June 6, 2019
Mexico City, Mexico
His dreams in Mexico
1 of 3
*To hear more about Yair listen to the playlist above
Anne: Okay, this is Anne, and I am interviewing Yair? Is that how you say it?
Anne: Yair? I want to start by thanking you for coming to talk to us.
Yair: Thank you.
Anne: I think your stories are important for people to hear. It might be painful for you to talk about, and I'm sorry if that's the case.
Yair: Thank you.
Anne: I was not at your survey, so maybe you could just tell me a little bit about the circumstances of you going to the United States back when you did, how old you were, the motivations behind it, what your first impressions were, that sort of thing?
Yair: Okay. Well, when I was like nine years, I left to the USA. Well, my dad, he was already there. He was already like a year over there, and then he was talking to my mom saying that he wished for us to be over there with him and my mom decided to just go over there. I didn't know anything. I thought we were just going to a different house closer to here. I was like, "Okay. Well, yeah, we'll go to my dad," because I hadn't seen my dad for a year, and I was really happy. I was really excited, you know, because I hadn't seen my dad. I really missed him.
Yair: Then my mom was like, "No, we're moving out of the country."
Yair: I was like, "Well ..." That was news to me. I was like, "Okay well." I thought it was really close, and all that. Then my mom was like ... We got to a place called ... Well, we stayed here from Mexico. That's called Reynosa. We went over there. We actually took a bus all the way over there, and it took us two or three days to get over there. Once we got there, there was this guy that was trying to ... Well, he said that he was going to cross us over the border by the river and stuff, and so we did, but the migration caught us. They took us to their ... How do you say it, their offices for migration?
Anne: Detention center?
Yair: Yeah. They were taking my mom's information, but didn't take ours because it was me and my sister. There was only three of us. Then after that, my mom called this guy, and he told her ... I think he told her that she was arrested or something, and we stayed there for five, six hours. My mom was really worried. She was worried about us because she didn't know what was going to happen to us and stuff. My mom was crying, and I was just sitting with her by her side.
Yair: Then after that, this guy just came for us and took us to his house. We lived there for a month and waited for him-
Anne: You and your mom, or not with your mom?
Yair: With my mom, yeah. Yeah, because I was not actually trying to let go of my mom cause I was with my mom all the time. I would just hold on to her hand, and my sister too. Then this guy told her, "Well, you're going to stop by over my house. You can stay there," and this and that. This guy was the one that was going to cross us over, but I can't remember what was the issue though, but I think my dad had to send the money over to him again, but in the meanwhile, we were staying at his house for like a month.
Yair: We didn't have nothing to eat. This guy really… he was not really polite to us and stuff most of the time, because we didn't have nothing to eat. My mom was just trying to see what work ... just to see if she could feed us, because she didn't have no money. My dad told her to send the location where we were at. I guess my dad was sending my mom money, so that way we can eat because this guy didn't give us nothing to eat or something, and my mom was getting really desperate. My mom was like, "You know what? I'm just going to go back to the city, because this guy is not treating us right. He's not feeding us or anything like that, and the money that you're sending to him, I don't know what he's doing with it. He's not giving us nothing, and the kids needs clothes and stuff." That's when we decided to just come back. My mom was like, “No, I'm never going to try this again. I'm not going to risk my kids anymore," and this and that.
Yair: My dad was like, "No, this guy was really a bad dude." Then, I think, after like six months, seven months again, my dad kept insisting my mom to come over here, that he would get another person that could cross us over with no problems. It would be much safer. And then that’s when my mom thought about it and she was like,”Okay, well what's it going to be like this time?"
Yair: She’s like, "Well, this time it's going to be you're going to cross over the kids over the border, but in the car. It's not going to be over the river or anything like that. It's in the car." Well, that's why my mom decided to say yes, because this is a better way to cross over. Then after that we got over to Reynosa again, and I think we did cross over the desert, yeah, the border. We were walking in the night, I remember. It was really dark. We couldn't see anything. We were just waiting for this guy to come over with a car to cross over.
Yair: This guy crosses us over with fake papers of his kids. His kids were American citizens already, but he was pretending that ... Well, my mom was pretending to be his wife because we got stopped by the cops, I think, by the border. They were asking where were we going? He said ... I remember him saying that we were just coming to visit Mexico and stuff, and just crossed over. Actually, we were going to sleep in the back of the car, and that's how we crossed over.
Yair: My mom was really excited, and she was happy. Actually, she was crying and happy at the same time, because she was really worried. I didn't know what was going on, and I was like, "What?" I was too young to understand. I was like, "Well, I got there."
Yair: I got to my uncle's house. No, I'm sorry. We got to this guy's house in Texas. It was in Dallas, Texas. I can't remember what part exactly, but we stayed over his house for four, three days, and the guy was really nice. He actually had his family, his wife and kids. Most of the time ... I think my mom, I can remember my mom left with this guy to see something about the papers, or something like that, and she took one day. I didn't know anything, and then I was really worried. Then my sister and me stayed at this house with his wife and kids, but I didn't know anything about my mom. I just kept asking for the latest on my mom, like ”Hey, where's my mom? Where's my mom?"
Yair: "Well, she's doing something for the paperwork and stuff."
Yair: "Oh, paperwork?" Then after that, we just left to Arkansas. We drove all the way to Arkansas, and that's where I have my ... Actually, my uncle's right now still. I got to one of my uncles' house, and we stayed. Well, he offered us rooms so that we could stay there, to live in, meanwhile, and my dad was working in another, I think, city. I can't remember the name of the city, though. He was working in work construction, on the roads. That's when we got, we went to visit him, and that's when we got to see him finally after like a year. That's when my dad came back to his brother's house, and he stayed there. They started working in the boat factory.
Yair: Yeah, my parents in Arkansas. Sorry, my dad knows how to weld boats and stuff. He's a welder, actually. My mom learned how to do it well, too. They were there working for almost nine years, because I was there nine years, living in Arkansas. I went to high school. I went to elementary, first grade, and high school, and I made a lot of friends. I did a lot of sports. I did basketball, football, baseball and track, running track.
Anne: Yeah, track.
Yair: I liked to do a lot of sports. I used to do that, and I always tried to keep good grades in my classes and all, for the main reason that the football coach was asking me, "You have to get good grades and stuff."
Yair: "Okay, okay." I really liked it over there. I really felt like, I don't know, it was my home, you know? I made a lot of friends. I didn't graduate because ... I was about to graduate there, but the reason we came back here was because my mom got sick. She has some problems about her ... how do you call it? She has some problems on her ... I forget how you call it.
Yair: No, from the woman's part. I can't remember. It's a woman's part inside.
Yair: Yeah, the uterus. She got some problems there, and she was losing a lot of blood. I remember that she was going to the hospital a couple of times to get exams, to see what she had, what was wrong with her. They gave her a lot of excuses for her not to get surgery and stuff, and my mom got really sick.
Yair: Firstly, my mom had an uncle that ... He's a doctor here in Mexico. He talked over a webcam with her, and he's like, "No, you're really bad. You need to get surgery now. You're either going to stay there and die, or you're going to go and just come back here and get surgery, because you can't be like this no more. Within two or three days you're going to die. You can't be like this."
Yair: So my mom got scared, and we were really worried. We didn't know what to do now, because my dad was paying the bills for the exams, for the hospital. They were really expensive for him. They can't even afford to pay it. That's when my parents decided ... Well, my mom decided just to come back over here in the city, just to get surgery, and she did. After three or four months after she got surgery, she was okay, thank God.
Yair: Then my dad, he said that he wanted to come back too, because my mom wanted to come back over there, but then she saw all her family after nine years and stuff. She said that she ... It was my decision if I wanted to stay. I was like, well, I did want to stay because I wanted to graduate from high school, but then she's like, "No, I just want you guys to come back here." My dad took the decision to just come back over here. We drove all the way over here, and he took the car and trailer. We actually took all of our stuff from home for all the way over here. We took our kitchen, our living room.
Yair: Everything. We drove all the way over here. We didn't have no issue, no problem, thank God. That's how we got here. I really wanted to stay over there. I just wanted to come here just to visit, but I was already 18. I told my dad that I wanted to stay with my uncles, and he's like, "No, you can't stay here with your uncles. What do you want to do?"
Yair: "Well, I'm just going to keep studying. I just want to stay here, you know?"
Yair: But then I told my mom that, and she's like, "No, don't stay. You can come back over here." She told me that crying, and I was like [inaudible 00:13:00]. That's how she convinced me to come back. That's why I came back, and I'm living now here in Mexico City for nine years already since I came back.
Anne: Oh, wow.
Yair: I came back here in 2010.
Anne: So how old are you now?
Yair: I'm 27.
Yair: Yeah. I actually had to finish high school, well, my last high school, my last year of high school here because I didn't get to finish it over there. It was really hard for me, because I felt like at the beginning when I got over there in the United States, like I didn't know anything, nothing. I barely spoke Spanish. It was kind of hard for me to understand the math. All the subjects, the classes and stuff, it was really hard for me to understand. I cut my grades. Actually, my certificate grade was for 7.9, which is really bad. It cost me a lot and all that. I barely made it. I barely graduated. Then after I graduated I started working, started finding jobs here, like call centers and stuff. Most of them, I have them, most of them are a lot of customer service now.
Yair: But yeah, that's most of my experiences. My experience here in Mexico, it's a big change because it's a city. There's a lot of danger. Not a lot of danger, but it depends on what area you live in because not all areas are bad, and some areas are really calm and nice. But if you live ... What do they say? In the hood or stuff, there's a lot of crime and a lot of people that sells drugs, and a lot of killing also. But most of the time I don't deal with those type of people. I try to stay away from them. I have friends that are like that, but I don't want to be in that situation. I don't want to be engaged with them, to hang out with them, because even though ... If I hang out with them or stuff, I know maybe someday I'll be in trouble or something. I don't know.
Yair: But right now I have a daughter. She's four years old. I used to be married. I got separated a year and five months already, and I see her on the weekends. No, most of the time I see her, but I used to see her every day. Now with the schedule from work that I have, it doesn't really work for me that much. I'm trying to find something else, for a better schedule, then to spend the time with her because I really like to spend time with my daughter, to just drive and go places. Last week I took her over here, actually, so she can know the Monumento de la Revolución. I took her over here. She really liked it, and I'm planning to take her to more places, really cool places.
Yair: But yeah, that's the story of my life. If I had a chance to go back in the United States, I would. I never had any papers or any ID or anything like that, and I actually, I made up my own card, so I worked over there too by cleaning yards. I actually worked for a little while in the boat factory with my parents. I used to get paid, I think, $450 a week. That's how I started saving.
Anne: That's not bad.
Yair: Yeah, it was not bad. I was like, wow, that's a lot of money. I love that. Then I started saving for me to buy a car, or I did buy my first car. I actually had two cars over there, and I sold them. I sold them when I came back over here to Mexico City. I went to a school that's called UM. That's a pay school, where you have to pay to study. I used all my money of my car to study over there.
Anne: To get your degree?
Anne: Your high school degree?
Yair: Yeah, just to get it. Then after that I had no car, and I started working again. I made another ... Well, I saved up for another car. Right now I have a motorcycle, but I have to watch out in the streets because right here, they really drive really crazy. They don't have no limit. They don't have no rules. We do have rules, but a lot of people don't respect it. You have to drive really careful and stuff. What else?
Anne: Let me ask you a couple things about the US. You got there when you were nine, 10?
Yair: Yeah, nine.
Anne: You started school. It must have been hard, because you didn't know any English.
Yair: Yeah. I didn't know any English. I tried to spoke most of the time in Spanish, but a lot of the kids, they didn't understand me. I didn't either, so I can't remember what they were telling me at the beginning. I started-
Anne: How long did it take to get adjusted [inaudible 00:18:06]?
Yair: It took me, I don't know, five, six months, because I kept asking my mom, "When are we coming back home? When are we coming back home?
Yair: She's like, "No, we're going to stay here. This is your home now."
Yair: I'm like, "What? What do you mean?"
Yair: I remember that I started crying because I missed my family, my cousins and my friends at school. I just wanted to go back, and then I started getting used to it, once you're in school. School was really a big difference, because here, the school here in Mexico, they don't have that, what do you call it? They have the education, but not as much as over there. Over there it was way easier to do it. You could wear your own clothes. Here, you have to wear a uniform to go to school. I think that I hated it all the time.
Yair: The teachers were really disciplined, and they really cared about you, about your grades and stuff. I actually had a lot of teachers that were teaching me English, teaching me how to read, speak well, pronouncing words. Yeah, they helped me a lot. I had a lot of teachers helping me, and I really learned a lot from them, words, how to speak, or how to pronounce words and stuff. I'm actually trying to ... I was teaching them also Spanish, because they wanted to learn Spanish. I was like, "Yeah, I can teach you.”
Yair: "How do you say this in Spanish?"
Yair: "Oh, you say this."
Yair: "Oh, okay." It was kind of a thing for me to teach them, and them to teach me too, so it was nice.
Anne: You made a lot of friends?
Yair: Yeah, I did make a lot of friends, because actually when I was in football, because when I got into football, I really like… I was a linebacker.
Anne: Yeah. Tough.
Yair: Yea actually, I actually miss football. Every time I see football games and stuff, I remember there the training, the training in the mornings, the summer training stuff. I miss everything. After I got into football, I made a lot of friends. Most of the time when I was free after school I spent my time with them playing basketball, always doing something, because over there in Arkansas, in Clinton, Arkansas, there's not much to do. It's a really small town.
Anne: Were there gangs?
Yair: No. No, there were not gangs. It’s not that, uh, don’t take it personal or anything. There was a lot of Americans there. There was not as much African Americans, Mexican people. There was not much. It was just a couple of us, like four or five Mexicans there, and the rest are American people. But no, there were not any gangs. It was really nice. There was a lot of country music and stuff.
Anne: Country music?
Yair: Yeah, like rodeos and things like that. I really liked most of the time going to the rodeos, and seeing people ride the bulls and the horses and stuff. It was really nice. But there was not any gangs. I used to go to the city in Little Rock, which is the city in Arkansas. I used to go there just to go clubbing, parties and stuff, but I never wanted to be part of the gang. I did have some friends that offered me to be part of the gang, and sell weed and stuff. I was like, "No, I'm not going to do this, man." I'm like, "No."
Yair: They were like, "Come on." They were trying to convince me. They did try to give me a gun also.
Yair: I was like, "No, I don't need this in my life right now."
Yair: "You need it for you to be part of this business."
Yair: "No. I don't want to be part of this business. I'm illegal here. I don't have no documents and stuff. I want to keep studying. I want to do something with my life, and I don't want to ruin it for a drug. I don't need the money. If I need the money, I'll work, I'll do something, but not this way, though." Yeah, there was not any gangs. It was really calm over there.
Anne: What were your dreams when you were there?
Yair: My dreams?
Anne: What were you dreaming to do?
Yair: My dream was to be a producer, music producer, because I really liked music. I remember that I spoke with my music teacher. She gave me this disc that has a lot of things that you can do, for you to do instrumentals and stuff. I did it. I didn't know anything, but I think I'm good at it, making instrumentals for music. I really liked that, and I wanted to study that or to become one of the producers and stuff, because I like music. The other of my dreams was for me to have a house, my own car, and also get married and have a family. That was most of my dreams. Yeah, that's about it, I think.
Anne: Yeah. Did you apply for DACA?
Yair: No. No, I never did. Actually, once I heard from that I was already here.
Anne: Oh, yeah. You came back when?
Yair: In 2010.
Anne: Oh, 2010. Yeah. Yeah it's too ...
Yair: Yeah. Actually when I was still over there, I heard about it.
Anne: It was starting.
Yair: It was barely starting, and I told my dad about it. He was like, "No, they're not going to give, they’re not going to do nothing," or, "You're not going to get nothing done." I was planning to do it, to apply for it.
Anne: If you could stay.
Yair: Yeah, if I could stay, but my dad didn't care that much. He just had plans to come back over here. I wanted to do it because I heard that if you were studying, or if you never had been reported or anything like that, you would get the chance to stay over there, and get the paper or something. I wanted to do it, but I never took that chance for me to search, or to see where I could sign up for that.
Yair: Then when we were already over here, me and my family and my sister, we heard that, on the news actually, we heard that Obama gave a lot of opportunity to allow immigrant people to study over here, or to study in the US, to have papers and stuff. I was like, "Man." I told my dad, "See, Dad? I told you to stay over there, man." I mean, I really liked it over there. I got used to it, and I just wanted to live over there. I wanted to come over here but just to visit my family, and come back.
Yair: But after a year I came back from over there, and I started living here. I had plans to go back, to go back over there. I was trying to get my passport and the visa, but I never got the chance to get the visa because I heard a lot of rumors saying that people that are trying to get visas from here, from Mexico, most of the time they reject them and not give them to them, so I was like, I don't want to waste my money, because the visa here costs 4,000, almost 5,000 to get the visa.
Yair: Yeah, pesos.
Yair: I was like, man, that's a lot of money.
Yair: What if they don't give it to me, and I'm going to spend out that amount? That's why I didn't decide to get the visa. I already had my passport set up for me to go and get the visa, but they told me that rumor. Then I was like, "Man, I'm not going to get it," so that's why.
Anne: When you were back in the States, you said you had two cars. Did you have a license?
Yair: No. I didn't have anything.
Anne: But you were careful?
Yair: Yeah, I was really careful. I actually followed the rules. I actually got the guide from, what's it called it, the transit guide? I can't remember.
Anne: Department of Motor Vehicles? Yeah.
Yair: Yeah. I had the guide. I studied them, I read over the rules.
Anne: Yeah, motor vehicles. Yeah, yeah, so you knew what to do?
Yair: Yeah, I knew what to do, and I was really careful about everything, about speed. I watched the speed limit. I always respected. All the time that I drove over there I never got stopped by a cop or anything.
Anne: That’s good.
Yair: Yeah, I was really, really careful because I was like, man, what if I get stopped or pulled over, if I get a ticket? Maybe I'll pay the ticket, but you never know what type of police cop you'll get. I did have a lot of racist people from over there, but I didn't really pay attention to them. Most of the time I did got in a fight with them, and after that they didn't bother me no more. I know what people are good to you, and what, some people that are not good to you. I never took it really personal, but there was actually one. There was this actually one time that ... I think I was nine? No, 12, 11 years old. I was on the bus. The bus takes you home. There was this one big kid, I remember. He was making fun of, and making jokes about, African people. He was bothering this guy, and I got mad. I stood up, and I was like, "What have you got to say?"
Yair: He's like, "What are you going to do? You're not going to do nothing. You're Mexican. You beat on yourself like that?"
Yair: I was like, "Man, you think you are tough because you're tall or whatever? What gives you the right to judge the people? Nobody's judging you, so you had better leave him alone." That's why I got in a fight with him. I didn't know how to do it. He was really tall. He was this tall to me, and I don't know how I did it, but I took some punches and I won the fight, basically.
Yair: After a day people were telling me, "Oh, dude, you beat him up," and this and that.
Yair: I was like, "Well, yeah, but he was bothering this guy." I'm the type of person that I don't like seeing people bothering other people when they think they're all that. I don't know. I just don't like that attitude, when people have that.
Anne: Yeah. What do you miss most from the US, do you think?
Yair: A lot of things. I miss the places, or the lifestyle over there. The lifestyle is really different. It's really calm. You can do anything. You can do anything, but not everything here, the rules, the security. Here in Mexico there's a lot of traffic of drugs, car dealers and stuff. You can't be really safe sometimes.
Yair: What I miss over there also is just most of the time the lifestyle, because I lived over there in a small country, a small town, and I could do anything. I could go fishing, I could go to a lake, play basketball, really anything, like going to the woods. I miss all that. Basically you can find the same thing here in Mexico, but it's not the same as over there.
Yair: Also, the economy, obviously, the work. I remember that every time we go out shopping to Walmart, my parents spent $150 or $200, and we bought a lot of food. It lasted for us for almost two weeks. Here in Mexico, with 2,000 pesos you can buy a lot of food, but it's too expensive. Also, is it closed?
Yair: I mean, what I also miss from over there, everything from over there, the clothes, the shoes, the cars. I actually liked the motorcycles and everything. They have good quality, you know? Here in Mexico you can find anything. You can find the same thing, but not as much good quality, or you can, but it's really expensive. For example, for shoes, some Nike shoes, I really like some Nike shoes. Nike shoes are like here they're 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 pesos.
Anne: Oh, wow.
Yair: Over there in the United States, I remember I bought my shoes for $90, $60.
Anne: Yeah, wow.
Yair: It was cheaper. The dollar over here is big money, but over there, I've seen everything is cheaper over there. You can get more stuff, or you can do more of your own things than here.
Anne: Yeah. That's a lot of money.
Yair: Actually, I miss also the people. There's a lot of really nice people that I met over there. Most of them I really lost touch with them, but I can't remember why. We're just talking sometimes, but not most of the time I talk to them. Yeah, that's what I miss.
Anne: Do you think going to the United States and living there for ... You were there for nine years, right?
Anne: Do you think that made you a different person than you would have been if you had you never gone?
Yair: Yeah, I do.
Anne: How did it make you different? What changed you? How are you different?
Yair: I think the education over there in high school ... Well, in school, because over there the teachers always used to tell us that we have to be good. We have to tell the truth, we have to be respectful. We have to be responsible. And I think I got a lot of helpful [inaudible 00:33:19] over there from people. They were really nice to me, and they changed my ways, because I always asked myself that question too. What would have been of me if I would have never be over there? What would I be, like, what type of person would I be right now?
Yair: It did change me a lot, I think, because coming back over here was way too different. I'm actually one of those persons that if you tell me something, I'll believe it. But then after living here, having a lot of experience with people that have bad influence, you start getting to know that there's not always a lot of good people. Yeah, I think that really changed me, or helped me a lot, living over there.
Yair: I can't really remember myself being as a kid. I can't remember how I was, but growing up over there, knowing the things, the places and people that you know, the education from school that you got, I think it's a lot different than over here. Here in Mexico here it is nice too, but they don't have really the same education that's over there. Here, people from Mexico, they do whatever they want. They don't follow the rules, or I don't know, I just think it's about the education difference. Yeah, I think, I don’t know. Yeah. I think I'm a honest people, person, I mean. I don't like to really lie and stuff, or make up things. I just tell what I feel, what I've been through.
Anne: It must have been helpful to have your family here when you came back?
Anne: …your mom and dad, and sister and all. Are you living with them now, or no?
Yair: Yeah. Right now I'm living with my parents because ... I used to not live with them when I was married. I was living on my own. Now that I got separated, I'm living with them again. I'm planning to be on my own again for myself, because my sister's there too with her husband and kid. We're really crowded in there, so it's a lot of issues and problems with them. I just want to move by my own some day. That's what I'm planning.
Anne: So what are your dreams now that you're back? Have they changed? Are they similar?
Yair: Now that I’m here? No, they haven't changed, because I actually want to keep doing the same thing. Right now I'm still trying to do instrumentals for music and stuff, like rap, hip hop or anything. I just want to keep doing that. My dream also here is just to get my house, my own house, my own car too, just have a family, maybe also buy houses or apartments and rent them and stuff. That's what my plan is to be, what to do here. But also I've been thinking about going over there to the United States, but I don't know how, and I don't know who or where. There's a lot of people that tell me I can get the visa and stuff. I would do it, but I mean I think that well… They are giving chances to go there to visit only for six, seven months, or to work there for a year. I would go back just to work and make some money, and come back over here and put a business or something, I don't know. I don't know how things are over there now. It's been a long time. That's my plan, is to be here.
Anne: So we're going to end in a minute, but is there anything that you'd like to share with the people who listen to this recording of your story? Anything more that you haven't said about your experiences, or experiences of other returning migrants?
Yair: Well, I think that my experience here, to be coming back over here is not as big deal. It was really a different way for me to come over here, because a lot of people that I know from over there ... Well, that I know here, that they come from over there too. They say that they had to go through a lot of things. They've been locked up, or they've been reported for motoring, or selling drugs, or being in a gang, or stuff like that.
Yair: But my experience, to come back over here to Mexico is ... I don't know. I always see it as a sign of God, or I don't know. It changed my life really, really, completely. The way of seeing things too, here from over there. I don't really have that ... I can't really explain what I mean, to tell you the experience. I don't know. The experience will be, just for me, living in another country and switching back in place, and that's it. It's not that much, because most of the time that I was over there in the United States, I was referred to as a kid. I don't really remember everything, but being here, I just had to deal with it and just stay, see what comes up, yeah.
Anne: Thank you. Thank you.
Yair: Oh, thank you.
Anne: That was really great.