Sergio Diaz


June 3, 2019

Mexico City, Mexico

Being detained deported

1 of 2


*To hear more about Josue listen to the playlist above

Sergio: What is your gender?

Josue: Male.

Sergio: What is your age?

Josue: I'm 31.

Sergio: What is your country of birth?

Josue: Mexico.

Sergio: What is your city of birth?

Josue: Veracruz.

Sergio: Veracruz. Did you go to school in your birth country before you left?

Josue: I did, yeah. Up until secundaria.

Sergio: That'd be like ninth grade, 10th grade?

Josue: Like eighth grade.

Sergio: Eighth grade?

Josue: Yeah, ‘cause I started ninth in the States.

Sergio: Okay. Did you work in your birth country before you left?

Josue: No, I did not.

Sergio: Why did you migrate to the US?

Josue: I mean I was like 14. So, my dad actually left first—he was there for about a year, a year and a half—and they took my mom, me, brother and sister all of us at once, about a year and a half after that.

Sergio: Did your dad migrate for economic reasons for the family or violence or discrimination?

Josue: I think that it was money, yeah. But I don’t think that—I think money may have been like 50% of it. I think that he was running to start anew from something, I don't know, ‘cause we were not in a bad situation for him taking us over there.

Sergio: Did he ever talk to you about any violence that he faced?

Josue: Any violence? No, no. I don't believe so.

Sergio: Did you experience violence or discrimination in your home country before you left?

Josue: No.

Sergio: How old were you when you migrated?

Josue: I was 15.

Sergio: How did you enter the US? With a tourist visa, migrant visa, or cross the border?

Josue: No, we crossed the border. No papers.

Sergio: Did you apply for political asylum in the US?

Josue: No, no I did not.

Sergio: Did you become a US resident?

Josue: No.

Sergio: How would you describe your English skills when you got to the US?

Josue: Zero. [Chuckles].

Sergio: Did you learn English while you were in the US?

Josue: I did, yeah.

Sergio: Where at? School, community, work?

Josue: No, myself. I got made fun of in PE class. We were in Seattle, so not a lot of non-English, well, Spanish speaking people. But yeah, I got made fun of my English in PE. ‘Cause I remember I was wearing like an Old Navy shirt with an American flag right here. And there was a guy in my PE class, which were the classes that were not ESL, so it was mostly white people. And so, I remember him saying something to the effect of, “How were you even wearing that when you can't even speak the language?”

Josue: And so, I actually started to, what I would do is that I would get music. I listened to a lot of music with a Spanish-English dictionary and me sitting in my living room with that, a lot. And I was the first one in my family to speak it. I don't even think a year went by before I remember speaking where I felt comfortable I guess.

Sergio: Wow.

Josue: Yeah, good motivation.

Sergio: So how would you describe your English now?

Josue: I think it's good. [Chuckles].

Sergio: Yeah, fluent?

Josue: Yeah, yeah. [Chuckles].

Sergio: You understand everything I'm saying?

Josue: I do, yeah.

Sergio: And what cities did you live in? You mentioned ___?

Josue: ____ Washington was the only one.

Sergio: _____ Washington?

Josue: Yeah. that area.

Sergio: Did you go to school in the US?

Josue: I did, yeah.

Sergio: Up to what year?

Josue: I was in college, _____ for about a year and a half.

Sergio: So, college. What did you study in college?

Josue: Culinary arts.

Sergio: Culinary arts. That's pretty cool.

Josue: Yeah, I mean I like cooking, but not working in a restaurant.

Sergio: Did you have to pay for the school or how was the financial aid situation?

Josue: Oh no, I had to pay, I used to work. I would work delivering newspapers at night ____yeah, so that's what I did. So I would get home and then run to school. I mean the very first quarter my dad paid for that, but then the rest I did.

Sergio: What other kinds of jobs did you have there?

Josue: I didn't have many ‘cause that one, I had it for a couple of years. But then for almost four years I worked for this company called ____. But it was for delivering medicine to independent pharmacies. So every day I would go do my route and it was just delivering those little boxes of medicine in them for about four years.

Sergio: Four years. So you worked total, how many years being in the US, how many years did you work?

Josue: I'd say six. Six years, yeah.

Sergio: How did you work? Did they never ask for your papers?

Josue: No, my dad is still working in the newspaper ‘cause it's okay money and it's just a few hours. So, he's still working there so I don't think they really check papers there—you know, social security and stuff. And with the other one, with _____, they actually had a manager there when I first got in. It was actually my dad that was going to get the job, but we started talking with the manager and he was Latino—I don't know what he was. But I think he kind of knew what the situation was until years later. Me and my dad actually worked there at some point, both of us. But then they changed management and that's when they started checking things. By that time, I was already in detention. My dad told me they started checking staff and that job was no more. Yeah.

Sergio: So, in your last job that you had in the US, how much were you earning per hour?

Josue: No, I didn't earn hourly. I used to earn like $1,600 every other week.

Sergio: $1,600 for two weeks?

Josue: Yeah, every two weeks. It was a good job.

Sergio: And who did you live with while you were in the US?

Josue: My dad, well my entire family the entire time.

Sergio: Siblings, brothers, and sisters?

Josue: Yes. All of them, except for my mom. She was there for about half the time, for about five years. And then she came back here ‘cause she didn't like working over there. You know the jobs that you get over there. Like I said, I didn't feel like we were in a bad position where we needed to go through everything that we went through. So my mom came back.

Sergio: So, what happened to the family after she left?

Josue: Oh, my parents split. Well, I think they were already splitting, and you know, whenever she said, “I'm going back with my little sister.” Yeah, that was like, “Okay, yeah, they're splitting.”

Sergio: They're splitting?

Josue: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sergio: And how did that impact you growing up there?

Josue: Honestly, not really. Because when she came back, I kind of already knew that it was going to happen, and I wasn't that young to already not really understand what was happening. So, my mom told me she wasn't happy over there and I wanted her to be happy, you know?

Sergio: So, when you were living in the US you were living with your parents, your siblings, any other relatives or anything like that?

Josue: No, it was just us.

Sergio: Were you ever worried about getting caught by US authorities?

Josue: A little bit. But the stories that I heard, they didn't really feel like they were hitting too close to home until I started hearing about the warehouse for the newspaper. They did a raid over there. And that's the first summer I was like, “I don't know.” But we kept on going and I didn't experience a raid like that.

Sergio: So, the warehouse got raided?

Josue: Yeah.

Sergio: And you weren't working there anymore?

Josue: No. The thing is that we all worked there: me, my mom, my brother. Me, at one point, I was working with my mom on one route and my dad was doing another one. At some point, we all had one, and it had to be at the point when only my dad was working there ‘cause I remember he was the one to tell me about that. And so, I know that for some time, he would be the one to go and bring the newspapers to us. And you know, just take them up.

Sergio: Yeah. So your dad didn't get caught in that raid?

Josue: No, no, no, no. I know that he knew about it, but I don't think he was there at that moment.

Sergio: Well that's good. Did you ever send money to your relatives in Mexico?

Josue: No. No, I'm not that close.

Sergio: How long did you live in the US?

Josue: 11 years?

Sergio: 11 years. Did you follow US political news while you were living in the US?

Josue: News? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Sergio: And how'd you follow it?

Josue: Newspaper. We always had leftover. Newspaper every day. [Laughing].

Sergio: Seattle Times?

Josue: Yes.

Sergio: That's funny. Any other way that you followed the news?

Josue: Well, I mean more so more recently, through the phone. But back then, it was with a newspaper.

Sergio: Just newspaper?

Josue: Yeah.

Sergio: So, while you were in the United States, did you follow Mexican political news?

Josue: No.

Sergio: Did you qualify for DACA?

Josue: I don't know. I think that I could have because I did all of my high school there and college as well. But I never really looked into it. And what's funny is before I actually came to Mexico, about a year before, I called my mom and I told her that I wanted to come back. So like nine months after that, that's when I got caught. So first I had bail, and then whenever I had my meeting with a judge, like my hearing, she asked me—'cause I was like the only one in the room that they didn't need a translator—she was like, “Are you sure you don't want to fight your case?”

Josue: But there were so many people there that I knew, maybe they were in my situation where they could have qualified, but they had been there for years, or you know like a year or something. I didn't think it was worth it. So I signed my voluntary departure.

Sergio: So, on this topic of getting caught, what happened?

Josue: Oh, it was really stupid [Chuckle] Because I was driving my dad's car, and I went to a friend’s in downtown Seattle. Left the car parked in a parking lot, and then I went to my friend's house, or whatever. I was coming back and I didn't have my driver's license with me—I forgot it that day. And so, somebody I guess called the cops saying that maybe I looked suspicious or something because the cops came, they got me, I didn't have my ID, the car wasn't under my name. And so they said that they were charging me with car prowling, which at the end they dropped everything because that was not the case. And yeah, that's what happened. They took me in.

Sergio: So, the police detained you?

Josue: Yeah, it was the cops. And so, they got me and then I spent a few days in County. Ain't nobody told me anything. Like I would ask, like “Why am I exactly here? Can I speak with somebody?” And they kept on telling me, like “Oh, you're going to get your hearing,” whatever. But I never did. A few days after that, ICE came and you know they start asking like, “When did you come in? What's your social security number?” All those questions. And then they left. A couple of days after that, they came back, but you know already with the shackles and everything for a bunch of people. And that's how they took us down to the detention center in Tacoma.

Sergio: What year was this, that that happened?

Josue: 13? 2013.

Sergio: So, you never actually went before a judge for this case that the cop stopped you for?

Josue: Never. I had a persecutor right there when I had my hearing in ICE, with a judge, cause I told her, she asked me, “Do you want to fight the case? You want to do something?” I said, “No.” And I told her I just want to sign the voluntary departure. As soon as I said that, the guy to the left, he was like, “No, like he has charges.” They wanted to deport me, which wouldn't have made a difference really for me ‘cause I'm not going back. But he said, like “He's got this, charges,” whatever. I don't know how they can call them charges when they never really charged me with anything ‘cause I never had a hearing on it. And so then I explained exactly what I said to you. I told the judge, she turned and looked at him and the guy said, “Okay, we're deferring the charges.” That's just what he said. And she said, okay, she signed it. That's it. [Chuckles].

Sergio: That's wild.

Josue: It was.

Sergio: So, they just looked at you and they were like, “Okay, we're dropping everything?”

Josue: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The persecutor just said, he used that term, “We're not dropping the charges, we're deferring the charges,” something like that. She said, “Okay,” signed it. And that's how I got the voluntary one.

Sergio: So, were you informed of your rights during this process?

Josue: No, I would say no. No because whenever I explained it to the judge, I told her like, “Whenever I was in county, nobody ever told me anything. I didn't know anything of whether we're charging me with. Whenever ICE came, same thing. They just took me and didn't say anything.”

Sergio: Did you have a lawyer helping you through it?

Josue: No, no. ‘Cause like I said, I didn't want to fight anything.

Sergio: So you weren’t provided with legal assistance?

Josue: No.

Sergio: So, you were detained in the ICE facility or were you not?

Josue: Yes. Well I was in county first and that was in downtown _____, like right on Fifth Avenue.

Sergio: How long were you in County?

Josue: It was just a few days, like maybe a week, 10 days.

Sergio: How did you feel there?

Josue: It was okay. I was in a different area where you really are like in a fish tank ‘cause it's all glass right here and the cops are right there on like an island and they're literally just looking down at you. So it was fine. I mean it was horrible ‘cause it was county, but yeah, they didn't do anything wrong.

Sergio: You didn't experience any abuse?

Josue: No, no. They had us, really just watching us right there. So no, it was just the fact that nobody told me anything, they just kept on telling me to wait, that somebody would tell me what was happening. And that never happened.

Sergio: So, if you were detained, you were detained by ICE. How long did ICE detain you for?

Josue: Oh, I was there for like two months minimum.

Sergio: Do you know where?

Josue: Tacoma, Washington.

Sergio: How'd they treat you there?

Josue: Oh no, that was fine. Yeah, yeah. I think that was fine.

Sergio: You ever have a bad experience?

Josue: No. Well the thing is they are not ICE. They're a private company. A horrible part there was with ICE, whenever they actually get you to ICE. So, bad experiences, it was with ICE, not with the police and not with the other company. Yeah, it was with them.

Sergio: So then after they gave you your deportation notice, you get voluntary departure, what happened after?

Josue: Well after that, I just had to wait because they gave me a day two weeks in advance of when I was going to be leaving, the date and time of when I'd be going back. So I just had to wait for that time to go back here.

Sergio: So, when you returned, were you were greeted by any Mexican authorities, or any government representative, non-government representatives?

Josue: It is government because when you walk through the door from the US to Mexico, you go into, I don't know exactly what it is, where they do the whatever to get your papers back up. So, you do have to line up and you give your information, they give you a temporary ID in case you want to get on a bus to go home or something, then you can use that.

Sergio: Did they give you money, food, shelter?

Josue: It was offered, I believe. Well at least shelter. I don't know about money. I think you do have the option. But because I had my family, I already had my ticket for the plane, and I had money on me. So we left right away.

Sergio: So, you've been back in Mexico eight years or nine?

Josue: No, five.

Sergio: Five years. And what city and town are you living in now?

Josue: Right now, I'm living in Ixtapaluca.

Sergio: And that's in Mexico, the state of Mexico?

Josue: State, yep.

Sergio: And who do you live with?

Josue: My mom.

Sergio: Is it just your mom or do you have any brothers or sisters living with you?

Josue: No, they're both in the States. Yeah, it's just me and her. We rent a house.

Sergio: Has it been hard for you to return without your family members?

Josue: Yeah, yeah. ‘Cause my immediate family, they were the ones that I was closest to. Maybe because we were always outside of like Mexico City. ‘Cause even though me and my brother, we were born in Veracruz, but nobody's from over there, just my parents were there by that time. And so, we never really got to see my uncles, cousins, so I never got like really attached to them. It was always my family.

Sergio: So, was it hard for you to leave your family in the US?

Josue: Yeah it was. But also I was growing up. It was five years ago. Yeah, I mean, it was hard, but I also wanted to get jobs. I wanted to decide, say if I didn't like one job, I wanted to be able to say, “I don't like this job. I want to go over there.” I couldn't do that in the States, because I haven't got my papers.

Sergio: Since your return, have you become aware of any programs that support returning migrants?

Josue: No, honestly not.

Sergio: Since you've been back have you pursued any studies?

Josue: No, not that either. ‘Cause I think that it's iffy, like whenever you want to use your diploma from the States, they don't just say, “Okay you did that and so you can now go on to college or whatever.” I don't think it's like that. You have to do something.

Sergio: Has that been hard for you with your culinary background?

Josue: I mean I wouldn't want to study that. I would actually want to study something that I can use here, like business or something, something where I can grow. But like I said, from what I've heard—I don't know too much—you do have to do something so that they can validate what you did in the States down here. But I don't know enough about it. That's it.

Sergio: So that's too much for you, you don't want to go through that whole process?

Josue: I would, but I think it's also pricey. Like I said, I just don't know enough about it to do it. But I know that you need money.

Sergio: How many jobs have you had since you've been back? Or what kind of jobs?

Josue: Oh, they've all been with call centers, really all of them. ‘Cause I know those are the ones that pay the most. That's that. I left for Puerto Vallarta for about six months. And my friend actually, well, he and a person from the States, opened a restaurant right there in downtown. And I was bartending there for like six months.

Sergio: How'd you like that?

Josue: I mean I liked doing it, but the weather, it's not—I don't like hot weather at all. I'm from Seattle. I can't do hot weather. Too hot like that, muggy and steamy? No, no, I didn't like that.

Sergio: So, do you feel like your time in the US has shaped the things that you want here in Mexico?

Josue: Oh yeah. Yeah. [Laughs]. ‘Cause you compare everything like that with everything. Like with everything! You're just like, “Well it wasn't like that in the States. They should do it like that here.” But yeah, that's always like, “Ah, that should be like that, not like this.”

Sergio: You said, “I'm from ____, I'm not used to this weather.” Do you feel like you're from the United States now?

Josue: It's what I know. ‘Cause right here in Mexico, before I left, I was in secundaria, but the secundaria that I was in was in the same complex where we used to live. It was a gated community type of thing, like a tiny one. But the school was inside of there, so I had to walk like two minutes to get to school. So I wasn't at an age really where I was going places or getting a job, nothing. I was just house, church, school back then. So in the States is where I really got out and did things.

Sergio: You didn't do that here?

Josue: Oh yeah now I do. But I don't know the city that well. I mean I've been here for five years, but it still feels gigantic. Which I like, but I still don't know it well.

Sergio: Did you have to get used to new friends?

Josue: Oh yeah. [Laughs]. No, yeah, it took me—actually I met my best friends right here in TeleTech. So they are the ones that are like my second family really.

Sergio: How much were you paid for your most current job?

Josue: The one that I'm at right now, we get 55 an hour.

Sergio: That's pesos?

Josue: Yes. I wish it was dollars, but yeah, pesos.

Sergio: Do you feel safe in Mexico?

Josue: [Chuckles]. I mean, depends where I am. I was going to say, “If I'm at work, yeah,” but just a couple of days ago, I was walking from here to the subway and somebody got killed over there. There was a pool of blood right there with the police tape around it. So, I mean, right here in Mexico City, I think you always kind of have to be on your toes, regardless of where you are.

Sergio: Have you ever been the victim of a violent crime here?

Josue: No, not here, no.

Sergio: Do you feel more vulnerable as a return migrant?

Josue: I don't know that that plays a role. I think we're all like, exposed to the same type of not being safe, whatever.

Sergio: Was your return to Mexico difficult?

Josue: Yeah. Because I wasn't used to it. But yeah.

Sergio: So, what was the hardest thing about it? What were some of the challenges you had?

Josue: Like I said, I didn't know the city at all to begin with. I didn't know anyone down here that could even like tell me how to get a job ‘cause I've never had to get a job with papers. You know, the right way. I never did that. Yeah, so that would have been helpful.

Sergio: Yeah.

Josue: Not just a job, but like how to do it.

Sergio: Do you currently follow US news?

Josue: Yeah, I do.

Sergio: How do you follow it?

Josue: Internet, Google News icon every day.

Sergio: Google?

Josue: Yeah.

Sergio: What other?

Josue: No, that's it. Well, I mean on the news page, that's what I read everything.

Sergio: How about any newspapers?

Josue: No.

Sergio: Do you think you'll return to the US someday?

Josue: Not unless there was a way for me to get the papers. I will never go back without papers.

Sergio: If you do return, why would you return?

Josue: To see my family and my friends. Yeah. That would be the number one reason.

Sergio: Do you currently volunteer?

Josue: No. Here in Mexico, I've never volunteered.

Sergio: What parts of your experience do you think could have been improved coming back?

Josue: Coming back? Like of the entire process? I mean, being with ICE was horrible. And it's horrible because... So the people that have you detained, like in Tacoma, they're all American. And they never really mistreated us, not really. But whenever they turned us over in San Diego with ICE, they all got their last names right here, and every single one of them was Latino. You know, ‘cause they got their last names right there. They were the ones, you know, that had us up against the bus with our hands up with the guns pulled out.

Josue: There’s a lot of them. So yeah, they're the ones that were screaming at us. They never spoke Spanish, it was always English. I remember one of the guys, ‘cause they had us walk in from the airplane to the bus with our hands up, and I think somebody put them down—I mean we're still shackled up, you know, everything. And they put them down and they all like started screaming at him, pointing the gun on him too. So that to me was like the worst of the entire thing. Just having somebody that, you know, they're all Latinos, treat you that way. I think that was the worst. And I don't know. Maybe the other part is the place that you go into after, right when you cross the border, they don't really give you any information.

Sergio: Is there anything else that you think would be important to say, or like on your mind about your whole experience that you want to kind of talk about?

Josue: Well like I said, I just wish there was better support for people coming back. There's too many people that are coming back from the States who don't really know how it works in general. Like I have no idea about many things of how it works here in Mexico, and I don’t know who to go to that would really understand why we don't know the things that we don't know. I don't know. I think that would be helpful.

Sergio: Okay. Thank you.

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