Ivan

Interviewee

Anita Isaacs

Interviewer

June 3, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico

His star tattoo

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*To hear more about Ivan listen to the playlist above

Anita: How old are you Ivan?

Ivan: How old? I'm twenty-seven years old.

Anita: You were born in Mexico?

Ivan: Yes. I was born in Mexico.

Anita: Where in Mexico?

Ivan: In the city of Mexico.

Anita: Why did you migrate to the United States?

Ivan: I didn't. Well, my parents took me when I was a kid. I was only like three years old and so they took me to the States. I was a little boy. I did not know.

Anita: Do you know why they took you?

Ivan: They wanted a better life.

Anita: How did you enter the U.S.? With a visa or did you just cross the border?

Ivan: We just crossed.

Anita: How did you learn English?

Ivan: By going to school. I went to preschool, kindergarten, then I went to middle school, high school.

Anita: So you went to school? Until what grade did you go to school?

Ivan: I went until twelfth grade.

Anita: You finished high school?

Ivan: No.

Anita: Did you work in the U.S.?

Ivan: Yes, I did. I had a lot of jobs in the U.S.

Anita: What kind of jobs?

Ivan: Restaurant jobs. My last job was painting. I used to be a painter. I used to paint houses, interior and exterior houses. I actually went and painted the Braves stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

Anita: Really?

Ivan: Yes.

Anita: You painted the Braves stadium?

Ivan: Yeah, I painted inside. With one of my bosses. We painted the inside of that stadium. The hotel, it's called the Omni Hotel right now. Yes.

Anita: Wow. How many years did you work in the U.S.?

Ivan: Well, ever since I was fifteen or fourteen. My first job was at a Rainforest Cafe, down in Arizona.

Ivan: I did the work for, I worked there in a couple of jobs. I was a janitor. I used to work for ASU.

Anita: Who did you live with when you were in the United States?

Ivan: I lived by myself. I was renting an apartment.

Anita: But when you first went?

Ivan: Oh, when I first went? With my parents.

Anita: Did you have brothers and sisters?

Ivan: No, I'm the only child.

Anita: What caused you to leave the United States? Was it your decision? Were you detained and deported?

Ivan: I was detained and deported.

Anita: So, in one word, how did this happen? Were you detained by the police? Were you imprisoned? Was there a raid at where you worked? Were you in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Ivan: No. Detained with the police.

Anita: Was it for a traffic violation, affiliation with gangs, some little crime or some bigger crime?

Ivan: No, it was possession.

Anita: Possession of?

Ivan: Of drugs.

Anita: Of drugs?

Ivan: Yes.

Anita: Is that a misdemeanor?

Ivan: Yes. Well it was kind of, yeah.

Anita: Were you detained?

Ivan: Yes, I was detained.

Anita: For how long?

Ivan: The first time I was detained for maybe about six, seven months. The second time I was detained for almost a year.

Anita: In immigration or in federal?

Ivan: In immigration. I was never in federal.

Anita: Where was that?

Ivan: Well, the first time was in Phoenix, Arizona, and then the second time was in Atlanta, Georgia. Actually, I was in Gwinnett, Gwinnett County. And right there I was in the Jail Dog Program, so I used to sleep with my dog and everything in my cell.

Anita: What's a Jail Dog Program?

Ivan: The Jail Dog Program is where the police department gets dogs from the streets and they help them to get a home. So, we had to train them. How to sit, how to roll, how to do stuff like that, with treats. And then the dogs, they put them on the news and then they'll have them do tricks and people will come and adopt the dogs. It's actually—

Anita: Sort of like a rescue program?

Ivan: Yeah, it's actually on Facebook. It's called the Gwinnett Jail Dogs.

Anita: Okay. When you came back to Mexico, did any authorities receive you?

Ivan: Yeah, in the border.

Ivan: Well, they give us some lunch and they took us from the spot that we landed to the bus stations because it's too dangerous down here.

Anita: How long have you been back in Mexico?

Ivan: Almost a year. I've been here since September.

Anita: You live in Mexico City?

Ivan: Yes.

Anita: Who do you live with now?

Ivan: I live by myself.

Anita: Do you live in an apartment, or?

Ivan: Yes.

Anita: So, you've worked, what job?

Ivan: Right there, TeleTech. I work for Dish. I've been working for six months, but they have already moved me up like three... Well, the first one, it was the customer service, then tech and then right now I'm on level three.

Anita: Do you feel safe in Mexico?

Ivan: Well, not really. I don't like the environment and the cops, they're all... No, it's different here. But I mean, I have to stick with it.

Anita: What are your best memories of the United States?

Ivan: Well, being with my family, being with my kids. That is one of the best memories I do have.

Anita: Did you like living in the United States?

Ivan: Yeah. I did like living in the United States. Yes.

Anita: What did you like?

Ivan: Everything. Everything. Even the air. [Chuckles]. Yeah, everything was different. It's very different. I honestly don't like it down here. I mean, I don't like it. But then there's some people, I have some cousins, they don't like to be there. So, I mean, sometimes we like to joke around, let's trade spots, you know. Because they like Mexico and I don't like Mexico. They don't like being in the States. But that's because they were born over there. If they were born over here, they would be the same thing.

Anita: What don't you like about Mexico?

Ivan: I just don't like how some people act you know? Or the cops here too, like they're dangerous themselves.

Anita: How do Mexicans treat you?

Ivan: It depends. Some people, they just see that you got good stuff and they just go ahead and rob you. Or they'll just pull up on the motorcycle and just get the money away from you, or whatever you do have. I know when you are in the States it's not even like that. Or if it happens, it's one in million, or you know? But not all the time. Like here, I've been robbed here like three times already.

Anita: So, what happened to you in the States? So that you ended up back here?

Ivan: I was in the wrong car. So, I was in a car that, they pulled us over and I was just with the people, but they'd said that—well they found drugs in the car. So, they blamed me. But I was on the passenger side. So, I know that the rules is whoever's driving or the car owner has to be responsible. But they did not take it like that. They just said... I didn't want to give them my name because I was scared. So, they took me for that too, giving a false name. But on top of that they put all the charges on me. So, they charged me for all the drugs because they didn't want to take the charge.

Anita: So, they charged you instead of the person who had the drugs?

Ivan: Yes. Yes, that's true.

Anita: Why'd they do that?

Ivan: I don't know, but they did. They didn't want to take the charge. But I mean, I was just with them because I was going to Walmart to do a return and they stopped us in a traffic stop and they blamed it all on me. I was trying to fight my case, but it was taking too long. I was getting too stressed out being inside in jail so I just signed the papers. I just wanted to get out, so I just took the charge.

Anita: When you were growing up, were you part of a gang?

Ivan: No, I was never. These tats on my face. I did them because of my kids. They all start with the letter A and at the time I only had three. So, I only have three stars because they're going to be stars. And I did them on my eyes because they're always going to be in my sight. So just three stars. They're my stars. And like, all my kids start with the letter A.

Anita: What are your children's names?

Ivan: Abigail, Aubrey and Austin. And Emily, but I didn't have her at the moment, at the time before.

Anita: So, you did that after you came back here?

Ivan: No, I did that when I was in jail in Arizona.

Anita: You did the stars?

Ivan: Yeah.

Anita: And so, how did you manage not to get involved in a gang when so many people did?

Ivan: I just never stuck with the wrong people. My parents were too strict.

Anita: So here, what's it like working at Teletech?

Ivan: It's a pretty nice job actually. I like dealing with customers. I like taking calls, it's nice.

Anita: But don't people scream at you?

Ivan: Not if you talk to them, you know? Like you got to talk to them... But I mean, I do get kind of irritated sometimes. [Chuckles].

Anita: What irritates you?

Ivan: Sometimes the customers, they don't understand, they don't know where some stuff is at. It just—sometimes it gets irritating after a while. Yeah, but it's a good job. I can't complain.

Anita: So, I wonder if you can tell me—I know this is a little fake—but because it was so moving to me, in your own words what you told me outside.

Ivan: Yeah. What I like about this job is that it makes me feel like at home, like in the States. Once I go in there, I forget about everything. Just when I do go out the reality hits me and I see that I'm not in the States, I'm in Mexico City. But I do like to be in there. If I could, I'd stay in there. Like I do overtime, I like to be talking with the customers, you know, in the States. Yeah. We have a good conversation sometimes.

Anita: Do you talk about lots of things about—

Ivan: Well, we talk about the shows, you know, the programming, what's available to talk about in TeleTech.

Anita: And if you would've stayed in the States, what do you think you would have done with your life?

Ivan: I would have still been a painter. I would have probably got my own company since everybody gets one down there. I got friends that had their own company of painting, so maybe I would've done that too.

Anita: And what are your hopes now?

Ivan: Well, my hopes are now to stay here. I want to stay in Teletech. I've been here for so long—well, not so long, but since I started. And so many people that are being there, they're already gone. So, we started together, but there's only like three of us, but I want to stay there. I want to stick around. Yeah.

Anita: Well, I wish you all the best.

Ivan: Thank you very much.

Anita: And I hope your children come and visit you soon.

Ivan: Yeah, hopefully very soon. Yeah.


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