I crossed twice and made it both times without getting caught.
I grew up in El Limon, Michoacan, Mexico. I can sometimes remember riding on horses and taking care of the cattle on the farm with my dad because I stopped going to school after 5th grade. On Christmas, we would bathe in the cold river water because it was still warm outside after we feasted on tamales.
I had some family members that were already here and they had told me that there were a lot of job opportunities and that it was very beautiful in the city. I was only 20 when I crossed alone, but I felt great even though I wished I had brought my family with me. It wasn’t difficult to cross before; there was no wall then.
I met a guy at the border, he said, “¿Vas al otro lado?” Are you going to the other side? Of course, I said no. That’s when he told me, “Look at all those people over there,” he pointed at the other people crossing and I realized that these were the one of many coyotes I had heard about, “I can help you get across,” so he did. In my head, at that moment, I could see my father, the one who smokes a box of cigarettes a day, getting mad while the rest of my family cries because I left at night without telling them.
We took about one to two weeks trying to cross and then we got to L.A. That’s when el coyote took me to an airport and all I had with me was a green bag with a white shirt and a pair of ripped jeans. I got on the plane because they used to not ask you for documentation to get on a plane. When I landed in San Francisco, the guy picking me up, who was helping out el coyote, said, “¿¡Nomas tienes una bolsa verde de México con un cambio de ropa y no te catcho la migra!?” You came with a green bag from México and immigration still didn’t catch you? I then stayed in a coyote’s house for two days, then took a bus.
When I got on the bus, I got in through the back door and took busses like that all the way to Palo Alto. Then, my first job was at a junkyard where I got my first pair of “new” boots which looked kind of like Timberlands, but not quite and were very soggy and gross to work in. I got a house and when I wasn’t at work, I was most likely doing some yard work at home.
After about two years, I went back to México and found out that my father had died. That’s when I had the “best” idea: I’m going to bring my family with me to the United States. That’s when I crossed the second time.
We had crossed and all of a sudden my siblings, 30 other people, and I were being chased by six guys from la migra. We went to a house and we saw la migra pass by. We slowly came out by pretending to be couples. Then we went to my old house.
With the help from one of my aunts, I got started with my life here. When I finally settled with little worries, I went to San Francisco. I was in a place where I could see the whole city. When I looked out into the city, I was weirded out, because I was just so used to living on a farm, out in the open with a small amount of buildings around, and now I was in the crowded streets of one of the most famous cities in the world.
One day, when I was at el coyote’s house the first time I crossed, I had asked for a bucket a water to wash my one change of clothes, but instead, he showed me the new technology: a washing machine. After, I discovered that there was such thing as a microwave, so I heated up a burrito with the aluminum foil still on. Sparks went flying everywhere. When the sparking stopped, I cried out to el coyote, “¡Se chingo el microway!” The microwave f***ed up!
I went through many jobs, but at one, I met Helen (named changed). We went out to eat sometimes, and once, she had a seizure, because she’s epileptic. After she said, “I guess this is our last date,” and I said, “But why? Todavia te amo, I still love you. I will always be right there when you are having problems, loving and caring for you everyday.”
At that time, we were dating for 3 months and kept dating for another two months when we found she was pregnant. This was almost 16 years ago. Today, our daughter is almost 15 and is named Esperanza (name changed). My siblings live in the Bay Area and I work with two of them.
When I returned to México the first time, I found out someone was trying to kill me while I was gone. When I found out, I had thought: Gracias a Dios que me fui cuando me fui, thank God I left when I did; they would have killed me and I would not have the family I have. Now, I work as a baker and care for my family of three girls with another on the way. I love the world and country I live in now, I don’t know how it would have been if I had stayed in Mexico.
The interview and narrative were done by the immigrant’s daughter.