Daniel

Interviewee

Isabel Canning

Interviewer

June 3, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico

How the US shaped him

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*To hear more about Daniel listen to the playlist above

Isabel: Just to start, I wanted to know how old you were when you migrated to the US.

Dan: I was three years old.

Isabel: Three years old. And what caused your family to migrate?

Dan: It was work, basically.

Isabel: And you crossed with a work visa or family visa?

Dan: It was a family visa, yeah, my mom and my sister.

Isabel: I know you went to the US for three years and then went back to Mexico. How long were you in Mexico the second time?

Dan: For about two years, three years.

Isabel: Two years, three years. And then at point you were six or seven?

Dan: Right.

Isabel: Then on your second trip to the US, do you remember migrating to the US a little better?

Dan: Yes. It was on a working visa. It was with my family, my mom’s visa. And I studied middle school with the fifth grade. And I still have all my, how do you call it, school reports. Yeah. I still have all those.

Isabel: Can you tell me about school, what teachers were like, what your friends were like?

Dan: Well, at the beginning I remember there was a lot of ... Well, now it's called bullying. Back then, it was just making fun of. ... because I didn't know how to speak English well. I didn't know how to communicate. I didn't know how to make myself understood. It was just a lot of language barrier, I would say.

Isabel: Was the school helpful with language, or did you have to learn it on your own?

Dan: Well, high school that's when I got ESL, which was English as a Second Language. And I remember teachers tried to help. That's when I got the help. But before then, it was just hardly.

Isabel: So they didn't have any ESL for elementary or middle school?

Dan: No.

Isabel: Wow. How did you pick up English, then?

Dan: Well, just hanging out with my classmates. And my sister was with me and my cousin, so we would make our own little group and we would hang out with all the Hispanic guys and then we'd encourage each other to just start talking English. We had to start somehow.

Isabel: And when you said there was bullying because of the language barrier, was that why you formed those groups with people who also spoke Spanish?

Dan: Well, yeah. You feel more comfortable with Hispanic people. They try not to make fun of you because they know how it feels. They've being in that situation before. We try to help each other and just stick together.

Isabel: Right. And I'm sorry, what city and town was this in, just so we can repeat it?

Dan: This was probably, I would say, when I was in fifth grade, when I was in eighth, ninth, ten, eleven, and twelve.

Isabel: Okay. And during that time, did you like school or what did you like to do in your free time?

Dan: Back then, it was very famous going roller skating.

Isabel: Oh, really?

Dan: We would go roller skating, my sister and myself and my cousin. Then, I will play soccer as well and just going out to movies. It was not much to do back then because you needed transportation. It was far sometimes, so they will have to come and pick us up, but we managed.

Isabel: You finished high school in the US and you started working then. Can you tell me a bit about working in the US, any memories you have?

Dan: Well, I remember when I was at my former job as a customer service agent, I feel so proud due to the fact that I was sitting next to college students that studied so many years in college and I was earning more than them because of a language difference and a shift differential. I was like, I didn't have to study that much and I'm earning more. I guess it was one of the satisfactions, but obviously, you have to work for it.

Isabel: Right. And at this point, you did have a resident status?

Dan: That is correct, yes. I had the permit.

Isabel: So you didn't have to deal with any of the fear.

Dan: Yeah. Right.

Isabel: Did you know people who were undocumented or lived with that fear?

Dan: Yes. All the Hispanic community, at one point you meet somebody that it is undocumented and they don't have the proper documentation to work. Yeah, you can see them being a little bit afraid of committing a crime, running a red light or speeding because for any reason, they might pull you over and your dream might be over.

Isabel: Right. Speaking of the dreams and what people are hoping to do in the US, did you have any dreams, what you wanted to accomplish in the US at that age?

Dan: Well, it's like any kid that wants your mom to be in a very stable situation. I always wanted to buy a house for my mom and just give her peace of mind. But at one point, I tried to do it, but she always lived with my sisters. But I tried. I didn't accomplish it. I was not able to make it, but it was part of my plans.

Isabel: Yeah. What do you think were some of the obstacles in terms of achieving that next level that you were hoping to?

Dan: Well, at one point everybody—when I said everybody, I'm talking about my mom, my dad, and my sisters. We were able to qualify to be American citizens after so long being a permanent resident. And in my mind, it was like, "Why am I going to be showing a visa going to my own country?" That was the only reason that I didn't want to go for it. Now I regret it, but I just didn't want to do it because, I guess, lack of information, not enough information that I was or I wasn't going to need that. And time went by and I regret it now.

Isabel: And so you were mentioning at this time that you didn't have as much of a fear of authorities because you were a resident. And you said you didn't want to have a visa for your own country. So you're saying when you go back to Mexico, you were going to have a visa. You wanted to be a Mexican citizen—

Dan: Right.

Isabel: ... and a US resident. But then you said you regret it. Do you mind going into your last time in the US when you had your company and then when you were undocumented? Maybe what brought you back to Mexico and then how you crossed the border for the last time?

Dan: Well, when I crossed the border the last time, that was back in 2009. I was married already and I had my child. My wife was pregnant with my daughter. The violence and the economic situation here was to a point that it was not standable no more. My dad came over. He was an American citizen by then, and he drove us to the border. And I crossed the border in an automobile with my sister and my nephews. And just the officer were like, "You American citizen?" "Yes, I am." "Where were you born?" "Dallas, Texas." And he says, "What hospital?" "Parkland." And said, "Okay. Go, go, go." They didn't check anything, and that was after 9/11, which the security shouldn't be a little tighter? And then my wife came across the border with my father and they didn't have any issues. We didn't have the necessity of walking down the mountain or going through ... risk our lives like other people.

Isabel: Right. Would you recommend migrating even now when there is the possibility of risking of your life and more dangerous paths? Or do you think it's only worth migrating if you can do it safely?

Dan: It's worth migrating if you can do it safely because your life is not worth it. Walking through the night and long distance, I haven't experienced it, but I have friends that they told me that they encounter wild pigs and snakes and they're not here anymore. Just try to go ahead and have a better life. In here, in Mexico, my advantage is that I speak English. No matter how old I am, I still have a few doors open. I struggle, but I can manage, and I can survive. I can go by. But all those people that they really need to have a better life, whatever they're going to spend on crossing the border, risking their lives, they should invest that money into their education and then they have a better option of having a better job and make themselves worth that they really want to be worth.

Isabel: Yeah. I think that's important because it can be a really dangerous journey it is what stories seem to say. When you got to the US for the last time, you went through car and didn't have any issues. How did you start running your own company? Do you mind telling me a bit about that?

Dan: Sure. Obviously, back then I didn't have no documents. I start working with this guy as a helper. He was a contractor for Home Depot putting the countertops, taking off the Formica, the wood countertops and putting marble or granite. I was doing that with him for about a year, but we were looking how other people in that same house were putting hardwood floors, painting, and doing this and that. I was gathering their info. It was like, "Hey, this is your own business?" "Yeah." "Okay. How much do you charge the square footage of our engineering wood floors?" "Okay. I'll let you have it for $1.50." So I start getting all that information. And at one point, the guy that I was working with, he moved. He bought his own house, but it was way too far. So he invited me over and he said, "Hey, I'll pay you rent on an apartment nearby, but I need your help." And I was like, "No." And at that moment, I printed my own business cards and I knew how to paint, so I was painting houses. I was painting inside interiors, outside exteriors. And I started selling out other people's jobs. For instance, I would say, "Hey, I'm looking you're remodeling your house. I can do the engineering hardwood floors for $2.50." And I said, "Okay, do you have a catalog?" So I will run to ... By then, I knew where the hardware stores were, the outlets, and they will give me a good rate. If the square footage was $1.00, I would resell it for $1.50 or $1.15. And that how I was making out my money. I would give somebody else the job, making money out of them, and just making money out of the material. That's how I was making money. All of a sudden, when I least expected, I was doing electricity, I was doing plumbing, I was doing the sprinkler system. I was just doing pretty much everything around the house, concrete, shingles, roofing. I was subscribed with an insurance company. I believe it was Allstate Farm where all the damages would give it to me and they will pay me straight up. I was there.

Isabel: Wow. That was just being so resourceful and connected with people, putting it together kind of like the American hustle.

Dan: Definitely. Yes. Yeah.

Isabel: Yeah, that's really cool. Going off of that, one thing we're focusing on in the interviews is talking about how you may have been shaped by the US and by Mexico. Do you think that any values or behavior or mindsets in America shaped who you are or what you have accomplished or done?

Dan: Yes. I'm very organized. Obviously, that came from my parents. I'm very perfectionist. Yes, definitely. In here, if you go around the buildings anywhere, pick a street, whenever they paint a building, you can see a bunch of dripping on the floor on the sidewalks. That's where I make the difference in my job. If I do something, I do it better, and people like it. And even treat with a person. You say "Hi," you say, "Good afternoon," "Good morning," and you get yourself to know by other people as an educated, respected person. Not everybody's like this, and I learn it from the States. You treat people the way you want to be treated. And that's basically where I got my reputation from. You treat everybody the way you want to be treated no matter where they're at, no matter who you are, no matter who they are. That's my motto.

Isabel: I think that's incredible and I think it shows in the company you were able to make. Could you tell me, then, you were using these values, you were creating a company, you were creating jobs for other people in the US, and then you were deported and had this experience with law enforcement. Can you describe that for me?

Dan: Yes. It was this lady where I went over and gave her an estimate. And she offered to give me her credit card to go ahead and buy the material. When I bought the material, it was more money that we quoted, but I told her that it could vary. I gave her all the material. I gave her all the receipts, and she was not happy about it. She went over and accused me of credit card abuse. I got an attorney and it was like, "Hey, don't worry about it. I already got you a deal. It's only going to be 10 days in jail. And it's going to be only weekends." And like, "Okay." Immigration doesn't work on weekends, so I will turn myself in on a Friday night and then I will come out on Monday 12:01 in the morning so it will count four days. I turned myself in and when I was about to get ready to get out, I called the guards and say, "Hey, I need to take a shower because I'm about to go to work." So they let me out. Took my shower, went back to my cell. And then about twelve midnight, they called me up and say, "Hey, Cabrero, come down." So I went down. They're like, "Man, I cannot let you out because you have an INS [Immigration and Naturalization Service] hold." I'm like, "What?" They were like, "Yeah, you have an immigration hold." "No, not really." That's when I lost my house, I lost my trucks, my trailers, my tools, my home, everything.

Isabel: You were living with your family?

Dan: I was already with my wife and my kids at my own property. I was at my own house. She had to let everything go. Yeah.

Isabel: I'm curious, you were doing time in jail for this credit card infraction that this woman accused you of on the weekends. Is that something that normally happens?

Dan: Well, the attorney that I got, he knew that I didn't have documents at that moment, so he's just like, "Okay. Well, I'm going to try to make a deal." He made a deal of—there's a title that you call this, work release—that you turn yourself in on the weekends and then you go back to work throughout the week. And then you turn back on the weekend and turn yourself in. And that's what is supposed to happen, but I don't know how in the world they knew I was there and I don't know what time they put the hold on me. And then when I got there ... Well, when I tried to get out, they told me I couldn't. They said, "But don't worry. If they don't come to pick you up, INS, by 8:00 in the morning, we'll let you go." And I had my truck, everything on the parking lot. By, I guess it was 8:01, immigration came and then the lady at the reception say, "Hey, you want me to call the other guys?” He's like, "No, I just came for that guy." And yeah, it was a little bit rude. I treat them the way he was treating me. He was asking me all these sorts of questions. I told him to talk to my attorney. And then we got to Dallas, Texas at immigration offices, and I got left there all night, basically, until I started yelling and screaming, and they said, "Oh! We forgot about you." They took me to a local jail to stay there overnight. And then the next morning, that's when they just told me I was going to be able to see an immigration judge. I think I waited for a couple of months, three months. I turned myself in May ... it was May the 14th. My father passed away May the 21st, and I was not there. Just a bunch of things ran through my mind. But when I went to see the judge, they told me, "Hey, you were told that they were going to give you five years straight if you would come back." And I served two years and a half. I was two years and a half in jail at the border. It was Raymondville by Harlingen. I was there working out, building myself up. I had to see the bright side. You cannot focus on the negative things or else you get destroyed. I always try to joke about sad situations because if I focus into the negative things, nothing good comes out of it.

Isabel: Right. No. That is a really ... Honestly, I can only imagine a really difficult time. You thought you were going in for a small ten days in jail—you're going to keep on working, still have your job, your house, your family. And the next thing you know, everything's being ripped from you. And that's honestly ... Thank you for sharing. That's a really difficult thing to rehash. That is one of the stories we're trying to tell is great people who are contributing to the US economy who are acting as full citizens, doing everything right like you were, and doing everything ... You know what I mean? Living a great American lifestyle.

Dan: I still have my tax returns, everything. I was about to burn them up a couple of days ago because I found them. And I was like, I don't know if I should burn them down or what. And it was like, "Eh, I'm just going to keep them."

Isabel: Yeah. Doing that and having that perfectionist tendency. Everything's perfectly done. And then serving time, doing what you were supposed to do, serving time for the crime, for whatever this person accused you of. And then because of your undocumented status, that becoming ... pretty much serving time for a crime you didn't commit is kind of like how we were seeing it. Taking someone who is in no way a criminal and then treating them as such.

Dan: Yeah. Because it was her word against mine when I said, "Hey, she gave me an authorization to purchase all the material." And then showing the judge a sheet of paper that I quoted her how much would it be plus the material and that not being enough proof that she authorized it. They showed the videos at Home Depot where I was buying the material and I was like, "Hey, I didn't buy nothing for myself. Everything is for you. This is the receipts. How many items are in the receipts? This is how many items are in your house." I didn't charge nothing more, nothing less, and I told you, "I have no control over the prices. If you went over the…," I would say, "the quoted price verbally, reality was another, but I had no control over that."

Isabel: Right. And I feel like that also is fairly common when buying material for a house. There's the budget and then there's what it actually ends up being. Then that's not in your control.

Dan: Right.

Isabel: Yeah. That sounds ... I wonder, do you think she knew of your undocumented status? Do you think she knew what this would mean?

Dan: She found out because my mom, my sisters went to talk to her.

Isabel: Wow.

Dan: They told her and said, "Hey, he didn't do nothing wrong and you're accusing him of something that he didn't commit. How much do you want to just take off the charges, just say that it was a miscommunication?" And my mom told her that consequences of what could happen and she didn't care. She proceeded.

Isabel: Who has that kind of hate in their heart? I don't know. That's just feels really selfish on her part.

Dan: Right. I don't know what she was going through. I don't know what she thought, but I was very clear. And then I tried to tell her, "If you don't want the job, I can return the items. I have the receipts and they can put back on your credit card. It will be no problem." And when I saw that she was really going through it, I told her, I said, "You know what? I can pay you some money for wasting your time, for the hustle, and just to be there at the wrong time, at the wrong moment if you want to call it that way." And she said, "No, I don't want anything out of you." I don't know. But at that moment, that's when my mom and my sisters went and talked to her. They went and talked to her even though the attorney told her not to get in touch with her. It can be misconception, a misunderstanding, but they went over and did it anyway. But she didn't want to budge out.

Isabel: It sounds like when you presented your case, there was video evidence, you had all the receipts. Do you think that there was any bias? Do you think there was any discrimination because of your identity?

Dan: She was Hispanic as well.

Isabel: She was Hispanic as well?

Dan: Yeah. Well, she was half American, half Hispanic. She didn't know how to speak Spanish, but I believe her last name was Hispanic. But I just don't know. I cannot say anything on her behalf.

Isabel: Right. Or the judge's.

Dan: Right. But the only thing I can say was what it went through my mind, what I went through, what I did, what I tried to do.

Isabel: Right. Right. And now that we have that. Yeah, that's a really important story to share. Then you had to do two and a half years?

Dan: Two and a half years.

Isabel: And then you were also, before that, held in an office, detained for three months?

Dan: About three months, right.

Isabel: And then held in a prison for two and a half years?

Dan: Yeah.

Isabel: So, then what started as a ten-day holding turned into a long period of your life. Do you remember any of the conditions or how you were treated either in the detainment or in the prison?

Dan: Well, they were tents. It was over where it was very common that it was heard, Maricopa in Arizona. I don't know if you heard.

Isabel: Oh, in the news?

Dan: On the news on the US. There were tents and then they were made to wear pink underwear and that's how they were treated there in Maricopa in Arizona. Well, here, it was tents as well. I know I was a load to my family's shoulders. I know they had to come over and visit me. They had to send me money. When my wife was selling all my tools and all my property, I just told her, "Send me $150." I bought a lot of ... It's called commissary, which it's a lot of food, quick soups, beans, Cokes, all that. I bought tons. And it is common that people that has money, they put a little store. You sell a Coke and when pay day comes, they give you a Coke and they give you a soup. For everything that you sell, it is a soup as interest. So I start building up my store inside and I didn't have to bother my mom or my sisters, my wife. I was supporting myself over there. That happened throughout the two years and half. By the time it was three months before I got out, I start eating all my food with all my friends, the inmates that I kind of got to know as friends. There were other people that had stores and they were about to leave about the same time. So we were eating everything and so we were sharing with all the inmates there.

Isabel: You created your own mini business again inside to support yourself so your family wouldn't have to. Can you tell me about ... Were your friends in similar situations, they were undocumented and sent here?

Dan: Yeah. The people that were there, they were undocumented as well. And they have a little bit more years to serve than me. There were some of them that they just that were very few months depending on what they did. There were people that were just pulled over because they didn't have a taillight. And it was very, very unbelievable stories that you would hear. Everybody was there for different reasons.

Isabel: Right. This is going to sound like a silly question, but I guess what I want to discuss is your opinion on how the US government has handled that and the Mexican government in terms of treating people for crimes that may not be that serious?

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

Isabel: Yeah. No, I think that's really fair. A couple of closing questions, you said both the US and the Mexico has contributed to your identity and your mentalities. Do you feel Mexican or American?

Dan: On most times, American.

Isabel: Most times American. Why is that?

Dan: In the US, that's where I create my lifestyle. The point of view is based of your lifestyle, who you hang out with, why you hang out with them, what you're capable of doing for some people or some others, not. Over in the States, I would have a weekend where I would go out, party with my wife and the next day I will go to a very expensive restaurant and buy her a bracelet or a necklace, earrings and spend my money with who I love—my family, my mom, my sisters. I would be very happy being in that restaurant and everybody around the table and just take care of the tab and not worry about it. I think that way. In here, in Mexico, even though that is a little bit harder, I actually do the same thing. I hang out, I go out to dance, I go to the karaokes. Back then, in the US, I would go to the lake, do a barbecue. And here, I go to Acapulco. It's a lot better. I don't see the negative things—I mean, I don't always focus onto the negative things because negative things will ruin your life. Focus in what you have, who you are, what you're capable of doing, and what you're capable of helping others about, with this, with that. If people see you as a valuable person for the experience you have at this point, they're more than welcome to get help from myself. But not a lot of people think the same way.

Isabel: Yeah. That's true. And you said your wife and children live here with you, too?

Dan: Right.

Isabel: And you work with New Comienzos now?

Dan: Right.

Isabel: Did your family, did they come back to be with you, then?

Dan: When I was deported, I was at Laredo and I was there for three weeks until one of my sisters helped my wife pack a trailer. And that was my house in a trailer, mattress, clothes, shoes, a TV, and the basics. They drove down to the border and I met them after two years and a half just about. And we got reunited and we got everything documented just that my wife got in touch with the authorities at the border and said, "Okay. We're going to be ... " I don't know how you say, but "self ... "

Isabel: Oh, voluntary departure.

Dan: " ... Voluntary departure and we want to pass our property, what is left out of your house." It's like, "Okay. You have to do this and this and this, put it on a piece of paper in a box what it contains. And in that box with the number of boxes. Put the number on each box and see what it contains and everything." So they did everything by order. We paid the taxes. We paid whatever they ask us. And as soon as we were driving off the bridge, we got pulled over by Los Zetas, which is a big old gang in Mexico, big old rifles and everything. And they wanted to take everything, the truck—it was a Suburban. They want to take the Suburban and the trailer, all the property. I told them, "Hey, we're blocking the streets. I'll meet you over at the hotel where we're staying." As soon as we got to the hotel, I ran out to the lobby and I said, "Hey, these guys ... " He's like, "Are they on white Cherokees?" We're like, "Yeah." "They have big old rifles?" We're like, "Yeah." "Yeah, they're the Zetas." "So now what?" It was like, "Oh, you have to give them tons of money." I was like, "Really?" It was like, "Yeah." By that time, they start pulling over and there were more people because they can see what it—it was one of those trailers that you carry mulch because my brother-in-law has a landscaping company. You can see everything through it. I got there and my brother-in-law, "No, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm just the driver. He's the owner of everything, everything." Like, "Okay." And I was like, "Hey ... " I told my brother-in-law, "Hey, do you have any sheet of papers with English information on it?" He's like, "Yeah, yeah, yeah." So I grabbed that folder and I told the guys, "Hey, yeah. What can I help you with?" It was like, "Hey, you have to pay taxes on all your property." I was like, "We just did. And I'll show the sheet that I paid all the taxes at the border." Like, "No, no, no, no. Don't act stupid. You know what we're talking about."

Isabel: Oh, you paid taxes, too?

Dan: "We are the ones that take care of you going all the way to your destination safely." And I said, "What are you talking about?" It's like, "For everything that you carry, at least eight thousand pesos." Like, "Really? Okay. I respect what you do. I don't know you. With all due respect, but I've been deported. It was two years and half that I hadn't seen my family. This is my wallet." Open my wallet. I show him. I had like $350. I said, "This is all I have for gas and meals. We haven't eaten. My kids are starving. We're about to eat. Is this the way you receive your own compadres?”

Isabel: For sure.

Dan: Yeah. "That's how you receive us? And you say on big old pamphlets up on the highways ‘Welcome Paisano. It's vacation time.’ How safe can we feel having you around? No offense, but I know pretty much you're doing your job, but are you really doing your job bringing us safe? Being deported and not have money at all?" And just start looking at me and they start laughing at each other. And I'm dead serious. "You want my money? This is all I have. I don't even have enough for gas or going all the way to Mexico City. This is all I have." He just give me a big old palm on my shoulder and it's like, "Just go. Just go." And like, "Yeah, but I know your tricks. You're going to let me go, but how about further down? Do you going to give me a code or something that I went through you or what?" "Oh, just tell them that the blondie guy just already check you up." I'm like, "Really?" He's like, "Yeah." And yeah, we went through, but we didn't found anybody else. We found the checkpoints with military people around six in the morning and it was like, "Hey, but you don't want me to unload everything, right? Just give us a little bit for breakfast." But if I didn't give anything to Los Zetas, I'm not going to give you anything because ... And I told him, "I've been deported. This is my paperwork, and I'm going back home." And like, "Just go. Just go." So we ran with a lot of luck, but we encountered a lot of dangerous situations that for somehow or another—I feel like I'm a God believer. I feel like God was leading us and protecting us and gave the perfect words at the perfect time. And nothing happened. Nothing bad happened. Yes, I know, but you can see in the news people are coming, the trucks are disappearing with the people. I didn't want to imagine the worst-case scenario, but I was always focusing into just speak the proper words without offending but at the same time being very straightforward of not willing to do anything that they want me to do.

Isabel: Yeah. It sounds like you were able to think really quickly and navigate those situations to protect yourself and your family.

Dan: And I'm here. I gave my wife a choice. I said, "You want to stay here with the kids?" And I told her, I said, "I come over. I come over. I don't know how I'm going to be able to do it, but I'll come here. I'll keep doing the business and everything." But once being there for two years and a half, you get to know a lot of stories and you realize, hey, this is no joke. The next time it could be worse. And I was saying to myself, "Hey, you don't want to lose another two years and a half and not being there for your daughter, not being there for your son." I'd rather just enclose myself and reprimand myself of a lot of ideas that I have and put it in practice or just do it for my own… I would say, not being selfish. Now I think about it for my kids. Basically, they're the ones that are stopping me to do, to a point, crazy stuff for my own advantage or my own better status economically-wise. Just like, no, I'd rather being together and if we all eat a sandwich, we're all going to drink a Coke, but always together because my dad ... That's what happened. My dad would leave us here, would go over there, and then send for us. And I didn't want to follow the same pattern. It's just you never know when your kids are going to need you at one point.

Isabel: Absolutely. How old are your kids?

Dan: My little princess is thirteen and my boy is sixteen.

Isabel: Thirteen and sixteen. And are they both US citizens, then?

Dan: No. My boy was born here, May 10th, Mother's Day. And Jocelyn, my little girl, she was born on February 5th.

Isabel: Here as well?

Dan: No, in the US, in Dallas.

Isabel: Oh, so your youngest, your daughter—

Dan: She's a US citizen.

Isabel: What are your hopes for them?

Dan: Well, I try to teach them right from wrong in the realistic way, not just by words, but showing them examples. This is what it could happen. And my daughter's case, I don't know who's going to be the lucky one, but if she gets married with somebody from here, he will be American citizen as soon as they get married. And more likely, they're going to be living in the States. I really doubt that she will stay here. She doesn't like it. When we arrived to Mexico, she didn't know a word of Spanish. For that reason, she's supposed to be enrolled in third grade. They dropped her down to second grade because she didn't know Spanish. Now, she is number one in school with the grades and everything. She's very fluent in Spanish. She flip everything around. I'm really happy for them. I'm really proud of them.

Isabel: That's incredible. Yeah. Well, it sounds like they have a great father to guide them.

Dan: I try.

Isabel: Is there anything before we close that you'd like to add or let people know?

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

Isabel: I think that's perfectly said. I think we can end on that.


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