who’s a Dreamer [undocumented student who was brought to the U.S. as a child].
who’s a gardener who drives around without a license, is loosely based on
our band mate, Pepe Carlos.
Q. Tell me about your own experience with being undocumented.
I was lucky enough to be born in the U.S., but my parents came to this country [fromMexico] without papers. My father came in, I think, 1969, my mother came in the late
’70s. They met here in the United States and fell in love. I was their first child.My mom’s always been a domestic worker, cleaning houses, offices, being a
father would help at my grandfather’s shop on Olvera Street where they
would sell Mexican goods.
When I was very young I didn’t know anything about immigration or borders. I
remember one day my great grandmother passed away. My mom was very close toher and she left to Mexico to her funeral, and it took her a long time to get back home.She came back and was able to get her residency.I remember my cousins coming [from Mexico] and having to go to San Diego to pick
them up from a “coyote” [smuggler]. As
an adult and a U.S. citizen, I’ve had family
friends who ask me for help. One said please could I pick up his wife and child who
was 3 years old. I had to pick up a woman I’d never met at a truck stop. I was afraid
and amazed at what she had gone through, having to hide in the back of a cargo truck with her kid.Q. What about your band mate?
Pepe Carlos was brought here to the U.S. from Oaxaca when he was 6 with his
mother, brother and uncle. I’ve known him since we were 16 years old. We met on
OlveraStreet playing for tips on weekends, learning our musical trade. Pepe is like my brother. We have the same dream, the same passion.
When we get invites to go to Mexico or Arizona or San Diego, it’s bittersweet, because sometimes we’ve had to leave him behind because he can’t travel. We were
invited to go to SXSW in Austin, and knowing how things were getting worse in
Arizona we had to take extra long routes to avoid checkpoints. He’s been verycourageous to say “Let’s go” or “I’m not going to Mexico, get
Q. Doesn’t his coming out as undocumented with this song put him at risk?
We think in a way he is. But I think writing
was therapeutic for him. He felt
tired of living in shadows and in fear. We’re so proud of him and we’re standing
ide him. And we’re inspired by other people coming out saying we’reundocumented and we’re unafraid.