exposed them to negative opinions. Those children will one day become adults and the learning of myths will continue unless society learns to recognize a myth from a fact. They can start by putting themselves in Maurizio’s shoes.
There are a series of stereotypes surrounding immigrants. They are viewed as people who come to America to take advantage of resources and not assimilate to the United States culture but immigrants are hard working people. If one understands someone’s history, one may understand his or her leading direction. Immigrant children do not often have a choice to come to this country. They have hard times trusting others because of a fear of being exiled from their peers. It is not easy for them to get work and they cannot even obtain library cards because they do not have documents to prove they exist. The cost of college is more expensive for them and they pay a lot of money into our tax system. Yet, Americans seem to think that they take advantage of our resources when they are actually being taken advantage of. They learn English and some even forget their original languages. They lose who and what they could have become in their own countries, possible experiences and materialistic things that they could’ve had. On the other side, they all gain an undeniable experience that leads to a story that too often goes unheard. Maurizio has gained more than he expected and more of a broader concept of home and family. When people migrant from one place to another, they take to that new place their ways of life, but once they establish residency, they adapt to their new surroundings in different ways just as Maurizio has done. We should learn who these immigrants are before deciding to believe in stereotypes about them.
Chiswick, Barry R. “Are Immigrants Favorably Self-Selected.” JSTOR. N.p., 2 May 1999. Web. 01 Dec. 2013.
Drennan, Drennan, Judy, Kennedy, Renfrow, and Patty. “Ingentaconnect Impact of Childhood Experiences on the Development of Entrepreneu…” The International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 6.4 (2005): 231-38. Latest TOC RSS. Ingentaconnect, Nov. 2005. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.
Leventhal, Tama, and Jeanne B. Gunn. “Moving to Opportunity: An Experimental Study of Neighborhood Effects on Mental Health.” American Journal of Public Health 93.9 (2003): 1576-582. American Public Health Association -. 10 Sept. 2002. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.
S, Robert. “The Moral Intelligence of Children.” The Moral Intelligence of Children 3.1 (2005): n. pag. Wiley Online Library. 15 Mar. 2005. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.
Interview Transcript: “Appreciation”
Jessica: Ok, so I’m here interviewing Maurizio…umm actually we’ll just start.
Jessica: So what is your story? Tell me about when you came to the U.S. your choice to come to the U.S? If it was a choice.
Maurizio: Umm well it wasn’t my choice, I was young at the time, I was ten years old. I was living in my home country, I’m from Peru. Um, what had happened is uh uh my father left for the United States, you know for a better life back in 1996 three years before I, I came here with my mom, and we were suppose to stay over there my dad was kind of help support us and you know, eventually maybe move over, or maybe he is going to come back, I don’t really know the overall plan because I was too young I guess. So, in their, you know in their perspective they didn’t , I,I don’t think that I, I don’t think they felt that me and my sister were, were old enough to understand . So um at some point something went on and my mom lost her job, she had a really good job, she she used to work at a very prestigious bank. She was part of the corporate exculative thing.
Maurizio: She held the job basically of the four people so she had four different wedges she was making good money, you know we weren’t really poor. It was just my dad who lost his job so he decided to go to the United States, you know to, so something because he couldn’t find a job, his life situation was getting bad and yet he didn’t go to college or anything so it not like he could get a good job. So he left, and um my mom lost her job because the bank they decided it would be easier to pay four different people fresh out of college than to pay four different you know at a higher wedge because she been there over fifteen years, so they cut her loose. Because it would be cheaper so because in Peru county there are no um laws or anything protecting people, you know like there is here, like unions and all that. You know?
Maurizio: So they cut her loose. So we, so she saved money and my dad helped us come over here with the money which he was making over there and in 1999, in July we flew over here, that’s, that’s how that happened.
Jessica: Ok how? Um excuse me for asking again, how old were you?
Maurizio: I was 10 my sister was 9.
Maurizio: Um hum
Jessica: Sister was 9?
Maurizio: Um hum
Jessica: What part of Peru are you from?
Maurizio: Capital, Lama
Jessica: Umm hum, ok.
Jessica: If you had a choice?
Maurizio: um hum?
Jessica: at that age, if you had a choice, would you stayed in your country?
Maurizio: Well the choice, it can vary because you know at a young age, as I was back then. I would’ve chosen to stay with what I knew. My family, my country, my house, my friends, you know all that, but you know, like I said the choice can change.
Because now that I’m older, I’d probably, like I said would have had the mindset that I,that I have now, back then I probably would have chosen to come over here. It’s a hard question to answer cause, you never know what exactly what you want at that age. You know?
All you want is just to be happy with your family and friends.
Jessica: Do you have any regrets about leaving?
Maurizio: None, I don’t have any regrets because Like I said, I didn’t know what I left, what I was going for. Hum therefore hum, I have nothing to look back for. My family was here, that was the most important part, my sister was here, my mom was here, my dad was here you know. So no regrets because we’re all here.
Jessica: Ok, ok now when you were a child what did you expect coming to the U.S.?
Maurizio: Nothing at all.
Jessica: Did you expect for it to look like Peru?
Maurizio: Na, I can’t remember everything that when I came here, when I came here I remember stepping off of a plane getting to the new house. I was just noticing how everything was different. But after that, at the same time everything was pretty much the same. But the climate, for example it’s exactly the same except for it’s a little bit colder over here than over there and it rains a lot more over here than it is over there. But the climate is still pretty dry, you know?
Jessica: Um hum
Maurizio: It’s pretty much the same. It’s not like North Carolina, where my mom lives right now it is completely humid. I never experience something like that before, and, and a lot of ____ I can tell that San Francisco and Lema are pretty much the same. Only thing that varies is the change of temperature being colder that’s it.
Jessica: So what city did you come in, come to when you 1st came, what city?
Maurizio: Straight here. I mean…
Jessica: San Francisco?
Maurizio: Yea, I came to live here to live in San Francisco, but if you’re asking where my flight stopped first, I was in Huston.
Jessica: Huston Texas?
Jessica: And do you…
Maurizio: I just…
Jessica: From Huston you came to SF.
Murizio: Yes, but I only saw the airport. But you know…
Maurizio: It’s not, it’s not like I went to the city or anything. I only stayed for a couple hours.
Jessica: Ok, Have you tried or planned to visit your home country in the future.
Maurizio: I tried, but I couldn’t because of money problems. Cause I was always going to school and didn’t have enough money for bills and all that and going to school. Because going to school is very expensive, it’s like over it would be 1500 for a ticket and then you go and everything in Peru, like the economy in Peru is not that bad, like at all like other countries like anything you buy over there is just as much as its sold over here, like the price, I didn’t have enough money to save for anything like that, so…. But now, I’ma go. I’ma go in December. My mom bought me the ticket because otherwise , it would still be the same story I wouldn’t have enough money to go…so?
Jessica: So right now what is your current living arrangement?
Maurizio: Right now? I live with my roommate, and in a week I’m moving out. I’m moving in with my sister. We going to have together, an apartment…
Person: mumbles in background
Maurizio: (Whispers) looks at me.
Jessica: It’s ok you can do it.
Maurizio: $7, $7.11
Person: Whispers about pizza money
Jessica: See whats up with Gio cause I have him $20.
Maurizio: Just tell Michael to go in my wallet.
Person: Walks away…
Maurizio: and Its somehow…mumbles.
Jessica: Ok um, let’s start over. We were talking about living arrangements.
Maurizio: I live with my roommate, umm friend from high school [Person’s Name], you know him very well.
Maurizio: together we have a good relationship, you know as far as friendship goes. We played basketball together; we went to school for four years, spent lots of good times together with a bunch of friends. Um he helped me out, because I was living with my ex girlfriend. The relationship ended and I didn’t have no where to go. Him and his family took me in and after three years of living together now I’m moving out, with my sister. Shee, we um got an apartment at the same house where my dad lives but it’s the downstairs apartment which was being rented out to somebody else but…COUGHS, so yea, now I am moving in with her.
Maurizio: It’s a two bedroom apartment.
Jessica: How do you feel about moving?
Maurizio: I prefer it because, well not money wise, I have to pay more for that but when it comes to privacy, and my own room, private kitchen, you know I prefer it you know, it’s a commodity.
Jessica: Ok, how many times have you moved in your lifetime?
Maurizio: Id say, there was the move over here to this country, for starters. Then I must’ve have moved four maybe five times, something like that. Well, ‘cause well we were always searching for a better apartment, better house, so when the opportunity presented itself we moved, so we moved maybe four or five times.
Jessica: Ok, What do you remember most about your childhood, about Peru? What do you remember about that, Peru.
Maurizio: It was a fairly, happy childhood I suppose, the only thing that wasn’t pretty, the only thing that was different well I guess I shouldn’t say different. That wasn’t like, to my liking I guess, my parents were never home they were always working. We had a maid; she’d take care of us, cook for us, clean the house and stuff, she stay over with us, she had her own room, we had a good relationship with her. We, we play hide and seek and things like that. Had a dog, had a good relationship with my dog, better than with the family. [We laugh] That’s my dog.
Jessica: Did she stay in Peru?
Maurizio: Yes, my dog and her young. Dogs’ probably dead by now, it’s been over 20 years. I don’t know if it still alive you know?
Maurizio: umm Yeah, and then we would always have house parties, family were always over. There were times when I would go to sleep at night and in the morning I would wake up, a uncle was sleeping in the sofa. Sometimes different uncles, it was floating. It was always, whenever they slept over it was always a happy morning you know, because they be there, and then breakfast, bigger, you know a more larger breakfast you know with people, always something to talk about. Me and my sister were always close because were only eleven months apart.
Maurizio: We would always have something to talk about we play together um my grandma come over she really loved us a lot, so she make sure she, she come visit us at least four days a week, things like that it was…fairly happy. Except, the only thing that made it hard was my dad and my mom fighting a lot. My dad is really hardheaded and my mom is very aggressive when it comes to arguments so they would always clash together and there was a lot of like domestic problems in-between them, never really with us because that’s something they would always agree on, like how we were suppose to be brought up, what we were suppose to eat and they always gave it one hundred percent in our care. But eventually they got separated, you know my dad came over here, by the time we, me and my sister came over and my mom, they were separated you know. They had already divorced. So Yea.
Jessica: Do you plan to stay in California…and what is your reason behind your choice?
Maurizio: At this moment I’m not entirely sure because ahem, money problems like I said I been trying to go to school and all that. Um I don’t really have a special career in mind, besides working on cars because I really love working on cars and that like I’m thinking I really want to own my own shop, both a mechanical shop and a body shop. Because to me, you get a lot of money off of that, it’s a good profit and it helps me out because I’ve noticed that you meet a lot people who waste a lot of money in fixing cars, keeping them clean, you know, if you get into an accident and all that. And that’s basically something I’ll be able to wave off like expenses by owning businesses like that. So let’s look at the situation, I get money and I have to deal with it with my own property and I don’t think it is, it would be required of me to move out, seek other opportunities with a plan like that. Because that way I see it, a lot of people would like to move out of the cities, their state. Like all that because that like to pursue other opportunities of a career or families or whatever their, the reason may be. I don’t have that, I don’t have that reason, that motivation to get out of California. Um that’s probably a goal, visit other places, sightseeing, Europe, Asia, and other states, but moving out I don’t think so.
Jessica: Ok, if there was a dollar figure that you would need to get you started on your path to a better life, to the life that you want for yourself, how much would that be?
Maurizio: Like money wise?
Jessica: Yes. To bee, to be at where you want to be how much money do you think you’re going to need?
Maurizio: To be what I want to be or to get me started on the way?
Jessica: Let’s say get you started, so to get you started on the path where you want to be in life your goal, your auto body shop. How much would you need?
Maurizio: I only wana go to school and that’s all I’m worried about. *coughs*to do that just to get me by school at least for a couple months or so which is, that’s all I really need that’s all I need. To like get me, to get that little start, you know. I think I just need a couple grand that’s it, about two grand. With two grand I can pay for my, for my classes at city college to start that would set me on my way I don’t need much. I don’t I don’t ask for much I just need that to get started and everything else up to date and also my job. I’m not the kind of person that ask for money or ugh wants free money for that matter but sometimes we all need a little help you know?
Maurizio: …and two grand would do it for me, if I wanted to get started like right now. But whatever to me.
Jessica: What do you love most about the city you have chosen to reside in…or the city you are currently in right now? What is the, what do you love most about the city you are in right now.
Maurizio: Umm. That’s a hard question. I like a lot of things about it, but I wouldn’t say there is something I love most about it. It is, I guess that would depend on what makes me the happiest and it’s in between the fact that my family is very close and that I really, really like good, I guess people. Like the city, I like Twin Peaks and stuff, it’s…in a day where I’m stressful or like really frustrated, If I go up to twin peaks or another place like that it calms me down.
Jessica: What do you hate most about the city?
Maurizio: The fact that their doing construction on main streets during the day.
Maurizio: That’s it.
Jessica: So [mumbles] bother you?
Maurizio: Well, yea I’m a driver by profession so I do need the streets to be cleared out. [laughs]
Jessica: If this applies to you, how have you assimilated to American culture?
Maurizio: No. In Peru, you can’t really buy what you want all the time. Over here, you can.
Jessica: So you buy what you want whenever you want?
Maurizio: No not exactly because I do have, I mean I would be able to if certain things hadn’t happened in my life, like identify theft.
Maurizio: I don’t have a credit card or credit anymore. But if I had a credit card, like most people do and they see something they want or need. Something at the moment, they can buy it and pay off the credit card later.
Jessica: Don’t you think you would be in debt because of that?
Jessica: Ok so you pay off the total on your credit?
Maurizio: Always, I paid, I worked! When I had credit, I worked.
Jessica: Oh ok.
Maurizio: I was, I was always spending about three hundred every month and paying, paying it off like six hundred dollars, every month. And the reason why I needed to pay six hundred dollars a month because there were certain expenses I really needed like when I was going to school, when I had credit, when I had money to go to school, bought a laptop. To you know, to keep up with my work and type shit up you know. And you know, and that you know it, it just, my laptop cost me about nine hundred dollars so of course I had to pay a little more occasionally. But for the most part if I didn’t have a big expense I always kept my credit card in check, never owed more than four hundred, five hundred dollars at a time. I would always pay it off. Cause I’m a person that hates to be in debt, I don’t like to owe anything to anybody, for that matter that’s why I never buy a car off the lot, I never want to deal with that, with a huge debt.
Maurizio: Next question.
Jessica: Yea, hold on a minute. What is your concept of home?
Mauriizo: Hum…it’s very simple. Home can be anywhere, could b your, it could be the place where you feel more comfortable at, it can be where your family is at, or it can be the place you like most.
Jessica: For you?
Maurizio: For me? It’s here now this is where my family is, this is what I know. This is where I work at; this is where I can make things work.
Jessica: What was your first job?
Maurizio: I was a dishwasher at a place called, it’s a coffee shop called La Boulange.
Jessica: La Boulange? Where’s that at?
Maurizio: ColeValley. On Cole and Parnassus and a lot of people have been tell me that aren’t coming back [laughs] because I was giving out free food. [laughs]
Jessica: Were you a legal resident at the time?
Maurizio: When I go the job?
Maurizio: I was for one year, after that my papers came in.
Jessica: So when you came you were not a legal resident?
Maurizio: Uhuh, well I was because I had a tourist visa but after six months I wasn’t.
Jessica: Ok, so after six months, tell me about the process.
Maurizio: I don’t really know much about it because I was young; my parents took care of all that.
Jessica: Oh ok.
I just knew that I had a tourist visa and it would be six months to ten months. Depending on the kind of visa that you get, nine or six months.
Jessica: And after that you didn’t have any…
Maurizio: Nope nothing, V nothing.
Jessica: Ok and what age did you get your green card?
Maurizio: Eighteen and a half.
Jessica: Eighteen and a half, ok. What’s your current job?
Maurizio: I’m a driver um for Auto Parts Warehouse. We deliver, to other car shops and garages all over the city and the Pensula, San Carlos. So I do a lot of driving, I drive 11 hours a day.
Jessica: Since you have been, at least one point in your life a non legal resident do you think you have been treated fairly by this country, by the U.S?
Maurizio: I have, as long as nobody knew I was illegal
Jessica: Ok so as long as no body knew?
Maurizio: In truth nobody knew I was legal
Jessica: Did you tell them?
Maurizio: People I felt that I could trust, and its very hard for me to trust somebody.
Jessica: Why is that?
Maurizio: When you’re young you make mistakes trusting people you shouldn’t, when you tell somebody too much, somebody that is not going to help you not going to be there. Somebody that you really can’t trust…
Maurizio: They turn on you, use that information against you. I remember telling one person, I was really young um, I mean they made fun of me at the time and always making jokes about how they were going to tell immigration I was here. Tell them I was illegal or whatever it is. It made you, well it made me feel like aw man what did I do I just put my whole family in jeopardy and everything. There were times I left like that, I didn’t know if they could do anything or not at the time I was just a kid at the time. I don’t know how the processed worked; I didn’t know who they could call. I, I didn’t know anything. As a kid you never wana, you never wana hurt your family anyway possible so it took a toll on me. After that I never trusted anybody. There are other things that happened of course that made me see the different perspective about who you trust but that’s one of the driving forces behind that.
Jessica: Was it one of the kids at school that made fun of you?
Maurizio: Yeah, I didn’t really know anybody outside of school, my dad always cared too much for me and my sister, he never left us out or anything so we never had any friends, besides the ones at school.
Jessica: What’s your concept of family?
Maurizio: Family, are the ones that are defiantly there for you, um people you can count on. Not necessarily have to be your parents, your brothers or cousins, blood, blood related for that matter. Family is someone there for you through thick or thin. Family is someone you can count on, who you can trust, all your problems and above all your good moments, when you’re having fun, when you know people. You can all together just simply truly trust.
Jessica: so, your concept of family is a little bit more general and you made a list of many possibilities of what a family could be.
Maurizio: Well, I consider them just one family to me. My dad, my mom, me, my sister and my little brother and about three or four friends, whom are considered my brothers and my sisters. And that’s it. I do generalize, like anybody could become a family member but that kind of a, you know?
Jessica: That place in your heart?
Maurizio: That place in my heart, exactly. They would have to show you how, you know? I’m not saying doing something stupid like you know, like take a bullet for you or something, you know? Just you know, if you’re in a moment of need and there really there for you, you know. Like Tim for example when I got kicked out of my girlfriend house the moment, I had nowhere to go, my dad wasn’t even in the states my dad was in Missouri because trying to pursue a different life so he went to another state. My mom was already living in North Carolina. And my sister was living with one of my aunts and the space for me there. And Tim and his family took me in. Something like that could earn you a place in my heart. So Tim is like a brother to me. That’s a example.
Jessica: So what age were you when you moved out of your family’s care?
Maurizio: I was 18.
Jessica: Ok. Did you move in with you girlfriend right away or?
Maurizio: Yep. That’s the reason I left my parents house.
Jessica: For freedom or cause you had a girlfriend?
Maurizio: Well, I had girlfriends before and I wasn’t really even, I didn’t move out back then, you know. But I think it was mostly because of freedom because this girlfriend was different, somebody I really fell hard for…so yes, because my parents was also trying to, I was also working and had my own money and they still wanted me to come home no later than ten o-clock at night, so I wasn’t having that. [laughs] But now that I look back on that I probably should’ve stayed home. But either way, that was my decision back then.
Jessica: Do you think that living here in San Francisco, do you think you would be the same person if you were living in Peru?
Jessica: Do you have an idea of how you would be different?
Maurizio: Probably a lot more happier.
Jessica: You would be happier in Peru?
Maurizio: Not happier, a happier person. [while pointing at me]There’s a difference. Happier person, probably would have had a career by now. Education in Peru is very strict and there is always somebody willing to help. Family, neighbor, doesn’t matter, they might not help you with money all the time, but they’ll always help you like if you need clothes, “I have a shirt I have for you so you don’t have to spend money on clothes, so you can pay your tuition for school” something like that. Soo, most defiantly I would’ve had a career, I don’t know how far that career might have taken me, but I would defiantly be a professional.
Jessica: So you don’t get that feeling from San Francisco?
Maurizio: See back there you had support. Over here, everything is on you. And because everything is on me, for the past couple years since I got out of high school I failed to provide that for me, a higher education. Now, that don’t mean I’m gonna quit. It means it’s going to take me a little longer to do that, you know. But, things would be different if I was, if I was in Peru. But I don’t regret any choices or the fact that I’m here because, because of everything that I went through over here, you know there a lot of positive sides to it I speak English, um that’s always a major plus apparently to everyone else.
Jessica: So you’re bilingual?
Maurizio: Yeah, I speak perfect English and perfect Spanish. So, you know, I have a wider mind set I guess. So, family, friendship, people that are worth your time, you can care, giving them a chance. Um because of everything that has happened I have had a lot of bad times, just a lot of bad experiences with people. A lot of bad times just a lot of bad experiences with people. I’m a pretty good judge of character now. I can analyze just about anybody.
Jessica: That’s good; do you have a plan for higher education beyond CityCollege?
Maurizio: No, not really. Not because I don’t want to, it’s because I see my life as steps you know. I just know what I have to do. I will be getting another job soon that’s going to help me pay for school to be a mechanic. Cause to be a mechanic you don’t have to go to a four year college or anything. Now, to go onto business you have to study a little bit of business. When the time comes that I am able to get that business then I’ma put myself through school again. When I have everything I need to take the next step I’ma take the next step. Provided I know exactly what that next step is going to be. I don’t plan to completely plan out my whole life because things never go the way you want them to go sometimes. You always got to be able to adjust it and to see different things coming to the current reality. There I don’t plan for more than a couple of years. Two years from now, believe me when I say this I’m going to be that mechanic I told you about and by then I’ll probably start learning about body work in a car because its two different things learning about being a mechanic and body work on a car and it’s just a start. I have a long life ahead of me; I could learn a million other things. I been already a cook at a fine dining restaurant, after the coffee shop I went to work for Ruth’s Stake House, pretty prestigious. I know how, if I got a little bit more studying in cooking and food and all that I probably could be a chef too, if I wanted. I already know how to cook real good because of that experience working at that restaurant. There a lot of thing I can do. After I start a mechanic shop and a body shop I plan to start a restaurant, and you know restaurants, they can either provide you with a lot of money, how good they do with the market and stuff and clientele or it’s a gamble, a restaurant is always a gamble, or it could go down the drain and you could lose all the money you invested in it, which is why I plan to have the mechanic shop and the body shop because the money I earn from there is going to support the restaurant, until it start providing for itself.
Jessica: Ok, that’s nice.
Maurizio: Like I said it’s a plan. I already know what I’ma do next and because I know that I could do it and I know that I could do it in three years time I’m already thinking about what the next step of that might be. Now in two years, my perspective might change and I’d want to try something else, but until that stop coming into my head I’m not going to plan ahead.
Jessica: If you could and you had the resources would you go after a Masters or Ph.D.?
Maurizio: Oh yeah, in a heartbeat.
Maurizio: I know how to study, it comes naturally to be. In High School I never had to pick up a book or study over a half hour.
Jessica: Ohh, that’s impressive. I was the student carrying all my books in my backpack.
Maurizio: I was too but that’s because I had to do homework, not because I actually read them.
Jessica: [laughs] Okey. Do you consider yourself an immigrant? What do you consider yourself to be? Immigrant? Citizen?
Maurizio: Those are just labels designed to segregate different groups of society by certain groups, political levels. For me, for me, I’m just a normal human being living in a city. There’s no label for something like that. I call myself a citizen if there hadn’t been a label picked up already by a group of people.
Jessica: That’s fair.
Maurizio: But if a citizen is someone who has papers and, and ID, if that’s the definition of a citizen then I rather not because I think a citizen should be somebody who lives in a city, provides for their family and pays their taxes, weather there illegal or not. Because I grantee it to you people that are illeagel pay their taxes
Jessica: So, I’m going to ask you a question now, and then I have one last question for you.
Jessica: Maurizio: Who are you? Who is Maurizio?
Maurizio: It’s a hard question, I don’t even know that myself and the reason why because who I am now, isn’t who I am going to be ten years from now.
Jessica: Well, who are you right now?
Maurizio: I’m just a guy that enjoys life. Not just the fun part of life, which is you know, there is people my age and what they’re doing is like drinking, dancing, hitting on girls stuff like that.
Jessica: Yes mom? Yes. I don’t know, I might have not closed it all the way but it shouldn’t be wide open, ok bye…ok I’m so sorry…who are you? Oh, who are you right now?
Maurizio: Like I said, I’m just a guy who enjoys life. I like going out and having fun and all of that. I also enjoy my family and I love every opportunity to feel proud of myself like I’m achieving something. I like to call myself just a simple guy.
Jessica: A simple guy?
Maurizio: Pretty much I don’t need much to be happy.
Jessica: Ok, we can wrap up for today and if I have any more questions I will email you.
Maurizio: Ok that’s fine.
Possible Follow up Questions?
What life lesson did you learn from your father?
What life lesson did you learn from your mother?
How has your father and mother job loss situation shaped your determination for a better future?