June 8, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
Being brought to the US
1 of 5
*To hear more about Joana listen to the playlist above
Anita: How old were you when you left the United States?
Joana: When I left?
Joana: The first time?
Anita: Oh, more than once. [Joana laughs]. Okay. Let's start with the first time.
Joana: Well, just twice.
Anita: Let's start with the first time you left.
Joana: The first time I left, I was fourteen, and pretty much it was supposed to be just a family visit, and it kind of extended a little bit longer than it was supposed to. Then I just went back. My mom called me. She was like, "Okay, I'm ready. Go ahead.”
Anita: Wait, so you left on a family visit with who?
Joana: With my dad.
Anita: With your dad?
Joana: Well, I left by myself. I got here with my dad. He is living here in Mexico City. I stayed for about a year and a half. Then I went back to the United States.
Anita: So, you left with your—you came to Mexico City from where?
Joana: From ___, North Carolina.
Anita: Okay. Wait a minute. You were born where?
Joana: In Veracruz.
Anita: You were born in Veracruz.
Anita: Okay, let's start over. You were born in Veracuz?
Anita: Then, when did you go to the United States?
Joana: When I was about five.
Anita: When you were five, you went from Veracruz to the United States?
Joana: To the United States, to ___ North Carolina.
Anita: To ____ North Carolina.
Joana: Yes, ma'am.
Anita: Got it. And you went with who?
Joana: With my mom.
Anita: With your mom.
Anita: But not with your dad?
Anita: Where was your dad?
Joana: My dad was in ___, but we didn't have contact. My mom didn't have contact with him. He never helped me out, so it was basically my mom.
Anita: Why did she choose to go to ____ if she didn't have any relationship with your dad?
Joana: She was in ____. She was living in ____ (same town).
Anita: So, you were all alone here in Mexico?
Joana: Yes. I was with my grandma.
Anita: You were with your grandma. Okay, now I'm beginning to understand.
Joana: Yeah. [Laughs].
Anita: So, you were with your grandma. Both your parents are in ____
Joana: Yeah, at that time.
Anita: But they were not together?
Joana: Yes, yes.
Joana: They split up when I was about one.
Anita: Okay, but both of them are still living in _____.
Anita: No, at the time.
Joana: Oh, yes. At the time, yes.
Anita: Okay. So, your mom says, "Come on over."
Joana: She came to Mexico and she came to pick me up, and I pretty much traveled with her except when I was going to across the border.
Anita: Except when you were crossing the border?
Joana: Yes.I was four at that time.
Anita: Was it hard to leave?
Joana: Yes, because basically I didn't know her at all. I grew up with my grandma. That was my mother figure. So, I didn't really know her at all. And when I first met her, I didn't even talk to her. I didn't have the confidence. I didn't, well, like I said, it was like a new person to me that I didn't know anything about. I hadn't talked to her on the phone ever, because supposedly when she called, my grandma would say that I was asleep or I was playing outside or anything else, but that I wasn't there.
Joana: That was because I stayed with my grandma from my dad's side.
Joana: My dad never called either. He never supported me economically. Yeah, they actually did have a fight over me, a legal fight, because my grandma didn't want to let me go, but she was my mother. So, under the law, I was supposed to be with her. Not with my grandma. Basically, I had to leave with her, because they couldn't do anything to hold me back.
Joana: Yeah. [Chuckles].
Anita: That's really difficult for a little girl.
Joana: It's been crazy. Pretty much. I cried. I remember that my mom went to pick me up and she basically stole me, technically, because I really didn't know her. I didn't want to leave, but I didn't have another choice.
Anita: Were you kicking and screaming?
Joana: Yes, I definitely was. I remember I opened my arms and my legs when they were trying to force me in the taxi, because I didn't want to leave. I was crying and yelling and screaming and I couldn't do anything. Yeah.
Anita: So, did it get better once you got to ____?
Joana: Yes, because I got to know her and, well, she was my mother. I didn't have any other choice but to get to know her. I mean, it was difficult because until this day I don't really have a lot of communications with her. I still don't have that connection. Pretty much, she spent her time working so we didn't really have time to actually sit down. She didn't ask, "How are you doing? How is school?" Anything. "Do you have problems? Are you having trouble?" I mean, nothing.
Anita: So, why did she want to take you?
Joana: Well, she said that I was her daughter and that she loved me. Well, she was sending money, she was taking care of me in a way, but I just wasn't living with her. But it wasn't her choice either, because when she left, she couldn't take me at that time. She tried to get me with her, and she actually did. So, it was basically that.
Anita: Do you think her lack of affection, as you've described it, was because you didn't spend your first few years together?
Joana: I think so. I think that has a lot to do with it, because I kind of see the way she treats my brother and my sister—she had them since they were born—every year, every day, every single minute. With me it wasn't like that. She already was remarried with my stepdad, of course. It was really difficult for me.
Anita: I can imagine.
Anita: Are your sister and your brother children with this stepdad?
Anita: So, they're Americans.
Joana: So, they're, yes, yes. They're both—
Anita: How do you get along with them?
Joana: Quite good. I mean, they're my siblings. I cannot stop loving them. I really can't. Since I got there, my brother was around three, so it was hard because I didn't know him, but throughout time it got better. The relationship really got strong.
Anita: There are two years difference?
Joana: Yeah, about two, no, three, four years. Yeah, because he's sixteen right now. My sister's, she's turning twelve on June 15th.
Anita: And you're nineteen?
Joana: Yes, ma'am.
Anita: Wow, okay.
Anita: Was the border crossing difficult? How did you cross the border?
Joana: I don't remember. That's the only thing I don't. I don't know if my brain blocked it because it was traumatizing. I really have tried to remember, and I can't. I don't know why, but I really can't. [Chuckles]. It's weird because the thing that I remember is a smell, a certain smell that when you get a cold and you get sick. It's so distinguishing that if I smell it, it'll just throw me back. I can't really describe the smell, but it's just one thing.
Anita: That's amazing.
Anita: You were five. You get to the States. You're living with your mom. Your dad is somewhere in ____, too.
Anita: Do you see him?
Joana: No. Until I was around seven to eight years old.
Anita: Did he try to look for you?
Joana: No. Well, to my knowledge, no.
Anita: Did you ask about him?
Joana: I didn't really know about him. No one ever told me, "Oh, this is your dad." Or someone showed me pictures. My grandma says she did, but I don't remember. I don't recall.
Anita: Did your stepdad treat you well?
Joana: Yeah. I actually never had an issue with him, which was the great thing about it, because other stepdads, or other step parents, might treat you differently than their kids, or set you aside, or not buy you this, or if they're going out, leave you at home. He never did anything to make me feel uncomfortable or that I wasn't his kid. Nothing at all.
Anita: You get to the U.S. and you go to school?
Joana: Yes, ma'am. Kindergarten.
Anita: What was that like? Do you remember that? When do your memories start?
Joana: [Chuckles] They do start in kindergarten, but then again, I went to—I don't remember how many schools during elementary. Then in middle school, my mom really had a struggle settling down, because in ____ there's some areas where they have a lot of crime. It was kind of rough, but now she's settled down.
Anita: But she moved around in ____ all the time?
Joana: Yeah. Yes, yes.
Anita: So, you spent your whole time in elementary school in ____?
Joana: Yes. I went to about three schools in elementary and about two in middle school and then one in high school.
Anita: How did you—
Joana: Then here, I went to, technically, it's one, but you know how here in Mexico they have a name in the morning shift and then a name in the second, the afternoon shift? So, I went to both of them. It was chaos throughout my whole life. Pretty much.
Joana: Yes, I—
Anita: No stability at all?
Joana: No. [Chuckle]. None at all. My life has been all over.
Anita: Did you have friends?
Joana: Yes. I was actually surprised, because sometimes it's hard. It's really hard, because they'll look at you and they can tell you're not from here. It's difficult.
Anita: Did you know that you were undocumented?
Joana: When I was small, no. Then when I got older, in my teenage years, I did have the knowledge, but I was afraid and embarrassed for anyone to find out. Especially in school [Chuckle]. But I didn't know that education wise, they don't have a problem with it.
Anita: Why were you embarrassed about being undocumented?
Joana: I was embarrassed about being undocumented because I didn't want to get bullied. I was so afraid because I have seen cases where kids have been bullied. My brother was bullied. I didn't want to go through that. I was so scared, and I didn't want to leave my family.
Anita: You mean you didn't want to get deported?
Joana: Yeah, I didn't want to get deported at all. I don't think anyone does. No one wants to go through all the process. It's pretty scary. [Emotional].
Anita: This was a secret that you kept?
Joana: Being undocumented was my darkest secret. I didn't want anyone to find out. I was terrified. I didn't want to be separated from my family again, [Emotional] because I didn't grow up with them for about four years. It was extremely hard. Yeah.
Anita: I can't imagine... I mean, you talk about fear, you talk about being ashamed, and then there's the issue about having to keep a secret.
Joana: Imagine… I don't think anyone being a citizen has a fear of anything. They're free to go anywhere they want. They're free to do whatever they want. They can study all the way to where they want to get, and we don't. We don't get that opportunity. [Crying]. I don't think anyone should go through that. It's just, it's not fair. I had dreams when I was a little kid. I wanted to be someone in life. I wanted to have a career. That was probably the main reason of why I decided to drop out because I figured, I mean, I'm not going to get to go to college, I'm not going to get to have a career here, so why do I even try? They make us feel less, like we don't matter at all, like our lives are just worthless, and that's not the case. We contribute to everything. We try to follow the law. Still, that doesn't count. That doesn't matter at all. It's really, really hard. It's extremely hard.
Anita: If you'd had the chance, what would you have become?
Joana: I wanted to be a veterinarian. That was my dream. Or a teacher. I love kids. I love to teach. I love to help everyone. If I see someone struggling, I want to help them, and I can't. I felt like I could never do that. It's really hard seeing how some people don't even value that. A lot of American citizens don't look at it that way. They really don't care. They're like, "Oh, well, you're not from here. So, we can't do anything." That's just it. That's the reality for a lot, a lot, a lot of people.
Anita: I just want you to know, that's why we're doing this project. So that your voice gets heard. How did you come back to Mexico? When did you go back the first time?
Joana: The first time it was when I was fourteen, 2014, because I was born in 2000 so it kind of goes by the year. Like I said, I came back as a family reunion, but it kind of extended a little.
Anita: You came back to visit your family, you mean?
Joana: Yes, ma'am. I came back to visit my family. Well, my dad, and meet my little sister. That's why I came, and to visit my grandparents that I hadn't seen in ten years.
Anita: When you came back, did you know that you would have to cross the border again to go back? Were you planning to stay? What were you thinking?
Joana: I didn't know I was going to cross again because my mom said that it might turn into a permanent stay if she didn't figure out a way to get me back. Well, at the end of the day, she did figure out a way for me to get back. [Chuckle].
Anita: How long were you here for?
Joana: Around a year and a half.
Anita: You dropped out of school?
Joana: When I was sixteen in the United States. I was going to high school.
Anita: Okay. Let's go back. A year and a half after, you're fifteen now and you go back? When did you go back to the United States the second time?
Joana: I was turning sixteen, almost.
Anita: And here you were going to school?
Joana: Yes, ma'am.
Anita: How did you cross the second time?
Joana: Basically, with fake documents. That was how because my mom didn't want me to go through the normal way, I guess, of crossing the border. She didn't want me to go through that because when I was five, she kind of knew that my brain was going to block it and I wasn't going to be able to remember, but when I was fourteen, there's no way for me to not remember that. So, she tried to get the best thing that she could. She paid a lot of money for it.
Anita: You got somebody's U.S. papers and you crossed by bus?
Joana: Yes. That's exactly how.
Anita: There was no trouble?
Joana: No. There wasn't.
Anita: So, you go back to ____?
Anita: And you go back to school?
Anita: Then what happened?
Joana: Then I dropped out when I was sixteen and I started working.
Anita: Why did you drop out?
Joana: I dropped out because I had personal issues with my mom and, well, in my mind, I didn't think there was enough. I mean, even if I finished high school, I wasn't going to be able to keep on studying what I wanted to study. I had good grades in school. I mean, at the end of the day, what does it really mean? If it's not worth anything. I mean, you can do your best. You can at the top of your class and it still doesn't mean anything.
Anita: Were you at the top of your class?
Joana: One of them. In certain classes, yes, I was the best. In math class, in other classes [Chuckle], but in others I was like the second.
Anita: So, you were a really good student?
Joana: Yes. I always tried my best. Even if I missed a day, I was already caught up. I always tried. My mom was really proud of me. I remember, she kept all my diplomas.
Anita: Were you proud of you?
Joana: Of course, because I didn't think I was going to, at least reach that high. [Emotional]. I mean, I kind of regret not finishing it, but it wasn't going to help me anyways.
Anita: You were angry?
Joana: Yes. At the laws. They say it's a free country, but it's not free for us. We got to work every day. You wake up at 6:00 A.M., you get home at 8:00, and it's still the same thing. Every day. No one sees that. No one. No one pays attention to what we go through. What we struggle. Some Hispanics really can't afford a lot of things, and no one tries to help them out. And when they try like right now…. I mean, Donald Trump really took a lot of things away. A lot of advantages, a lot of help, gone. We can't get them back. That's it.
Anita: We're going to fight. You have some Americans here on your side.
Joana: Thank you. It really does mean a lot. It seems like a small help, but it's a lot because no one has ever came up to me and asked, "How are you doing? How do think that's going to affect you? What do you think's going to happen?" No one asks. They're just like, "Oh, well, you don't belong here. You're not from here. You shouldn't even be here." That's how they treat us, and that's reality. You can't say anything back to them because at the end of the day it's kind of true, but it shouldn't be that way. They say we have equal rights. I don't see it. [Chuckle]. I really don't. We're not equal to them. We're not equal, and we work a lot harder. We really try our best. We try to follow everything step by step at the foot of everything. That doesn't help us. Some actually do become American citizens, and every time you see a case like that, it's like, "Wow, congratulations. You deserve it." Because who doesn't want to? Who doesn't want to be treated like an American citizen? We're not treated that way. We always get discriminated by something, and that's not fair. I don't think anyone, from any country, from anywhere in the world should ever get treated that way. I just don't believe it.
Anita: You're working now?
Joana: Yes, I'm working.
Anita: What jobs did you work in the States?
Joana: Oh, in the States? I worked pretty much construction jobs. Framing, roofing, vinyl, painting. I worked in lawns. I've worked pretty much construction jobs, yards.
Anita: How many women were doing that?
Joana: Not a lot. My mom does cleaning, that's her job and she loves it. I love cleaning, too.
Joana: Yes. Houses, apartments, she works inside and out. She's pretty great.
Anita: Does she have her papers?
Joana: No, she doesn't.
Anita: You did all this and then how did you end up back in Mexico?
Joana: I got arrested in _____. I moved to ______when I was about seventeen. I stayed about a year and that's when I.C.E. took me in.
Anita: For what?
Joana: It was, I think, an illegal turn, a U-turn. I was driving without a license because we can't get a license, but yet again, we do have to get to work. I mean, how are you going to expect anyone to get to work if they don't have transportation? You have to drive. It's probably the main thing that, why a lot of people get deported. That and raids.
Anita: Is this the first time you were stopped just for making an illegal turn?
Anita: That's the first thing you did?
Joana: Yes. Well I had tickets, but I had never gotten arrested. I pretty much always paid my tickets.
Anita: Then what happened?
Joana: And then, well, I went into custody. They tried to get me out, but they couldn't. I.C.E. took me in. That's how I got back to Mexico.
Anita: Were you in detention?
Anita: For how long?
Joana: For about a month, and I got out pretty quickly because I had my passport with me.
Anita: You just happened to have your passport with you?
Joana: No, that was the only I.D. I had.
Anita: You were carrying it with you?
Joana: Yes. I didn't have any American I.D.s. I mean, we can't get them, so that was the only I.D. I had—my passport. That's how they got my nationality and everything.
Anita: Were there a lot of other women in detention?
Joana: Yes, but not a lot. There were mainly men, mainly. Actually, I had already gotten stopped, but I was a minor and they hadn't taken any information on me because I got stopped going to work. It was really early, and we, the other guys that were with me, were about to leave the apartment complexes where we used to live. All of a sudden, we just got stopped by two I.C.E. officers. They never identified themselves. They didn't say why we got stopped. They pretty much didn't give out any information at all. They just went in and I.D.-ed them.
Anita: What year are we talking about?
Joana: That was around 2016. In _____.
Anita: When you go stopped by I.C.E., it was in _____?
Joana: Yes. The first time it was in ____.
Anita: Okay. And in ______?
Joana: Then the second time it was in 2019.
Anita: So, it was Trump?
Joana: Yes, it was Trump, when Trump was already in. Basically, he started a lot of, he provoked a lot of stops. In ____, everyone's scared until today, everyone. I see a lot of Hispanics watching out for each other. I've seen a lot of posts on Facebook saying, "Hey, watch out. There's a..." What do you...?
Joana: "Raid on certain street or on certain highway. Just be careful." Everyone's always trying to help each other out.
Anita: Yeah. You know, we've been trying to do the same work in the U.S. and we can't because people are too afraid to talk to us.
Joana: Yes, I know. Everyone thinks they're going to get deported.
Joana: That's basically what everyone's scared of because they don't want to lose the opportunity, because going to Mexico and the United States there's not even a comparison.
Anita: What do you mean by that?
Joana: Here, for example, if someone rapes you and you go to a police officer, sometimes they really won't help you. There's a lot of corruption that's mainly everywhere, from the president down. Everyone. It's pretty weird because the cartels, they're actually the ones that actually help their states out. They actually offer jobs and the president doesn't. It's like, why? But, it's just the way it is. You're actually scared to actually go up to a police officer because you know that if you get stopped, they're not going to read you the laws. They're going to ask you for money. You're not going to see a U.S. officer do that, ever. They're going to arrest you on the spot. Here, they don't do that. That's how Mexico is.
Anita: Do you feel American or Mexican?
Joana: More American because I grew up in America.
Anita: What does it mean, being American?
Joana: There's a lot... Being American, to me, it means you can do, you can be free. You can live your life like you want to. That doesn't mean you're going to break the laws. That doesn't mean you're going to commit an offense, but it means that you can actually live freely and without the worry that you're going to get deported anytime. I don't think that's living because you're always afraid. You're always afraid of anyone and everyone. You never know when that person's going to stab you in the back and call I.C.E. on you. That's what everyone's afraid of. Everyone doesn't want to say that they're undocumented. No one wants to admit it because everyone's scared. You don't get the same rights.
Anita: When you say you feel more American than Mexican, what does that mean to you to feel it? I mean, I know that you're not an American citizen. What does it feel culturally or whatever way? In what way do you feel American?
Joana: I guess in every way. There's a lot more connection to me with an American citizen than there is with a Mexican citizen. The cultures, they're so different. I mean, pizza isn't really even pizza here to be honest. A hamburger isn't a hamburger. It's an American dish. In Mexico they have other foods. They have other cultures. They have a variety of things. Being American, to me, it feels like I can go travel. I don't even know how to explain it. I just don't know how to put it. I guess, it means to me, it feels like... I really, I don't have the words right now. I guess it would feel... I don't, I can't find the words.
Anita: It doesn't matter. I have two more questions for you. What are your hopes and dreams now that you're back in Mexico? What do you want to do with your life?
Joana: I want to have a career. Now that I can, that I actually have the opportunity. Because in the United States, it was just like, "Why do I even try? Why do I even bother? I mean, at the end of the day, I'm not going to actually be what I want." The thing is, the education, it's really high in the United States; it's way better than here in Mexico. Here in Mexico it's just like, "Oh, well, you've got to learn this. You've got to learn that." I mean, I feel like I would have a lot of trouble here because I mainly will understand more in English than Spanish. So, if they're talking about laws or they're talking about this or that, I kind of get a lot confused. Not a little bit, a lot. It's like, "Oh my God.” I don't even understand what they're saying. I don't get a lot of professional terms. I don't understand them at all. My co-workers, if I don't understand something in Spanish, they'll be like, "Oh, it's this." It's like, "Oh, okay, okay. I get it now."
Anita: Where are you working now?
Joana: At T-Tech.
Joana: Yes, ma'am.
Anita: What kind of career are you going to have here?
Joana: Well, since T-Tech does offer, after three months of being with them, to continue studying and working for obviously much more economical payment—it has to be related to what I'm working on. So, I might go into business or I'm still not sure.
Anita: But you won't be a veterinarian?
Joana: Not anymore. [Chuckles]. Once I get a career and I start—because right now we're in training—once the three months are over, I want to save up at least half of my money and actually donate to a shelter for mainly dogs because here in Mexico there's a lot of dogs on the streets. A lot, like a lot. Apparently, they don't help them. There's actually a lot of—
Anita: They don’t help people…
Joana: Exactly. If they don't help us, they're not going to help an innocent animal. They'll kill them. Even if you get into an accident or they run you over, they'll go back and run you over until pretty much you're dead just because they don't want to pay your hospitality in the hospital. They don't want to pay it. They'll be like, "Oh, she died. Might as well pay that."
Anita: I have two more questions for you. One is to go back to the States for one second. What we've noticed are some young women, who live through the horror of being undocumented and parents who are absent become teen mothers. Why does that happen and did this happen to you?
Joana: No. This didn't happen to me.
Anita: Explain this to me.
Joana: I believe it didn't happen to me just because my mom did have me at a young age. She had me when she was fifteen. So, I didn't want to go through that. I didn't want to not have the experience of going to school and having friends and going out and actually enjoying my life as a teenager and just moving straight to having a kid—being responsible and taking care of him and working and still having to pay day care and everything. I didn't want to go through that. I didn't think I was fit enough, I guess. I mean, you're young. I know you learn things, and there's no book that just states it there that you have to do this, and you have to do that. No. You kind of have to experience things to learn from them. I don't think I wanted to go through that. I believe a lot of young girls go through it because sometimes, especially, I guess, Hispanics, they have to work to maintain everything—home, kids, everything, cars. So, pretty much, they get left alone and they're not taken care of so they have a lot of liberty. I think that's why.
Anita: Did you ever want to be part of the streets or a gang?
Joana: I didn't want to.
Anita: Why not?
Joana: I saw a lot of things that could happen to you. You could get raped by all of them. Nobody wants to go through that, or nobody wants to get beat up to join a gang. Why even go through the struggle? I don't find it logical to be honest. I mean, I don't want to go through suffering to be in a gang to make other people suffer. I really don't get it. I mean, you could work to get money. Why do you have to rob someone? Why do you have to beat someone up? Why do you have to stab them and shoot them?
Anita: Do you think that's just because that's the way your mind was wired?
Joana: Yes. That's the way I saw things.
Anita: Because your mother wasn't present.
Anita: It was just you.
Joana: But she did give me advice, but it wasn't a huge conversation that we had. Just every time that maybe I did something wrong, she would be like, "Don't do this because this could happen." Or, "Do this instead." Or, "Don't do something good that seems bad because that could affect you." I think that was what formed my mind.
Anita: Something that we're thinking about and we want to write about is what the U.S. loses by deporting people and what Mexico actually gains by receiving people like you. Let me ask you that. What does the U.S. lose by deporting people like Joana?
Joana: Well, they lose mainly trust because you don't trust anyone. You're always afraid. We live in fear. You don't trust anyone. What they lose is workers. We pay taxes. They lose, maybe, ties to certain things in Mexico because they do have to export, import. If this keeps going on, at the end of the day, they're going to stop because Donald Trump doesn't apparently want us in the United States, so why does Mexico have to give them anything that's Mexican? I mean, Mexico is a country where they do have a lot of oil, they have coffee, what don't they have? I mean, we have a lot of tourists that come to Mexico. Trump has towers here.
Anita: What does Mexico gain by you guys coming back?
Joana: I think, I'm not sure—[Chuckles].
Anita: But what do you think? What do you have to give to Mexico?
Joana: Maybe, because a lot people think of investing in the United States, so once they leave, they're going to invest in Mexico. I think a lot of investments.
Anita: As a person, what do you bring?
Joana: Your freedom, you gain your freedom to be honest. You're not afraid here. You're not afraid of anyone coming up to you and saying, "Oh, you're a wetback. Oh, you don't belong here." Because this is your country. I think, as a person, you gain calmness. You don't have to be afraid anymore, but then again, you kind of don't want to be in Mexico because of all the corruption.
Anita: Do you think you could help change that corruption in Mexico because of your experience growing up in the States?
Joana: I think if we all join forces, we could change everything. It's only if you put your mind to it. You can change a lot of things. It's not going to take a day, but eventually it will happen. If all of us join together and work together, we can change a lot of things in Mexico.
Anita: Do you think the deported migrants, if you all join together you can change something?
Joana: Definitely. There's a lot of people here that got deported. A lot. Day after day it's the same thing. Pretty much the same reasons. Either they got stopped at work, a raid, you name it, but it's pretty much the same reasons that we come back.
Anita: Do you have anything else you want to say? You've told me so much. I'm so appreciative.
Joana: No, I don't think there is. I think I've said enough. I don't think anyone should go through that. It's pain, it's painful. You don't know how many nights I've fallen asleep crying just thinking about everything that someone could say to you or things that they have said to me. You don't know how much your words can hurt a person. How much just a simple word could end their life. A lot of people have committed suicide because of that, because they couldn't bear with everything that's going on. A lot of people have lost their lives. I don't think it's fair. No one should have to be afraid of going outside or going to work. You're just going to work. You're not doing anything bad. You're not going against the law. I mean, you're working. You're trying. As a student, you try every day. Other kids do bully you if they find out that you're not a U.S. citizen. They'll call you names. They'll pick on you. Some have been kicked, punched, etc. That's not what a kid should go through, especially not if you're really young. A lot of five-year-olds go through that. Imagine a kid going through that. An innocent child that shouldn't be put through that.
Anita: What about being separated from your family?
Joana: That's, I think, the hardest part. Imagine you growing up with your family, with your sister, your brother, your siblings, your grandparents, your aunts, your cousins and then all of a sudden, they're gone because they don't want you in the country. It's supposed to be a free country. That everyone should be equal. It says it everywhere. Yet, again, we're not. We're not equal. They don't treat us the same. They do push us aside and society doesn't really do anything about it.