Hugo

Interviewee

Anne Preston

Interviewer

June 9, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico

Advice for his brothers

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*To hear more about Hugo listen to the playlist above

Anne: Tell me a little bit about the circumstances behind your initial migration to the United States. You were three you said?

Hugo: Yes.

Anne: And your dad—

Hugo: My dad started working in the U.S., right? Because back in the day you can cross easier and well in the towns, even in that day, like I mentioned, you make less money. Even if you work hard, you make less money. You have to own a business or do something to come up. And he went to the States, we were living okay, but my mother didn't like that he was over here all the time and then sometimes he would just come. So, her little light bulb went off and she said, "Either you take all of us, or I don't know, you know? I know you send me money and I know you come from time to time, but that's not it. I want to be with you."

Anne: And there were three of you?

Hugo: Three of us. And my mom—

Anne: Three boys?

Hugo: Yes, three boys. She wanted a girl so, she tried with my oldest brother Luis, he came out a boy, then me, I came out a boy, and then Tony, the other one that's here in Mexico too, and then after that they waited around ten years, eight, ten, years. And that's when, once in the States, they had Junior and Moses. When she had Moses, another boy, and then she waited another year and a half and we told her, "Try mom, try it." She really wanted a girl. This is her first girl, she's crazy over her.

Anne: That's great. [Laughs].

Hugo: That's what happened. So, then my dad took us, but the way he took us was in the airplane. Back in the day, since we're kids, you would just go as somebody else's kids.

Anne: I see.

Hugo: So, they just convinced us to say Daddy to some—

Anne: Random person?

Hugo: Yeah. And they flew us over for a low low price. Back in the day it was cheaper and safe because we were going in the airplane, you know?

Anne: Sure. You went just to L.A.? Went through customs, and there you were.

Hugo: Yeah, straight to L.A. And then we got to East L.A. and then from there—we lived there for a little bit—and then we moved to Long Beach. Supposedly because it was less violent. It's the same thing, you know? Just more races involved. Like in East LA we had nothing but Mexicans.

Anne: Mexicans, right.

Hugo: It's mostly Mexicans. There's a part of there, Salvadorians and a little bit of African American people, but mainly it's like little Mexico and shit. But there's a lot of gang activity and it's between the same race. I mean we would have to duck for cover sometimes when we would hear people running by because we lived on the street that separated the neighborhoods. So, this is one neighborhood, and this is another one.

Anne: So, they would go back and forth?

Hugo: Yeah. So that's why we moved but when we moved to Long Beach, it's like there's still gang activity but just between more races. There's Asians, there's some more Caucasians, it's everything. Long Beach is a very multiracial community. There's a lot of Cambodians. There's everything. So, there's more races, there's more gangs, you know? And there's a lot of races.

Anne: I can imagine.

Hugo: Like I remember when we were growing up in elementary, you have your black friends, you have your Asian friends, you have your white friends and everything's cool. But once you start getting to middle school, or the end of middle school, or high school, you start noticing things and they start letting you know about stuff. And once you hit jail or juvey it's over. It's racism full blast, you know? I mean people that I grew up with, they were not like my enemies, but we couldn't, you know.

Anne: So, you hung with the Mexicans?

Hugo: Well I hung with everybody. But once you hit jail, you can't hang. You can talk to them, but you just can't share food, you can't do certain things.

Anne: I see.

Hugo: But I've never been racist in my life because I had black girlfriends and one or another different races.

Anne: So, in elementary school, you say everything was good?

Hugo: Yeah, it starts happening before you can get out of middle school.

Anne: And did you like school back then?

Hugo: I was in AVID [Advancement Via Individual Determination] program for diligent students, they skipped me a grade.

Anne: Skipped a grade?

Hugo: Yeah, I wasn't bad in school, I just missed a lot and my decisions. I was in, it’s called, Gate Excel for Diligent Students back in 90 something.

Anne: Gifted and talented?

Hugo: Yes, for the diligent gifted and talented. And I got in trouble, and they sent me to another school, and they put in the AVID program, that was also for the advanced. They used to take us to Cal State Long Beach to see what we would be looking into.

Anne: I see.

Hugo: So, it was just my decisions that took me out of where I was headed to.

Anne: So, when did you first get in trouble?

Hugo: Middle school.

Anne: Middle school. And when did you—

Hugo: Ditching. It's because I would always hang out with the older people since I always looked older. I was in middle school going to high school, ditching, parties, and you know messing around with high school girls and all of that stuff. And that's when you run into the police. They would take me to truancy center when I would ditch sometimes, and they would catch us. Things like that.

Anne: Did you do any sports or anything like that?

Hugo: No. I didn't so sports. They wanted me to play football. There was a Samoan coach. They're really good at all that. And they would always tell me, "Hugo, you're wasting your time, man, stop being on the streets. Let's play football."

Hugo: But again, my decisions, you know?

Anne: Do you think, was it because of your home life that you decided to do these—

Hugo: The thing is my parents never... I don't think my parents did wrong; they were just unaware of the way of life over there. My dad worked all day. I never seen my dad drunk, smoke weed, do any drug, hit my mother, abuse her verbally, nothing. If my mom had a dream of him kissing a girl 30 years ago, she would wake up mad with him and my dad would be, "Babe, I don't want to argue." He'd grab his newspaper and go into the bathroom. And I've never seen him do anything that they would be like, “Oh that's why I do this.” No. But he always had work. And my mom didn't know a lot, they didn't know, and my mom didn't really understand people, so it was hard for them to guide us. Right now, my two youngest brothers that live over there, that were born there, my parents got them good. [Snaps]. They know how to guide them. They're both college-bound, university-bound. One of them is about to graduate, today as a matter of fact, from Poly High School.

Anne: Oh, that's great.

Hugo: And the other one's already going to City College, right there in Long Beach too. And we always give them advice. I mean, aside from them seeing the result of our choices, I always tell them, “You know mom and dad tell you stay in school, don't do this, don't do that, it might seem boring at the moment, but it's for your good. Where do you see us?” I tell them, “If I would have listened to mom since little, since I was your guys age or smaller, we would have had a nice home over there and maybe a pool in the backyard. We would have already applied for the Dream act, DACA, all of it.” And since I wasn't dumb in school, I mean I could have made it far, but my decisions, no? And so, I always tell them that. And they're like, "Yeah, it's a little boring, but yes, we understand."

Hugo: And they would see when the cops would get there, because sometimes we would fight. We would do dumb things. They didn't stay with the curiosity of trying to be us. They seen all negative things happen from what we were doing, from our decisions. Thank God, at least that helped out, no? I mean, for them. So that's what I tell them, “The parties, the women, all the things that you guys think about, when you're a doctor, when you're an engineer, when you've already done your thing, it's still going to be there. And when you guys go to the university, you guys are going to have fun.” I tell them that I wish I would have gone to the university because that was one of my biggest things that I wanted to do, but I messed up. So, I tell them, “Take advantage, go through life for real, enjoy the real life. You guys are born there, you guys have all the odds in your favor.”

Anne: That's right.

Hugo: “You guys have parents that love you. My parents don't drink, my parents don't abuse you guys, my parents really care for you. What more do you guys want? I know you might think that life right now, it's boring—” because they live where it's a high crime area and things like that. But, once they move up, and once they get to be where they have to be, I tell them, “You guys are going to enjoy your life once you have your big house in the hills. When you know, things or different things or once you live a little bit better, you guys are going to enjoy all that and you're going to thank mom and dad.”

Anne: So, when did you first go to juvey? How old were you?

Hugo: I was 14. The thing is when you grow up and you feel like you were born there—my dad used to tell us, "I don't know you guys are in the street all day. I mean you guys have your home here, you can eat whenever you want, you can shower whenever you want, listen to music whenever you want." But that was boring to us. So, we would go into the street. There was three of us. Three brothers. And we'd go into the street, kick it in the alleys, you know like people do over there.

Hugo: We started hanging with certain people, you know? And things happened, they come around with G-rides, stolen cars, things like that. And it seems easy for you to take a joy ride, “Oh we'll take it over there to certain people's houses.” You get caught up. That's the first time I got caught. I didn't steal the car. Somebody came by, I took it, but it was a stolen car. I knew what I was doing, so they locked me up for grand theft auto or receiving stolen property or what not.

Anne: How long were you—

Hugo: Not long, a few months.

Anne: Your parents must have been upset.

Hugo: Oh yes. My parents don't like none of that. They've always taught us, they say, “We go into somebody's home and you see a penny, you don't touch that penny. You don't do that.” My dad, the first time he seen my smoking weed, he smacked me. I heard the ding. Like I said, I'd never seen my dad drunk, I'd never seen my dad do any drugs, but I kind of liked it, so. I mean they showed us well. It was just… I don't know why. I don't know why we didn't take advantage of being over there. Now that I think about it, I wasted a lot of opportunity, but I mean all you can do is work at it now, you know?

Anne: Yeah. You got to move forward.

Hugo: Yeah, like right now, I don't do nothing. I don't even consider no illegal activity, nothing. For what? I'm going to get busted here and, here, it's way worse. And aside from that, I did learn from my experience over there. If you don't learn from your life experience, then you must be really either really stupid or I don't know what. You know? Like a lot of people that come back over here get deported, they still continue to hustle here and try to do this and that. I mean, didn't you learn from your other experience? And that's where I'm right now.

Hugo: I've had ideas that there's some type of programs or something that might help all people trying to go back and that would be awesome because it would all be legal. And what I'm working on is, if in case an opportunity comes up like that, I can show my past ten years: I've been a productive member of society or the community or what not, and no illegal activity, no bad, no ill will toward anyone, just working, having my family, doing my thing. What I have to do, you know? I have my license. I have my car. I pay my rent.

Anne: That's great.

Hugo: But life here is different. Over there, you don't have to worry about a gas tank going out on you. You pay your gas bill and you have your gas all the time. You pay your water bill you can shower anytime, there's water all the time. You pay your electricity bill, you have light all month. Over here, if your gas tank run out or this and that, there's... It's a different way of living. Over there, it's more comfortable, you live better, and the money lasts a little longer. Like I've seen families, when I was over there, families that would come from here and they would all get to work. And in six months, they would have a car, they would have their apartments, they would already be moving up.

Anne: So, you said you have an 8-year-old.

Hugo: Yes, his name is Jacob Isaiah.

Anne: So, you have an ex-partner?

Hugo: Yes. But she tell him… She's really bad, I hope she gets better. She has schizophrenia because she used to smoke crystal meth. I used to smoke crystal meth. But one day, as a crazy person, just me in the alley, I spoke to somebody upstairs and I told them, “You know what, I'm tired of this. I said I'm hurting my parents, I'm hurting my life, so—"

Anne: How old were you when you were doing all this?

Hugo: Like 18, 19. Oh, I started at like 14, I stopped at 19, 20. But it was really hard. One of my brother's is kind of crazy from that. My baby mama too. She's schizophrenic, she gets paid a monthly—

Anne: Oh, some sort of social security for disability.

Hugo: Yeah, because she cannot work. And my little kid has gone through all that, you know? And he's a teacher's pet, he's super smart, he's reading at a 5th grade level and he's in 3rd grade. They had a little reading contest, he beat the 5th grader.

Hugo: He got the best of me.

Anne: And do your parents help him out?

Hugo: Yes. Whenever they can, they go and take him, and they buy him food. Last time, I sent them five pairs of shoes, a gang of pants, nice shirts, nice sweaters. So, he knows I'm there.

Anne: That's good. Do you get to talk to him much?

Hugo: Yeah, I do. I talk to him almost every day. I have him on WhatsApp.

Anne: Do you have a picture?

Hugo: Yes. I just sent him a boat on Amazon, because he wanted a boat. Look this is the video.

Anne: He's so cute. Is it remote control?

Hugo: Yes.

Anne: That is so cool.

Hugo: It was around $200 but he really wanted it, so whatever I can do for my boy for him to feel I'm there, I will do it.

Anne: That is amazing. Wow. It better come back.

Hugo: It does. Yeah, it's a long range. It wasn't $200 for nothing. [Chuckles].

Hugo: Let me show you a picture. But that's my Jacob. So, my parents, they've always kept me alive with him, and I always try to call. And I always video chat with him. I video chatted with him like two days ago. Because I'm planning on him coming for his vacation. He should be getting out of school in like seven days.

Anne: Oh, so he'll come for the summer?

Hugo: Hopefully, because last time his grandmother told me that he was going to come, I was about to buy the tickets, and then at the last minute, she said, “No, he's too small,” this and that, and they lied to me. They made me think that he was going to come and that didn't happen, but it's okay. We'll try it again this year.

Anne: It will happen. Yeah.

Hugo: Look, this is my son. This is my son. That's him right there.

Anne: Oh my goodness, he's adorable.

Hugo: Yeah, he's a teacher's pet. He helps out the teacher with the Spanish speakers, all of that. So, he got the best of both of us. He's very smart.

Anne: That's amazing. Tell me about the final thing that got you deported for your first deportation.

Hugo: The weed ticket?

Anne: So, it was possession of weed.

Hugo: Yes, I went to juvey a few times, correct?

Anne: Yes.

Hugo: I went to Camp Gonzalez in Malibu. Calabasas Road, really nice over there. They have nice houses. I came out, I turned 18 in camp, in juvenile camp, right? So, the judge told me, "If I see you again, you're going to be an adult and if I see you again, you know you were not born here, so you will be facing deportation." When I got out of camp, I was what? 18? And that's when I had my kid around there. And so, I stopped messing around. I started working as a security officer without a guard card—you know, under the table. They would pay me like 10 something and then after certain hours, they would pay me a little bit more. It was funny because I used to be bad or I would do bad decisions so when people would see me with a special security officer badge and looking like a cop, they'd be like, "What are you doing?" I'm like, "I'm trying to feed my kid, you can shut up and keep going."

Hugo: And then I had a marijuana ticket. They stopped me, I had some marijuana, they gave me a ticket. A ticket that I could go do community service or that I could go pay $100, $200 fine whatever—it's not illegal in the States, in California. And one day before going to work, I was in the stroller with my kid, and my ex-baby mama, my ex-lady. We crossed the light walking, a red light, right? But this street is empty. And there happened to be a cop passing by. So, he pulls us over when we're pushing my baby in the stroller, when there's dead traffic, no traffic at all. He was Hispanic, he was Latino, his last name was Ramirez. And I'm like, I did get a little, you know, "What? What are you stopping me for?" "Because you seen that I seen you crossing and you smiled at me. You laughed at me." “Ah, so you're stopping me because of your feelings?” You can't tell a cop that because oh my God, that's it, it's over.

Hugo: So, he's like, "Look I'm going to run your name and if you have anything, I'm going to take you, this and that." I'm like, "Man why didn't you go to get somebody that's actually doing something? You see me with my baby and my baby mama, what do you think I'm doing? You think I'm up to no good or what? I'm about to go to work in a few hours. Why you messing with me? Go get somebody that's actually doing something." So, I shouldn't have run my mouth, but he could have not taken me. And he ran my name and he's like, "Oh, you have a warrant for your arrest"—$5,000 or something. Which is nothing. If the warrants are from $40,000 and under, they can decide to let you go, to pay a fine, to do community service. They can decide to not take you in. Because it's not even something big. It could have been fixed with me paying or community service.

Hugo: So, I didn't get more mad, I realized there was a warrant, and then I went off on him. He was going to take me, so I softened up, and I was like, "You know what? I'm about to go to work, I'm the man of the house, my wife doesn't work, I have to pay the bills. I got to go. Don't take me in. You know I can fix that in court." "No, no, no. For being a loudmouth, I'm going to take you in." And I'm like, "You know I've got an ICE hold because it shows there. If you take me in for that, they're going to deport me." And I was like, "Who's going to take care of my family?" He was like, "Well you should have thought of that when you ran your mouth." And I was like, "Well you have the decision of letting me go and I can fix this with a payment or anything, but you're going to mess up my family. I'm going to get deported."

Hugo: And I told him, "Man, you're Mexican, you're Hispanic, you might be the first, second, third, generation, but I bet your people before that weren't. Think about that shit man." He still took me. I went in. And like 36 hours later, no 24, almost a day and a half, only the time that it takes to process in and process out, that's how I paid my sentence. 15 days, which is, you do 10% of 15 days, how much time is it? Nothing. In and out. But on the way out, you're getting dressed and everything and ICE is already there "You've been in jail a few times and you've never seen ICE?" And I was like, "Well no."

Hugo: Yeah, they're like, "Where were you born?" This and that. And that's it, they took me. And that's where I went to the immigration library and I started looking at the different things that you can apply for.

Anne: So, for three months, you were there?

Hugo: Because I wanted to see how I can stay there. And it was in Lancaster. Well at the end, I got the voluntary departure. And I was supposed to get out of the country, in two years marry my ex, marry her in Mexico, and with her ask for a pardon.

Hugo: She's a U.S. citizen. And her daddy used to tell me, "Just get married already. She has papers." But I was like, "No. It's because I don't just want to do it just for the papers, you know? I want to buy her a little ring, do a little something.” But so, that's what happened, so then that's how I got deported. It wasn't even like I did something major or anything.

Anne: Yeah, that's crazy.

Hugo: I mean I know when I was younger, I did receive stolen property, I did make bad decisions, but that's all involved with drug abuse and use. It's not like, I woke up and I said, “I'm going to go steal a car.” No, I was making bad decisions, you know, dumb stuff. It's not like any other Americans never did it. You know?

Hugo: Any Americans, regardless of their race, you know? And that's what happened. So, I'm working for a juvenile record and marijuana ticket as an adult.

Anne: And then how long where you in Mexico before you tried to go back?

Hugo: About a year. 11 months, almost a year. And then my father was going to help me, he was going to pay for the coyote—$4,000-$5,000. But it’s okay, if you don't cross, you don't pay, so it's okay. They didn't spend the money or anything.

Anne: So, you got caught at the border?

Hugo: Yeah, I got caught at the border. So, then they were going to send me out back to TJ. Which I wanted; I would have just tried to cross. Unfortunately, that's what I would have tried to do. Because my son was over there. My girl lost her apartment, she had to sell our big California king bed that we had—I'm not worried about the bed, I just thought it was cool. But my baby—well not this baby, but my first born. She lost the apartment, she started selling the furniture because she didn't have no money, and she couldn't work, she had the baby. Things like that. So, my dad my was like, "Okay come on." But yeah, that's what happened. 11 months, almost a year, I tried to go back, went to county. Well they give you state time, they give you state prison time, but since the prisons are packed, you do it in county, which is a little bit worse.

Anne: Oh, it's worse?

Hugo: Nobody wants to be in the county. Because you're sleeping next to a guy that doesn't know how much time he's going to do. So, it's not like you're scared, but there's kids that are crying because they are doing 2, 3 years when the guy above you is facing 80 years to life. You better shut your mouth. You're going to get something.

Anne: And so, you were there for a year and then came back?

Hugo: A year and then 3 months in a detention. Oh, the last time, yes. No, the last time, I just got deported right after the... And that was it.

Anne: And then you decided lets—

Hugo: Well not that I decided, I wanted to go right back. But my father was like... Because the first time I got deported, I stayed in Mexicali, so I never met my grandparents, none of them, I didn't see any of my aunties, uncles, or anything. So, my dad is like, "Well this time you should go meet the family. You're going to be there three months.” But it's been six years, you know? So, he's like, “Go meet the family,” this and that. And so, I went to HIldago, that's where I met my grandpa. My grandfather, he's the man. I told my father, if I would have stayed here with my grandparents or my grandfather, I think I would have been way better off. I would have had a business or something. My grandfather knows how to cook bread. He knows how to construction. He's a mechanic and he's a farmer. So, I mean he doesn't have land, like a lot of land, but he gave every single one of his kid’s land, a little piece at least. You know?

Anne: That's great.

Hugo: And he's the humblest person ever. I think I got some of his traits. He's no bull, he's good. He's an awesome person and he's 89 right now.

Anne: Wow. Well you got his brains. So, what do you miss about the US?

Hugo: My family and the lifestyle. If I ever went back to the States, I wouldn't want to go back to Los Angeles. I wouldn't want to go there because of all the movement, people that I know. It's not like I'm going to go and make bad decisions. But, it's too hard. I want to be somewhere where's there not a lot of people. Maybe out of the city, you know? I wouldn't mind country living or anything like that because it's peaceful. Like when I go to visit my grandparents, it's a small town, you can take a deep breath of fresh air. Not like here. When we go over there to visit or like I took my baby, so she could meet her grandad and all the aunties and everything, and me and my girl didn't want to come back. We were just like, you know…But we have to come back and work. And over there, there's no call centers or anything like that.

Anne: What were your dreams when you were in the US? And what are your dreams now? Have they changed?

Hugo: I wanted to be an architect and help my mom and my dad. Because my dad works a lot. And he's always up to something. But, bad decisions, you know? Like it feels good when you send them money from here, like from here we send them money. Other people they would say all your kids, your family, is the one that hits you hardest sometimes. My uncles and aunties they had their kids doing good and everything, "Oh look at your kids, they're pieces of shit. They go to jail and they smoke, and this and that." And now that we're helping them out from here, it's like, nobody says nothing.

Hugo: One of my uncles, he's really really... I don't like him because he thinks he's the best and this and that. And one day I got home from work from the butchery or whatever, tired and I wanted to drink a beer. So, I put some music low and I was drinking a beer. And he had a whole case of beer upstairs himself. And, "Why you drinking beer? You can't be disrespecting the house." I was like, "Look Uncle, I'm not a kid. And you can't tell me anything. I just got here from work, I'm drinking a beer, and I have my music low. Don't get me fucked up, Uncle." I'm sorry for the bad words. "I'm not a kid and you're not nobody to tell me anything. Who am I disrespecting?"

Hugo: And ever since that day, I was like, “Don't get it twisted Uncle.” You know? And I was like, "You have your beer, what's the difference?" And after that…I think it's because they had the picture of us all twisted, you know? We've made bad decisions, but we ain't bad people. We're not trash. We're nothing like that. I have values. I know how it is to live. I know what's the right way. How you are supposed to do it. And family is the main thing. At least to me.

Anne: And that's your dream?

Hugo: Yes. I still think of all that. I mean, right now, my parents probably be helped out with... My little brother's growing up, but we can help out too. Because my dad, he has diabetes. My mom does too. And my mom's one of them holy ladies that, “Jesus Christ, I have nothing, Jesus Christ will heal me.” I'm like, "Yes, Jesus Christ will heal you, but take your medicine, take care of yourself." She was just in the hospital a month ago, in and out, and I kept telling her, "Man, I believe your religion, Mother, pray to your Jesus, but take care of yourself too."

Anne: You're a good son.

Hugo: And she would always tell us that she was good, but she didn't tell us that... She would just tell us that she was good. But now I tell her, "How good are you?" Because my dad tells us, "When she tells you she's good, she's not really good." And now she laughs, she's like, "Okay, I feel this or that." And she's more honest with us.

Anne: So, you said you had some ideas about programs to help returning migrants either to adjust here or to get back to the States. What were your ideas?

Hugo: Well I don't know. Like at work sometimes, they apply for visas and stuff like that, but I don't know if its related to any programs of trying to go back or anything. But regardless of that, all I know if there was something like that, you would have to show that you've been doing something good for a while.

Anne: And that's what you're doing.

Hugo: Yes. I'm taking care of mine. I'm doing what I'm supposed to.

Anne: Has life been okay in Mexico in the last six months?

Hugo: Yeah, I mean it's okay, it's just you struggle way more. They don't take care of anything here, like government wise. I don't want my baby to be in a school. When we had Ilene over here, my stepdaughter, which is my daughter to the fullest—I don't even call her my stepdaughter. First, she didn't like me because my fiancé right now, her previous relationship was bad. The guy used to beat her up. And I might be a tough guy, but you don't touch a woman. And my dad made that clear to us. He said, "The day you guys lift a finger to your mom, you're going to know who I am." Never disrespected my mom. And nobody either around the neighborhood, because they seen three big guys, "Oh that's your sons? Those are your kids?" "Yeah, yeah, that's my mom right there." And it's different out here, but it's a little bit harder.

Hugo: So, she had her previous relationship and Ilene, she was born over there, but this girl came to follow this dumb ass that used to beat her up, that abandoned them when she was born. You know? But that's how we met, so, things happen. God works in mysterious ways, they say around there, you know? But he used to beat her up and he used to treat her bad and disrespected her and Ilene had that idea in her head.

Hugo: You know when she moved in with me, I never hit her, I never talked to her bad, but I would explain the things to her. I would grab her when she would be telling her mom that she was fat or ugly or things like that. And I'd be like, "Ilene, come here please. I'm not your father miha. But I'm going to let you know what's right and wrong. And I don't care if you get mad or you cry, but you're going to listen to me. What does your mother do every day? Go to work. And why do you think she goes to work?” “To feed me.” “Why else? Do you need anything when you ask us for something, do we not provide it if its needed?” I will teach her with, prove her with things. I'd be like, “You can't talk to your mom like that. Your mom loves you.” I'm like, “When does your mom tell you that you're ugly or when does she make you feel bad?” I'm like, “How do you think she feels when you tell her that?” I'm like, “No, no, no.”

Hugo: And the first times, she would just stay quiet. And then sometimes, she would get really angry and she would hit me with that, "You're not my dad." It's nothing, I know it's normal. And then after months, “Oh he's mine,” that I was all hers and then she told me if she could call me papi, if she can call me her dad. You can call me whatever you want miha. But the way she addresses her mom? Completely different.

Anne: That's tough.

Hugo: I educated her on why she shouldn't treat her mom a certain way, what her mother does for her.

Anne: Do you think living in the US made you a different person than you would've been if you stayed here?

Hugo: Not really a different person. Just noticed different types of lifestyles and pretty much it. How people are because you can be here the same as you are anywhere. I think if I was placed in any place, even in Mars, I would still be the same person. You know? I just went through certain decisions that obviously gets you consequences. But the States is just more comfortable.

Hugo: We've been thinking about Canada too. Different things because right here to live in the States, you either have to be a political asshole, I'm sorry, or somebody that does things that they're not supposed to do. There's a saying here that says, he who doesn't swindle or do something doesn't advance. And if you're not the nephew or niece of a fucking political mother fucker position, you can't get it. I mean if you study hard and you do your thing, you can get to certain places. Or if you really work hard, you'll live better. But you really have to work for it. It's not as simple as in the States.

Hugo: And like all the government stuff over here, in the city it's a little bit better, but like over there in the hills, like I was saying about Ilene. One time we took her to school, and we used to pay 150 pesos for them to pick her up. But she's born in the States and she doesn't have a CURP (Mexican ID), and they would always bother her that she needed to bring those papers. And that's why we were going to the school, because they're not supposed to bother her. They can't deny her education. And I know that, I'm not dumb. So, we went over there, and it happened to be the same day the teacher missed, so the teacher missed and they're like, "All you kids go home." And I'm like—

Anne: Where's the substitute?

Hugo: I'm like, "I'm sorry, what do you mean go home? Didn't they just get brought here on the transportation? How do you know they're going to get home safe? So, if wouldn't have brought my daughter right now, your ass would have sent her home alone, when she's nine years old, how do you guarantee she was going to get to the house safe?" And I got mad. "Oh, it's because we don't have a substitute." So then why don't you guys split the class, and nobody goes home? How are you going to send everybody home?” I mean they didn't listen to me. And I was like, “No man, I don't like this, they don't have libraries with good... “People still make it, but they really really have to want to do it and really have to push for it. Especially in the hills. Where we live, it's kind of ugly. But that's where we are for now. But we'll see what we can do, my baby? Get you out of them hills.

Anne: Well it seems like you're doing a great job of it.

Hugo: We're trying at least, you know?

Anne: And working hard and hopefully there'll be a time you can go back and see the rest of your family.

Hugo: Hopefully.


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