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I: Tell me about the work….tell me about the immigrants you work with. J: Well, I work with mostly Hispanics community that are just coming here. Eh, mostly, they don’t have papers, they live in fear. Eh, they are easily abused. And uh, they have seen [unintelligible because of language barrier]. Eh, if I open a paper [gets up and goes to a desk and takes off a newspaper and holds it up to a certain page with IDs on it]. If I show you this news paper you can see….what is that? [It is a Spanish newspaper with a page about obtaining illegal documentation]. This eh, whole page, selling ID’s for people who don’t have documents. You know and see this page doesn’t help at all. It doesn’t help for anything because it is not an agency that our ehhhhh, supporting [laughs to lighten mood] faking of a document. What Mexicans should be doing is getting their IDs. And somehow they are protected because they’re going into a database that in case that they are beaten up or ending in a hospital or death. They’re ummm [laughs] family can reclaim their parts but if they got these kind of IDs that ummm…. Who’s helping the government to eh not giving an ID or ehh valid license where Americans are much more exposed eh not just in terms of accident, eh it is just in terms of who are you dealing with because eh, this thing [points to paper] somebody is going to believe that this is an ID but if you chose then to have a document then eh you know who you’re dealing with. You’re in a business and if you make a business transaction….So for people of without struggles, not struggles….It is ummm, it is, to deal with an immigrant it is to, its its tragic you know. I, I , I, I’ve seen the worse things I never saw before. In my country you know [laughs as says this] eh for me it was a way of robberies, of eh violence, of eh all those kind of things. I: So you talked about ummm abuse….what do you believe is the most difficult issue you face working with the immigrants in the community that you work with. J: Eh, just yesterday came a lady over here looking for a job. Uh, the level of fear because now what the people is afraid of, undocumented people, because there are all kind of eh….It is, when they come into this office you ask them, not for the purposes of eh if it is documented or not documented. If you’re documented you get access to services but undocumented you have to find a way to help them. Most of them are undocumented, so when ehhhh…..What the question sorry? [Both laugh as he looks over at my questionnaire sheet] I: What’s the most difficult issues you face (“yeah”) working with them? J: Eh, so when she came to this office looking for a job, eh we started to feel, eh to look for jobs, eh on different webs. Uh, I was asking her and we were making an application I said well you
need social security number. I said are you legally to work in the United States? She say no. You have a social security number? She say no. I say well without social security number you cannot work in this country. Uh, some people want to get it, it really calls my attention because she don’t even want to get one because she knows that now the law is so eh, eh strict. It has been so eh, strong that eh she knows that the people that has been deported they have been deported because they crossed the border. They are deported because they open their mouth. They are deported because eh, they got a fake document. Eh, this is a federal situation with the law. So they are not charged for they, eh, if they cross the border. If they are charged for that they will be [unintelligible because of accent]. So, eh, self confidence is the worst part that I try to deal with. Because when somebody come into this office they don’t have the confidence to eh complain or step up against eh…..to say I want to complain against my landlord. I want to complain against my boss that doesn’t pay me. I want to complain about that person who cheated me. Many people come over here and they don’t even know what is their uh, boss name. They don’t know who are they dealing with. How come? I work with them and I don’t know even their names. So it is really difficult. I: So you told me a lot about others and their experiences now I’d like to hear about some of your experiences. Tell me a little about your-self. J: [Smiling] What do you want to know about my-self? I: Well….like….where are you from. We could start with that. J: Well I’m Mexican. And uh I…..the first time I went out of my country wasn’t the United States. The eh sections is something that caught my attention is because the idea of America it is the greatest but at the same time, when you live in Latino America eh it is like you have to live with a minimum wage. Well if you live in a minimum wage we live in a [laughs] micro minimum wage. So eh, but eventually to me it is quite [intelligible because of accent]. How come eh, those third world countries have managed their ravages and their countries. They have to live with a system of health that is assistable to everybody; with their limitations, with education, with access to universities, maybe with their limitations, but still it is satisfied service situations like here in the United States eh not everybody has…..like if you don’t have $90 and you are a student you are in debt [laughs] because students have to pay for universities. It is just crazy. So that was eh, I started in Mexico, the first time I went out my country it wasn’t for the promise that I was going to be a millionaire but I went to eh…..The first time I went to Canada I went to school so I was trying to taste a little bit what it was to be out of my my world. You start out just having a single perception of what it is to work, but eeh you learn a lot and you don’t even know what’s leading to and what’s your vision of life. So when I get back, it was so real because I saw so many things outside. I saw that it was much..eh, much easier, eh, for ummm, not with less effort because it takes effort to live somewhere else, eh what I was getting in Mexico it was eh, not enough, eh to get what I wanted. Knowing that with less effort I could get
more so….when you see that Nicolas and Larry in Mexico have so much responsibility but in America they have less responsibility more money. I: Ummmm when did you first come here and with whom? J: To where did I came first? I: Here. J: Here Greensboro? Here……(“United States” I interject) Here to United States? Well the first time it was Alaska. Eh because I had gotten into some [unintelligible because of accent on tape] school were telling me I could make $5000 a year and I went to Alaska. I: Ok. Ummmm in what ways do you work with immigrants directly? J: Excuse me [confused face]. I: How do you directly work with the immigrants this agency comes in contact with? J: In what ways? What do I do? [says affirmingly]. Well I try to do one to one, to educate them in issues of housing, sometimes issues of immigration, rape, so ummm they’re getting their IDs getting their ummm (long pause) counselors for ehhhhhh situations of domestic violence, for situations of ehh going to court, to assist them in issues of translate or getting a lawyer or ehhhh (long pause) ummmmm (long pause) there is many situations even with getting papers because they have been criminalized, shot or robbed or there has been violence you know, they can get papers and people are not aware who have been kidnapped. People are being kidnapped and you are aware when ehhh it has happen to you the law is there. The immigrant is like blind people because they won’t know what they have access to [chuckles]. I: So why did you decide to do this? J: Eh since I came to American….I think just the first year I worked two jobs, ehhh I was getting tired and everything uhhh there were not so many people and I realized what was happening. I went to a community center and I tried to my fellow people and we talk about how ehhhh people at times didn’t have access to funds, they were getting rob. Ehhh kids were, people were eh robbing Hispanics and put the guns on the head of the kids asking for money or people didn’t know what to do ehhh or ehhh where to hide their money. Ummmm people who rob money, they know even where you hide the money. Anywhere in the house and sometimes they even hide in their cars. Well robbers knew everything, so to see those things were a shock. I was in meetings with bankers, I was in meetings creating the first Latino credit union or….it is not single thing that you can imagine...I feel like uh, anything that has been done for the Latino community, I feel like I have been behind in making their support for any, any initiative that can help their situation. I was involved in a lot of church working with all the groups…..no matter ehhhh if someone is undocumented….I believe that this country is made for immigrants. I believe in
equality of people and there are so many people that believe in that [moved forward as if passionate about statement]. Ehh uhhh, it has a lot of implications [laughs]. I: Ummm you mentions Mexicans, what ummm….so do you work with any other nationalities or ethnicities here? J: Eh yes we work with ehhh a lot, we have a lot going with the Central Americans but we work with some Mexicans, uh Cubans, uh even Puerto Ricans. Its is uhhhh unbelievable to see. Even Americans [we both chuckle]. So sometimes from Vietnam, sometimes from India, all countries. Mostly Mexicans but ehhh, what I, what I tell you here is that it is……as much they had uhhhh it just seems to me that having papers and documents gives you the confidence to ehh complain. It is like an equation, if you don’t have document then you are not going to be as much…..the favorite phrase from the people is “I don’t want to get in trouble”, “I don’t want trouble”. You know the law is going to be against you. You have your kids in this house, in these conditions. It is not, the law is not gonna forget you that what you are doing is wrong. You have to do something now otherwise you are getting, getting [unintelligilble because of accent] problems [laughs]. You know? I: Ok. What other services do you know of out there for immigrants in Greensboro besides this one? J: Well I don’t think it is different thinking in any other county. I think we’ve helped with driver’s license and things like that. Eh housing, health, and education are ehhhhh safe in terms of ehh security because now people don’t [intelligible because of accent] it has been destroyed by the politicians talking about immigration. I: Ummm what do you think the barriers are to providing services to immigrants? What are some of the walls that you encounter? J: Well language is the main one first of all because ehhhh depending, depending on someone else or not working….well just seeing someone translate for someone else is ehhhh…..being a translator in the Latino community it requires ehhh a lot of ehhhh….a professional one should not at all be involved in the situation but uhhhh I think to my-self it is a profession one of a professional one because what they don’t understand, how the system works. Every time that somebody makes a question ignoring what is the whole ehhhh background of that question….not knowing the system is a barrier. I: Well do you have translators here? J: We have volunteers [says it like he somewhat doesn’t like the idea of having translators at all]. I: Ummmmm what services are there especially for immigrant children?
J: What services are for immigrant children? [Speaking to self]. Well ehhhhh, the lack of the services it is ehhh, as I told you, not having papers….it is hugely in touch. And not having papers and ehhh being a single mother, being a single father taking care of your kids. It is the way that we’re ehhh…..Just yesterday; somebody came over here ehhh trying to get services for their family. Ehhh as a woman, it is not easy. You could say well, she could go to the ehhhhh battered services where they have shelter for battered woman but ehhh I have complaints about Hispanic ladies who can’t stay there because of the way they’re treated. So ehhh, the problems of the Latino community are sometimes solved by the Latino community and this is strange because I have seen black woman from Africa saying no I can’t go back to my country, I cannot back to my family because I have these kids. It is unbelievable what you work with in the middle of that is the refugees or immigrants or undocumented you, you, find a lot of layers you say [putting hands up to signify layers]. Layers of mysteries and you don’t know what is worse and you find strength in the middle of these immigrants. That’s why many of this country is so great because it’s formed by immigrants. I: Well I noticed the school across the street. To your knowledge, do the schools make it less or more difficult for immigrant children? J: Ehhh it is interesting, ehhh (long pause and look up) what I have seen it is the lack of ehhh chances of their of, of expectations for Latinos or for blacks really because they’re sharing the gap. They’re almost at the same level of these barriers from Asias or Whites. Some people have said that they don’t understand what is going on and they don’t care. And you know what, what is worse? They don’t care and they, they [laughs] they want to put them in jail. I see a lot of receptions of this, eventually they form a little school where they set two or three Hispanics in that school where they can get ehhhh free pass to university. But I think that it should be a matter of, that the public school take care of this situation and really incorporate these people, these kids you know? Because as long as the parents aren’t getting involved in the school ehhhhh, they, they are not gonna get any attention. That’s, that’s, that’s, one of the solutions but how are we gonna do that with these parents working two, three jobs, they cannot put attention on the kids. You know for one side they have to provide ehhh the food, the roof, the house, and all those things to their kids but it is a not clear situation. I think meanwhile, they don’t, the situation with undocumented because it is just million of people living here and most of those kids are citizens because of those 12 million people just 40% are undocumented [Tape ends]. I: Alright J: Ok, so where were we? I: We weeerrrreee, we were talking about children. Do you being an immigrant child is a lot different from being an adult immigrant? J: I’ve seen ehhh, a lot of ehhhhh, ehhhhh sad situations because ehhh, I’ve seen it where the kids ehhh not having the role models that you have in your country. Having the history, having
your….so many things you have, you can find it, figures from history, the people who is around you, they, they, they whole interest you have rely on what you see or the schools, universities, symbols. Being in a country where you don’t know all those things because if you go to Mexico city you can see the monuments of the veterans, you see the monument of the revolution, you see ehhh El Caljito his name is a common one. You can see the catherdral with all that is one of the biggest churches in Lation America. Even, even, if you just are walking, on the streets, you feel a sense of pride and when you walk in America, everything is the same [smiles and leans forward]. You see a McDonald’s [both laugh], anywhere in United States and it seems like the same place and so, but what you have is a television and the image it goes around the world and you sell another image and the image that kids perceive over there, it is very sad for the Hispanic kid because they just stereotype, Latinos are drug dealers and VERY less likely somebody’s gonna be the good guy being Hispanic [laughs] but I have seen that Hispanics want to be black or they want to be white and when they find out that their parents don’t speak the language, they ignore their parents. And, it, and you know it is very sad to bring that kid from Mexico once they work more here, it is different they can incorporate easily and they integrate but when they taste Mexico or their own countries they are very happy kids [smiles] you know. I didn’t ask to come here, I don’t like here, it is just very bad situation. When they live inside a school it is very different, they don’t have enough translators, they don’t have enough assistance they don’t….. they don’t have a part of their history. It is, it is, sad sometimes to see just how much they are not understand in in in their schools because they are different. I: Ok. Earlier you mention something about translators and my next question is do you believe services should focus on self-sufficiency? Like immigrants being able to do things for themselves or do you believe they need to be taught by given a lot of help. J: [leans forward] Can you repeat the question? I: Sure. Do you believe services should be focused on immigrant self-sufficiancy, like them being able to do things on their own? J: Yes, I, I, I believe that people should be doing for themselves but ehhhh eventually not speaking the language is going to be required to have in the middle for people to have that. I thing that we should be speaking….eh well at least to assist the people that are going to be bilengual or translators but I will focus on people understanding people. There has to be a way that they do for themselves. I: So how do you think agencies like this one should promote self-sufficiency? J: Well just yesterday, there was…..I couldn’t do the things that I was doing. I had like ten persons here, so one, when I was working with one I invited others to come and eventually somebody else came and he wanted a lawyer because yesterday he ahhhh want me to help him in court but at the moment he wanted a lawyer so I came with a couple. The couple sit over there [points of his desk chair], he sit over there [points to my seat], I help the lady make the
application because what happen, this lady want (long pause)…….it is interesting because she was Cuban and the other guy was from Ecuador and and the Mexican came that want to have an ID so everybody was helping others and it was very funny because ehhhh a paralegal came with a case of domestic violence but eventually the guy having the problem with the court got up with the paralegal. So knowing each other sharing my ehhhh, ehhhh being permission that I got my telephone, my contact…..people have to share to make networks. There is other contacts they talk with free assistance. Knowing other people it is where they can speak their own language and get their own help in the middle of the whole thing it was language barrier, it was people couldn’t do it by themselves. We depend on each other, I depend on other people. So if somebody is gonna help, I’m gonna take it [laughing] you know. I: Ok. Ummm I know that this agency….with this agency documentation is not an issue but in your opinion do you believe agencies should have restrictions on documentation? J: Ehhh we put press-, pressu-, pressure on ehhh other agencies that require any documentation. Especially with the agencies we deal with people are in need. We’ve got to put people first. So uhhhh, I agree that people need to get their kind of identification but uhhh first is need. When you go to the doctor bleeding, how come you’re gonna ask identification of someone who is bleeding? It is incredible when you see people who has been shot five times, you want to take them to the shelter [laughs]. He is not in any condition to go to the shelter, so some people, it is so easy for somebody to…..we need a human perspective, we need to ehhhh make more compasions ehhh ehhh humanization. It is a unhumane part of society that uhhh, there are stations that want to do their jobs but there is not a connection. Overall it is just help some people because how come you have on the street [unintelligible because of accent]. Trauma of these people. I: Ummmm what do you believe the hardest part of adjusting to American society is? J: What is the hard part of-? I: What is the hardest part of becoming American or adjusting to American society? J: (Long pause and looks up thinking) Well it is to deal to deal with two cultures you know? I think it is the hardest part to understand that situation because even when you see those immigrants here, sometimes they say, they come to you and say it is because over there we used to do these things [laugh]. When, and this is one part, to understand that you are living in a different country, but it doesn’t mean that you have to do the things especially if you’re living in a family that you have to respect and ehhhh cultivate your own country and you have…..to move in two cultures is gonna be the hardest part. Ehhhh it is very funny, I have a friend that is ehhh it is…he look like a Mexican, I don’t even look like a Mexican. Some people look at me and say you don’t look like a Mexican but Mexicans they tell me that but ehhh he looks like a Mexican but he is not. He’s more American than Mexican but here in the United States he looks like a Mexican and when he goes to Mexico he looks like El Gringo (not sure about spelling) he
doesn’t look Mexican because he don’t grasp the language. He speak uhhh uhhh…..he doesn’t ehh speak one hundred percent Spanish and people given by that as well as put with my accent of words and some pronunciation that I’m not American, and sometimes your reaction uhhhh it is sometimes gonna be well uh this is not from here and you perceive those things every time you speak with a person and they are telling you you are not from here. So moving two cultures and to grasp the cultures is gonna be not many people can do that. I: Ok. Do you think Greensboro is culturally diverse? J: Yes it is, yes it is. But one other thing that uhhh I will say for the last question. It is because some people want…..it is integrate people and respecting people and it is a diverse place, yes it is a diverse place but it is not ummmm space to cultivate the diversity. It is very sad seeing that we’re a country of immigrants but we don’t have enough space to share the diversity not even in schools. So because, it’s very sad just knowing the history of what it has been in the school system of the United States…it seems to me like the schools are pretty divided and sometimes we disenvironment again….you have groups of whites, blacks, Hispanics. If you go to school you are going to see that division so that shows something is wrong in the curriculum because ehhh when you see kids sitting in kindergarden they don’t have any idea of those things, you don’t have those problems, they’re in their own world in there. Why don’t we try to perpetuate that situation you know? It seems like we poison kids. I: In your opinion, does the increasing number of immigrants produce any problems at all? J: Any problems for whom? [grinning] I: Any problems just for anyone? J: I think in society there are some people that ehhhh, ehhhh…they are going to be part of the problem. I think that it’s part of the ehhhh opportunity it is a part ehhhhh if they are part of the problem. I think that no community is part of the positive impact in ummm our society, especially when you see the situation of……it is gonna be less likely to comit a crime or do something wrong and it’s gonna be a more positive asset of our society its always gonna be a disposition and there are bad apples yea there are bad apples but it is gonna be bad because I’ve seen young kids growing up, not being understanded, segregated that it is sad. When I saw a nice kid trying to keep his culture, so himself ummmm he felt bad because it is not accepted by anyone. It is not integrated and it is the schools you know. Once you make one mistake, in the United States it follows you everywhere. [Laughs] You know what if Javier were to be followed because of all the mistakes he made when he was a kid you know O my God. But it seem to me like there is another perception of what kids have to behave. It is so strict with no understanding. I mean a kid, is a kid. I mean there has to be disciplinary actions but they should be ways of understanding, it would be ways to…these kids have to behave in a matter where they oculd better the society. To think jail would be a good solution no, I thinks schools, universities, you know? Professionals, social workers, people who really understand the problems in the
community. When you find that bad apple he wasn’t born bad apple, it was the ground he grow from was kind of poison. I: Well at this point I just want to ask you if you have anything else you want to say, anything you want to add. J: Well ummmm I’m so glad that you came. Something that is very important I think is that everyone has to play their part. We’ve been talking lately about ehhhh, we talk about segregation in society, everyone should play a part. I think that we are leading historical times that we should point out what we do to solve these problems. It’s important to get involved, to participate, to stand up, to permit that ehhh any other conversation that….don’t talk for others, let others talk for themselves. If you’re talking about latinos ask Latinos…let them talk. If you’re talking about Asians, don’t talk about Asians let them talk. If you’re talking about any other group let them talk because sometimes we’re…..ehhhh….I get very upset. It’s amazing, the reason I do what I do is because I’m Mexican and the majority of my community is that. If the majority of my community wasn’t that I wouldn’t be doing this. This is a reality that I have to meet. Getting involved, sometimes I’m tired and I’m sick, some people ask me, tell me why do you work here. I say because [laughs] sometimes the situations you see make you not want quit. If I quit whos gonna…..I’m so happy to see others when they want to get involved. I see people who cry who can’t get access to education. No matter what people say you know, if you get involved and put in your best efforts you can achieve happiness. Get involved, it is part of the solution. I: Ok well thank you for taking the time to talk to me [shake hands again]. J: No problem, no problem.