Edgar

Interviewee

Anne Preston

Interviewer

June 7, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico

Deciding to return to Mexico

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*To hear more about Edgar listen to the playlist above

Anne: Okay. So I am Anne and I wanted just to start by thanking you for coming to speak with us.

Edgar: Okay.

Anne: We are really grateful that you're willing to share your story.

Edgar: Sure.

Anne: We know it could be painful and I'm sorry if it gets painful.

Edgar: Yeah, okay. I don't really know. [Laughs nervously].

Anne: Anyways. So I was not at your survey so I'm not sure how your story started. So maybe you can start by just telling me what motivated you to go to the United States, how old you were, the circumstances, what it was like to go. For you.

Edgar: Okay. Well, I left when I was five-and-a-half years old. My mom wanted me to be here with her. She was already over there. We lived in California, East Palo Alto. And she wanted…me and my brother actually went over there. We went through the car, though. We went through the line. So we didn't have to struggle going, jumping over the border. Nothing like that.

Anne: Who was driving the car?

Edgar: Her friend. My mom's friend. Yeah. They hired him to come and get us, pick us up.

Edgar: So yeah, when we got there, I don't know. Everything was weird. I didn't know where we were. I really don't remember much when I was young. But the language, I think I learned English. I learned in a year, one year and a half. It wasn't very hard. So, yeah.

Anne: How long had your mom been in the States before she asked you to come?

Edgar: About one year or two. I don't remember much. But, yeah. Like two years. My uncle actually helped her get over there. Yeah.

Anne: So did you remember her when you got there?

Edgar: Did I remember her? Man. No, I did remember her. Yeah, I did. I got very happy.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: I went right away and hugged her.

Anne: Cool.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: Had you been living with grandparents before then?

Edgar: Yeah. With my grandma, all my life.

Anne: Was it hard to leave her?

Edgar: Well, young…I don't think that it hurt me like that. But when I got older, yeah. I thought about, "Why did I leave her? Why?" I should have been with her, yeah.

Anne: And was your dad there, too? In the States?

Edgar: My dad? No. My dad, he left when I was like two. But when I got there to California, my mom had already married another guy. So I had a stepdad. And it was kind of weird. I didn't know him at all. And we were living with him. Yeah. He was kind of... What do you call it? Kind of weird. Kind of demanding.

Anne: Was he also Mexican?

Edgar: He wanted to take power…Yeah, from Puebla. From Puebla, Mexico.

Anne: Did he have papers or was he...

Edgar: No, he didn't. He didn't, either. I don't know how they met. But when we went, they were already together. Yeah.

Anne: So he was hard on you?

Edgar: Yeah. A little bit, a little bit. He had another…he had a kid, too. So I had a step-brother. And he would treat him with a lot of power over her, demanding and shit. And he would try to do that with me and my brother but my brother wouldn't let it happen. So, yeah.

Anne: Is your brother older?

Edgar: Around like... Yeah, two years older than me. Yeah.

Anne: So all three boys lived in the house together?

Edgar: Well the other kid, he would only come on the weekends. Yeah. He would live with his mom. Yeah. And then, one year after we were over there, he got married to my mom. And, yeah. That was even more weird, yeah.

Anne: Did they have any children together?

Edgar: They didn't. They didn't. They didn't. But, yeah, after like four years, they separated

Anne: Oh.

Edgar: Because it wasn't working. The relationship.

Anne: So he moved out?

Edgar: He moved out. Then we found another apartment. We went from East Palo Alto to Menlo Park, California. Then, yeah. I had to change schools. Everything. Everything changed. Yeah.

Anne: So you came over. You were about, you said, five or six when you came over?

Edgar: Yeah. Around five.

Anne: And then, you started school.

Edgar: Yeah, I did.

Anne: And you said it was pretty easy to learn the language.

Edgar: Yeah. I went to elementary or middle. Elementary, right?

Anne: Yeah. You were just a kid.

Edgar: Yeah, elementary.

Anne: Kindergarten, first grade, something like that.

Edgar: Yeah. No, I went to kindergarten here.

Anne: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Edgar: Then when I got over there, I went to first grade. And then, my teacher, I really liked her. Because she really helped me learn the language and all that. Yeah.

Anne: Were there other children like you who had grown up elsewhere and were trying to learn English? Or did you feel pretty...

Edgar: No, I think there were like five other people like me. They barely got there too. They were trying to learn the language. So that really helped me a lot too, that there were other people like me.

Anne: So did you enjoy school?

Edgar: I did, I did. I really did. I liked going a lot. I wouldn't miss one day. But then, yeah. When I got older, I went to high school, I didn't like going anymore.

Anne: So you were a kid, and you liked it. And you...

Edgar: Yeah. I liked it. And then, I didn't.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative). What did you like about school as a kid?

Edgar: I liked…I really liked learning.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: I really liked writing, learning, learning new stuff that I didn't know. And I liked the environment that I had with friends. And I liked the food. I liked it a lot. I liked the library, too. Because I love to read.

Anne: That's great.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: Did you do anything like sports or art or music or anything like that?

Edgar: We were doing art. And then, around middle school, I did the saxophone.

Anne: Oh!

Edgar: And drums. Yeah. I really liked it a lot, too.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: Yeah. Then as I grew up, everything went away.

Anne: So you said that you were six. You had this stepfather character. And then, they got married. And then, they got separated. So when did you have to move from East Palo Alto to Menlo Park? How old were you?

Edgar: Well we were moving back and forth, back and forth. But I was like around 12 when I moved to Menlo Park. And then, from there, I went to Hillview Middle School. Finished that, went to Woodside. I moved to Redwood City. That way, we could be closer to high school. Yeah.

Anne: So what made you stop liking school?

Edgar: Just got into... Well my friends, they were into another type of environment. We were more into ditching and going out, having fun, partying. And I followed them. And, yeah. I wouldn't like to go anymore. But that happened in 11th grade or 12th grade.

Anne: Oh.

Edgar: So, yeah.

Anne: So you were almost done.

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah.

Anne: So did you get in trouble?

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah, I got in trouble. I was doing weed at that time.

Anne: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Edgar: So I only wanted to do that the whole day. Yeah.

Anne: So what was home life like with your mom and stepfather for a while? And then, not stepfather? Did you guys have a lot of family time? Did you go out and do stuff? Parks? Or was your mom working?

Edgar: Yeah. They were working a lot but they made a little bit of time. We would go to the park, play a little bit of soccer, and go to the movie theaters. But when they separated, I think we were happier without him. Yeah. Yeah.

Anne: That's good.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: So in high school, you're not liking school as much. When did you figure out that you were undocumented? Or did you know it all along?

Edgar: No. I think I found out... I thought about it. But I found out, I was like around eight years old.

Anne: Eight years old?

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah. Watching the TV and everything, watching people getting deported. And, yeah. My mom pretty much told me that we were undocumented. That's when I found out.

Anne: Did she tell you to be careful or...

Edgar: Well not really to be careful, nothing like that. But just that we're not from here. We're from Mexico.

Anne: So as you're growing up, how did you feel when your friends were getting their licenses and starting to drive cars?

Edgar: Oh, man. Yeah. It felt different. It felt way apart. Not like, I don't belong with them. Like I wanted to get that but I couldn't.

Anne: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Edgar: But when the DACA DREAM Act, when I got the DACA, it really helped me a lot. I could have got the license to drive but I don't know why I didn't. I didn't do that, either.

Anne: So when did you apply for DACA? How old were you?

Edgar: I was like 15, 16. Around that time. Yeah. My mom actually told me about it. And she told me I have to apply, that I couldn't let that opportunity go.

Anne: Did your brother apply?

Edgar: I don't think... No, he didn't. He didn't apply. I don't know why. Yeah. Yeah.

Anne: So you applied and you got your papers?

Edgar: Yeah. They gave me a meeting. I went there, got a passport, got my social security. And, yeah. I got a job. I could do more stuff with it than without it.

Anne: And you had to stay in school.

Edgar: I had to, yeah. I had to. I had to.

Anne: So did that give you any more incentive to stay in school or were you still smoking weed?

Edgar: It did. But, no. I really didn't care either, though. I didn't renew it, though. I had to renew it. I don't know how much they give you for that, DACA?

Anne: Every two years.

Edgar: Every two? Yeah, I think I only had it for two years then. I didn't renew it because I didn't go to school no more. Yeah.

Anne: So why'd you drop out?

Edgar: Drop out? I wouldn't call it drop out. I just... Yeah, the weed. It got me more into hanging out with my friends. And they didn't go either. So I would want to hang out with them more often. And if I did go, I wouldn't have that much time. And the homework, I didn't want to do it.

Anne: So when did you drop out? 11th grade or 12th?

Edgar: Eleventh. Well no, 12th grade, around... I had like one semester left. So, yeah. I dropped out. And I really regret that.

Anne: Was your mother mad at you?

Edgar: Not mad, but...well, yeah, mad, but she told me that I'm going to do whatever I'm going to do. I was already 18, I think.

Anne: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Edgar: So, yeah. But yeah, she got mad at me. She wanted me to go back. Yeah, she wanted me to go back.

Anne: So what did you do after you dropped out of school?

Edgar: After that?

Anne: Stopped. You didn't drop out. You just stopped going.

Edgar: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I got into, I went to the job of plumbing. I got into plumbing with my uncle. He helped me try to learn plumbing. And then, started working. And then, I just started hanging out with my friends a lot, smoking weed, drinking, doing bad stuff.

Anne: So that wasn't very good for your job.

Edgar: No, not really. So then, after two years, I quit and just started hanging out every day. Making money out of weed, too.

Anne: Selling weed?

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah, pretty much.

Anne: Were you in a gang?

Edgar: No, never. But I did have a lot of friends that were in a gang. But I never really got into that at all.

Anne: Okay. So you were selling weed and that's how you were supporting yourself?

Edgar: Yeah. That and my brother just would give me...whenever he could, he would give me money. He was working in a restaurant in Palo Alto. And, yeah. He would help me out. Whenever I told him I needed money, he would give it to me.

Anne: Did you have a girlfriend?

Edgar: A girlfriend? I had a few. Yeah, a few. Yeah. I had a few.

Anne: Any kids?

Edgar: No. No. No, no, no, no. I don't have any right now.

Anne: So how did you end up back in Mexico?

Edgar: So back here, I ended up, I actually came with a friend. We didn't land here. We landed in Guadalajara. Then, from there, we went to Michoacán with his family. I don't know why. But one day, we just decided we're going to come back. We didn't really think about that we couldn't go back after we got here. So, yeah. When we got here, we were like, "Damn. Now what do we do? Now that we can't go back."

Anne: How old were you?

Edgar: Eighteen. Around 18. When I got here.

Anne: So you'd been out of school for a couple years?

Edgar: Yeah. No, not a couple. Like maybe half a year. One year.

Anne: Okay.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: And your time in the plumbing business had been also while you were in school?

Edgar: No, that would be apart.

Anne: I see. So after you left school, you started plumbing?

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: And then, soon after, you came back here?

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: Was it you just wanted to see Mexico or...

Edgar: I did.

Anne: A vacation?

Edgar: Well I didn't really think I had a future out there.

Anne: In the US?

Edgar: Yeah. Because I didn't have the DACA anymore. To work a real job, I needed the social security. And I didn't have that either.

Anne: What about your dad? Or your brother?

Edgar: My brother?

Anne: Yeah. I mean, he was working a real job, right?

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: Did he have a social security number?

Edgar: Yeah, he had one. But you know how they get a fake one?

Anne: Yeah, yeah.

Edgar: Yeah, yeah. He had a fake one. I could've got that one, too. But I didn't really feel motivated that much out there to work. And then, the rent. Really, really high. Everything. I thought about, I thought if I came here, it would be way better for me. But when I got here, I didn't know what to do. At all.

Anne: How was your Spanish ability when you got here?

Edgar: Probably like 50%. Yeah. Out there, I wouldn't really talk much like that, Spanish. Only English with my friends.

Anne: So when you got here, what'd you do?

Edgar: So when I got here, no. I went to Michoacán, over there, for one year. Me and my friend were pretty much hanging out, going to clubs. And we were getting money. He was getting money from his mom, I was getting money from my brother. And yeah, we were doing that for one year.

Anne: Were you smoking weed?

Edgar: No, no. We only drank beer.

Anne: Drinking?

Edgar: Yeah. Only drinking.

Anne: Was it fun?

Edgar: Yeah. Pretty much. We were renting a house. Yeah. When I got here, I haven't done really, I haven't really done weed or nothing like that. Only drinking. Yeah.

Anne: How old are you now?

Edgar: Now, I'm 22.

Anne: So you spent a year sort of having fun. And then...

Edgar: Yeah, one year. And then, we came here to check it out, me and my friend. Yeah. We wanted to check it out. And then, we were here for like half a year, half a year, hanging out, too. Drinking, meeting new people. Then we went back to Michoacán. And then, I got tired of it over there. So I came with my grandma. I told her. I called her and asked her if I can go live with her. She told me, "Yeah. I can go.”

Anne: So you were in Mexico City?

Edgar: Yeah. Well not here. State. Mexico State. Ecatepec. And yeah, I went to go live with her. Got a little bit of depression. Because I didn't know. I didn't have a job, I didn't have nothing. I was getting fat.

Anne: You're not fat now.

Edgar: No. No, no, no. I go to the gym now. But, yeah. We were doing that. And then...

Anne: Did you miss your family?

Edgar: I did. I do, a lot. Yeah. My brother and my mom. A lot, a lot. Well I talk to them like every day, through the phone. But, yeah. I do want to go hug them, be with them, and all that.

Anne: Do you have any marks against you in the US?

Edgar: Like...

Anne: Like criminal marks against you?

Edgar: No. No. What do you call them? Dismeanor?

Anne: Misdemeanor.

Edgar: Misdemeanor. Yeah. I don't have any felonies, though.

Anne: Yeah. But a misdemeanor for...

Edgar: For weed, for getting caught with weed. Dealing and having...

Anne: Oh. I see.

Edgar: Yeah, yeah.

Anne: Yeah.

Edgar: Yeah, I've been to juvie jail. I've been to juvie for half a year for violating my probation.

Anne: After? Because you were smoking weed?

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah. Like 10th grade, I got probation for bringing weed to the school. And, yeah. I had court, went through all that, got half a year in juvie. And then, never went back. But then, I went to jail. I went to jail but not for that much. Only for one week for being drunk.

Anne: Public drunkenness?

Edgar: Yeah. Public, yeah. Yeah. But I never had to bail out, nothing like that. Nothing big. Nothing big at all.

Anne: So you served your time in jail and then got out?

Edgar: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anne: And they never got you? ICE never came to get you?

Edgar: No.

Anne: Were you a minor at the time?

Edgar: When I went to...

Anne: Jail.

Edgar: No. No, I was already 18. Yeah. No, if I was a minor, they would have took me to juvie, I think.

Anne: Juvie, yeah.

Edgar: Juvie. Yeah. Yeah.

Anne: So it's possible that you could go back, if you ever wanted to? You're not...

Edgar: I mean, I don't know. I don't know. What do you think?

Anne: I mean, I don't know.

Edgar: I mean, how would I do that?

Anne: I mean, I guess you get a visa and go. But probably, you need to like...

Edgar: I mean, people here are telling me that you have to live a long time here in Mexico to apply.

Anne: Well if you're deported. But you weren't.

Edgar: No. No, I didn't get deported.

Anne: No. No. But you went to live with your grandma, and you started to...maybe it hit you that...

Edgar: Yeah. It hit me that...

Anne: You can't go back.

Edgar: That I'm actually here, that I can't go back at all. I have no way to go back. I can't get on an airplane and go back. I really do kinda want to go back. But not to live. Only to visit. Yeah. I kinda want to live here now, for now.

Anne: Okay.

Edgar: My life. Yeah.

Anne: So what pulled you out of the depression?

Edgar: What pulled me out? I think pretty much going to the gym, going…finding out about New Comienzos. I came here to talk to them. And then, I knew that there were actually people that talked English. I thought they weren't any, but there are. And then, yeah. That pretty much pulled me out. I kept coming every day, every day. And then, different environment pretty much put me in a different mindset of not being home all day, eating. Yeah.

Anne: So where do you live now?

Edgar: Now, I live in Tecámac. In Mexico.

Anne: And how far away from here?

Edgar: From here, like an hour and a half.

Anne: And who do you live with?

Edgar: I live with my grandma.

Anne: Oh, still with your grandma.

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah.

Anne: She must be happy that you're happier.

Edgar: Yeah. Really happy. She got really happy when I got there. But I really help her out a lot.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: So it's an hour and a half on it. Do you take a bus or a train or a…?

Edgar: No, I take a bus. It could take more if there's traffic. But I'm actually planning on getting a little car. That way, it won't have to be that much. Because where I work now, I have to leave—from where I live—I have to leave at 5:00 AM to be able to get here at 7:00 AM.

Anne: And where do you work?

Edgar: I work here at EG Logistics.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: Yeah. I work there for right now.

Anne: Is it a call center?

Edgar: No. It's Logistic.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: Yeah. We help truckers find a load.

Anne: Is it good?

Edgar: The job?

Anne: Yeah.

Edgar: Well, I'm one week into it.

Anne: Oh, okay.

Edgar: Yeah. Before that, I worked in Workforce.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: As a volunteer.

Anne: Volunteer?

Edgar: Yeah. I volunteered before.

Anne: So we'll see how this EG works, right?

Edgar: Yeah, yeah.

Anne: Hopefully, it'll be good.

Edgar: Yeah. Hopefully, it will be good.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: Well we get paid with commission so I don't know how much we get paid. It all depends on me.

Anne: Yeah.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: That sounds great.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: What is it you miss from the US?

Edgar: Oh, man. All my people out there. The food. Where I lived, East Palo Alto, Redwood City, the SF bridge. Everything. Everything. Yeah. Pretty much everything. Everything from out there.

Anne: Yeah?

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: Do you think being in the US made you a different person? Do you think you've changed here?

Edgar: I think it did, yeah. I think I'm different. I'm not really... I'm Mexican but I have a different mindset, now that I lived over there. I think that gave me pretty much a good opportunity advantage. I think differently than people here. Yeah.

Anne: So how so? Give me an example.

Edgar: Like I know more stuff of over there than people over here know. I know... What could I tell you? I don't know. It's just different, different than if I were, if I didn't go over there. Yeah.

Anne: So when you were living in the US, you said you came back here because you didn't see any future in the US.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: So you didn't have any dreams? Or you just figured they were not...

Edgar: I did have a few dreams but I didn't think I would be able to accomplish them over there. I think I would be able to accomplish them here.

Anne: So what are the dreams?

Edgar: They were pretty much graduating high school. It got kind of hard over there. And here, I'm trying to graduate high school. And then, go to college. And then, I'm trying to, I don't know when I'm trying to graduate, but I want to graduate. And my dreams are probably, live the American life. Have a good car, have a wife. All that. And I didn't think I would be able to do that over there.

Anne: So have you gotten back to school yet? Or are you in the process of trying to do it?

Edgar: I'm trying to right now, yeah. I'm trying to go back. But I don't know how to go. And then, what papers I have to take or anything like that. I don't know if they would evaluate the papers or if I would have to start it all over. I don't know. I don't know any of that. Yeah.

Anne: So New Comienzos might be able to help you with that.

Edgar: I think they might. Yeah. I haven't really gotten into it that much. But I'm going to. Yeah, I'm going to do that. Yeah.

Anne: Well that's good.

Edgar: Yeah. Yeah. Now I feel more motivated.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative).

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: Yeah. So have you made friends here? Is it harder to make friends or...

Edgar: It's pretty, more hard than out there. Out there, I would meet a lot of people. I would meet new people every day, every day. But here, it's hard. I only know like 10, 15 people. Yeah. I only talk to people that talk English.

Anne: Oh, really?

Edgar: Yeah. If they talk Spanish, they're like, I don't really hang out with them a lot. Yeah. Because I can't... Yeah.

Anne: Is your Spanish getting better?

Edgar: No. Getting better. I would probably say 80% now. But, yeah. When I got here, it was very bad. Very, very bad.

Anne: Uh-huh (affirmative). But yeah, your buddy. What happened to your buddy that you came back to Mexico with?

Edgar: Him? He actually went back. I don't know how he did it, but he actually went back. We keep in contact. We actually do keep in contact. I haven't asked him how he did it. But he went back. He's working over there now. He has a girlfriend, all that. Yeah.

Anne: It's hard. Hard.

Edgar: Hard? I don't know. I'm living good right now.

Anne: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's hard to go over. And then...

Edgar: Oh! Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Anne: And be wary of the authorities and...

Edgar: Yep. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I keep hearing from my friends that a lot of stuff changed out there.

Anne: Yeah.

Edgar: Yeah.

Anne: So your dreams are basically, get a good education.

Edgar: Get a good education, yeah. Help my family out. Get a good job, good paying job. Yeah. I would want to go back with my mom and brother again. Hopefully, that can happen.

Anne: Do you think much about immigration policy and what the US should do differently?

Edgar: Like what? Like what do you mean?

Anne: Like right now, it's tough for your mom and your brother. I mean, they don't have legal papers.

Edgar: Oh, yeah.

Anne: I mean, do you think about maybe there should be changes to immigration policy over there, or...

Edgar: Yeah, I think there should. But I don't think there will be anytime soon. But I really think there should be. They should... Yeah. They should help people like my mom, people that have been over there for a long time, to give them help, to be able to actually work there. And, yeah.

Anne: How long has she been working in the States?

Edgar: She's been over there for like 18 years now.

Anne: What kind of work does she do there?

Edgar: She does take, give keeper, like taking care of a old lady.

Anne: Oh! Caretaker.

Edgar: Caretaker. Yeah. Caretaker. Yeah, she does that. She gets paid good. And my brother, he does painting.

Anne: Painting now?

Edgar: In the painting company.

Anne: He has his own?

Edgar: No, no. For a company. He works for a company. But they're just, they're doing good right now. Yeah.

Anne: Yeah. So thinking back on your own experiences, we're getting to the end of this interview. If you had something to conclude with, is there something you want to share with people about your own experiences in the US and coming back to Mexico?

Edgar: Something that I would want to share?

Anne: Yeah.

Edgar: Good or bad or... I don't know.

Anne: Either. Either way. Just something that you haven't said thus far that helps people understand you and your experience.

Edgar: To not be afraid to come back. I think you can live a good life here in Mexico, too. And not worry about if you come back, you're not going to have a job, none of that. I think that you shouldn't worry about that. I think that, coming back here, you can make friends, too. You can have a new life. Yeah. I don't know.

Anne: Great. Okay. Well thank you so much.


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