Jesus A


Anne Preston


January 5, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico

Becoming a criminal

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*To hear more about Jesus listen to the playlist above

Anne: So, you just told me, Jesus, that you were a dreamer, that you got DACA. DACA meant that you could apply for citizenship, and you went through that process?

Jesus: Yes, like I was saying, growing up without your citizenship and just as an illegal immigrant, you kind of get the feeling you're a criminal and that's the kind of path. That's like, I don't know, you tell that to your kid, "Hey you're illegal" and that's what they kind of start to think as they get older. Like, “Don't trust authority, don't go to the police.” You just get in this mindset of wanting to be a criminal because it’s just kind of what path is chosen for you.

Anne: So did you become a criminal?

Jesus: I can’t say too much about that, but, you know, like most people, yeah.

Anne: But what caused you to leave the U.S.?

Jesus: What caused me? I hadn't seen my dad in 15 years and, well, like most criminals, the government starts turning some heads.

Anne: Were you detained and deported? Voluntary departure?

Jesus: Voluntary departure.

Anne: With voluntary departure did you appear before a judge?

Jesus: No, it was a really weird experience, was not expecting to walk past and pay a nickel to get across the border, and also my phone line cutting out as soon as I got across the bridge from El Paso. I was like, “I still needed internet you know?” [Both laugh].

Anne: Who knew? When you walked over the border into Mexico, were you greeted by Mexican authorities?

Jesus: A taxi. I got into Juarez and there were two taxi drivers just standing there. The first person to greet me was a cholo he was just like, "Hey what are doing, where you going?" I was just like, “Nope.”

Anne: So no assistance, you came with your own money I assume that you had to...?

Jesus: Yeah.

Anne: So you have been back for six months?

Jesus: Yes.

Anne: You live in Mexico City now?

Jesus: Yes, yes.

Anne: Who do you live with now?

Jesus: I’m at a shelter. It’s not the first time, hopefully it's the last time. [Pause]. I know the company’s got the best intentions though so…

Anne: Oh, you're waiting for a company that's—

Jesus: Well, New Comienzos to hook me up with a spot.

Anne: Since you have been back have you pursued any studies?

Jesus: Yes, I am currently going to enter into Hola Code, which is computer programming.

Anne: That's cool. Do you think that you have special capabilities in that area?

Jesus: Yes, yes most definitely.

Anne: That's great. Have you worked for pay since you have been back?

Jesus: Yeah, Teleperformance.

Anne: So it’s a call center?

Jesus: Yeah, a call center. Working for FedEx.

Anne: How much were you paid for your current or most recent job?

Jesus: 1,200 pesos a week.

Anne: Do you feel safe in Mexico?

Jesus: More or less.

Anne: Have you been a victim of a violent crime while you've been here?

Jesus: Since I’ve been here? No.

Anne: Do you feel more vulnerable as a returning migrant than you would've—

Jesus: No, I feel a lot less vulnerable here, a lot more accepted. [Chuckles]

Anne: Do you still have family living in the U.S.?

Jesus: Yes, yes.

Anne: So, you have your mom?

Jesus: Yes.

Anne: Anyone else?

Jesus: Just all her sisters and brothers in the United States.

Anne: Any siblings?

Jesus: Yeah, my brother and my sister. Then my whole dad's side of the family is over here.

Anne: Are any of your relatives U.S. citizens?

Jesus: My brother.

Anne: He was born there?

Jesus: Well, no, he was born here. Oh, and my sister too. My brother was born in Mexico.

Anne: But he became a citizen?

Jesus: Yes, just recently.

Anne: So, it’s your brother and your sister?

Jesus: Yeah.

Anne: Have they come to visit you?

Jesus: No.

Anne: You haven't been here too long. Maybe they'll come to see you.

Jesus: No, no. I don't know, I I said, was kind of a criminal for a while and burnt all those bridges.

Anne: So you're estranged?

Jesus: Well I told them it's probably safer for all of us if I kind of just [Whoosh noise].

Anne: I’m sorry.

Jesus: I was like, “I’ll just kind of build my own life and then when I'm ready I'll contact you guys.” You make some mistakes in your life and you don't realize that at some point you can't really turn back, and you know. It’s just a little bit safer to not turn back to your family.

Anne: Do you feel like it would be unsafe to go back for you?

Jesus: Most definitely.

Anne: Okay, do you think they would ever think of coming back to live in Mexico?

Jesus: Uh, probably not, no.

Anne: Do you currently follow U.S. news now?

Jesus: Yes, most definitely.

Anne: And again, is it through the same kind of sources that we talked about before?

Jesus: Yes, U.S. politics are just, they're fun.

Anne: I'm not sure if they're fun. [Laughs].

Jesus: With Donald Trump you're just like, "Whoa what is going on, why is he saying that?" [Both laugh]. Again, he's just a talking head. A lot of people don't realize that.

Anne: Do you think you will return to the United States some day?

Jesus: No, I want to see South America, Central America. I got really into the whole contras and all that stuff during the 80's with the CIA scandal. I just kind of want to see how it’s left all these countries south of Mexico. That's the whole reason I came down here.

Anne: I see. You're the traveler?

Jesus: Yeah.

Anne: So, you want to travel south?

Jesus: Yeah, everyone tells me it’s dangerous. They're like, “It gets more dangerous the further south you go.” I was like, “Well you only get one life you know.”

Anne: Yeah, they say it’s pretty dangerous in that Northern Triangle, in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. But some of the other places aren’t as bad. Do you currently participate or volunteer in Mexico?

Jesus: Right now, I am, yeah.

Anne: With New Comienzos?

Jesus: Yeah.

Jesus Eloy


Anita Isaacs


(Follow-up interview 5 months later)

June 5, 2019

in Mexico City, Mexico

Anita: So, have the past few months been difficult for you?

Jesus: No. It's actually been a lot easier.

Anita: So, things have gotten better then?

Jesus: Yes, yes.

Anita: What's gotten better?

Jesus: I finally got my own place to live at. I have a job, so that's cool. And at my job, I get to speak English and Spanish and it's optional, both languages.

Anita: Great. So, when we saw you, what were you doing? You were unemployed?

Jesus: I was unemployed. I had just gotten to Mexico City, so it was a little difficult. [Chuckles].

Anita: What about your social life, has that gotten better?

Jesus: Yeah, it has. I opened up a lot more. I got into a relationship. Recently, just got out. So, it was like the doors closed on me real quick, and now I'm more outgoing, a little bit more open to everything.

Anita: So, you're single again?

Jesus: Yeah.

Anita: Has anything gotten worse? Being single? [Laughs].

Jesus: Being single. [Laughs]. But yeah, other than that...

Anita: Looks like everything worked out.

Jesus: Yeah.

Anita: So, have you become aware of any programs that help returning migrants?

Jesus: Yeah. I went with Israel to some meeting where it was like all the other big programs that actually help people out. And it was kind of amazing to see that there was like nine or ten different people representing their own associations and stuff.

Anita: So, these were sort of non-governmental programs, or were they...?

Jesus: As far as I know, yeah. Non-governmental.

Anita: Okay. What kind of programs? Do you know what they were about? Do you remember their names?

Jesus: I know a few of them. I don't know them by name. But I know some of them were centered towards helping women returning, some of them were just centered towards helping migrants from southern countries.

Anita: Sort of economically, psychologically...?

Jesus: Yeah, just everything. Pretty much what New Comienzos does, but ours is more centered towards United States returnees and deportees. Some of these were more centered towards the specifics, like just women, women abused, stuff like that. So, that was pretty cool.

Anita: Have you gotten any assistance from any of these programs?

Jesus: From New Comienzos, yeah.

Anita: Have you taken any classes or enrolled in an educational program since we talked?

Jesus: I was taking a computer programming and hacking course, but I got sick. I got really sick.

Anita: Oh, no. What happened?

Jesus: I moved to the biggest city in the world. Well, one of the biggest and it was just a matter of time until I got sick. Yeah. I got really sick.

Anita: Stomach problems.

Jesus: Well, it was like a flu, and it was just all these things. I was shaking really bad and I was throwing up all the time. It just makes sense. Moving from the small town that I was in—well, I guess I was in Chihuahua at first, and coming here—twenty-four million people. I was bound to get sick, eventually.

Anita: Yeah. So, do you currently have a job?

Jesus: Yeah. Yes.

Anita: How many hours do you work?

Jesus: Let's see. Three, four, five, six, nine times five. Forty-five. Forty-five hours. Forty-five or more.

Anita: How much are you earning?

Jesus: It's a commission-based structure, but we're making US dollars in Mexico.

Anita: What's the job?

Jesus: Just being a carrier, connecting semi loads to semi drivers. [Chuckles]. So just kind of being a broker.

Jesus: Yeah. And then, pretty much doing that. It's a little tough, because you got to wrap your mind around the entire industry. You're not just connecting one person to another. You have to understand all the standards and what the drivers want—connect with them on a personal level, if they're going to go see their families over the weekend.

Anita: Who do you currently live with?

Jesus: By myself right now.

Anita: Which of your relatives live in Mexico? Do your grandparents live here?

Jesus: Mexico City, or Mexico the country?

Anita: Mexico the country.

Jesus: My dad's side of the family.

Anita: So, grandparents on your dad's side?

Jesus: Yeah.

Anita: Anybody else, other than grandparents? Do you have any brothers and sisters who live here? Your parents are in the States?

Jesus: Yeah, well my mom's in the States with her family.

Anita: Your dad?

Jesus: He's down here. Yeah. Chihuahua.

Anita: No children?

Jesus: No, not yet. [Laughs].

Anita: Partner? That was last week.

Jesus: Yeah. [Laughs]

Anita: How long has it been since you broke up?

Jesus: Yeah, about a week. How did you know?

Anita: You said you broke up!

Jesus: You're following me around. [Laughs]

Anita: You said you broke up.

Jesus: No, we're trying to work things out. We did hang out last night, but it's just two different cultures. It's hard to kind of wrap your mind around being in a relationship, especially when my Spanish is más o menos.

Anita: Yeah.

Jesus: And trying to communicate trust. Because we have two different standards of trust too. Because I come from a small town, and she's—well this huge city so communication's different, cultural-wise and also, I don't know. A lot of different factors into it.

Anita: So, she's Mexican?

Jesus: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Anita: That's really interesting, because I hadn't thought about that. So, sort of in a relationship, how does that cultural difference manifest itself?

Jesus: Cultural differences? Like I said, she's from the big city too, so it's not just the cultural difference, but it's like a big city cultural difference too. I don't know. I come from a small town where you don't really hang out with your ex. You're not really connected with the people that did you wrong because everybody in the town knows each other. Why are you going to go and hang out with this person? Especially when you're dating someone else. Why would you go back with your ex? But this is such a big city, and it makes sense that you wouldn't want to... It's so easy to get lost here so why would you want to lose connection with somebody you already know? I don't know if that makes any sense. So then for me, it was like, 'Why are you still talking to your ex?" So, a little bit of jealousy on my part, but then a little jealousy on her part too. Because whenever she'd see me talking to another girl, even if it was work related, it was like, "Why are you talking to her?"

Anita: I'm also curious whether living in the States and having relationships in the States makes you approach your relationship differently than a Mexican woman would. And what are those differences?

Jesus: The differences that I've noticed so far, I feel like coming from the States and being binational, I'm quicker to move on in the relationship. It's like, "Oh, let's move in together." Over there, you're more independent, there's more money, so you're more willing to get your own apartment and be like, "Hey, just come stay at my place." And then they stay for a week or two. And over here it's like, "Oh hey, come and stay at my place." And they're like, "No, I can't do that, because my mom, this and that." And moving in with your partner here, is pretty much like getting married. So, it's a big cultural difference there too.

Anita: The other thing I was wondering about was sort of machismo?

Jesus: Machismo?

Anita: Do you think that growing up in the States—I don't even know how to ask the question.

Jesus: You can ask it either way.

Anita: Like I don't even know. Are you different from other Mexican men in a relationship kind of is the question.

Jesus: Yeah. That's the difficult thing, is not only am I binational and Hispanic, I'm from the north of Mexico. A lot of my culture from the north over there, it's really about machismo. And I was like, "Oh man." Over there, the reality is still women being abused, and all that stuff. So, when I tend to drink, sometimes I get angry and I started getting aggressive and like I told my ex, I was like, "I can't drink, I can't drink. Not with you." We tried drinking a few times, and things just kind of got out of control. She would become controlling, and then I'd start to get angry. I start to see my dad's side inside of me. And I'm just like, "No, this just can't happen." So, that's where we were running into issues too. And coming from the States, I was raised in the Pacific Northwest and there's a big movement for Civil Rights and stuff over there too, women's rights and equality. So, I have a lot of those same mentalities still, like respect women, try and keep things fair. But then over here, I feel like women have been brought down so much, that they want to see how much more they can get.

Jesus: It got to a point where I was being controlled on who I could hang out with, what I was doing, where I was going, and then I was like, "Whoa, this is too much. I got respect for you, but you can't yell at me because there's a girl in the same room as me."

Anita: I guess in the States too, that was different. Right? So, the women are different.

Jesus: Yeah.

Anita: What you're saying is, because you told me—it's interesting that you found programs that were interested in women's rights, sort of. That sounds like more of an Americanized guy almost. But what you're also talking about is, maybe women in the US are less possessive, or understanding more. What do you think?

Jesus: Like I said, [Sigh], over here, and I hate to say this, it's like law is lawless. Israel has brought this up before too. 1% of crimes get solved here. The reality is, if a husband gets mad at their wife, whatever amount of violence he brings onto her, chances are it's not going to get resolved, and not quickly and it's not going to be fair way. So, I just feel like—oh wait, what was the question one more time? Sorry about that.

Anita: I was wondering whether women are more jealous or possessive here than in the States?

Jesus: Yeah. So, I feel like up in the States because the laws are more fair, if you hit a woman up in the States, the law's going to come down on you. Regardless of whether or not you actually did hit them, or didn't, the law's going to come down, and it's going to take it down on the man whatever way possible. And so, women over there are more willing to be like, "Hey, you know what? You're messing around with this other girl. I'll go mess around with someone else." So, it's safer for them. They can go out to the club and be like, "This guy, he doesn't mean this. So, I'm going to go out with my girls, hook up with another dude.” Over here, if they try and do that, sometimes you get the issue of where the guy gets jealous and like I said, the crimes don't get solved here very quick, so...

Anita: They get away with more.

Jesus: They get away with more. That's a really harsh reality is that I think women live in fear here. The possibility that, "I can't go out to the club and hang out with my girls, just in case the guy thinks something."

Anita: Yeah. Also, I'm just thinking that when I grew up, I could hang around with guys, and my boyfriend would say, "Okay. They're just your friends." They accepted it. I wonder whether—that's also what I was trying to ask—whether girls are more possessive.

Jesus: Yeah, definitely. That's the weird thing. That's what was weird to me in this relationship. I just let her, "No, you can hang out with your friends. Go on ahead. Go- bye." Even with their ex, I was like, "I really don't like it." We argued about it for a few weeks and I was like, "You know what, you're from a big city. I just don't understand. I'm not seeing the world through your eyes, but I'm going to just let it go. Go on ahead, if you want to hang out with him." And she would hang out with him every once in a while. And it was kind of eating me up inside. And then, like I said, I got drunk one day, snagged her cell phone, and I was like, "Let me go through this really quick." And she had erased all the messages with her ex.

Jesus: I was just like, "Whoa, what are you doing?" And then I snapped out of it, “I can't be drinking around you. I can't believe I did that. That's not me. That's not who I am.” But then, I had already given her a reason to be like, "Wow, you're going to get violent, and snag the phone out of my hands." And I'm just like, "That's not who I am."

Anita: So, you're bicultural in that respect too. [Chuckles]

Jesus: Yeah. You can see where I was fighting myself that time. Just like, "Give me it." "No. Sorry. Here you go." And then, it was like I blocked everything out. Forget that she'd deleted the messages, but then it kept eating me up inside. Like, "What'd you delete? What'd you delete?" [Chuckles]. I don't know. I just never brought it up. It's like I wanted to know what was on those conversations, but then again, I was like, "What am I going to gain from that?" And I had been talking to my ex, the first two months we were together, and I felt really bad. I wasn't going to delete the messages because I wanted to show her. I wanted enough time to pass by and be like, "Hey, this might hurt us, but I want you to know that this was what I was doing." She waited until I was asleep, grabbed my phone and unlocked it, went through it, took pictures of all our conversations and then kept using it against me. I was like, "What are you doing? And you're weaponizing something that I was going to show you. I didn't delete it for a reason. If I wanted to hide it from you, I would have just deleted it."

Anita: Would that have happened in the States, all of this?

Jesus: Easily. [Chuckles]. Yeah. I think a girl would have grabbed my phone immediately. Just waited until I fell asleep. But I don't know. Honestly, I feel like over there, you're more comfortable, because you know that you can both go and screw around, if it comes down to that. Over here, they're constantly thinking like, "He's going to do something." It's weird. I almost feel like it's part of the culture for men to be more able to do whatever they want, and women just be at the house. It's a part of the culture that I don't really like. I don't really enjoy it because there's a lot of fear. I don't know if that made sense. [Chuckles].

Anita: It makes total sense, total sense. And it's something that I just hadn't really had the opportunity to talk about. So, do you have siblings who live here?

Jesus: No.

Anita: So, no children, no partner for the moment. Aunt, uncles, cousins live here, in Mexico? Not Mexico City, but Mexico?

Jesus: Yeah.

Anita: Are you in contact with any of these people?

Jesus: No, but my mom's going to be coming down soon.

Jesus: She said my aunt and uncle are running for Presidente Municipal de Durango, so I don't know. Maybe I'd heard it wrong, but I don't know. That's kind of cool. It means that my family has got political ties and stuff.

Anita: Wow.

Jesus: That's cool. Yeah. My mom's like, "Just so you know, your family's bigger than you think. And when I come down there, I want to explain it to you." So, I'm excited. [Laughs].

Anita: That's pretty emotional.

Jesus: Yeah.

Anita: Do you know when?

Jesus: I'm not sure. Not a hundred percent. She just got her residence, so that's good. I was like, "Congratulations. You made it."

Anita: That's really great. So, your mother lives in the US. Who else of your relatives live in the US?

Jesus: My aunts, uncles, my brother, sister.

Anita: No children?

Jesus: No children, that I know of.

Anita: So, you're in touch with your mom, obviously. Are you in touch with your brothers and sisters?

Jesus: No.

Anita: With your aunts or uncles that live in the States?

Jesus: Yes.

Anita: Are you considering going back to the States?

Jesus: No. Maybe. I don't know. [Chuckles] It's like, "Why make the same mistake twice?" I kind of want to see Canada. I want to see different countries.

Anita: Why Canada?

Jesus: Why Canada? Because it's a cleaner United States, so I've heard. I don't know if it is. I hear a lot of people say Canada's like the United States, but it's greener. There's more forest, and it's cleaner, and the crime's not as bad. I feel like America's my standard now, and I either want to go better, or see what's gotten worse, go further south. See these countries that are suffering from organized crime and stuff.

Anita: Canada's nicer too.

Jesus: Yeah. So, I've heard.

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