Missing Childhoods

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Missing Childhoods: Immigrant Minors Have No Access to Protection

of Their Human Rights

by Zhen Chen

June, 2018

Peter Orner, author of Underground America, talks about a series of human rights abuses through the narratives of undocumented immigrants. In these stories, most narrators had to face discrimination and exploitation and were treated unfairly by people in positions of power. Readers will be shocked to find out that not only adults but also minors are enduring social injustice. Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted by the United Nation in 1948, proclaims fundamental rights for all human beings, human rights abuses have continued to exist for decades. The U.D.H.R. states “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” (Article 1). However, at this very moment, a large group of people, even minors, has to face multiple abuses of their innate and inalienable human rights in different countries such as China, Mexico, and the US. Because of political and economic reasons, such as political unrest, discriminatory policies, and poverty, many people, including minors, are forced to flee from their countries of origin and illegally enter the U.S., and these undocumented children have to face unfair and even inhumane treatment both in their home countries and in the U.S, which violates their human rights.

The second child of Mr. Lai, a narrator of a story in Underground America, was threatened to be killed by the local Chinese government because Mr. Lai didn’t obey the one-child policy, which discriminated against unborn babies’ right to live and was enforced by inhumane treatment— forced abortion. Mr. Lai, a typical parent living in a rural area in southeastern China, loved kids, hoped to have more children, and was too frightened to lose his second unborn baby; thus, he and his wife hid in their sister’s house until the baby was born. Based on the policy, their second pregnancy was deemed “illegal,” and so their house was destroyed by the local officials as a punishment, making Mr. Lai even more determined to leave China. His wife was eventually forced to have a hysterectomy; otherwise, she would have faced imprisonment. With great disappointment, Mr. Lai sad, “I just had no faith in China” (Orner 36). The enforcement of the one-child policy, which abused their most basic human right, took away uncountable unborn babies’ lives. Even though some babies survived, their parents had to pay penalties or let them live without legal status for many years. The U.D.H.R. declares that “Everyone has the right to life” (Article 3). However, without birth registration, unborn babies were not allowed to be born in China. No matter the Chinese government’s explanation of how important the policy is to economic and social development, it cannot be denied that the harsh policy violates the right to life, and forced abortions and sterilizations are inhumane. From 2015 to 2016, the policy started to be dismantled, but pregnancies still must follow certain laws. The Chinese government, which tends to be autocratic because of the single-party communist political structure, through its supreme power, has commanded its people, such as Mr. Lai, to strictly comply with the family planning laws. Mr. Lai’s case demonstrates that the implementation of one child policy in China forced him to kill his second child by forced abortion, and the discriminatory policy most certainly abused the child’s human right to life.

In another instance, Roberto, coming from Mexico, had to drop out of his elementary school and work under terrible working conditions because of poverty; attracted by better working opportunities, he became an undocumented immigrant in the U.S. and still experienced exploitation in the workforce solely due to his legal status. In Mexico, Roberto first fled to Mexico City from a small ranch because his family was poor and his father always beat him badly. At age ten, he dropped out of school and got his first job, which was still very vivid in his memory because it was so dangerous, although he felt independent. He worked “on a plank of wood, lassos around our waists…eight stories up” (Orner 58). His employer was not concerned about his safety. Eventually, Roberto escaped to the U.S. for a better life and worked very hard to support himself and his mother still living in Mexico. During the time he worked as a farmer in the fields in the U.S., he watched undocumented children that were under ten years old working in the sun for a whole day. He said, “You see it, and it makes you want to cry” (Orner 63). After leaving the farm, he found an easy job in a tortilla factory in San Jose, California, but was paid only $4.50 an hour, which was less than the minimum wage. According to the U.D.H.R, “Everyone has the right to education…at least in the elementary and fundamental stages” (Article 26). Due to economic and political reasons, some children have to give up on education, or even worse, have to endure unsafe working conditions, long working hours, and unequal pay. The U.D.H.R states that “Everyone has the right to security”( Article 3); “Everyone has the right to rest…reasonable limitation of working hours” (Article 24). Roberto, like many other immigrant minors, was forced to give up on his right to education, leave his native country, and experience exploitation because his family had no financial ability to support him based on the economic situation in Mexico. Moreover, as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S., his “illegal status,” ruled by the immigration laws, made him vulnerable to exploitation and discrimination by his employers in the U.S. Roberto’s case shows that both economic and political inequality lead to abuses of his human right to education and exploitation from his boss.  

Because of the unstable political situation in Guatemala, Eduardo, Orner’s asylum-seeking client, was tortured inhumanly by a paramilitary officer for over a decade, and his traumatic experience violated his human rights to be treated humanely. Due to the fact that Eduardo was tortured from when he was five years old until he was seventeen, Orner considered this case strong enough to convince the judge. Nevertheless, the judge still ruled against Eduardo. Orner thought the judge might have seen too many similar cases in one day, and that it negatively impacted the judgment. This case reflects other children in Guatemala who also suffer violent assaults. Another book, which was written by Lauren Markham, called The Far Away Brothers, shows readers that not only boys but also girls face sexual assaults when they escape from Central America. Markham points out that “In 2010, Six out of ten migrant girls were sexually assaulted en route to the U.S- other estimates are even higher” (159). When these migrants arrived in the U.S., some still experienced sexual abuses at detention centers. “In 2014, Houston Chronicle investigated 101 reports of sexual misconduct…the alleged sexual abuse was often accompanied by threats…” (Markham 85). These boys and girls are innocent and don’t deserve to experience physical or sexual abuse. They might believe that escaping to the U.S. is the best choice for them because the U.S. is known as a country that protects human rights. The U.D.H.R. states that “No one should be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (Article 4). Therefore, the physical assault that Eduardo suffered, and the sexual abuses that some undocumented girls experience, both violate basic human rights and are caused by complex international politics, such as the civil war in Guatemala, and the detention system in the U.S..

Desperate political and economic situations cause forced migration, but living in the U.S. without legal status, many undocumented minors are forced to be separated from their families, which violates their human rights to family. Roberto’s description of his forced migration is heart- breaking: “Sometimes I talk to myself. Sometimes I cry by myself. Sometimes I scream by myself. Who am I? I’m nobody” (Orner 74). Even though the U.D.H.R. states that “The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the state” (Article 26.3), many undocumented immigrants are not allowed by the laws to reunite with their close relatives in the U.S. because they are living without legal documents. From all these cases that I explain previously, readers can feel each narrator’s pain of separation, and it seems to be so difficult for them to connect with their family members based on the harsh immigration laws in the U.S. Moreover, a lot of undocumented minors don’t have legal ways to protect their human rights to reunite with their families if the discriminatory laws keep ignoring their human rights.

Due to socio-structural change, including social and political institutions, many children who escape from abusive situations in their homelands and flee to the U.S. have to face different abuses of their human rights, involving the right to life and security, the right to education, etc. While many might think each example of child abuse is a singular violent action, various cases show us that socio-structural change, which is composed of politics and economies, is likely to result in multiple human rights abuses to children. Others might argue these children choose to give up on education by themselves. However, they drop out of school due to the desperate economic situations. Although all human beings are born with human rights regardless of nationalities, some children are confronted with human rights violations because they lack access to resources. Social and political inequality cause them to suffer human rights abuses. Furthermore, both economies and politics contribute to forced migration, and many undocumented minors are legally excluded from human rights and treated unfairly by discriminatory immigration laws in the U.S.

Works Cited

Markham, Lauren. The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life. Crown, 2017.

Orner, Peter. Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives. Verso, 2017.

“Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations. http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/

Third Generation


Third Generation

by Oscar Picazo

June, 2018

The foundation of the United States of America has always involved immigrants as a component of the country. Throughout the history of this nation, the privileged have always used immigrants as the labor for our output. The outcome of this method has always been more profit for the owners of companies. Therefore, the exploitation of immigrants as cheap labor has created the infrastructure of America. It worsened when companies began to place their factories in third world countries because they would have to pay higher wages if they were in America. In the book They Take Our Jobs!, Aviva Chomsky discusses some of the hidden truths of our economy and deconstructs some of the myths regarding immigrants. One example she talks about regarding the exploitation of labor is: “Products can be produced cheaply when business expenses-things like wages, benefits, taxes, infrastructure costs, and the cost of complying with health, safety, and environmental regulations are low” (Chomsky 13). I believe that the most considerable reason for the success of this country has been through the hard labor of immigrants. My grandparents are a part of that category of hard working immigrants. “America is a diverse country built through many decades of hard work by generations of immigrants like my grandparents and likely yours” (Vallorani). My grandfather, Baudelio Picazo, has always been a hard worker his entire life. I wanted to hear his life story, so I interviewed him for thirty minutes to understand his struggles and triumphs in his life as an immigrant, and his becoming a legal citizen in America. He comes from a small town in Jalisco, Mexico called Mezcala de los Romero. In my interview, a common theme that transpired resembled what many call the “American Dream.” My grandfather envisioned his American dream in Mexico and his journey to America as a better life for his future family, altered it when he got deported numerous times and during his life in America, and achieved his American dream when he began to live here with a secure income.

In Mexico, my grandfather envisioned his American dream as a better opportunity to work and make more money. In my interview with my grandfather, I asked him, “What did you expect before entering America?” He replied, “Another life, more work, more money.” He wanted to make money and live comfortably. His expectations were meager, but eventually they grew as his simple expectations were met. Immigrants come to America from different countries around the world to have better job opportunities and wages to provide for their families more feasibly. There is no true definition for the “American dream.” Everyone has his or her own interpretation of this concept, whether it is money, happiness, or freedom. According to the academic journal article “The American Dream as the Cultural Expression of North American Identity,” James Truslow Adams gives his definition and interpretation of the American dream:

“The American dream cannot be interpreted as a myth in the traditional sense of the word, but as a metaphor of translation of the diasporic subject from an old cultural space to a new cultural space. This metaphorical translation can be considered at the individual’s level (the immigrant) or, in a larger sense, at the collective level, as a sort of translatio imperii, that is the succession of power or the shift of meaning from Europe to America, the modification of the old European values and their distillation in order to found a new (perfectible) society, the American one” (Adams).

This shows that Adams’ interpretation of the “American dream” is adjusting to a new region with different protocols in hope for a better accommodating society than the previous community they resided in. My grandfather had a simple life in Mexico. He had always worked hard, but in Mexico it was a struggle to earn money to support a family. He did not want to start his family in Mexico because he did not want his children to experience what he had to go through. I asked him, “What was your favorite thing to do in Mexico?” He responded, “Go to school, take milk from cows, and buy corn to make tortillas.” He lived on a ranch and it would have been his responsibility to take care of the land after his father. Therefore, at the age of seventeen, he started his journey to  America.

During my grandfather’s travels to America, he achieved a part of his American dream when he crossed the border and started his new life in a different country, hoping for freedom. I asked my grandfather, “How was your experience on your journey to America?” He responded, “Good. I was very young.” I followed up with, “Was it hard to enter? Any problems when you arrived?” He said, “Yes. I needed to cross the line. It was easier back then.” I asked my grandfather, “Were you scared before entering if anything would go wrong?” He said, “I am never scared.” He is a fearless warrior and nothing will stop him from doing anything that people say he cannot do. There are many dangers that come with the risk of crossing the United States border. In an academic journal article entitled “United States–Mexico Border Crossing: Experiences and Risk Perceptions of Undocumented Male Immigrants,” it discusses those dangers that are involved in border crossing. “Little is known, however, about the ways in which undocumented immigrants actually receive information regarding the risks of crossing the border, how such information impacts their preparation for crossing or how the journey itself effects their motivation to cross again in the future” (DeLuca). His exposure to the dry desert did not stop my grandfather from crossing the border five times. Although he had seen the danger of his decision through experience, he risked his life every time he tried to enter America because he had not accomplished his American dream. The opportunities of employment were all over California and on his mind. I asked him, “What did you do when you came to America?” He said, “I went to San Francisco.” His first place he lived was on 17th and Folsom, in the Mission District. Therefore, he started his life in San Francisco and searched for a job to start his pathway to his American dream. The dream started when he arrived to America by crossing the border because he had a better fortune for freedom.

My grandfather’s “American dream” altered when he started his life in the United States because he was deported back to Mexico multiple times. These setbacks made him more ambitious and made him yearn more to be successful. I asked my grandfather, “What was the hardest thing when you came here?” He replied, “The hardest thing was to not come across the police. When I was 23 I got married to Raquel, my wife, and got papers.” He had to constantly worry about encountering immigration police and regular police to avoid deportation and this created a sense of permanent anxiety. From when he was eighteen until he was twenty-three, he got deported five times. I asked him, “Did you ever encounter the immigration police here?” He said, “Yeah, a couple times. They told me to leave but I didn’t, and they sent me back to Mexico.” The first time they stopped him was in Chinatown and he got deported back to Mexico. He was in a cell for ten days with over two hundred people that were about to get deported. They were all sent to Mexico on a bus. So I asked him, “After that, you returned right away?” He replied, “About one month after I came back.” This shows that my grandfather does not give up and did not get discouraged from pursuing his American dream. My grandfather got a job at the garbage company in South San Francisco at the age of eighteen. He was nineteen when he got deported for the first time. I did not understand how that worked, but he still worked for the garbage company when he returned from the multiple times he got deported. My grandfather never did anything illegal, except come here as an undocumented worker. The academic journal article “Strange passages: carceral mobility and the liminal in the catastrophic history of American deportation” talks about the history of deportation. “For migrants who somehow fell afoul of the law, deportation was a terrifying ritual journey that would spatially and legally dismantle their claims to belonging” (Blue). This shows that if one does something illegally when one is an immigrant, it will increase his or her chance of deportation and the feeling of not belonging in this country. My grandfather got deported for not having a document that states he is a citizen when he only wanted a better life for himself and his future family.

His American dream was altered by his wanting to simply work as a garbage man and to not get deported for doing nothing wrong. My grandfather achieved his American dream in his life in America when he retired from the garbage company, had his family, and finally lived in peace. He was twenty-seven years old when he bought his first house with my grandmother. In the academic journal article “Buying into the American Dream? Mexican Immigrants, Legal Status, and Homeownership in Los Angeles County,” the authors talk about owning property as a step closer to the American dream. For example, “Homeownership represents far more than legal possession of a residence. Indeed, owning one’s home is a key component of achievement toward the ‘‘American Dream’’ in the United States. It symbolizes autonomy, achievement, and national pride…” (McConnell). This shows that my grandfather achieved his dream by purchasing his own property and feeling like he was a part of the country by having his name on something. Baudelio worked over thirty years at his job and now he is retired and truly living the American dream. He spends more time with his family, gets to travel, and watch sports whenever he wants. He got everything he wanted when he would think about it on his ranch in Mexico. His bare minimum expectations were met, and his American dream grew as his goals were met. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, “Physiological needs for survival (to stay alive and reproduce) and security (to feel safe) are the most fundamental and most pressing needs. They are followed by social needs (for love and belonging) and self-esteem needs (to feel worthy, respected, and have status). The final and highest level needs are self-actualization needs (self-fulfillment and achievement). Its underlying theme is that human beings are ‘wanting’ beings: as they satisfy one need the next emerges on its own and demands satisfaction…” (BusinessDictionary). This shows that once our basic needs are met, individuals desire more to attain their satisfaction as much as they can afford to. My grandfather achieved his “American dream” in America when he lived comfortably in his own house, worked a great job over thirty years, and provided for his family. The present day struggles of immigrants are tougher than what they used to be. Donald Trump has made it tougher to live here as an undocumented immigrant and even tougher to get into the country. To get a visa to live in America, there is a program that runs like a lottery system. According to the academic journal article “The American Dream Roulette,” “The program grants 50,000 green cards annually and started in 1990 as a way of increasing representation of citizens of countries that do not send many people to America” (Radu). That is not enough green cards granted for the number of people that want to enter the United States. Donald Trump also wants to remove DACA, which would deport any student that has been in America since a child. In addition, Trump issued a travel ban for people of certain countries. It is unfair and unconstitutional to ban the people of a whole country from entering the United States. The times have changed: it is more difficult to come to America, and everything is more expensive here, so it is difficult to have a low wage job and support a family, along with paying bills. My grandfather came a long way from Mexico to San Francisco. He did not give up when he got deported five times and continued to pursue his American dream. He envisioned the dream in Mexico, altered it when he got deported, and achieved his dream when he crossed the border and got his basic needs fulfilled. His goals grew as he got more money and maintained to live comfortably. One might say that everyone has a dream and has that want to be met. However, it is up to the individual to achieve those dreams no matter the circumstance they are facing. Most people that wish to come to America have an American dream some day, and hope to achieve and expand their dream like my grandfather did. Every individual’s dream may vary, but it is almost always something simple and attainable.

Works Cited

Vallorani, Brandon. Immigration And The American Dream. Forbes Books, 30 Jan. 2018, forbesbooks.com/immigration-american-dream/.

Chomsky, Aviva. “They Take Our Jobs!” And 20 Other Myths About Immigration. Beacon Press, 2007. Print. Blue, Ethan. “Strange Passages: Carceral Mobility and the Liminal in the Catastrophic History of American Deportation.” National Identities, vol. 17, no. 2, 2015, pp. 175–194., doi:10.1080/14608944.2015.1019208.

DeLuca, Lawrence A. “United States–Mexico Border Crossing: Experiences and Risk Perceptions of Undocumented Male Immigrants.” Springer Link, Springer, Dordrecht, 22 May. 2018, link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10903-008-9197-4.

Radu, Sintia. “The American Dream Roulette.” U.S News The Report, 22 May. 2018, eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=0&sid=ec4575b8-e8f8-4650-aa97-b5 94b1f18424%40sessionmgr4006.

Mcconnell, Eileen Diaz, and Enrico A. Marcelli. “Buying into the American Dream? Mexican Immigrants, Legal Status, and Homeownership in Los Angeles County.” Social Science Quarterly, vol. 88, no. 1, 2007, pp. 199–221., doi:10.1111/j.1540-6237.2007.00454.x.

Stiuliuc, Diana. “The American Dream as the Cultural Expression of North American Identity.” 22 May. 2018, eds.a.ebscohost.com/eds/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?vid=2&sid=0b765e6a-b212-46ee-8e35-81 df3c0378d6%40sessionmgr4010.

“How Has This Term Impacted Your Life?” BusinessDictionary.com, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/Maslow-s-hierarchy-of-needs.html.

Sample Transcripts

Why did you come to America from Mexico?

BP: For a better life for his kids and his grandchildren, his family

How was your experience on your journey to America?

BP: Good, I was very young.

Was it hard to enter?

BP: Yes, I needed to cross the line.

Were there any problems when you arrived?

BP: It was easier back then.

What did you do when you came to America?

BP: I went to San Francisco.

Where did you live when you arrived?

BP: 17th and Folsom

What is different in Mexico when you go back?

BP: No problems over here or back in Mexico, everything is the same.

What do you like more, Mexico or United States?

BP: Both places I like.

What do you consider your home?

BP: San Francisco

What did you expect before entering America?

BP: Another life, more work, more money.

Were you scared before entering if anything would go wrong?

BP: I am never scared.

How was your life in Mexico?

BP: Very good, I was young. I was 17 years old when I came here. I liked it, but I like it here more because it is more convenient.

What was your first job here?

BP: In the garbage, I worked as a garbage man.

Did you have family here before coming here?

BP: No. Everyone else in my family came here after I arrived.

What was the hardest thing when you came here?

BP: The hardest thing was to not come across the police. When I was 23 I got married from Raquel, my wife and got papers.

Did you ever encounter the migration police here?

BP: Yea, a couple times. They told me to leave but I didn’t, and they sent me back to Mexico.

How old were you when you came back?

BP: 19

How old were you when you started working as a garbage man?

BP: 18. I was working at the garbage at the time the police sent me back.

What happened when you came back? They still let you work?

BP: Yes.

How old were you when you bought your first house?

BP: I was 27.

Were you with Raquel when you entered America?

BP: No. I met her here and when we got married I got my green card.

What do you like about America?

BP: Everything.

How did the police know you were an immigrant?

BP: Because they asked for my name and an ID, I did not have.

Where was it when they stopped you?

BP: Here, in Chinatown.

How long were you in jail?

BP: 10 days.

After that they sent you back?

BP: Yes, in a bus.

After that, you returned right away?

BP: About one month after I came back.

Where did you live in Mexico?

BP: Mezcala, Jalisco

Any advice for anyone entering?

BP: No it is hard.

How many time did you encounter la migra?

About 5 times

Did they do anything bad to you?

BP: No, just sent me back. Spent about 5 nights in jail.

When did you meet my grandma?

I met her in mezcala, and I seen her out here and asked her to be my girlfriend.

How long were you guys together before you got married?

BP: about 4 years

What were your goals upon coming here?

BP: make money to live comfortable.

How much did they pay when you entered the garbage?

BP: 6 dollars

And how much did they pay you when you left?

BP: 35 or 39 dollars

What was your favorite thing to do in Mexico?

BP: go to school, take milk from cows, and buy corn to make tortillas

What was your favorite thing to do here besides working?

Play soccer.

How old were you when you stopped?

BP: I stopped playing when I was 18

Your favorite sports?

BP: soccer and baseball

What position were you in soccer?


Did you play goalie?

BP: No, I did not like it.

What was your favorite thing to eat in Mexico?

BP: Anything I could eat. It isn’t like over here where you have many options. But my favorite I guess was rice, tortillas, and meat when I could eat it.

Any memories that you will always remember?

BP: On the ranch, riding the horse and the donkeys, milking cows. I still like to be on the ranch and ride when I go to Mexico.

Did you have cars in Mexico?

BP: No, donkeys and horses.

How old were you when you got your first car?

BP: Like 18

What car was it?

BP: Chevrolet Impala 59

WHat happened to the car?

BP: I sold it and got another one.

What is your favorite car?
BP: Honda and toyota

What is your dream car?

BP: Honda

WHat did you do in jail?

BP: nothing, just wait for them to take me. But mostly sleep.

How many people were with you in the cell?

BP: It was a big room with about 200 people.

Did they feed you everyday?

BP: Yes.

What was it?

It was beans, eggs, and bread.

What were you thinking when you were in jail?

BP: Nothing, that just how life goes. I know I didnt do anything wrong, Im here illegally and the migra got me for not having papers.

So you got sent back 5 times?

BP: Yes.

Man, Papa, nothing stops you.

BP: No, nothing.



Clothed With Bravery and Peace: Refugees Shall Remain Undeterred


Clothed With Bravery and Peace: Refugees Shall Remain Undeterred

by Jimmy Gonzalez, January 2017

Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” The UDHR document was established in 1948, and articulates the basic human rights that all human beings are born with. The United Nations (UN), an international organization established in 1945, adopted this document, whose rights member states agree to protect, defend, and uphold. The United States of America has been and continues to be a country of opportunities and refuge for those who come from distant lands. However, for the past several decades, little has been done to support the majority of these immigrants as they settle in America, so much so that there are approximately eleven to twelve million undocumented people in America. Marginalized from society, misjudged by many, and oftentimes misunderstood, the majority of these men, women, and children live as outcasts and are subject to having their basic human rights violated on a daily basis. It is clear that our immigration system is broken. In his book Underground America, Peter Orner, an American author and professor in San Francisco State University’s Creative Writing Department, illuminates this human rights crisis in America through the oral histories of undocumented immigrants. To use Orner’s words, most if not all undocumented immigrants, “live in a state of permanent anxiety” (9).

People immigrate to other countries for economic, social, and political reasons. In recent decades, immigration from Central America, specifically from Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, has increased significantly due to the gang-violence, poverty, and the lack of security. El Salvador, which is located between Guatemala and Honduras, is considered to be one of the most violent countries in Latin America. El Salvador’s Civil War between the military and the guerillas during the 80’s lasted for about twelve years and resulted in over 75,000 deaths. According to Norma C. Gutiérrez, a Senior Foreign Law Specialist who works for the U.S. Department of Justice, a department that sets out to ensure the public safety of all citizens, reported, “With an average of thirteen Salvadorans killed daily…El Salvador has one of the highest homicide rates in the world and is ranked as one of the most dangerous countries in Latin America” (2). For the time being, the terror in El Salvador is ever-increasing. Continually oppressed by two of the deadliest gangs in Central America, known as the “Mara Salvatrucha Trece” (MS 13) and their rivals, “Barrio Dieciocho” (18th Street), men, women, and children have no other choice but to flee El Salvador and seek refuge in other nations, particularly in the U.S. These two gangs originally formed in Los Angeles, California during the 90’s, but because the majority of these gang members were undocumented Salvadorans, many, including its leaders, were deported. During this time, El Salvador was very vulnerable due to its Civil War, which allowed for these two opposing gangs to practically take control of the nation. Pushed by poverty, gang-violence, and the lack of security in El Salvador, tens of thousands of Salvadorans emigrate to the U.S. yearly in hopes of a safe and secure life. According to the UN, “Refugees are persons who are outside their country of origin for reasons of feared persecution, conflict, generalized violence, or other circumstances that have seriously disturbed public order and, as a result, require international protection.” In her book They Take Our Jobs!, Aviva Chomsky, an American author and teacher who specializes in Latin American history, sets out to dismantle twenty-one of the most common negative misconceptions about immigrants in America. Chomsky states, “Over the course of the 1980’s, up to a million Salvadorans and Guatemalans sought refuge in the United States” (72). They risk life and death to come to a country that has historically oppressed them. Without a clear solution to this intricate dilemma, the people of El Salvador will continue to come to the U.S. even if it means death.

In the fall of 2014, I met Jose while working a part time job in San Francisco, CA. Jose was born and raised in San Salvador, El Salvador, which is located in the highlands. He came to the U.S. at the age of sixteen to be reunited with his mother; meanwhile, his father and older brothers decided to stay in El Salvador. The notion of a better life and more importantly, the sense of security, propelled Jose to come to the U.S. According to Jose, he and his family “lived in a zone that was surrounded by lots of gang members.” In other words, the sense of security didn’t really exist for him while growing up in El Salvador. Prior to coming to America at age sixteen, Jose believed that “The United States has always been a place of many opportunities, in which whatever person that comes over here can be involved in better things.”

When Jose arrived at the US border, he was handed off to Mexican drug cartels, who commonly extort immigrants prior to crossing the border. Article 5 of the UDHR states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” Jose, along with twenty-four other people, were guided by a coyote [human smuggler], who lead them across the border between El Salvador and Guatemala and then from Guatemala through Mexico. However, as they arrived at the border between Mexico and the U.S., Jose became suspicious of the coyote when he noticed that they were being handed off to the drug cartel. According to Jose, the drug cartels are “dangerous because those who are arriving as immigrants are being kidnapped, tortured, and being asked for money that is beyond them.” Fortunately for Jose, there was an agreement between the coyote and the drug cartel, under which if a small ransom was paid, the drug cartel would lead them through the Sonoran Desert. However, this type of deal did not automatically insure anyone’s safety. Oftentimes, immigrants from Central America do not know that at some point in their journey, the drug cartel will be the ones guiding them through Mexico and into the U.S. Jose states, “The coyote does not enter the desert, only those who work with the cartel.” Unlike the coyote, who was unarmed, members of the cartel carried guns while crossing the border. For Jose, this meant that if he disobeyed any of their orders, they could simply aim and fire. Jose states, “They are crossing the people, always armed and they are always talking…They place a gun like this and they threaten you and they place fear within you…Yes, yes they are bad people.” Jose, like the millions of refugees, has human rights, but it is clear that these human rights exist only to a certain extent. Against all odds and with his himan rights practically ignored, Jose courageously navigated his life at a time in which life seemed to be dissolving.

In order to come to America, Jose was funneled through the Sonoran Desert, in which his “right to life” (Article 1) was slowly diminishing as he walked tirelessly for a total of three days and three nights. As one of the many difficult ways in which immigrants come to America is through the Sonoran desert, Jose recalls that the most treacherous part of his journey to America was when he had to walk through the desert. He states, “There, it is more difficult… One of the ways that I had to go through was to step into the desert and walk… Yes, yes, in the desert. More than that, it was night time.” His chances of making it to the other side were quite low due to the fact that those who are funneled through the Sonoran Desert oftentimes die from dehydration and heatstroke. Basically, when these men, women, and children enter the desert, their bodies tend to overheat because of the lack of water. Their bodies begin to cook from the inside and as a result, these immigrants often lose their minds, faint, and die. These grave conditions could have resulted in Jose’s death, ultimately violating his right to life. According to Jose, the only things that sustained his life at that point were “a backpack, bread, and tuna.” These men, women, and children lose their lives because they are not equipped with the necessary tools that they need in order to survive. Jose acknowledges, “This is the risk we take as immigrants to come here.” In spite of the impossibilities, Jose, like millions of immigrants, comes to America risking the precious gift of life in order to get a sense of security, peace, and opportunity. Jose at this point was pushing his limits and would by all means continue to push until reaching his goal.

Mentally, physically, and emotionally challenged, Jose no longer felt safe or secure because this journey seemed ever volatile. In fact, right before entering the Sonoran Desert, Jose started to develop feelings of stress and fear because it was now his turn to navigate through this unforgiving terrain in order to come to the U.S. With his mother waiting on the other side, he remembers, “Well, I felt distressed because they make you go into the desert and you don’t know what will happen in there once inside.” Enveloped by the fear of the unknown, Jose kept reminding himself that the U.S. was only a desert away and soon enough he would be reunited with his mother. At this point in time, Jose was in survival mode, which meant he could no longer be feeble-minded for he knew that such a mentality could jeopardize his entire life. There was no time to waste, so the cartel along with the other twenty-four people stepped into the Sonoran Desert. All bets were off at this point, with the cartel guiding them, the relentless desert conditions before them, and the border patrol ahead of them. According to Jose, “The immigration is there and you are always scared because you are hoping that they do not find you or get you, the only thing you want is to cross and arrive, you know.” Having overcome the financial hurdle, the checkpoints, and the cartel, Jose was faced with a new challenge yet again: this time it was the border patrol. The desert is vast and it is practically impossible to run away from the border patrol while suffering from dehydration. Jose was prepared to run from the border patrol even though they might shoot him or cause a separation between him and the rest of the group. It is clear that Jose was not protected while walking in the desert; in fact, as long as he remained in the desert, no one would be there to protect him. Laws are meant to protect us, but unless these laws are truly enforced, immigrants’ rights will continue to be abused. In the case of Jose, his “right to security” dissolved right before his eyes while walking in the desert amid rattlesnakes and the deadly drug cartel.

While walking in the Sonoran Desert, Jose and the twenty-four other people experienced moments of dehydration, hunger, and in some occasions, separation from one another as they were running away from the border patrol. Jose was not alone while coming to America, but as he arrived to America, he realized that only a few had made it to the other side. According to Jose, “So, you go with that mentality, but like I told you, I was in a group of twenty five people and in the end only thirteen of us went through.” At this point, some people had been captured by the border patrol, others had gotten lost as they were separated from the group, and some died because of the lack of water. In an interview with Robin Reineke, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Colibri Center for Human Rights, a non-profit organization in Arizona that works with families to end migrant deaths along the border, she states, “Not only are we losing lives in the border every year, but we are losing them in degrading, harmful, and painful ways” (NPR). Looking back at Jose’s story, and those of the thousands of others, how might the U.S. work to establish policy that would allow others to avoid these human rights abuses?

Immigration Detention Centers

Every year, hundreds of thousands of immigrants are arrested and detained in immigration detention centers while they await their asylum cases, hearings, and sentences. In her study “Locked Up Far Away: The Transfer of Immigrants to Remote Detention Centers in the United States,” which describes the emotional and psychological effects of being transferred, Alison Parker, director of the U.S. Program of Human Rights, states, “They are held in a vast network of more than 300 detention facilities, located in nearly every state in the country” (Human Rights Watch). In essence, because there are so many facilities throughout the U.S., the majority of these immigrants experience being transferred from center to center without legal representation. Parker cites an attorney who says, “[The detainees] are loaded onto a plane in the middle of the night. They have no idea where they are, no idea what [U.S.] state they are in. I cannot overemphasize the psychological trauma to these people. What it does to their family members cannot be fully captured either” (Human Rights Watch). To understand these detention centers, it is vital to understand the fact that not all of them are adequately regulated by the government. In fact, the detention centers that aren’t adequately watched are being operated by private corporations that have been allowed to operate as for-profit centers.

Without government control, these detention centers often go unpunished for violating these immigrants’ basic human rights, such as the right to a public defender. Anthropologist Dr. Lucy Fiske, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow & Senior Lecturer at the University of Technology Sydney, in her study “Human Rights and Refugee Protest against Immigration Detention: Refugees’ Struggles for recognition as Human,” wrote, “Life inside immigration detention centers is precarious, filled with uncertainty and monotony and, too often, degrading treatment” (19). An extreme yet common strategy to deter refugees from applying for asylum is to place them inside what the refugees call hieleras, Spanish for iceboxes. In his study “U.S. Immigration Policy: Enforcement and Deportation Trump Fair Hearings,” Jacob Oakes, J.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina School of Law, examines US Policy regarding unauthorized migrants and asylum-seekers. He states:

Reports of harrassments, threats, and attempts to ‘dissuade from applying for asylum’ included the use of ‘iceboxes’ (or ‘hieleras’), extremely cold rooms where migrants are placed while they await their fate, sometimes giving in and signing the removal papers and other times falling ill.” (859)

Often neglected of their basic human rights, these immigrants are treated like animals simply because they lack a piece of paper. In 2009, the U.S. government implemented what is called the “Immigration Detention Bed Quota.” According to the National Immigrant Justice Center, an organization dedicated to ensuring human rights protection to immigrants and asylum seekers, “The immigration detention bed quota requires U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to maintain 34,000 immigration detention beds on a daily basis.” As a result, immigrants who have no criminal record—even legal residents—are placed in these detention centers to meet the annual quota. Studying the immigration detention system, in her article, “Liberty and Justice for All: The Violations of Basic Human Rights in Detention Centers Across the United States,” Olga Verez reports:

But as illegal crossings from Mexico have fallen to near their lowest levels since the early 1970’s, ICE has been meeting Congress’s immigration detention goals by reaching deeper into the criminal justice system to vacuum up foreign-born, legal U.S. residents convicted of any crime that could render them eligible for deportation. (197-198)

Immigration detention centers were primarily built to temporarily detain immigrants before they were granted asylum or deported, but it is clear that their main focus has shifted. The focus has become to fill beds regardless of their immigration status. When detained immigrants should at the very least be provided with a public defender to have a fair chance in the asylum process.

Southern Border Plan

In July 2014, Mexico announced its new Southern Border Program, through which it would strengthen its border between Guatemala and Mexico. Seldom spoken about, this program has allowed the U.S. to extend their southernmost border in the sense of border patrol. President Enrique Peña Nieto promised that Central American migrants would be treated better and provided a less dangerous path to come to the United States. WOLA, an organization that advocates for human rights in the Americas, has studied how Central American migrants have been effected since the Southern Border Program was enacted in “Increased Enforcement at Mexico’s Southern Border,” which aims to educate the general public in regards to the new challenges that Central American migrants face. The overall purpose of the Southern Border Program, according to President Peña Nieto, is to “Protect and safeguard the human rights of migrants who enter and travel through Mexico, as well as to establish order at international crossings to increase development and security in the region” (WOLA 5). Once enacted, Mexico began to strengthen its Southern border by setting up several checkpoints to arrest anyone who was trying to come here unlawfully. The Obama administration strongly supports Mexico’s strong hand on these immigrants because this ostensibly means a decrease in migrants arriving to the U.S. border. However, what both governments fail to realize is the fact that most of these Central American migrants are fleeing from gang threats and extreme poverty, which forces them to come even if it means death.

In general, one of the common ways in which Central American migrants are smuggled through Mexico is on a cargo train nicknamed La Bestia, Spanish for “The Beast.” The reason this train is called “The Beast” is because thousands of migrants have lost their lives riding this train and it runs along a common route on which gang members assault immigrants. However, due to the Southern Border Plan, this train has become less accessible to Central American migrants because the speeds of the train have “Increased from about 10 kilometers per hour (6 mph) to 60-70 kilometers per hour (37-43 mph)” (WOLA 21). Instead of aiding these immigrants as the President of Mexico said he would, people are now coming to America by coming through even more dangerous paths. According to WOLA, “With decreased possibilities of boarding the train in Chiapas, migrants and smugglers are now relying on different and dangerous routes and modes of transportation, including by foot and boat” (2). Even though the majority of these immigrants are men, there are thousands of children and mothers who also have to face these challenges. Strengthening border patrol will not stop Central American migrants who are fleeing from the violence of this country, many of whom are in desperate need of asylum. According to WOLA, “These routes expose migrants to new vulnerabilities while isolating them from the network of shelters established along traditional routes” (2). Even more disturbing is the method with which the government of Mexico decides whether or not Central American migrants are worthy of asylum. According to WOLA, “Mexico has a broader definition of ‘refugee’ than the United States, which only grants asylum when an individual can demonstrate ‘that they were persecuted or fear persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group’” (25). How can an immigrant who is running for his life have enough evidence to persuade the Mexican government that he is worthy to be considered a refugee? A Central American migrant is not able to document the horrors from which he is running from, so to be judged based on the lack of evidence is simply senseless.

Prevention Through Deterrence

Prevention through Deterrence is a strategy that has been implemented to decrease immigrants from Central America reaching the U.S., but in order for this strategy to work, the U.S. would have to provide protection for asylum seekers in Central America. They have tried to build walls and fences along the Southern parts of CA, which then force immigrants to come to the U.S. through the Sonoran Desert in Arizona. In his book The Land of Open Graves, Jason De León, an Anthropologist and Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan, introduces Prevention through Deterrence and explains how it was built to purposefully kill hundreds of thousands of Central American immigrants. According to De León, “Border zones become spaces of exception—physical and political locations where an individual’s rights and protections under law can be stripped away upon entrance” (27). Like Jose, thousands of immigrants who are funneled through the Sonoran Desert walk through terrain on which their rights no longer exist. Countless people have died in this desert because there is little to no water at all to sustain them while walking in the desert. They are forced to travel through this type of terrain because of Prevention through Deterrence. The government believes that by building the walls and fences, this will automatically deter immigrants from coming to America in the first place. De León notes, “At the same time, these policies expose noncitizens to a state-crafted geopolitical terrain designed to deter their movement through suffering and death” (28). The U.S. government knows that the Sonoran Desert is the deadliest region any immigrant could be smuggled through, but they refuse to do anything about it. In essence, that was the purpose of Prevention through Deterrence from the very beginning. Strategic and well played, Prevention through Deterrence has been working. For the time being, somewhere in the vastness of the Sonoran Desert, a refugee is fighting to stay alive. De León states, “Although no public record explicitly states that a goal of PTD is to kill border crossers in an attempt to deter other would-be migrants, the connection between death and this policy has been highlighted by both academics and various federal agencies charged with evaluating Border Patrol programs” (34). Immigrants are dying without the justice they deserve. Stepping into the desert is like stepping into one’s fate: there are only two outcomes, life or death. Even though these immigrants have the chance to turn around and go back to their countries, they refuse to do so because deep within their hearts, they hold steadfast to the idea that the U.S. will grant them the refuge they so desperately need.

Prevention through Deterrence seems like it may be working according to the goal of leading them to their deaths, but the reality is that refugees continue to come. When Jose came to the U.S., Prevention through Deterrence was not officially in place, but he still experienced walking in the desert for three long days in which he could have died like thousands of other immigrants have. According to De León, “Many have died since the implementation of this policy, and the correlation between the funneling of people toward desolate regions of the border and an upsurge in fatalities is strong” (35). The fact that the U.S. government supports these policies is absolutely appalling. They consciously enact laws in the hopes that this will overall decrease immigration by making them walk into their own graves. The Sonoran Desert will continue to be a gravesite unless the U.S. decides to do something about it. Until then, men, women, and children will have to continue to navigate these difficulties.


It is clear that our immigration system is broken. Although there is no clear and absolute solution to this ever-growing dilemma, there are several things that the U.S. could do in order to help these refugees in particular. First, the U.S. should close all privatized immigration detention centers. By not shutting them down, these privatized detention centers will continue to mistreat these detained refugees. Now, for the one’s that do remain open, the government should carefully and regularly regulate whether these centers are meeting the federal and human rights standards. Kimberly Hamilton, candidate for Doctor of Jurisprudence at the University of Tennessee, College of Law, in her study, “Immigrant Detention Centers in the United States and International Human Law,” which explores the many different ways in which detainees’ rights are abused, suggests, “The key to effective and uniform application of policies is comprehensive training of employees and regular oversight and monitoring of policy implementation.” If the US government made it its goal to properly train the employees who work at these facilities and constantly check them, it would minimize the acts of dehumanization towards detained immigrants. These privately run detention centers should be brought to justice like any other organization so that it can be clear that treating these refugees in a totally indignified way results in serious consequences. Furthermore, immigrants in detention centers must be represented by public defenders. It is no longer acceptable that these refugees walk into their asylum case without anyone to represent them.

Secondly, the Southern Border Plan should actually live up to its decree. When Central American migrants apply for asylum, their cases should be considered even if they do not have any proof of the dire circumstances that they are currently in. The reason is because the majority of these immigrants are under life or death situations. Overall, building and maintaining the walls and fences along the Southern U.S. border uses money that can be invested elsewhere. As for the Sonoran Desert, the government has got to stop funneling immigrants through this type of terrain and take proper care of them while they await their asylum cases. This means that they should be housed and fed at least until they know whether or not they will be granted asylum to this country.

As we see with Jose’s journey and those of the millions of migrants that come to the US annually, privatized immigration detention centers should be outlawed and those that remain must be constantly regulated by the government so that these migrants human rights aren’t at risk of being abused; Secondly, the Southern Border Plan should commit to its initial plan, which would help Central American migrants as they pass through Mexico; Lastly, although walls have gone up to stop migrants from attempting this journey, Prevention through Deterrence will never deter these immigrants, many of whom can never go back home; therefore, the money which is spent in building and sustaining these walls should be invested elsewhere. While some may argue that many of these immigrants are criminals and should be detained, it is important to realize that the majority of these immigrants are refugees, including mothers and children, all of whom deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. The phrase “out of sight, out of mind,” which is commonly used, makes it easy to blame Mexico for the many types of abuses that the Southern Border Plan has generated since enforced. However, it is vital to realize that the US, along with Mexico, drafted the Southern Border Plan; therefore, both should also assume responsibility for this human rights crisis in Mexico. Humans will continue to survive and thrive many things; therefore, it is merely impossible to stop a human whose natural instinct is to survive by migrating to a foreign country. Documented or undocumented, we are all humans, and should treat each other with love, respect, and kindness.

Works Cited

Chomsky, Aviva. “They Take Our Jobs!”: and 20 Other Myths about Immigration. Beacon Press, 2007.

“Detention Bed Quota.” National Immigrant Justice Center, National Immigrant Justice Center, 15 Nov. 2016, http://www.immigrantjustice.org/eliminate-detention-bed-quota.

Fiske, Lucy. “Human Rights And Refugee Protest Against Immigration Detention: Refugees’ Struggles For Recognition As Human.” Refuge (0229-5113) 32.1 (2016): 18-27. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Gutiérrez, Norma C. “El Salvador: Gang Violence.” US Department of Justice, 1–7. http://www.justice.gov.

Hamilton, Kimberly R. “Immigrant Detention Centers In The United States And International Human Rights Law.” Berkeley La Raza Law Journal 21.(2011): 93-132. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Hinojosa, Maria et.al. “By the Dawn’s Early Light.” Latino USA, Futuro Media, 18 Nov. 2016, www.npr.org/programs/latino-usa/502594534/by-the-dawn-s-early-light?showDate=2016-11-18.

Isacson, Adam et al. “Increased Enforcement at Mexico’s Southern Border – WOLA.” WOLA, WOLA, 9 Nov. 2015, www.wola.org/analysis/new-report-increased-enforcement-at-mexicos-southern-border/.

Leon, Jason De. The Land of Open Graves: Living and Dying on the Migrant Trail. Oakland, CA, University of California Press, 2015.

Oakes, Jacob. “U.S. Immigration Policy: Enforcement & Deportation Trump Fair Hearings–Systematic Violations Of International Non-Refoulement Obligations Regarding Refugees.” North Carolina Journal Of International Law & Commercial Regulation 41.4 (2016): 833-918. Business Source Complete. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.

Orner, Peter et al. Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives. Edited by Peter Orner, McSweeney’s Books, 2008.

Parker, Alison. “Locked Up Far Away.” Edited by David Bathi, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Watch, 29 Apr. 2015, www.hrw.org/report/2009/12/02/locked-far-away/transfer-immigrants-remote-detention-centers-united-states.

“Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” UN News Center. UN, n.d. Web. 07 Sept. 2016.

Velez, Olga. “Liberty And Justice For All: The Violations Of Basic Human Rights In Detention Centers Across The United States.” University Of Florida Journal Of Law & Public Policy 25.2 (2014): 187-204. Academic Search Complete. Web. 10 Dec. 2016.


Sample Transcripts

Jimmy: Okay perfect, first of all, um, I want to know where you were born

Jose: Uh-huh

Jimmy: Um, what brought you here to the United States, and how are you right now?

Jose: Um okay well, okay I was born in El Salvador in the capital, mhm, the reasons I decided to come here were for security and to seek a better life.

Jimmy: Security, security from?

Jose: From, like well El Salvador is a country with a lot of violence and all of that, and it is not safe. It is not safe for the same reason, the gangs, there is no security.

Jimmy: Did you have experiences with the gangs or with the military, the police?

Jose: Um, yes, with the gangs more than anything else, because in school right, we go to school and like in El Salvador from a very young age they begin to be in school so, the school is mixed with them and if they see that if you have a little money on you or something like that, they begin to bother you so that you have to give them money or they want you to become part of or a member of the gang.

Jimmy: Understood.

Jose: They force you.

Jimmy: Understood, did you have friends in your school, like you stated

Jose: Yeah

Jimmy: That went into the gangs?

Jose: Yes they were gang members and they want you to go with them. If not, they can, kind of like they want to do something to you. I don’t know.

Jimmy: Understood, I understand

Jose: Well, where I lived it was like that, but maybe in other places it is not like that, but that is how it was for me.

Jimmy: That’s how it was.

Jose: Which is why like my mom told me that, well I told her that I did not feel much security there and that is one of the reasons why she wanted to bring me and one of the reasons why I wanted to go

Jimmy: So, your mom was already here in the United States?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: She was already here, and were you living with your family or friends over their?

Jose: Yes, with my brothers.

Jimmy: Were they older than you were?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: And were they also going to school?

Jose: Yes, yes all of us were going to school, but like how I have told you, we lived in a zone that was surrounded by lots of gang members. Many times their were organized groups of them and it you felt no security, to live in that type of ambience, you do not feel any type of security. Um, well, sometimes in front of my house, a lot of things happened many times, that, for example, there was a gang and the contrary gang and they would start shooting at themselves.

Jimmy: Which ones were they?

Jose: The gang members, the MS and the eighteenth. Sometimes, their was like encounters and they began shooting bullets in front of the house.

Jimmy: Wow

Jose: And sometimes the people that were walking their, well, maybe a lost bullet right, would fall on them. Understand Me? Because I lived an experience like that. Close to where I lived, there was a pupuseria stand, in which they sold pupusas their

Jimmy: Mm

Jose: And one time they began to shoot right there between the opposing gangs, and the lady was only doing her business, and sadly one of the bullets hit her.

Jimmy: Wow

Jose: And she was only working

Jimmy: And you saw all of this?

Jose: No no, I did not see it, but it was a couple of blocks away

Jimmy: Oh so you heard it?

Jose: Yes I heard it, and I went to see, and the lady was their, a bullet had hit her in her back.

Jimmy: Wow, wow

Jose: That’s why, that’s why it does not feel safe to grow up in El Salvador, it is not very safe. So, all those things make you think, of immigrating, you understand me, to get out of all of that. There are also other factors, like poverty and all of that, you understand me that force you to leave. That is why, well like in the United States, you know, this is a country which does not often see things like that. That forces you, that same thinking makes you want to come

Jimmy: Of course

Jose: To gain strength, to come here

Jimmy: Of course

Jose: To get here to seek something better, you understand me.

Jimmy: And when you were in El Salvador, what was your image, or your expectations of the United States?

Jose: Um, well, well I have always thought since I was very young, well that here, there is a better way of life and it is a place where, the United States has always been a place of many opportunities, in which whatever person that comes over here can be involved in better things, you understand me.

Jimmy: I understand

Jose: Studies, work, all of those things. That is why

Jimmy: Which is why

Jose: Which is why this country, that is what I have always thought about this country.

Jimmy: Yes yes, so, when you shared this with your mother, about the situation in El Salvador, she encouraged you, or encouraged you to come to the United States? What did you think in that moment?

Jose: Um

Jimmy: Did you think it was a good idea to leave all your brothers behind?

Jose: Yes, yes that was, well a good opportunity, and I do not regret coming over here.

Jimmy: How old were you when?

Jose: I was sixteen years old

Jimmy: Sixteen years old

Jose: Yeah

Jimmy: Wow, so when you were sixteen years of age, you had decided to come to the United States?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: How did you travel to the United States?

Jose: Um, well I came here as an immigrant, because their wasn’t any other option, you know. It was the only option to come here. I had no other choice, sadly that’s the way things happened and yeah, I came here like everyone that comes here.

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: You know, you pay a coyote and the coyote brings you all the way here.

Jimmy: Describe your trip

Jose: My trip

Jimmy: How was it?

Jose: How was it?

Jimmy: Yeah

Jose: Oh okay, well the first thing you do is to get in contact with a person that brings people here. Um, and they charge a specific amount of money to bring you here, okay.

Jimmy: Is is safe?

Jose: Um, I think that it all depends, I think that the time has to do with a lot of that, you understand me. Well, before, you know like ten or thirty years ago, I think it was more accessible to come here. There weren’t many problems to come here as an immigrant

Jimmy: That was thirty years ago.

Jose: It was a little bit safer. There was security, there was security when coming here, but lately like in Mexico, it is very problematic. For the last ten years, you know the Cartels and all of that are the people that do the human and drug trafficking, they are the ones that posses the control their.

Jimmy: I understand

Jose: So, now many times the news shows how their is a lot of violence their in Mexico, for territories that belong to the Cartels.

Jimmy: The Zetas, right?

Jose: Everyone, all of the Cartels from Mexico. So, they see that they work with the people, with the immigrants, those who are arriving and so sometimes the people, well it’s dangerous because those who are arriving as immigrants are being kidnapped, tortured, and being asked for money that is beyond them.

Jimmy: Right

Jose: Right now, I think that in this moment they are not safe, it is a little bit difficult, as opposed to ten or fifteen years ago.

Jimmy: And in your opinion, was it something easy to travel this journey?

Jose: Um

Jimmy: What were the difficulties?

Jose: Yes, no, yes, throughout the course there will always be difficulties, it will not be easy too.

Jimmy: I understand

Jose: Above it all, well the majority of time it was easy, but the most difficult thing is

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: To cross the border from Mexico to enter the United States. That is the most

Jimmy: And why is that the most difficult thing?

Jose: Their, it is more difficult because their are many ways that they pass the people from the border of Mexico to the United States. They have many forms of how to bring people through. One of the ways that I had to go through was to step into the desert and walk.

Jimmy: Hm… Wow, in the desert?

Jose: Yes, yes, in the desert. More than that, it was night time.

Jimmy: Where did you guys sleep?

Jose: Um..

Jimmy: In the desert?

Jose: Wherever

Jimmy: Wherever?

Jose: Yeah, you had to seek a place

Jimmy: And what did you have, did you have your backpack, your

Jose: Yeah only

Jimmy: Water?

Jose: A backpack, bread, and tuna, yeah.

Jimmy: And was was the group that you were with a large one?

Jose: Yeah we were like twenty-five people

Jimmy: All men, women, children?

Jose: No, there were women, yeah, how is that called, the majority were only men and like, like about six or eight women.

Jimmy: Were you guys all from El Salvador, or from other countries as well?

Jose: No no no, we were from all over the places

Jimmy: From all the places

Jose: This is the risk we take as immigrants to come here, because sometimes you do not know who you are with because they are bad people. They do not let themselves be seen and they are always armed. They are crossing the people, always armed and they are always talking. They speak to you in a strong manner, they are violent people you know, they are the type of people that want you to do this, if not, the one who wants to play smart, they will shoot a bullet towards you. They place a gun like this and they threaten you and they place fear within you. They place fear in you. Yes, yes they are bad people.

Jimmy: Wow, could you describe to me the moment when you were in the desert. How was it like? How did you feel?

Jose: Um, um, well I felt distressed because

Jimmy: Hm.

Jose: Because they make you go into the desert and you don’t know what will happen in their once inside. The immigration is their and you are always scared because you are hoping that they find you or get you and the only thing you want is to cross and arrive, you know.

Jimmy: Wow

Jose: So, you go with that mentality, but like I told you, I was in a group of twenty five people and in the end only thirteen of us went through.

Jimmy: Only thirteen?!

Jose: Only thirteen.

Jimmy: What happened to the twelve that did not go through?

Jose: Um, the rest of the group, some couldn’t endure because for three days, we were walking in the desert.

Jimmy: Three days in the desert

Jose: Three days inside the desert.

Jimmy: And

Jose: And many couldn’t resist, some stayed and others were caught by immigration because sometimes they see immigration and start running. You know in their, there is only luck you know.

Jimmy: So, those who stayed behind, did they stay with someone, or?

Jose: They stayed by themselves.

Jimmy: Alone

Jose: Alone, depending on luck. So that immigration may get them.

Jimmy: Because the coyote had to keep moving forward?

Jose: No, the coyote does not enter the desert, only those who work with the Cartel

Jimmy: Oh no, ah.

Jose: [Laughs] Those are other people, you know, the coyote that one decided to pay only takes you to the border of Mexico. From their, you are now a part of the Cartel. The Cartel begin to work with you.

Jimmy: Okay now that you are in the United States, what is something that you miss the most from El Salvador? Or do you miss it or no?

Jose: Hm… Well, the rest of my family I do, I do miss that, the food, and the style of life that one has over their, you now, because I think that life over here is more stressful, more fast

Jimmy: More fast

Jose: The people here never, they are always busy. Their is no sensation of being relaxed without having to worry. That is what I miss the most from my country, and that you have your own house over their

Jimmy: In your country?

Jose: Yes, that is what I miss the most, you have your own house and you do not have to worry about rent, you only worry about food and clothing.

Jimmy: Do you plan on returning to El Salvador, and why?

Jose: Yes, I would like to return to El Salvador. Um, yeah because it would be a good experience to return to the place where one was born and raised.

Jimmy: Would you go back to live their or simply visit?

Jose: Um, no, well I don’t know

Jimmy: You don’t know

Jose: I don’t know, I do not have an answer to that question right now in this moment.

Jimmy: Now, now, when you first arrived to the United States, you were sixteen years old. What were you thinking? Did you think of working? Did you want to study? What were your plans?

Jose: Um, yes, well in that moment, I the thought of continuing to study,

Jimmy: Of studying, you wanted to keep on studying?

Jose: Yes, I wanted to keep on studying.

Jimmy: What did you want to do with your studying? Did you want to become a lawyer, a doctor?

Jose: Um…

Jimmy: Teacher?

Jose: I wanted to be a history teacher, yeah

Jimmy: History Teacher

Jose: Yes, yeah that was my dream, to become a professor of social studies, or history

Jimmy: Why? Have you always liked those subjects?
Jose: Yes, I have liked them. I like to teach the things of the past and things like that.

Jimmy: I understand. So, when you first came, you enrolled in school?

Jose: Yes, thank God my mom gave me the opportunity to go and study.

Jimmy: You went to study?

Jose: Yes, I went to school for four years.

Jimmy: So, you went to high school, got your diploma

Jose: Yes, I graduated from high school

Jimmy: And did you continue by going to a university?

Jose: Um, no, due to my social status, well I couldn’t continue. It was very difficult. Well, yes there were options to continue, but, well, I felt a little depressed because I had a dream to continue studying. But when I tried to apply for a university.

Jimmy: Uh huh

Jose: And then, when I realized the costs, it was disappointing. I did not want to continue and instead I opted out and began to work.

Jimmy: So, it was the money that stopped you?

Jose: Yes, it was the money that stopped me from continuing to study. There were options, like borrowing money, but I did not like it, because this is a great country, and for them to not help you and your studies

Jimmy: You had been disappointed

Jose: Seemed like garbage to me.

Jimmy: Wow

Jose: More money is spent in other things and in education, never. Here they never, in fact I think that the government wants to make business from us, you know. Well, well, for someone who comes as an immigrant to this country and wants to continues his or her studies, it is no easy task. Which is why to those who have arrived here and do not have papers or anything, and have been able to overcome through their studies, I congratulate them. Because I think it is not something easy, you know.

Jimmy: I understand

Jose: If they, uh, the people that are born here, you know, don’t do much, but a person who comes here without any documents and achieves to have graduated from a university from here in the United States, they do five times the work than someone that was born here, you know.

Jimmy: Due to their obstacles, wow.

Jose: Yes, you know.

Jimmy: Due to their present status.

Jose: Uh-huh, yes, if you do one percent, they have to do ten times more than you, and it is not something easy to do.

Start at 16min 15sec talks about if they taught about the war in schools

Jimmy: When you were in school, over their in El Salvador, did they teach you guys about why their was so much war?

Jose: What?

Jimmy: Did they teach you guys when you were studying, why their was so much war, a lot of violence in El Salvador or?

Jose: If they taught these things in school?

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: Um, well, they really didn’t teach about that. Well in regards to the war, they did teach us about the war, it’s motives and all of that, but well it wasn’t that important.

Jimmy: Yes, yes

Jose: Well, in school they taught what was supposed to be taught you know, the normal.

Jimmy: The normal

Jose: Like here

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: Like here, well they would teach about it like a topic to discuss about, I don’t know, for maybe about six weeks and that’s it, you know.

Jimmy: That’s it

Jose: They talk about the civil war, and the independence of the United States more than anything. In regards to recent wars, they don’t say much.

Jimmy: I understand, and

Jose: It wouldn’t benefit them [laughs]

Jimmy: It wouldn’t benefit them, oh man. [laughs]

Jimmy: So, what do you think about the situation right now, in regards to immigration? The opportunities that the people have when they are here? Do you think they come to a country, where for them it is something or a place where they can succeed, are their to many limitations, what do you think about that?

Jose: Okay yes, I think that coming here as an immigrant to this country, their are many limitations for us.

Jimmy: Like which ones?

Jose: Um okay, you know that by not having a social security it is very difficult to find a good job. Um, you do not have many privileges like being able to get a licence or the ability to travel freely, you know without fear. It is very difficult you know, in fact to even rent a place to live, you sometimes even need papers

Jimmy: Wow

Jose: If you do not have a number, no one wants to give you a place to rent to your name. You always want to give rent to someone who has papers. You know.

Jimmy: Prior to coming

Jose: Many things

Jimmy: Prior to coming to the United States, did you think that this was how it was going to be?

Jose: No no.

Jimmy: Or did you think.

Jose: No no, I had never imagined that. I had imagined many things of how it was going to be here, for example, I thought that I was going to have a house,

Jimmy: Ah

Jose: You know that having a house, it is no easy task you know, to be a proprietary of house. So, okay that is how I thought, I had expected that

Jimmy: You were going to be able to buy your own house

Jose: That I was going to have my house, my room, my garage and everything, you know. Not to have to pay so much money for rent and all of that. I had never imagined the high cost of living here.

Jimmy: Wow, and when you first came to the United States, or when you had finished studying better said, um, where did you begin to work?

Jose: Um well, I began to seek work and in whatever you know

Jimmy: In whatever

Jose: I did not have a specific field that I wanted to work in. I only wanted to work, but just didn’t know where.

Jimmy: And

Jose: The idea was to start making money

Jimmy: Money?

Jose: Yeah

Jimmy: Um, with the money that you earned, did you send part of it to El Salvador?

Jose: Well, well, I have never helped anyone from my country because, mhm, in reality they are all doing okay. They are poor you know, but they are living, they work and all and they have enough to manage, you know.

Jimmy: And when you first started working, did your employers treat you with, let’s say kindliness?

Jose: No, when you are an immigrant, all the jobs know that you do not have a good social, so because they know, they always take advantage of you, you know.

Jimmy: Always

Jose: In one way or another they always pressure you

Jimmy: The employers?

Jose: So that you can give the maximum, so that you can keep your job, you know. That will always remain

Jimmy: And the immigrant cannot do anything?

Jose: Well, yes yes, here you are able to complain and all of that, but what’s the point

Jimmy: Maybe because they will not listen to you

Jose: Um yes that is what I think, nothing will happen, it is not even worth it

Jimmy: Simply because one does not have the papers

Jose: Yeah exactly, there isn’t much

Jimmy: Respect?
Jose: Yeah yes, the people do not respect you and so they always want to take advantage of you because of the status you possess. Even though it is not directly right, they will not tell you this directly, but their is always the sensation that someone who is working their legally, will get treated better than someone who does not have, you know.

Jimmy: Does not have

Jose: And they will want for the one that does not have to work more than the one who does have, you know, the one who has papers. The one who is legal and the one who is illegal, there will always be a difference their.

Jimmy: A difference

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: Wow, wow

Jose: But that is how life is you know

Jimmy: Here in the United States

Jose: Yes, but I do not get weary

Jimmy: You do not get weary

Jose: But that is how life is, and when life is like this, you have to learn to adapt to how it is, you do not want to step out of the norm.

Jimmy: Of course, of course

Jose: Exactly, well that is one what has, no choice. It is like one is in life, but it’s okay nothing happens.

Jimmy: Yes yes, I understand.

Jose: Yeah

Jimmy: So, now that you are here, you have been here for twelve years I believe

Jose: Uh-huh

Jimmy: No, yes twelve years here in the United States, um have you had the opportunity of becoming a citizen?

Jose: Well, okay I have tried, well, because I am married to an American you know,

Jimmy: An American

Jose: My wife is American and she has an American passport. I am trying to see if she can ask for me, I am trying to see how I can solve my status in this country and I hope to one day achieve it you know.

Jimmy: Yes, is the process difficult?

Jose: Yes, the process is difficult, due to the way that I came to this country, because those who enter through plane legally, for them it is more easy. However, for those who come through land, if their is no law to protect one

Jimmy: It is very difficult

Jose: It is very difficult, yeah

Jimmy: Wow and so now you have a wife?

Jose: Unless their is an amnesty [laughs]

Jimmy: An amnesty [laughs] yes yes, 1983 I believe their was an amnesty

Jose: Yes their was one in 1999

Jimmy: Uh-huh and

Jose: But since then there has not been any

Jimmy: Now you have a family, do you have any children, boys or girls?

Jose: Yes I have a daughter

Jimmy: A daughter

Jose: And I have a wife

Jimmy: A wife, wow. So now you tend to them, you help them?

Jose: Yes normal, yes, of course, like any other family.

Jimmy: Like any other family

Jose: When you form a home, you have to do what the man has to do, you know.

Jimmy: Of course [laughs]

Jose: [laughs] You are the man of the house, of course, family is family you know.

Jimmy: And your daughter was born here, right?

Jose: What?

Jimmy: Your daughter was born here in the United States?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: Yes, she has papers?

Jose: Yes she does

Jimmy: Do you think that she will have better opportunities than let’s say that you had when you were growing up?

Jose: Yes of course

Jimmy: Of course

Jose: Yes, of course, I hope she takes advantage of them, yeah.

Jimmy: If you were in, or had you not came over here where do you think you would be in El Salvador?

Jose: Um, okay, perhaps I would be working with my dad

Jimmy: Oh, your father is in El Salvador?

Jose: Yes, my father is in El Salvador

Jimmy: In El Salvador

Jose: Uh-huh, I think that I would have been working with my father

Jimmy: Ahh I understand

Jose: In the company that he works

Jimmy: Ah, and do you miss your father?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: Yes, a lot?

Jose: It was with him that I was grew up with.

Jimmy: You grew up with him, of course because your mother was here in the United States

Jose: Uh-huh

Jimmy: Oh wow, do you still keep in touch with him?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: I speak with him every now and then

Jimmy: Would you like to bring him here one day or maybe he doesn’t want to come?

Jose: Um, or go and visit him or bring him here, but he does not want to travel here.

Jimmy: He does not want to come here

Jose: No he doesn’t

Jimmy: He doesn’t

Jose: He’s okay over there [laughs]

Jimmy: He’s okay over their?

Jose: Yeah

Jimmy: Oh okay, that’s good

Jose: He feels good being over their

Jimmy: Yes yes, and now talk to me about your future? About your, your dreams? I know that you work, but what are your goals now? You now have your family

Jose: Okay, um,

Jimmy: Where do you see yourself ten years from now or something like that?

Jose: Okay yes, maybe, well, um,

Jimmy: What are your dreams, maybe getting those papers?

Jose: Yes, my dream is to get something at least to change my immigration status you know, and then I don’t know, seek a better job.

Jimmy: So,

Jose: Something better you know

Jimmy: Once you get that status changed, you can, say

Jose: There are more opportunities for you

Jimmy: More opportunities?

Jose: Yes, logically of course. Maybe I won’t be able to find them fast or something like that, it may take time, but it is something that you are sure of, finding better opportunities work wise, maybe better respect, you know. In some places they ask you for a type of identification and the only thing that one has is a passport, you know.

Jimmy: Uh-huh

Jose: And the people look at you weird because that is the only thing you have

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: So, maybe some more respect in that form you know, because it is not the same to show a passport as opposed to show some form of identification from this country of yours.

Jimmy: What would it mean for you to have those type of papers?

Jose: Um

Jimmy: Of being a citizen, what would that mean to you?

Jose: Oh yeah, it would mean a lot for me, of course.

Jimmy: How would you feel?

Jose: A lot because, well because of course your life would improve, you know. It is something that, when something improves your life, it becomes very significant, you know.

Jimmy: Of course

Jose: It is something that is very important

Jimmy: So, that is something you see in the future?

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: Envisioning yourself a citizen of this country, of the United States

Jose: Yes, but you know, I think like that, but, and I want to keep on thinking like that.

Jimmy: Yes

Jose: I don’t think that I am a bad person. Many people are immigrants, and they give them their papers and everything, but many of them do not take advantage of that opportunity that they have, and are doing bad things, you know.

Jimmy: Oh do you know people that

Jose: No, it is not that I know them, but those types of cases sometimes happen you know.

Jimmy: Mhm, and you wish that

Jose: Maybe they don’t want to work anymore because they now have their number and they want the government to tend to them.

Jimmy: Wow

Jose: Disability and all of that, you know.

Jimmy: It is not good

Jose: Yeah, makes the Hispanic community look bad, you know

Jimmy: Yes, yes, mhm, so,

Jose: But anyways, that is the way it is

Jimmy: And how are you doing right now, presently?

Jose: Good thank God, what mostly interests me is to have health and work. Right now I am healthy and have work, so I feel good.

Jimmy: You feel good

Jose: Yes

Jimmy: How good, how good, do you work everyday or do you have?

Jose: No, I only work a part time, yeah

Jimmy: Oh okay

Jose: I earn enough for my expenses, it’s sufficient, even to put some in savings

Jimmy: And the good thing is that you know both languages, English and Spanish?

Jose: More or less yeah

Jimmy: Yeah

Jose: I understand enough to speak it a little.

Jimmy: Yeah, yeah, um do you think that you are living the American Dream right now?

Jose: Um…

Jimmy: Or for you, what is the American dream [laughs]

Jose: [laughs] Tell you the truth, I do not think their such a thing as the American Dream

Jimmy: [laughs] That does not exist

Jose: [laughs] That does not exist [Laughing] The American Dream, you yourself are the creator of that.

Jimmy: Yeah [laughs]

Jose: There is no American Dream

Jimmy: What do you think when you hear that?

Jose: What would the American Dream be for you?

Jimmy: To have a house, a family, working, to have an education.

Jose: Ah okay, well, okay that’s good

Jimmy: For you, what would the American dream be?

Jose: There is none [laughs]

Jimmy: None

Jose: For me their is no American Dream

Jimmy: And in El Salvador, did they talk a lot about that?

Jose: Yes, but they are only sayings

Jimmy: They are fantasies, it is not real

Jose: Fantasies, yeah

Jimmy: Because once you are here it is a whole different story?

Jose: Yeah, exactly, they don’t know [laughs] But yes, like I have told you, if someone comes with a positive mind, and the mentality of overcoming, that is all one needs.

Jimmy: So, you are not regretful for coming over here to the United States to live your life?

Jose: No, I do not regret it

Jimmy: You do not regret it

Jose: Because I am better here

Jimmy: As opposed to being in El Salvador

Jose: Yeah, in El Salvador, my life would be much more difficult in El Salvador than here [laughs] Even if I am working

Jimmy: Even though you feel the pressure

Jose: Even if I am working the most difficult jobs, to say it like that

Jimmy: Uh-huh

Jose: But even then, I would be better off here than if I were still over their

Jimmy: Uh-huh

Jose: Even though I am doing that job

Jimmy: Yeah yeah

Jose: Yeah [laughs] that’s the truth

Jimmy: Even though, like you had mentioned earlier that over here, you are under a lot of pressure, and life is fast, but even though that accompanies life here, it is still worth it?

Jose: Yes, it is still worth it because over their, well, like say you have a family and all of that, you have to go work in order to bring food to your home. Over their, there isn’t much work and if there is work over their, it is very heavy and the pay isn’t enough.

Jimmy: It’s not enough

Jose: Yeah, and you work like an animal.

Jimmy: Like an animal. Did you work when you were in El Salvador?

Jose: No I never worked their

Jimmy: Never, how good

Jose: Yeah, but my father taught me how to do things, how to work and all of that. To not be lazy.

Jimmy: Lazy yeah, yeah, I don’t think their are a lot of lazy people over their in Central America?

Jose: No

Jimmy: Everyone knows how to work

Jose: Knows how to work, they can adapt to any type of job, you know.

Jimmy: Yeah

Jose: They push forward

Jimmy: Yeah

Jose: [laughs] Those who are born here right,

Jimmy: [laughs] Are lazy?

Jose: They haven’t experienced anything. A small type of job

Jimmy: [laughs]

Jose: [laughs] Right? They, they don’t know that in other places, life is way worse.

Jimmy: Yeah, yeah

Jose: They don’t appreciate it

Jimmy: Yeah, yeah

Jose: Yeah oh well, changing subject

Jimmy: Perfect, perfect, okay, um, uh, right I don’t know if you mentioned your name [laughs] but introduce yourself

Jose: Okay, my name is Jose, Jose Izaguirre and I am Salvadorian

Jimmy: And proud? [laughs]

Jose: [laughs] And proud, and yeah

Jimmy: Well,

Jose: Yeah, I will never forget, I am proud of where I come from

Jimmy: Of course, of course. Thank you very much Jose, it was a pleasure to know more about your story, your dreams, your present, of what you overcame in order to come to this nation

Jose: Uh-huh

Jimmy: And I appreciate your time, I wish you

Jose: Yeah, your welcome

Jimmy: I wish you a good future, to keep moving forward with your family and yeah

Jose: Thank you, you too, that you may graduate, move forward in your studies and represent the Hispanic community

Jimmy: [laughs] Come on! Thank you, thank you, okay.

Eloisa’s Story

Eloisa’s Story

by Deirel Márquez Perez, September, 2014

Immigrants who migrate to the United States are often influenced to do so by different external factors. Many may hope to flee poverty, to migrate for political freedom, or to obtain a good education that may not be offered to them in their home countries. For many immigrants, their choices are motivated by their search for stability in some arena of their lives. In Eloisa’s case, migrating to the United States never seemed to be her ideal goal in life, until a certain event changed her perspective drastically. Eloisa was born in Oaxaca, Mexico. Growing up, she was a child in a family of three children, which included her younger sister and older brother. Although her parents split up when she was six years old, and struggled financially for most of her life, she remembers having a happy childhood due to her grandmother. Since her mother was out working all of the time, Eloisa said, “We were all raised basically by my grandmother.” In her teen years, Eloisa loved school; she was a dedicated student. She told me, “I was a straight A student. I always loved my classes.” She was very active in school, participating in a variety of sports such as soccer and volleyball; she was also the president of different clubs on campus. Her goal was to major in business administration and when she graduated from high school with honors. She received a scholarship to attend a four-year university. Many classmates and even teachers felt that she had a very promising future.

However, when she was seventeen years old, her life took a drastic turn. Towards the end of her high school career, Eloisa had been dating a young boy named Felipe, whom she was madly in love with. She later discovered that she had become pregnant by him. Shortly after this news, Eloisa began experiencing many economic and emotional hardships related to her family’s reaction of her pregnancy; they would treat her horribly because she was a young woman who had a promising future but had ruined that when she became pregnant and refused to marry Fidel. This motivated her to leave her family behind and begin a new life free from the gender-based restraints her family was imposing on her.

Consequently, her boyfriend, Felipe, suggested that they move to the United States. He would travel there first, and then bring her over illegally when he had enough money to do so. However, shortly after she migrated to the United States, she found that, whereas her patriarchal culture was the main source of her hardships in Mexico, because she was pressured to inherit specific gender roles, such as the pressure to get married and subjugation by her family, her legal status had become an additional source of hardship in the U.S. resulting in experiences of prejudice and exploitation in the work place, shaping Eloisa’s life as an immigrant woman from Mexico. When Eloisa explained why she decided to migrate to the US, she said, “Well, it was for personal reasons more than anything else. I got pregnant when I was seventeen years old and I was my family’s hope when it came to school because I was the smartest and brightest kid in the family.” Before she became pregnant, her family had high hopes reserved for her. She explained, “So my grandma had all hopes in me. You know, I was so excited with school and when I graduated from high school, I graduated with a scholarship to go to a four-year college in another state. But my mom and my family didn’t want me to go somewhere else.” Coming from a very traditional background, she was expected to marry before she left her home and when she became pregnant, they definitely could not accept her wished to leave home. She goes on to say, “When I told my family, they were like, oh my God! I was the oldest woman so it was like hard for them finding out that me Eloisa was pregnant.” Eloisa decided that she wanted to live with Felipe and her family did not take this news well. She explains: “So I told my family, and they were so mad at me not only because I was pregnant but because I told them that I wanted to go live with the father of my kid and they were like, no! When you leave this house you need to get married, and I told them, no I don’t want to get married I just want to be with him because I love him.” She began feeling immense neglect from her family when she expressed that she did not want to get married. At this point, she had become a victim of patriarchal gender relations in her family. To further understand how patriarchal culture affected her life, the book Gendered Transitions: Mexican Experiences of Immigration, written by Pierette Hondagneu-Sotelo, a professor in the department of Sociology in the University of Southern California, defines patriarchy as “a fluid and shifting set of social relations where men oppress women, in which different men exercise varying degrees of power and control, and in which women collaborate and resist in diverse ways.” In Eloisa’s life, not only men but also women were upholding patriarchal attitudes and reinforcing traditional cultural frameworks. For instance, after becoming pregnant her family lost all hope in her, as if becoming pregnant at her age meant that she could no longer achieve success. She didn’t quite expect the reaction she received, she explains “I knew they weren’t going to understand, but at least I was hoping that they would say, ok you made a mistake, how can we help you? But that never came from them, especially my mother, and all I remember her saying is, your screwed, that’s it, you’re not going to be able to do anything with your life.” She wanted to flea the patriarchal gender relations that she was experiencing in her life.

Unfortunately, Eloisa wasn’t satisfied staying in Mexico. After Felipe left the country with the promise to send money so she could later migrate over herself, at the age of eighteen, she gave birth to her daughter. Shortly after, she began facing many problems with her boyfriend’s mother. For Eloisa, it was very common to see newly wedded couples live with the husband’s parents in Mexico until they become economically independent. In her case, although she was not married, when she did live with her boyfriend’s family for some time in Mexico she experienced subordination by her boyfriend’s mother. She said, “His family even accused me of getting pregnant intentionally so I could live with him, so I never had a good relationship with his family. I never felt accepted by his family.” After moving back in with her mother, Felipe’s mom wanted to see her newly born granddaughter but Eloisa wouldn’t go visit them because she always felt very unwelcomed when she would stay there. She said, “his mom never had any respect for me as her sons partner, I would hear her say to him, well she’s your wife she needs to cook for you and she needs to clean the house and if she’s going out then you need to ask her where she is going.” Her connections to family-based patriarchal relations offer a dynamic view of her own subordination and strive for resistance. To elaborate on traditional gender relations among Mexican immigrants, Sotelo explains, “Gender ideals prescribe behavior for masculine and feminine behavior in traditional Mexican society.” Machismo, according to Sotelo, “calls for men to be sexually assertive, independent, and emotionally restrained, to wield absolute authority over their wives and children, and to serve as family breadwinners.” Eloisa’s experiences were clear proof of this, as she told me, “His mother use to put a lot of things in his head. He would do it to me! He would come home and say, you need to do this! And when I come home you need to have this house spotless! I remember how many times he would say that to me, spotless.” She, however, still didn’t feel comfortable at home. Tensions between her and her family became so bad that her health became affected. She said, “I was so skinny! So skinny because I was dealing with all this stress I was like 93 pounds!” So when she finally reached the opportunity to leave Mexico and come to the United States she was very excited. Patriarchy existed in her Mexican family and endured in varying degrees that led her to her migration to the US.

When Eloisa arrived, she had been carrying cultural and ideological baggage she had been trying to escape in her home country, she hoped to discard these elements and adopt new ones. When arriving to the US with her one-year old daughter Eloisa admits she indeed felt very nervous, “I was nervous, you know like I was afraid, heck yea! Because you don’t know what’s going to happen because this is the first time you’re leaving your country, you’re coming to something new.” When she first arrived she was filled with many preconceived almost mythical notions of the US. She had heard that no one really suffers here, that people have enough food to eat, and a car, etc. She was shocked when Felipe picked her up from the airport in a car he had just bought. Overwhelmed with emotions, she was mostly excited to begin a new life in the states away from the stress and hardships she suffered in Mexico. Unfortunately Eloisa now faced a new dilemma that was a result of illegal migration. When she arrived, she got her first job working at a hotel as a maid. At this job she began facing discrimination and experienced prejudice by her boss’s son. In an article written by a clinical psychologist Jean Lau Chin, called “The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination,” prejudice is defined as “an opinion about an individual, group, or phenomenon that is developed without proof or systematic evidence. The prejudgment is more often unfavorable and may become institutionalized in the form of a country’s laws or customs” (Lau Chin 3). She explained, “he made really discriminatory remarks to us about our culture and I just hated it. I hated it and so one day I couldn’t take it anymore so I came to her office to complain about it.” When she asked him to fix a vacuum that wasn’t working, he asked, “Why? Have one of the brownies fix it. Aren’t you all good for that?” Eloisa’s boss told her that if she didn’t like it, she could leave. At that moment, that’s exactly what Eloisa decided to do. She said: “She started yelling at me and said, you will never ever find another job like this, she also said to me that I was going to come back and beg for my job because I have no future and I have no where else to go and she was going to see me cleaning rooms because that was all I was good for.” Eloisa felt angry. She told her boss, “I’m going to prove to you that that’s not the only thing that I am good for.” When she quit her job, she was crying and felt humiliated because of the remarks her boss made. She fled her home country to only find herself experiencing discrimination and oppression in this society. She felt bad because she was beginning to accept these negative messages from her boss that suggested her intrinsic worth. This experience served as a mechanism for motivation and the next day, Eloisa enrolled in an English as a Second Language class to prove to herself that she was capable of achieving much more than what her boss said she would. As she began learning English she got another job working at a restaurant bussing tables, at that moment she fell in love with the restaurant business. She had a very strong work ethic; she would be the first to open the restaurant in the morning and assisted her boss with other important tasks that didn’t fall under her title as a busser. She was really motivated to become a server and continuously tried proving to her boss that she was ready to be promoted. When Eloisa felt that that she was not going to become a server anytime soon, she told her boss that she was going to begin searching for another job.

Out of fear of losing her, he said he would give her the opportunity to become a server. But on her first week of training, her boss approached her to talk. She explained, “I never told anyone this… I was so ashamed, but we got there we sit down and he gives me this speech and say he was going to give me the opportunity but I wasn’t going to get paid for it, so I was just going to get tips because this was a business.” Eloisa sat there almost in shock. “I didn’t say anything. I just looked at him and I knew he got me. And he got me in the worst way I knew he could because I had turned the other jobs away.” What was so unfortunate about her situation was that Eloisa had mentioned that she had a daughter she needed to support and being clearly aware of her undocumented status he still chose to exploit her. She remembered what happened to her in that hotel and thought: “Okay. I’m going to play by your game.” This experience shows the way her lack of legal status affected and interacted with her work life along with the subordination and domination she herself was subjected to as an undocumented immigrant woman. To gain a greater understanding of the way economic institutions and practices structure our lives, economist Teresa Amott, and her colleague Julie Mathaei, professor of Marxist feminist economics at Wellesly College, wrote a book titled Race, Gender, and Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States, in which they state, “A fledging economic system of profit-motivated production for the market, based on wage labor, grew into the dominant economic and social force determining women’s work lives, not only in the United States, but in the world.” Eloisa’s boss was abusing his power to achieve economic affluence for himself and she felt like there was nothing she could do about it because she understood her economic position. Because of her lack of legal status, she lacked protection on the job, had to endure economic injustice, and live in a state of constant insecurity, especially fear of deportation. Together with her socioeconomic class and culture, she experienced pressures that would determine her opportunities and therefore lead to migration. After becoming a mother at the age of eighteen, Eloisa’s choices to immigrate to the US and resettle were driven by her hopes to escape cultural patriarchy that she was subjugating her in Mexico. She was seeking liberation from the limitations that others placed on her. Gender is truly relevant to understanding Eloisa’s migration. Her story reveals a mix of social, cultural, and legal forces that dictate her moves; the wish to flee cultural pressure to get married, to avoid other family members, to find better job opportunities. She of course does not lie among the most disadvantaged women immigrants. Yet she nonetheless has faced numerous economic constraints due to her lack of legal status, cultural dissonance, language problems, social barriers, prejudice, and discrimination, which shaped her opportunities in life.

Works Cited

Amott, Teresa L., and Julie A. Matthaei. Race, Gender, and Work: A Multicultural Economic History of Women in the United States. Boston, MA: South End, 1991. Print. Chin, Jean Lau. The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. Westport, Conn: Praeger Publishers, 2004. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 23 July 2014 Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette. Gendered Transitions: Mexican Experiences of Imigration. Berkeley, Calif: University of California Press, 1994. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost). Web. 23 July 2014.

Afterward by Eloisa

What were your thoughts? Y cada dia intento despertar y pensar en una oportunidad para enpezar de Nuevo. Y mi unica esperanza es creer en esto porque aun creo firmemente que Dios es bueno. Que Dios perdona los sacrilegios. Quiero pensar que no soy mala, que sentir el amor en la forma como lo he sentido no me hace una mala persona, una egoista y una sinverguenza. Y qusar que si todo esto es cierto, entonces en el fondo no he cambiado. Mi escencia es la misma… es solo mi forma de pensar la que se ha modificado, la que ha sufrido una transformacion. Quiero pensar que este cambio me ha llevado a ser y a convertirme en mas humana que perfecta; en mas mujer que madre; en alguien mas simple que compleja… pero que nunca, nunca me ha transformado en un ser humano abobinable. Y si hoy en dia tu memoria, tu Corazon, tus sentimientos estan cargados de rencor hacia miiero pen … PERDONAME Perdoname por mis acciones, perdoname por mis palabras que te insultaron y que no olvidas. Perdona mis reacciones buenas o malas que llevas grabadas y te laceran indudablemente Perdona que no he sabido como conducirme y como consecuencia, perdi la forma de conducirte. Perdona mis gritos y mis aceleramientos. Pero sobre todo, perdona mis silencios llenos de culpabilidad. Perdona el sufrinmiento dirigido hacia ti, mi bebe, mi motor de vida. Perdoname porque no puedo volver el tiempo atras y borrar todos los malos dias y las malas imagines, las impresiones negativas y los malos sucesos que hoy nos apartan. Ruego y pido a Dios que cada dia de mivida, me de una nueva oportunidad para compersarte. Pido que mi Corazon no se detenga por la fuerza y la inspiracion que habia buscado, esta aqui, en tu lindo Corazon. En la sonrisa que apenas y muestras durante un sparkle de felicidad. Mi motivacion esta en tu motivacion y en tus suenos, Mi fuerza esta en tu fuerza y en tu entusiasmo para vivir cada dia. Mi inpiracion esta en ti, en tu alma, en tu bienestar, en tu cara, en tu sonrisa, en tu persona, en tu character, en tu personalidad, en tus historias, en tus mal genios, en tus decisions, en tu persona, en mi motor de vida llamado What are some of your thoughts now that you are living in the United States with this new life? And every day I wake up and try to think of an opportunity for new empezar. And my only hope is to believe in this because even I firmly believe that God is good. May God forgive the sacrilege? I think I’m not bad, you feel the love in the way I felt it does not make me a bad person, selfish, and a scoundrel. Quisaz and if all this is true, then on the bottom I have not changed. My essence is the same … it’s just my way of thinking that has changed, which has undergone a transformation. I like to think that this change has led me to be and to become more human than perfect; more woman in mother; someone simpler than complex … but never, I’ve never become an abominable human being. When you reunited with your mother what did she say to you? She sent me a letter, which said the following: Forgive me for my actions, forgive me for my words that insulted you and you do not forget. Forgive my good or bad reactions you’ve been recorded and you certainly lacerate Sorry I have not known how to conduct myself and as a result, lost the way to behave. Forgive my screaming and my accelerations. But most of all, forgive my silence full of guilt. Forgive the sufrinmiento directed towards you, my baby, my engine life. Forgive me because I can not turn the clock back and erase all the bad days and bad pics, the negative impressions and bad events before us away.

Exile for Yedel

Exile for Yedel

by Ruth Alemu, December 2013

Has it ever boggled your mind why people want to leave their counties and struggle through different cultures just to start a whole new life? Or have you ever wondered why some people don’t just work hard in their own countries and better themselves? Well, people leave their families and countries to find better life, peace, freedom, money or love. A conducted interview with an immigrant named Yedel Sew, who currently resides in the Bay Area, explains why people are exiled to other countries. Yedel Sew is from Ethiopia and grew up in a good neighborhood in the historic city Bahir Dar. He was exiled to the United States to find freedom for himself because he was punished for criticizing the Ethiopian government about forbidding the freedom of speech and the choosing of one’s own political party. For a long time, he had refused to give in to anger or exile; instead, he resisted the government threats.The government accused him of being a terrorist when they found out that he was working with the opposition political parties to bring about a fair democratic government. Despite the fact that no accusation had evidence, many of his friends were imprisoned and killed. Yedel wanted to leave the country when he realized that most of his friends had been thrown in jail or killed. According to Yedel, the torture was extraordinary; for instance, the males were forced to carry and pull heavy weights tied on their genitals until they pointed out one of their political member. For this reason, Yedel left his country and exiled himself to the United States of America (USA), and suffered through lots of misery. He left his good job, family and fiancé behind. His exile to the US was more devastating for his fiancé and his mother, not only because he was their source of income but also they couldn’t flee with him. During his journey, he was hungry, slept in refugee camps, was imprisoned, and almost lost his life while he was traveling on a boat. Although arriving to the US seemed to promise a life with freedom, being an undocumented immigrant made it difficult to find jobs and start a new life all over again. Until he acquired legal papers that allow him to stay in the US, he worked under the table, which was difficult for him because employers often felt free to pay him low wages and ignore dangerous conditions since he had no legal way of complaining. Along with significant language and cultural barriers, exile left him with a lengthy bureaucratic procedure until he established his new legal status. People that are facing political problems in their counties, like Yedel, should exile themselves to other countries in order to gain freedom regardless of encountering multiple setbacks and struggle during the journey because it will help them live better lives.

Being a refugee from third world country was challenging due to the rising of anti-refugee sentiment in many industrialized countries; the journey to the US was not as smooth as Yedel assumed. He started his journey from Ethiopia to Cuba with legal visa (a passport), but from there to the US, his passport was useless not only because he was travelling by car and boat but also because he was coming from a third world country, which didn’t guarantee him a pass or respect. He described how he left his passport in Ecuador: “I threw away my Ethiopian passport since it is no longer helping me to transfer, because I couldn’t get any visa with Ethiopian passport” (Yedel). Having an Ethiopian passport definitely prevented him from getting a visa because most of the people from third world countries are running from their homes scared of war and poverty, like him. His long travel includes the countries Cuba, Ecuador, Colombia, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and lastly, the United States. Yedel and his two friends started the big journey together without any knowledge of where or how to go. Eventually, they contacted some smugglers to assist them through their journey. Besides the payment paid to the smugglers, they had to bribe the officers every time they got pulled over. He wrapped a stack of pesos with a U.S. dollar and handed to the police officer to make it look like a lot of U.S. dollars because he couldn’t afford to pay them in dollars every single time they pulled him over. Long drives, walking, staying in refugee camps and being thrown in jail without knowing for how long they would be kept, the journey was extremely distressing. There was a time when Yedel almost lost his life; he was trying to cross the border between Colombia and Nicaragua with a small boat made out of wood that carried around fifty people without any access to restrooms. He says, “The smugglers told us we will arrive in two days, but it took us eight days. We were lost in the middle of the journey and the boat run out of gas, so we put bed sheet to move the boat with the help of wind. The phone inside the boat stopped working; they said no battery. Also, we were moving without any compass and we didn’t eat anything else except one apple a day” (Yedel). It was a life and death situation for him to be in that boat because there was lack of basic survival necessities such as food, water and restrooms in addition to getting lost in the middle of nowhere. The boat was overcrowded, making it potentially dangerous, but they continued with the journey. The trip lasted days; the waves were high and they suffered more when the motor stopped and they began moving through the help of the wind. When they finally reached land, it was like liberation. Even though being from a third world country was a setback on his journey, he felt liberated when he reached the freedom land.

Although Yedel wanted to stay in Ethiopia, the government dictatorship made him run from his country due to the fact that there was no equality between ethnic groups and also political difference was not accepted. While he was in Ethiopia, freedom of speech was like a dream. The dictator leader wouldn’t let him live because he was against the system. He explained his experience in anger: “While I was in Ethiopia I had a very nice job with the field I graduated and I had a good life. But I have been jailed and beaten around three four times only because I was spoken the truth during community meetings. When you say I need freedom, they will look for trouble and beat you up” (Yedel).  The so-called “Democratic Party” controls the country. If a person talks about what is wrong and what is right, that person will end up in jail. That is why an independent and ambitious young man like Yedel could not live in Ethiopia because he believes in speaking out. He fought not only for himself but also for people who can’t fight for themselves as well. In reality, he doesn’t have security or the guarantee of his life because they can throw him in jail any time. Hence, Yedel left his country even though he wanted to stay and do something tangible to improve his country. Before he left, Yedel was becoming wealthy because of his hard work, but the ruling party was not happy with what he was getting and wanted to destroy him. In the 2005 election, Yedel and his friends participated in the opposition political party. The idea was to push the government to have a free and fair democratic election but the government was harassing the opposition parties and was using systematic political control, which made the election difficult. At that time, the majority of the people were supporting the opposition party, so, if the government didn’t want to have a fair election, they wanted them to give up power peacefully but when the government found out about their plan, they put his life in danger. Yedel fought until he couldn’t take it anymore; however, waiting for his death was not possible for him because some of his friends got imprisoned, tortured, were deprived of sleep and food and lastly killed. Given these actions, Yedel left his country in order to flee from extreme and almost humiliating politics.

Knowing his basic rights helped Yedel to gain his freedom, yet many times he was denied it. While crossing a border, there was moment when they put him in jail without letting him know how long he had to stay there. They were caught at the Nicaraguan border by the border police and imprisoned for forty-five days. During those forty-five days staying there caused a lot of suffering; the food was not etable, the hygiene was bad and they were sleeping on the floor. Because of the bad treatment they received, Yedel and his friends planned to do a hunger strike in order to fight for the basic human rights they were denied. The hunger strike went very well as he explained, “We didn’t eat for eight days while we were in the journey and again we did four days food strike, so some of the people got constipated and sick. Normally, they are not allowed to have under age prisoners in the facility but one of the guy that fainted was not even eighteen. They were scared of being sued so they begged us to eat and promised to let us go” (Yedel). This shows that they knew this strike would attract human right fighters’ attention, which in the end helped to free them. Besides, the guy who fainted was not even eighteen years old; thus, he was not supposed to be imprisoned with them. Fighting for their rights allowed them to continue their freedom journey. Then, Yedel and his friends left Nicaragua because the Nicaraguan government asked them to pay for every night they stayed at the camp. As they had planned already, they continued their journey to the United States and left Nicaragua. In the book Underground America, a collection of the narratives of undocumented immigrants compiled by Peter Orner, a storyteller, Abel, was abused by his employer but knowing his rights and fighting for it saved him from abuses. He said, “Some of us are more comfortable speaking up about our rights—we know what we are entitled to. We speak to Americans, people who do have papers, people who work at organizations, people who can do something for us. The bosses of the companies are afraid of these organizations because they support us” (Orner 132). Even though he didn’t have legal papers to stay in the country, knowing his rights helped Abel to fight for himself. Yedel did the same thing too; he stood up for his rights, looked for organizations to fight for his right. Therefore, knowing his basic human rights minimized the suffering during the exile.  

Although Yedel felt ambivalent when he discovered that his expectations about the United States were unrealistic, he was happy because he gained freedom, which was the center of his journey. Life in The United States started out great for him though it was not as he expected. Although the job market and the economy was not as good as he expected, he did not complain since his main reason of moving to the US was to gain freedom. He said, “The main reason I exile from my country is because of freedom so I am okay with any economical or personal disappointment like missing my family. I was not respected in my own country but I am living here freely. Nobody touches you” (Yedel). While he was in his country, he had a good job but in the United States, because of his legal status he wasn’t able to get a better job and he was a little bit disappointed by that; plus, by the time he arrived in the United States, the economy of the country was not in good condition. The other thing that makes him disappointed is missing his family; in fact, he can’t reach his family any time soon. Yedel has missed not only his family but also his longtime fiancé who he was about to get married to within a month before leaving the country, but he was waiting for her to graduate. He was preparing for their wedding but sadly he had to leave right away to avoid putting his life in danger. During his journey, he couldn’t communicate with her because he was not in good condition either. That created a big gap between them and it was too late to fix the problem because she got married and had kids. She couldn’t wait for him since he was not able to go back to the country. Yedel said, “It is hard to get that kind of love right now. I don’t have that kind of satisfaction and happiness right now.” He loved his fiancé too much and can’t bring the old time feeling and satisfaction with anybody else.

Things haven’t gone smoothly with his family either; the family business that he took care of is now out of service, and the cafeteria he owned was sold to cover his expense in the United States. His family is not at the same economic level; his brothers got fired from their jobs because they were working for a government office and, since they are connected with Yedel, the government took revenge on them. After four years, one of his brothers started working some low level jobs even though he is a graduate from the university and had been working for long time. Yedel was full of anger when he talked about the crises in his family. He couldn’t support and provide his family like before because in the United States the working situation is different. He doesn’t have motivation like before when he used to go to school while working long hours and taking care of his own business. He said that he was taking care of all that responsibility just to get rid of the stress he had in his country. More or less, he is happy in United States, though he is not in the position that he supposed to be. Altogether, Yedel lost three major things in his life: his family’s economic status, his job, and his fiancé.  But freedom has balanced all his losses.

Even though it’s hard to predict the future, Yedel believes change will come through time with the help of an endless effort. In the future, Yedel has some expectations for his life and has already planned to do lots of things in the coming New Year. He wants to go to school, work hard, start a family in the United States, and help his country to gain a free media because the ruling party controls most of the media. His passion for his country is still fresh. Surely, he wants to participate more in politics; so far, he writes articles and gives donations every month to private medias organizations because he believes the media plays a big role in politics. The Ethiopian government has banned almost all private media outlets for reporting facts about the government’s hidden actions. “The Anointed Leadership,” an article written by Makau wa Mutua, shows the current image of Ethiopian journalism: “Human rights groups estimated that over 60 journalist have either been imprisoned, detained, or are awaiting trial for being critical of the government” (Mutua 2). Government authorities have imprisoned journalists on a mass scale on terrorism charges only for speaking of the truth. Only government medias can talk about politics; around twenty non-governmental magazines have been closed but four private magazines are still open only because they allow the government to manipulate their messages. They will not report reality; they do not talk about the people who are lost in the dessert while trying to escape from the country. Even though he lives from paycheck to paycheck, he knows that, if he contributes something, it will help a lot. He said, “I support the media because I want to know what is going on in my country and the only means I can get that report is from the private media. I cannot forget about my country. I will not sleep until I see freedom in my own country like other countries” (Yedel). This shows the last ultimate vision of Yedel is to see the free flow of information and freedom of expression without the influence of political units. Ethiopia lives in a world where information is literally fabricated for the people as truth but nowadays bloggers play a big role in spreading information. Yedel helps these bloggers financially. One of the anonymous bloggers said in the articleThe Hazards Of Dissent,”“The blog carried reports and analysis of the trial of opposition leaders. In some cases, international human rights group like Amnesty International have followed through the leads in my blog and demanded the government stop its human right abuses. Under pressure, the government released some prisoners and closed torture chambers” (Zagol 62). Not only do the bloggers increase the flow of information but they also help justice to be served. Therefore, because people like Yedel supported the media, for example the blogger mentioned above, the increase of the flow of information has brought the government to reconsider their decision, which fulfills Yedel’s hope for change.

 In conclusion, although people like Yedel go through multiple setbacks and struggle when they flee from their countries due to political problems, finding freedom and living in a country where freedom of speech is respected brings feeling of accomplishment in life. Migrating would also allow others like him to continue helping their countries as he has with the support of media as mentioned in the above paragraphs. On the contrary, others may think that, instead of fleeing from one’s country, one should stay and face the problem in order to solve it. People like Yedel do not choose to flee from their countries to make money or to relax; instead, they are exiled to the US to spare their lives from ending up like his friends—imprisoned or killed.   


Work Cited

“The Hazards Of Dissent.” Index On Censorship 36.4 (2007): 59-63. Academic Search Premier. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Mutua, Makau wa. “The Anointed Leadership.” Africa Report 39.6 (1994): 30. MasterFILE Premier. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Orner, Peter, and Tom Andes. Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives. San Francisco: McSweeney’s, 2008. Print.



Finding Home

Finding Home

By Carolina Palacio, May 22nd, 2013


Living life in fear, and trying to realize where home really is in the heart is hard to live with every day. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine being like this, living in fear, not knowing where to call home anymore? Or not being able to go back home? It sounds hard and it should, because it is, especially for immigrants who have traveled far away from their homes to get to America with a dream in mind, to have a better life, when, really, in the inside, they are sad that they had left, and at times lonely, missing home and wishing to be home again with their families. But they do it as a sacrifice, for a good cause to support them so that they never have to suffer, so that they have food on their tables, so that they live better, even if it means not being happy themselves, or safe, just as long as their families are. But what does their suffering here amount to as they are being mistreated every day for they are “illegal,” while some people take advantage of this, not giving them decent jobs with good pay because they know that they are “illegal” and are afraid to speak up for themselves? But sometimes there are good people who do help and let them work because they understand them or feel sorry for them, and also because they see that they are hardworking people that do deserve a chance. The life of Teresa Palacio, a woman who has come to America with the hopes and dreams of building her own home and sending money to her mom, so that she will live comfortably, has changed, for she now has a son who is now twelve years old and who was born and raised here, and she can’t just leave for he has a life here and is being raised here. It makes it harder for her but she is very willing to live for her son even if it means never going back to where her home once was. Remembering the past in her home and what she lives for helps her to identify where home is. Having good memories, no regrets, no hatred, love, and hope helps to move forward in life and not feel sadness about where home once was.

Making the decision to come to America is a hard decision to make but, for family, one is willing to do anything. Teresa Palacio was born in Guanajuato, Mexico, and came to San Francisco in 1990, when she was only 23 years old. She came here at first to take care of her newborn niece, me, but also to be able to have a job, to be able to send money to her mom and dad, and to make her own house there, where she lived so she can go back. She came here thinking that there would be a lot of jobs just like any other person coming here would think, because where she lived didn’t have many jobs. It was very poor but at the same time peaceful, and beautiful. When I asked her about her living here she responded, “Well, I feel sad because for 22 years I couldn’t see my mom and dad, and I always dreamed of seeing them again, and I don’t lose hope that someday I will see them, one day.” This shows the hope and the love that she has for her family, and that she will never give up on them for they are the strongest reason why she made it here and continues to work hard. She also said, “I have my heart in both places. My heart is there and my heart is here. And my thoughts are here many times go over there.” During this time, she started to cry. Thinking about having lived here for so long makes her miss her home, where her family is thinking of all the memories that she has there from her youth. She says while crying, “I would like to see my mother and father; I’d like to see them again alive not dead.” Imagine not getting to see your own mother for many years! Even if it is a talk on the phone, it isn’t the same as to have a physical touch from her.

People come here to live a better life, and to have better jobs so that they can earn money to send back home and to build the dream that they always wanted. People like Teresa Palacio come here with a dream in mind like any other American, to have a good life. She says, “I wanted to build a house I can live in over there.” She does live that dream. It has almost come true and, when I say almost, I mean, well, she did build her house but the problem is that she can’t go back home to enjoy it. All she has is pictures to prove that it is built, that all the money she has sent to build it has been put into it only for her to see pictures of it. When I asked her what she would do if she had a choice to live here or in Mexico, she answered, “Well, to live over there but to have a job.” When I asked her why, she again answered, “Because that’s why people come here to look for a job and to find a better place.” Things change when a new life begins, especially now that she has a son; her new goal in life staying here. She states, “To work and to help my family is what I wanted but, now that I have my son, I don’t want to leave. I want to stay and help him move ahead.” She felt a lot of emotion going out at once when talking about this and I asked her why it gives her so much emotion. She answered, “Because I remembered, when I came here, and I start thinking, and I can’t forget but to feel emotion that a lot of things has happened, bad, good, and happy so it gives me a lot of emotions. Sometimes I feel sad. I get like feeling that I don’t know. I feel desperate, and nervous.” Many immigrants who have come here are like her in this way, having a lot of emotion because leaving somewhere where you have lived all your life is hard to let go of. In an article called “Immigrants in America,” by Mary V. Alfred, which is about why immigrants come to America, and the majority of people that come here are Latinos, she says, “the basic reason why immigrants come to America is the gap between life aspirations and expectations and means to fulfill them in the sending countries.” This shows that many come here hoping to have a better life, not just because they want to bother anyone else.

When Teresa did try to get a visa to come here, it was hard for her to get. She states, “I don’t know. Usually, they give it to the elderly and for students, but not for regular young people.” When I ask her why she thinks so, she says “I think it’s because when old people come they just come to visit and young people would come and stay to live here.” It seems as if America is afraid to let anyone in here or is just being selfish to not letting someone who at least was trying to get here legally. They make it harder for them. She talks about why people would come here: “To find a better life because it’s hard to find a job and they think over here there is more but one does not know the language and you don’t know nothing else but to clean and other things like that. Then it’s the same. The people say you’re going to get more money and that sometimes isn’t true.” Because for her it was not, it was harder even if she did have family here, and, because of her legal status, finding a good job was hard. Growing up, Teresa loved school but couldn’t stay very long because her parents couldn’t afford it anymore. She states, “my parents didn’t have enough money to keep me in school and I had to go to a different city to go to school.” Here you have a person who loves school but can’t go and here you see many American students leaving school, not because of the money issues, but because they just don’t like it. It’s funny how, in life, people who want to go to school can’t, and others, who can, just won’t go or does not like the idea of it.

Most of the time, one hears things, mean things, rumors of how bad immigrants are making this country, that they are taking all our jobs. One hears that all immigrants are bad, that they should all go back home, but they don’t see that, for most of them, they don’t have a home, or it’s too dangerous to go home. Many immigrants come here to escape the dangers  back in their homes. What we don’t see is that most of these people face dangers. An article called “Contextualizing the Trauma: Experience of Women Immigrants from Central, South America, and Mexico” is about women from the countries being presented in the title, and the reasons they come to America. It says, “immigrants from these areas bring the emotional and physical legacy of their traumatic experiences with them to the United States and may also be at risk for additional types of trauma during the immigration process and in their adopted country.” Seeing this makes you think twice or at least have some sympathy towards them and not to quickly judge that they just come here to bother. Many see immigrants as criminals, and Teresa says, “I hope that Obama thinks of everyone who lives here that all we come for is to work. We didn’t come to do anything bad. There are bad people but not all of us are the same. A lot of us want to be great, to help our families and that’s all. We don’t want to do bad to no one.” When I asked her about changing people’s minds of how they view immigrants she said:

“Everyone is the same, we are human, we may have different color skin but our blood is the same color. There is no other color of blood. All of us are children of god; all of us are made by the same god. Religion is one thing or another. It may be different but we are the same. Even if one is more superior or on top, we in all are the same.”

With this being said, it really got to me and it is true like she said: we all have the same color blood, meaning we are no different from anybody, so why put one through a tough time just because they look different on the outside but on the inside we are all alike?

Asking someone a question can make a big difference on how the person came to be the way they are now. When getting to know someone for the first time, you learn who they are and get to know their personality, but getting to re-know the person we already knew for the longest time gets weird, and surprising because, despite all the things you thought you knew at first, it turns out that we know less than what we thought we knew already. I asked Teresa about her life in Mexico and this is what she told me:

“Well over there, I, I can’t really tell you the difference because before coming here. I never went anywhere else but Mexico. I dint know anywhere else, but I did go to other places but over there in Mexico. But here it feels different because you don’t feel free to do whatever you want. You feel covered because you don’t know the language in the first place. You feel scared. You feel like you don’t know how to speak simply because you don’t know the language. But little by little one gets used to it and it’s a little different here but the only thing is that, over there, there isn’t a lot of jobs, and that’s why we come here to have another life because, over there, they say that here that there is jobs and that’s why one comes here. And I more than anything to help my family. It just feels more different than over there.”

It’s interesting to know that life is different between another country and here. It is no wonder that, when people like her come here they feel different and out of place because the stuff that they did over there is different from what Americans do over here. She states, “Well, like I’m telling you, like you feel sometimes that you’re here and there at the same time like you start thinking away, your mind starts going from here to there at the same time, but also one gets used to working here and to have things, and you don’t work in the sun like we did over there in the fields, and it was much different than over here. We worked not in the sun like over there. That’s why.” It seems that she is a little out of place when saying all of this, thinking about two places at the same time, stressing about it because all she wants is an opportunity to go back again and re-live the life that she once had before coming here. In Mexico, you would have to grow up a little faster. She says, “Yes because we had more brothers, the oldest ones had to take care of the youngest, and help their mom to do chores, stuff like that…No, over here you guys don’t learn to do nothing. That’s true, and how old were you when you came here?” She mentions that, at ten, she first started working to help her mom with her brothers and sisters. Can you imagine working at ten to help your brothers and sisters? Writing this makes me appreciate living here that there are more opportunities, but sometimes we take them for granted. When she says, “Over here you guys don’t learn to do nothing,” it made me think that maybe we don’t, that we are spoiled because here a lot of kids disrespect their parents and take them for granted, but over there, parents are always respected and appreciated, especially that one would come over just to help them live better. Over one tries to get away from their parents and families but people like Teresa come to United States, not wanting to leave, but do it as a sacrifice to help their parents.

Sacrificing is difficult. Teresa has sacrificed a lot coming here and, now that she has her son, it is a new sacrifice worth making even if it means never going back to Mexico. Teresa wants to go back to Mexico one day but is afraid to, especially now that she has her son. She is doing the best she can to keep him happy and educated. She states:

“Since I have my son, I think of him more than anything and, I could take him but, when he’s older he could come back and I don’t want to take away his future because he is going to school here and I don’t want to take him away from here. He has everything here and he will grow and I will go one day. No one lives forever and I want him to be a good person and I am trying to make him do good, support him so he won’t suffer like we did. I want him to go to school and be somebody. And I never did anything wrong here or over there. All I want to do is help everyone, anyone who needs help.”

People like Teresa are hard to come by. She is a hard worker and shows it with the work she has done for her son, never complaining about it, not only because she is afraid, but because she needs to work to be able to help her family back home and her son more than anything. People like Teresa sacrifice a lot. They are afraid to speak up. The place she used to work would take advantage of her just because she was undocumented. She states, “The man that I have worked for, he was abusive. He would mistreat us, well, not everyone, but the ones he know that couldn’t defend themselves and make us work a lot and yell at us, and made us feel, well, embarrass us. And since I had my son very little, well, I had to stay. I couldn’t do anything about it. I had to work and that’s why I stayed. He did things that weren’t correct.” Sure, things like this, if they were to happen to us as Americans, we would do something about it, but people like her, who are not from here, are afraid to say anything due to their status, as much as they want to, can’t. They are afraid. In an article called, “Why Undocumented Immigrants are Afraid to Report Crimes,” Scott Keyes states, “As leaders in some localities, like Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Maricopa County, Arizona are trying to make undocumented immigrants’ lives as inhospitable and miserable as possible, the city of Dayton, Ohio is trying to aid those immigrants if they become victims of crime.” This shows that this city is doing something about the lives of immigrants. It shows that one place is doing something about it so that immigrants don’t feel afraid and other cities should do something about it as well. If one city can do it, then any other city can do it as well make a movement. Teresa would say that her boss favored certain people and would mistreat her and her undocumented employees. “Like the people that he favored, when they didn’t come to work, he would clock them in even if they weren’t working, so they still got paid for that day, and made us work their shifts, and we didn’t get played for it but they did even if they weren’t there. I didn’t think that was right. If one is working, then one is working; they deserve to get paid, but if they are not, then why would you pay them for not working?” Making her work someone else’s shift and not get paid for it? It sounds crazy and unfair, but it’s true: it has happened to her. Not only that, but she lost her job due to not having documents. It seems that, after that, you would think that she would be suffering right now; no, she is stronger than ever, never giving up. She is loved by many and offered cleaning jobs where she now resides, to support herself and her son. When asked if she had a chance to repot this crime, she says, “No, because I say God is the one who is going to be the judge of that. If I do it, for what he did he did already.”  Having faith has helped her to move on and not hold grudges. Letting karma do the talking, she puts in that, to react with no bad deed, or to not wish for the worst in that person, shows that she is a good person and not trying to harm this country or anybody in it, no matter how bad they are to her.

Overall, Teresa has always managed to have faith to help her get through life. When I asked her again if she is scared when she walks around the streets alone, that maybe she would get caught by immigration, she answered, “I was, but then I start thinking of god to help me. He is the one that takes care of everyone. And nothing has ever happened to me and the only thing that I am afraid of is that someone will rob me or hit me. And that’s how I feel afraid, so I look to God. And if someone tries to say something to me, I just leave. I don’t answer them because you don’t know how they are or what they are into.” Not saying that everyone should believe  the same way, it is just her way to keep going strong every day, and if this is the way for her to feel safe, then its good for her. Everyone should find a way to feel happy, whether it is finding faith or anything else that keeps them happy. She talks about the president and how he should step into her shoes.

“I would like to say that the president steps into our shoes, that the people that are not from here, that this country is not ours. But the world is free and the people can go wherever they want to. Imagine if you lived here and this place was the only place you want to stay? I mean the world is of immigrants the world is for everyone, like this one song says, the sun was born for everyone and that’s how it is its true. I would like it if one were, well, if we were free more than ever, when people get [life gets] more hard [harder], then [the] more worse it will be, because they will have more anger than anything, because they feel abandoned like they want to be whatever, and, if the people would stop mistreating them, then it would be different, but everyone thinks differently. But, yes, I would like for the president to see the people who are good, who don’t do anything wrong. I say to give them a chance to go see their family and be able to come back, and those who done bad well get what they deserve and not everyone is the same not all of us will the things they do. That’s what I think.”

People who judge immigrants don’t see this or just don’t want to see this at first, but should try to because they are people like us too. Everyone has a say. Everyone has a voice. She states:

“Like I said, a lot of times, at me, well, not all the time at me, I have heard a lot of negative conversations of one. They say that immigrants want to take their jobs, their food, that we come to take everything, but we work hard; we work with our hands; we finish up our bodies; we don’t take it away from their table. Even if were sick, we work too and sometimes we don’t eat because we have to work. If they say that we take their jobs, it would be like saying that we were to go to their houses and take their jobs like that, and take their stuff. But we work with all our might; we work with what they give us. I think that it’s not liking taking nothing. We also live here. We pay to eat; we pay where we live; we pay our taxes also; and, even if we don’t have documents, well it doesn’t matter for everything. We pay. They don’t just give it to us.”

She disproves the myth of immigrants not paying the taxes, which they do; she says so herself. People like her, more than anyone, suffer most because all they hear are criticisms of them not being good people. She states, “Well more than ever, to have a consciousness that not everyone is the same, because we can say that the Latinos, and sometimes they say the Mexicans, but not all of us are the same. We are different; there’s differences; there’s bad people and good people; there’s a lot of good people. But, also, there’s a lot of bad people, but sometimes one has to suffer for those who have sinned because what one does all has to pay.” Like she says, not everyone is the same; just because one does bad, everyone thinks they are all the same. But she still goes through life proving to others that she is not like everyone else, by being a hard worker with a smile on her face.

Finding home for Teresa Palacio is a hard question for her to answer because her home and her heart are in two places at once; one half is in Mexico, and the other is here. She has been here for 22 years. She came here when she was 23 years old and now is 46 years old. Fortunately, she has not suffered in a physically way but still has suffered emotionally, which is still as bad, and her story deserves to be heard, like anyone else, because she is still an immigrant and  many should be heard so that everyone can understand, and not quickly judge. She wants to be able to go to Mexico. That has been her dream for a very long time; she wants to be able to see her mom. Even though her mom is in good health, she fears that she’ll die before she can see her. But at the same time, her heart is here in San Francisco with her son, who is everything to her. She does not want to take away his privileges that he has here in his school as an honor student, for she is a single mother raising him herself, making it more difficult. But she is strong and hardworking; she is loved by many and is friendly to those who are not. She never criticizes anyone. She feels it is not her that should be judging anyone. She believes that all of us are the same as she says, “That everyone is the same; we are human; we may have different color skin but our blood is the same color. There is no other color of blood; all of us re children of god; all of us are made by the same god. Religion is one thing or another. It may be different but we are the same; even if one is more superior or on top, we in all are the same.” This gets one thinking, especially me, about how we do have the same blood color. We are different on the outside but on the inside we are all the same. We all have the same body functions as everyone else. If we were to open our bodies inside we would find something everyone has, which is a heart. Sometimes it hard to see it from the outside, because we don’t show it to everyone who needs it. People like Teresa need it. You don’t need just one home to reside in to call it your home. Her heart is in two places, here and Mexico, but she is strong when it comes to finding her home. She doesn’t need to look very far because home can be two places at once.

Work Cited

Alfred, Mary V. “Immigrants In America: Who Are They, And Why Do They Come?” Adult       Learning 12/13.4/1 (2001): 2-5. Academic Search Premier. Web. 17 May 2013.

Keyes, Scott. “Why Undocumented Immigrants are Terrified to Report Crimes, and How one City is Fixing that” web. 15 Feb 2013.

Peter J. Guarnaccia, et al. “Contextualizing The Trauma Experience Of Women Immigrants  From Central America, South America, And Mexico.” Journal Of Traumatic Stress 24.6 (2011): 635-642. Academic Search Premier. Web. 21 May 2013.

Underground America: Narratives of Undocumented Lives. Ed. Peter Orner. Voice of   Witness. San Francisco: McSweeney’s Books, 2008.

Carolina Palacio

April 3, 2013

Interview Transcription

–    Hello what is your name?

My name is Maria Teresa Palacio

Where were you born?

I was born in Mexico

What part of Mexico?

Guanajuato, Sausillo Guanajuato

How long have you been living here?

22 years

Why did you move here?

Because I wanted to help my mom and dad, and all of my brothers and sisters, I wanted to build a house so I can live in over there.

How do you feel about living here?

Well I feel sad because for 22 years I couldn’t see my mom and dad, and I always dreamed of seeing them again, and I don’t lose hope that someday I will see them one day.

How old were you when you came here?

I was 23

Did you come alone?


Have you heard of the law that Obama made, how do you feel about it?

Yes I have heard of it and I feel hope that it will work to help me to be able to go back to Mexico and see my family over there, and even if I have my son here I have my heart in both places. My heart is there and my heart is here. And my thoughts are here many times I go over there and don’t.

It’s okay to cry, what is the reason for so? Is it because of your son or going back to see your family?

I would like to see my mother and father; I’d like to see them again alive not dead.

How old are you now?

I am 46 years old

If you had a choice to live here or over there what would you prefer?

Well, to live over there but to have a job

Over there?



Because that’s why people come here to look for a job and to find a better place.

What was your goal coming here?

To work and to help my family is what I wanted but now that I have my son I don’t want to leave I want to stay and help him move ahead.

Did you come here alone?


How did you come?

A guy and women brought us here, but I tried to get a visa before but I was denied it


I don’t know, they didn’t give me nothing they denied it to me I also wanted to come to take care of you.

When you came here where did you live?

Here with your mom and you.

Why did you have so much emotion?

Because I remembered when I came here, and I started thinking and I can’t forget but to feel emotion that a lot of things has happened, bad, good, and happy so it gives me a lot of emotions. Sometimes I feel sad, I get like feeling that I don’t know, I feel desperate, and nervous.

Again why did they deny you your visa?

I don’t know. Usually they give it to the elderly and for students but not for regular young people.

Why won’t they give it to young people?

I think it’s because when old people come they just come to visit and young people would come and stay to live here.

Why do you think people from over there come here?

To find a better life because it’s hard to find a job and they think over here there is more but one does not know the language and you don’t know nothing else but to clean and other things like that then it’s the same, the people say you’re going to get more money and that sometimes isn’t true.

Did you go to school?


What grade did you get to?

I finished up to middle school

Why didn’t you attempt to finish high school?

Because my parents didn’t have enough money to keep me in school and I had to go to a different city to go to school.

With that new law that Obama proposed, would you consider it?

Yes because I need to work, I haven’t done nothing wrong, I have a clean record, I pay my taxes and I need to take care of my son, I think that if Obama does something I’m willing to do something I don’t know how but I will.

Well that’s all I want to ask you, thank you

Your welcome and I hope that Obama thinks of everyone who lives here that all we come for is to work we didn’t come to do anything bad, there is bad people but not all of us are the same, a lot of us want to be great, to help our families and that’s all we don’t want to do bad to no one.

If you can change people’s minds what would you change?

That everyone is the same, we are human, we may have different color skin but our blood is the same color. There is no other color of blood, all of us re children of god; all of us are made by the same god. Religion is one thing or another it may be different but we are the same, even if one is more superior or on top we in all are the same.

Thank you and what is your name again?

My name is Maria Teresa Palacio

Thank you

You’re welcome

Hello Tia can you tell me your name again

  • My name is Maria Teresa Palacio

The other time we talked we talked about how you came here and how you feel about here and where you were born and things like that right?

  • Yes

Well I don’t know much about you and I would like to know more about you like how was your life in Mexico how is it different from here, how was it over there?

  • Well over there I, I can’t really tell you the difference because before coming here, I never went anywhere else but Mexico I dint know anywhere else, but I did go to other places but over there in Mexico but here it feels different because you don’t feel free to do whatever you want. You feel covered because you don’t know the language in the first place, you feel scared you feel like you don’t know how to speak simply because you don’t know the language. But little by little one gets used to it and it’s a little different here but the only thing is that over there isn’t a lot of jobs and that’s why we come here to have a mother life because over there they say that here that there is jobs and that’s why one comes here. And I more than anything to help my family. It just feels more different than over there.

But how different?

  • Well like I’m telling you like you feel sometimes that you’re here and there at the same time like you start thinking away, your mind starts going from here to there at the same time, but also one gets used to working here and to have things and you don’t work in the sun like we did over there in the fields, and it was much different then over here, we worked not in the sun like over there that’s why.

And how old were you when you started working over there?

  • About 10 years old

10 years old?!

  • Yes

Doing what?

  • Taking care of my siblings and helping my mom

Over there you had to grow up fast huh?

  • Yes because we had more brothers the oldest ones had to take care of the youngest, and help their mom to do chores stuff like that

And over here we don’t huh?

  • No over here you guys don’t learn to do nothing

That’s true, and how old where you when you came here

  • 24

And if it wasn’t for your son, if he wasn’t born would you have still stayed here? If he wasn’t born what would you have done?

  • Well maybe since my mom is old and if she where to get sick maybe I would have gone back. Since I have my son I think of him more than anything and I could take him but when he’s older he could come back and I don’t want to take away his future because he is going to school here and I don’t want to take that ways from here he has everything here and he will grow and I will go one day no one lives forever and I want him to be a good person and I am trying to make him do good support him so he won’t suffer like we did , I want him to go to school and be somebody. And I never did anything wrong here or over there, all I want to do is help everyone, anyone who needs help.

Have you ever tried going to school again?

  • Yes but since I have a lot of things to do I haven’t had time to do it I have to work , I have meetings for my son from his school and for me and I can’t concentrate in all but if I did I would have liked to.

And the time that you were here in all of the jobs that you had, have anyone of them treated you badly for not being born here?

  • Yes many times

Can you explain to me more?

  • The man that I have worked for he was abusive he would mistreat us well not everyone but the ones he know that couldn’t defend themselves and make us work a lot and yell at us, and made us feel , well embarrass us. And since I had my son very little well I had to stay I couldn’t do anything about it I had to work and that’s why I stated may things, he did things that weren’t correct

What did he do that weren’t correct?

  • Like the people that he favored when they didn’t come to work he would clock them in even if they weren’t working , so they still go played for that day and made us work there shift and we didn’t get played for it but they did even if they weren’t there. I didn’t think that was right if one is working than one is working they deserve to get played but if they are not than why would you pay them for not working?,

How would he mistreat you?

  • Well like I stayed he would make us work there shift

So he would make you work there shift and pay them instead of you?

  • Yes he would pay them even if they weren’t here they would give us the job

Why didn’t you tell somebody accuse him for doing that?

  • Because I was scared he would say something, I was scared that he would fire me, what is I going to do their am no other job out there so I stayed quiet and had to take in a lot of things.

If you had legal cite ship would you file a report on him?

  • No because I say god is the one who is going to be the judge of that if I do it for what he did he did already, a lot of people knew but they didn’t say anything because we were afraid to. One day I called in sick and came back he would give me a lot of work, he would be mad at me and yell at me saying “you don’t have the right to call in sick” and stuff like that and even if I was sick I still went and he didn’t care if I was, the man was very abusive. But I tell since I have my son, I had to pay a lady to take care of him, I had to pay the rent and stuff myself what can I do I had to work, and now with my work the people treat me better and there are some who treat me bad so I leave them because I thought it’s not fair that I stood so many years with this abuse and stand it anymore that’s it that’s enough.

You live here for 22 years why don’t you try to get a residency?

  • Because the layers said there’s no law that can approve it, I tried to ask organizations that said that could but there really isn’t one for us Mexicans is very difficult only if right now there only giving them to people who have suffered domestic valance and I have not suffered that and would not like to suffer that I don’t like getting into trouble and better I let them mess with me and I am scared to get into trouble I do it for my son I am afraid of the police I don’t want to get into problems.

When you walk when you go out what do think> are you afraid, do you think that someone will get you?

  • I was but then I start thinking of god to help me he is the one that takes care of everyone. And nothing has ever happened to me and the only thing that I am afraid of is that someone will rob me or hit me and that’s how I feel afraid so I look into to god. And if someone tries to say something to me I just leave I don’t answer them because you don’t know how they are or what they are into.

Thank you for telling me all this, is there anything else that you would like to say?

  • I would like to say is that the president steps into our shoes that the people that are not from here, that this country is not ours but the world is free and the people can go wherever they want to. Imagine if you lived here and are this place the only place you want to stay? I mean the world is of immigrants the world is for everyone, like this one song says the sun was born for everyone and that’s how it is its true. I would like it if one where, well if we were free more than ever, when people get more hard then more worse it will be because they will have more anger than anything because they feel abandoned like they want to be whatever and if the people would stop mistreating them then it would be different, but everyone thinks differently. But yes I would like for the president to see the people who are good who don’t do anything wrong I say to give them a chance to go see their family and be able to come back, and those who done bad well get what they deserve and not everyone is the same not all of us will the things they do. That’s what I think.

You know that there racist people that talk bad about us what do you think about that?

  • Like I said a lot of times at me well not all the time at me I have heard a lot of negative conversations of one, they say that immigrants wants to take their jobs, their food that we come to take everything, but we work hard, we work with our hands, we finish up our bodies, we don’t take it away from their table. Even if were sick we work too and sometimes we don’t eat because we have to work. If they say that we take their jobs it would be like saying that we were to go to their houses and take their jobs like that, and take their stuff. But we work with all our might, we work with what they give us. I think that it’s not liking taking nothing we also live here, we pay to eat, we pay where we live, we pay our taxes also, and even if we don’t have documents well it doesn’t matter for everything we pay they don’t just give it to us. But the people, I have heard a lot of horrible conversations that they say about us a lot of times and I feel like something is rising in my head but like I said since I don’t like getting into problems well I’m just better off staying quite but a lot of times I have heard them everywhere, in buses and wherever. It’s horrible.

Thank you for telling me all of this and I hope that the world will change one day and they see all of this

  • Well more than ever to have a conscious that not everyone is the same because we can say that the Latinos and sometimes they say the Mexicans but not all of us are the same we are different there’s differences, there’s bad people and good people, there’s a lot of good people. But also there’s a lot of bad people but sometimes one has to suffer for those who have sinned because what one does all has to pay.

Thank you Tia

  • Well your welcome maybe this will help you maybe but sometimes it can make your trout like you feel something really, really really, I don’t know how to explain it, it feels weird it feels like everything at the same time like it won’t let you express yourself or what your feeling. Because with many things that you have lived with and when you remember them it all comes to your mind at the same time, and when you don’t try not to remember them because can you imagine remembering the same things it can hurt one, one can’t live. You got to try to live and try to do the best that you can, because no one can stay with that the people won’t finish someone off with that. Because sometimes the people do those things to you that are why one has negative things in their heads, crazy, the only thing one has to do is to go to god and to give you strength.

What did you wanted to be when you were young? What did you wanted to do? What did you like to do?

  • What I liked to do, well I liked to play with my friends, play with my dolls and plates and I also loved to study I used to love going to school. But sometimes I had to take my brother since there was none who could take care of him I had to take him.

And what was your dream to be when you grow up?

  • Well I dint have a dream exactly , I just wanted to have a house to grow up in I wanted to build my own house and live alone I wanted to be alone because when your old no one cares about you no one love you.

Well ill still love you

  • When one grows old not even the kids will love one

Well I think your son will always love you he is a great kid and very smart and always shares not selfish.

  • Well I taught him the best that I could because he didn’t have any brothers or sister and I wanted him to learn how to share. When someone asks me for something and I don’t have money to give them I don’t feel right I tell them that when I could I will even if it is small it’s all I can afford I try my best to give him and my nephews the best that I can even if it’s small I don’t like saying no

-Well thank you again and I hope that everything goes in your favor soon.

  • Well thank you and hope so too!