Mirna Ramírez

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Mirna Ramirez is a Junior at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) studying political science. Her parents and older sister were born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States before she was born. Ramirez was born in Montana, but grew up in Columbia, N.C. after her family moved there when she was two years old. She took English as a second language (ESL classes) for numerous years. Ramirez still has a number of relatives living in Mexico to date, and gives a lot of her information based upon them, her parents, and her undocumented boyfriend. She discusses on her parents' path to the United States, her own experiences and the experiences of her sister and friends in ESL classes, the path to becoming a citizen and the current immigration reform, racial profiling, as well as her boyfriend's experience applying for the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals (DACA).



Kelly Gagnon: Hello, this is Kelly Gagnon interviewing Mirna Ramirez for the Latin Migration Project. The date is April 10, 2013. And—Mirna, where were you born?
Mirna Ramirez: I was, um, actually born in Montana. Missoula, Montana. So I’m Mexican-American.
KG: And where are your parents from?
MR: My parents, um, they’re from Mexico. From um, the state—a coast state, kind of like North Carolina, it’s called Nyarit. And they were born there. So.
KG: When did they come over?
MR: Um, my father first came over here around 19 [pause] 79? Or 1980? He was eighteen at the time. And um, he first—when he first came here he lived in California. So, and then after that, my mother followed and my sisters followed. So. They’ve been basically here since 1980.
KG: So, your older sisters were born in Mexico?
MR: Yes. Um, I have two older sisters and both of them were born in Mexico.
KG: Was Spanish your first language, or--?
MR: Yes, Spanish was my first language.
KG: And when did you learn English?
MR: I um, I learned English when I started going to school in pre—no, I went to Head Start. So I learned English in Head Start. And it took me about a year to learn it. And when I started kindergarten I was pretty much flu—well, I could speak it but I was still considered ESL.
KG: What is Head Start exactly?
MR: Uh, Head Start’s kind of like daycare. It’s kind of like—it’s kind of like kindergarten except it’s not—it’s not associated with any elementary school. It’s kind of like itself cut off—like it’s own—kind of like daycare. Basically you go to school, you have teachers, and you start learning. Like, it’s basically school.
KG: And so how long were you considered an ESL student?
MR: Um, I was considered ESL until my seventh grade year. Because, um, in order to not be considered an ESL student, each year you are tested and you are tested on reading, writing, and speaking. And you had to master all of the tests before you weren’t considered ESL. And I always mastered all of them except for writing. Writing was my difficult—well, I mean I thought that I wrote fine, but it was the one I had the most trouble with, and I finally mastered it in seven—I mastered it in sixth grade so I was considered not ESL in seventh grade.
KG: Is ESL—would that be a separate classroom or would you—is it just like a certain time during the day you would meet with other people?
MR: See, I was—I started school here—well, I was born here, so I started school since Head Start. So, I was fluent in English. So I basically never went to a separate classroom to learn or anything because I mean I knew—I could read, I could write, and I could speak it. So I, um, I was considered ESL just because English was my second language. Basically, that’s why. So my friends—I had a friend, she came from Mexico in fifth grade, and um, she was considered—well, she was ESL until we graduated. So she would go to um, like part of her schedule—well a class was basically going to a teacher who taught her Spanish—it was like taking an English class. She would learn colors and numbers, and as she would go like, higher grades she would learn different stuff. But I was never in an ESL class. But that was ESL—they would teach her English basically.
KG: Did you uh—or I guess any of your friends really that you knew that were in an ESL class, did they have any difficulties with the other students? Um, as far as communicating or getting along with them?
MR: Um, well I don’t remem—when I was a little girl—I’ll just say about me—when I was little, um, I started pre—when I started going to pre-school I could talk but I wasn’t like—I couldn’t exactly communicate very fluently. And I don’t remember but um, my mom would say that I would come home and I would be like, “I don’t want to go to school anymore because I don’t understand what the teacher is telling me”. And so, I mean I guess from what my mom tells me, I guess that I did have trouble, I didn’t like it, the environment was different. But with my friends, I mean, I could say they—I guess they, they had trouble understanding the teacher and stuff. And so I guess that was a problem, but I mean, with other students I guess not because we didn’t have a huge Hispanic population at my high school and stuff, but we did have a couple of us. So there—they—we would always be with them. So they would never be alone. They always had someone with them regardless, so communication wasn’t that hard, there was always someone to translate and they always felt familiar with someone, but with the teachers it was a little bit harder, especially with trying to do homework and stuff, then that’s where the troubles came.
KG: With the teachers?
MR: Yeah, the teachers trying to do the um—cause the teachers were trying to like, teach class, and like, be like “well he’s not turning in any homework”; cause I remember there was this one guy who came—he came in, I think it was his ninth grade year, and he completed all of middle school, but cause in Mexico ninth grade is considered middle school, so he had to re-do um, his ninth grade year even though he had already done it, and a lot of like, the math stuff he was doing here he had already done it, but the only way he could do it is if someone could translate, like, the problems. And like—cause he was like, “I know how to do this but I mean I just—when she tells me and she’s like, ‘yeah do it on this piece of paper’ I don’t know what to do because I can’t read the instructions and if no one translates, I can’t do it”. And the teacher would get—she wouldn’t get mad, but she’d just get frustrated that he was like—the only way he can do homework is when someone is here with him. But I mean, and um, she would say “I don’t know why if it’s just the numbers”, but she would—they would get a little bit frustrated, but I mean it was because of the barrier—the language barrier.
KG: So the teacher was bilingual?
MR: No, she wasn’t.
KG: Oh, she wasn’t?
MR: I was—I would sometimes translate, or other Hispanic students that knew English would translate. So whenever someone helped them, it’d be ok. But the teachers would sometimes, but the teachers would sometimes when they—they were trying to—cause I mean, the teachers would actually try and explain—cause I mean they knew like the numbers and stuff in Spanish—basic stuff in Spanish, so they would try and be like, “ok, so—like, um, multiply this, and you have to divide it, and blah” but I mean, the student was just—block out and not pay attention, I’m not sure—like I guess just because they didn’t know Spanish and he didn’t know English, and so that was a difficulty- just trying—basically the homework and then teachers. Because with the students, there was always someone—other Hispanic people in the um, school that they could always talk to and relate to.
KG: Was that in Montana?
MR: No, this was here. Um, I was born in Montana, and—in 1991, and then when I was—when I was two, we moved to North Carolina because my father, um, he needed the job. Cause see when my father came over he crossed the border illegally, and um, he worked as a farmer in Montana, and then he crossed my mother and my two sisters also illegally, and um, there was a reformat act—an amnesty reform in 1986 and—I don’t know if you know—yeah. So basically my father he just—all you had to do was get a letter from whomever you worked for and they’re like, “yeah he’s been working for me”—I’m not sure if it’s three of five years you’ve been working for them or been in the states, and my dad applied, and he received his residency, and then he filed for my mother and my two sisters. And then, um, they all became residents. And my father was naturalized in like, 2005 or something, and then my mother was naturalized like, 2007, and my sister was naturalized—my older sister was naturalized in like 2008. And then my, not the—the middle sister—because there’s three of us—not the oldest, but the middle one, she automatically um, gained her citizenship because she had been here for so long. She got here when she was like, six or seven, but—I mean she went to school here, she graduated and went to college, so they were like, um, they automatically granted her citizenship. So yeah. And so we came to North Carolina when I was two. So, I went to school here, graduated, and everything.
KG: Did your older sisters ever have any trouble, um, with school?
MR: Um, my older sister, she—she was older when we got here. She was about fifteen. And um, she hated high school—she hated it. She got here when she was enrolled in ninth grade, and um, I remember my mom saying that she would like, um, play sick or she would like, my mom said one time she literally fell down the stairs so that she wouldn’t have to go to school, like literally—my mom was like, “I just didn’t know what to do with her”. But she didn’t want to go because she didn’t like the transiton from Mexico to here. Like she had been in Mexico for fifteen years, she had gone to school with her friends, and coming down here was just different, like she didn’t know the language, and the culture and like she went to school and knew no one, so she was like, “I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go”. So she—she didn’t go to school, and um, she dropped out of high school basically and she started working at fifteen or sixteen—I’m not sure I can’t—but my older sister did have trouble. My um—my other sister, no cause she was younger. She was enrolled in about third grade, when we got here she was enrolled in third grade, and she liked it, so it wasn’t a problem for her. But even though she didn’t know the language and she didn’t know anyone, but she, she assimilated faster.
KG: And um, your parents, when did they—do they speak fairly fluent English?
MR: Um, my father, he um, [pause] he speaks—he’s not completely fluent but um, he doesn’t speak it like me. But he, he can get—like he can communicate. Like he has an accent and stuff, and sometimes he doesn’t know, like he’ll pull—like he’ll get a letter in the mail and like, he can read it and understand it, but there’s words that he’ll be like, “can you tell me what this is?” or sometimes like, “can you write me this letter?” but he can like—basically most points he could—he does really well. My mother, she’s um, she can understand you, and she can read, she could kind of write it, but she can’t talk, like she really can’t speak it. She um, she has a really bad accent and it—like when she speaks it’s kind of like when a toddler’s learning, like she’ll say the most important parts of the sentence. So my mom’s more—like she needs us more to translate for her than my father would. So, they know it, but not like, fluently.
KG: Did they ever have trouble communicating, like with your teachers when you were younger? Or was that not really an issue?
MR: Um, no becau—well, they didn’t because I was always there, like teacher conferences or meetings or whatever the school had. I was always with them. So, whatever my dad didn’t understand I would just translate. Going with my mom, I would always translate, but I was always there so they didn’t really have a difficulty cause I was there. But I know some students whose um—some ESL students who don’t know English yet, and their parents, um, [coughs] sorry, and their parents don’t know English either. And um, it’s harder, like they usually have to have a translator or someone to interpret. But since like our Hispanic population has grown from where I’m am back home- Columbia, North Carolina, Um, they have a lot of ESL—they have a lot of ESL teachers and they have an ESL translator, basically. So now it’s a lot easier like for parents who don’t know English for meetings will have the translator and for um, anything that they need. Back in the—when I was in like elementary and middle school, they didn’t have translators, so I remember—when I was in elementary school, I think I was in like, fourth grade, and the principal went to get me from my classroom and he was like “I need you to write this letter for me, um, because one of the students—I can’t exactly recall what he did but he was in trouble and he was like “I need you to write this letter for me”. And I was in like fourth grade and he was making me write like this official letter to this mother telling her her son was being punished and I was like, “oh my goodness!”. So, they didn’t have anything back in the day, but now they do. They have translators and they have a lot of stuff because the Hispanic population is growing, so, they’re in need.
KG: So do you think the—I don’t know if you know much about the ESL programs and stuff that they have in schools now, but do you think that um, it’s definitely gotten better? Do you think there might still be anything that needs to be improved as far as helping kids assimilate?
MR: Um. I think it’s gotten better. Because when I was in middle school, and elementary school, there was—it was me and this other Hispanic guy, it was just two of us. So out of like the—my—out of about fifty students in my whole grade. So they didn’t have this ESL program at the time. They had ESL students and they were tested um, to see how much they had mastered—to see if they had mastered English, but when I was in middle school, the Hispanic population started growing. We had like five or si—I can’t remember if it was five or six but we had that year like five students come in from Mexico into—I think it was seventh grade. But they, they um—they had when I was in middle school then they had separate, like a separate classroom, but it was kind of like a haven- they called it a “haven”. Because um, I remember they would go there and they would want to stay there all day with the ESL teacher but they couldn’t because they had other classes and they were just like, “I just feel so much better here because people understand me and I can talk to the teacher and if I need something—if I need to go to the bathroom or more if my head hurts or whatever she understands me”. But I mean, they couldn’t stay there all day and they would get in trouble if they stayed there more than they had to. But um, when I was in middle school they started having that and I mean I guess they did improve because they helped the kids assimilate. Even though I felt like they were kind of hindering them because they would be like, “oh if any of them come to me or if any of them come to me” so instead of them trying to be like “ok, I’m going to try to talk to the teacher” like even though if they said a sentence or two and if they were like really blank and if they really couldn’t understand each other, but I mean I feel like they should have tried to communicate. But they would like always go to that teacher or always go to that classroom. So I mean it did help because they would teach them there and stuff, and they were also teaching like—they would try and get them into the culture, like, “oh this is like food that Americans eat” or um cultured stuff that they do or whatever, so they would try and be culturized too. So I mean I guess it did help but I feel like it also harmed kind of. Do you understa—do you know? Cause it’s like they’re telling you to learn but then they’re always there hovering you, trying to protect you and not letting you do it yourself. So, but I mean I just—maybe I don’t, maybe I just can’t—what do you say?—maybe I just can’t really put myself in their place because I knew English. So I was like, you know?
KG: So you said you identify yourself as Mexican-American?
MR: Yeah, well I mean I would always say—like if someone asks me I would say I’m Mexican. I rarely say I’m American. But um, I had a teacher in high school—she was my Spanish teacher and I was like—I can’t remember but the conversation was brought up and she was like “what are you?”, I was like “I’m Mexican”, and she was like “No, you’re not Mexican.” She was like, “you’re a Mexican-American”, I was like “but my parents are Mexican, I’m Mexican”. And she was like “no, your parents are Mexican but you were born in the United States, so you’re Mexican-American.” I was like “well, I always call myself Mexican”. And that’s why I identify myself as—but I mean I guess she has a point. My parents are Mexican but I was born here, so. Everytime like you have to fill out your ethnicity I always put ‘Hispanic’ and then I think I always ask—sometiems ask and I think I’ll just put ‘Mexican-American’.
KG: So coming back to the terms of being like a Hispanic or Latina do you prefer Mexican or Mexican-American over those? Or—
MR: I mean, no—
KG: Or are they all pretty the same?
MR: I mean it’s pretty the same. I mean, if you say I’m Hispanic or Latina, I mean it—everything’s the same. I mean if you ask me, if someone asks me like—people know I’m Hispanic because I mean, my skin color, my hair color, so like they’ll be like, “oh are you Hispanic?” and I’ll be like, “yeah”. And then some people will be like, “What part are you from?” or “where are you from?” and then I’ll just say, “I’m Mexican”. I mean um, I always say Mexican.
KG: Do you uh, know anything about the Immigration Reform that’s going on—
MR: Right now?
KG: [nods]
MR: Um, well I know a little—well, my boyfriend he was—he was trying to do the Dream Act thing, and um, I know a little bit about that. I know that they were going to give like a two year residency and you were going to be able to apply for loans, and you could have a driver’s license and a social security number. Um, but you had to have been in the country for more than five years, and you had to have graduated from high school or have gotten your GED or currently in school. So I mean I know a little bit about that—about the Dream Act. And they were also trying to do something else, but I’m not exactly sure of the name for it. But they were just going to give a general driver’s license to um, undocumented people. But that—I know that’s a big issue right now. But I mean I don’t know if it’s working or not because like I’ve heard that they passed the Dream Act and that they didn’t and that they were going to make some different decisions, but I mean they’ve really done nothing at this point. So. I know a lot of people that applied for the Dream Act, and um, and they went to a lawyer, they filled out applications, and they came here to Raleigh to like do their—what’s it called?—fingerprints. But I mean, they haven’t gotten anything yet. So I don’t—I don’t really know anyone who’s received like a two year residency or driver’s license or social security number, but I do know a lot of people have filed for that. So I know about that.
KG: And so what exactly are your thoughts on the Dream Act and everything that’s going on?
MR: I think it’s—uh, I think it’s good because I mean I know a lot—like one of my best friends from high school that graduated with me, she was undocumented and she was like, “what am I going to do? What am I going to do?” and “I want to go to school but I can’t. I can’t take out any loans. I don’t have a social security number”. And I haven’t really kept in touch with her that much but I do know that she went to a semester and took community college, but then she was like, “I can’t do this”, and so I know she’s working at Taco Bell right now. So I mean, I know a lot of people that really want to go to school and like, she was a really good student like she got A’s and B’s, she was on honor roll, she was really dedicated, she got here in fifth grade and she learned English really well, and I just feel like they need to be given a chance. I mean—
KG: So she stopped because it was too expensive?
MR: Yeah. Cause everything was out of pocket. So she didn’t have any federal aid or loans or anything, so everythin was coming out of pocket. So she was like, “I’ll just work until I can like raise the money”. But I don’t know if she’s going to go back or not. I know she’s working but I don’t know if she’s going to go back to school or not. And I mean I just feel like they need to be given a chance too. And I know a lot of people, like my boyfriend, he’s undocumented, and he works—he works at a construction site, but um, he would drive from home to work, and like he would always encounter a traffic stop—do you know what traffic stop is? Cause I don’t know if they do traffic stops around Chapel Hill.
KG: You can explain it in case—
MR: Oh, well traffic stop is basically where there’s policemen and they basically block the road and check your driver’s license and stuff, and back home from where I am it’s really tiny, and so they always have traffic stops. And um, he was coming home from work one day, and he was stopped at a traffic stop. And of course he didn’t have a license and so they were like “ok yeah, well” and gave him a ticket. Like he encountered two or three of them in like six months. And uh, the last time they took him to jail because it was so many times without a license, and we had to bail him out and stuff and it was horrible. But I mean it’s like he was just working, he has to like go—he has to work, so he has to go to work and he has to come home, so like a lot of people get stopped for no reason. I know this other lady who, she was going home, she was going—she was driving the speed limit, everything was fine, she had on her seatbelt, and the police officer stopped her. He was basically racial-profiling. Like he saw she was Hispanic and he stopped her. So he was like, “do you have a driver’s license?” “no.” He, I mean, they get—I’ve been stopped once for no reason. Like I was—everything was fine. And that was—the police officer was like, “do you have a driver’s license?” and I was like, “why did you stop me?” and he was like “because on your license plate—“ um, they have like a little decorative strip around the licence plate, and I was like “you stopped me because of that?” and he was like “you can’t see the license plate”, and I was like “you can clearly see the numbers and the letters on the license plate”. And he was like, “well you can’t have it, there’s been a law that’s been passed and you can’t have anything on your license plate.” And I was like “ok”. And he said, “do you have your drivers license?” “yes I have one.” And I gave it to him and I mean I don’t know if he was like—he was kind of like, “oh”, like kind of surprised, I guess he thought I didn’t have one. So he was like, “you’re fine, you’re good to go”. So I was like, okay he was definitely racial profiling. I mean I have a license but there are a lot of people that don’t. So I feel like those people that come here, they want to work to get a better life, and theres people that go to school or want to go to school to be—to get a better education to get jobs—I feel like they should be given a chance just like everyone else. So, I’m really for the reforms. It’s just so hard because a lot of people oppose it. Like a lot of people are like “they’re invaders” or “theyre foreigners. Just take them back from where they came from”. But, so.
KG: How did it make you feel when he stopped you?
MR: It made me feel mad. I was really—I was really upset because my boyfriend was with me, and I was like “why did he stop me?”. And I wasn’t speeding, I had on my seat belt, um, I didn’t have any—cause you know sometimes they’ll stop you if one of your lights is out or something? Everything was fine. And I was like, I just don’t know why he stopped me. And it made me upset, but then I mean at the end, I can’t do anything about it. I have—like he’s a police officer I can’t say, “no I’m not going to show you my license plate” or something next thing you know I’m going to the jail or something and arrested because I was mean—I mean rude to him. So I was just like, I asked him why, and he responded and I showed him my license, and he left, but I was really upset.
KG: And your boyfriend was in the car with you?
MR: Yeah he was um—I was driving and he was on the passenger side.
KG: So the policeman didn’t ask to see his license or anything?
MR: No, no he didn’t. But I do know some places that um, I don’t think it’s here in North Carolina, but I think the law—I can’t remember if it’s actually—the SB1040 or 70? I think it’s the ten-seventy, right? Ok, yeah, and they were um—if a police officer stopped you they could act like an ICE officer, ICE is basically Immigration services, um, and if a police officer stopped you and asked if you had a drivers license he could also ask for a Visa or for a birth certificate or something stating you were legally in the states. And if you didn’t have that, like he could keep you there. He would call immigration services so they could come get you. I think that’s in Arizona, New—there’s a couple in other states that can do that. And I heard they were wanting to do that in Raleigh. They wanted to do it here but I don’t know if they’ve done it or not here, but that’s bad; it’s terrible.
KG: So they can ask for other papers if you don’t have your license with you?
MR: Yeah, police officers can. But it’s not in the whole country, it’s in a couple states. But I’m pretty sure Arizona is one, and I want to say New Mexico but I’m not sure. There’s a couple others that if a police officer stops you he could also—he has the right to ask for your legal status—what your legal status is. And if you obviously say that you are here legally you have to show him some proper documentation. Or if not, he’ll call immigration services so they can come get you. So that’s where the racial profiling comes in because if he—if he sees like a Hispanic, he’s going to stop a Hispanic person, even if an African-American or a Caucasian are speeding, he’s definitely going to go towards the Hispanic to stop them to see if they’re here illegally or not. That’s where a lot of people are like “that’s going to be racial profiling because they’re going to stop all of the Hispanics because they’re going to automatically think that no one is documented”. And then the worse thing is that um—I have proper documentation here, I’m legally here, but the thing is, I never carry a passport or I never carry anything stating that I was born here. So if I was stopped somewhere where the police officers could—where police officers can ask for your legal status, if I was stopped and all I had was my driver’s license, they could probably take me too, even though I’m legally here. And then if they took me I couldn’t even like, um, sue them over taking me because there’s like a law—I think, I’m not sure though. But my teacher told me that there’s a law where like if they take you you can’t do anything about it. All you could do is just someone go get you and show that you have proper documentation so they could take you out. It’s really bad, they could take anyone.
KG: What teacher was that? Did you learn that in a class?
MR: Uh, it was my um, my Spanish teacher in high school. She’s really for helping too and she would be really informed over this stuff, cause she was like, she would tell me like, “always carry around your proper documentation because you don’t look white, you don’t look black and they’re going to go after you, so always carry something that states you’re from here”. Because I don’t—like they take you, even if you tell them “I’m from here” they take you unless you show them proper documentation. And she had an um, she was here on a Visa, so she would always carry her stuff because she was scared that like, they were going to stop her and like “do you have proper documentation?” and she didn’t have anything. But I know a lot about stuff because of her. So.
KG: So your boyfriend, does he—how is his English?
MR: Um, he got here in tenth grade, when he got here he was put in tenth grade. And he went tenth and then he went eleventh and then he dropped out in twelfth. I mean, he has pretty good English, and he—he could talk to you. He has an accent like sometimes he’ll like—he’ll stumble and stutter a lot but he, he could get the point across. He didn’t, he’s not fluent, but he did learn in school- English.
KG: Has he ever encountered any other problems other than the traffic stopping?
MR: Well, I mean it’s really hard for him to get a job because he doesn’t have his social security number, and like everywhere you apply for a job they ask you for your social security number. Um, so trying to find a job has been hard, trying to get a driver’s license—he can’t get a driver’s license, um, but other than that that’s basically the hardest thing he’s went through with um, having too much difficulty finding a job, and the driver’s license. Because I mean, when he gets a job he has to go to and from so that’s hard too, like, he doesn’t want to drive, like he always has someone drive—like, when I go home, I drive everywhere, or um, like where he’s working right now, his boss is actually really nice because his son works with him in the construction and they work together my boyfr—his name is Brandon, Brandon and the son’s boss work together so like, he’ll—the boss’s son will take him to work and bring him to work. So that’s really nice, so he doesn’t have to drive anymore.
KG: So what steps might an undocumented person take to becoming a citizen?
MR: Well, with my father--and my mother and my sister, like are naturalized, I know that you have to be uhm, a resident for five or more years and uhm, I don’t know like what like papers you need to like file or present but I do know—excuse me, the actual process, like the test to be naturalized is like uhm you go in—I think it’s like in Durham or Raleigh, I’m not sure, but like there’s an officer and like he’ll ask you—I know because my mother told me, but she’s like “he’ll ask you to write down a sentence in English, uhm, he’ll ask you to speak it and prior to going to the examination or to exam, you have a booklet, they give you a booklet of a hundred questions. And the whole book is about the history of the United States of America, and like questions like what are the colors of the flag or what do the 13 stripes from the flag mean or who was the first president? Just stuff like so you would have some background and out of the one-hundred questions they ask you ten. So you have to memorize them all because you don’t know what they’re going to ask you. And then—sorry, they’ll ask you ten questions, they’ll ask you to speak, and they’ll ask you to write down a whole sentence in English, and if you pass that then you’re naturalized you become a uhm, you become a United states citizen. So I know that that’s what happens but my sister she’s uhm, she’s a citizen and her husband, he came to, he came here with a visa to work—excuse me uhm where I live at. They have a huge crab industry and they bring a lot of girls, women from mexico to pick crab, like they basically pick the meat out of the crab and uhm but his whole company is like is basically with women on visas and because do you know what it takes like to get people ah um bring people from Mexico to work for companies here? Do you know? [pause] oh well I didn’t know either until like I think it’s like a year ago cause I was like all these people like they come down here on visas and work and like do they just like, like why don’t people from here work jobs. And I was uhm…I took a uhm Latin American class my freshman year, and I was doing a topic about visas and how people could come legally to the united states and I saw that when an owner has a business and he can’t get anyone to work for his business, then he can petition—I think it’s called H2 visas, he can petition for h2 visas and then uhm, if he’s approved, then he gets a number of visas and he can bring women. So I’m like oh ok, so basically like nobody from here wants to work these jobs because these jobs are from five o’clock in the morning to two o’clock in the afternoon. My mom works there she’s a crab picker, the meat picker, I don’t, I don’t know the exact title for it but, they wake up at four o’clock in the morning, they uhm they work until two and like they’re pressured all the time, like you have to take more—I think it’s like thirty pounds of meat every day and like when you’ve been to that—well I mean, like a crab, it’s fairly small. And like, one crab you might take out like three ounces or four ounces of crab meat. So like they’re constantly picking and if you don’t like pick out thirty pounds a day, like why don’t you pick out this much crab and blah blah blah, so I’m like I don’t understand why they’re so, why they’re pressured and being so demanding if these people come from so long to work there because you can’t get them to work these jobs that nobody else wants. So like it may be the girls are like so terrorized, they’re like I need to come, I need to come to work, I have a family to feed in Mexico. So like if they do everything it takes to like, get what like, what the minimum protection like that they need, they just like, I mean like imagine that, like I tell my mom all the time like “Why are you doing this? ”, well my mom like didn’t graduate from school so like she doesn’t have a degree or anything, so she ha—I mean, she works there because she can’t, she can’t be a teacher, I mean she can’t get a job as a teacher or anything so and she doesn’t drive either so like I live on the, on the corner of uhm a mall corner and like the crab house is like five feet, no like five yards, it’s like right there where we live, so she just walks and she goes but I’m like—you um—these people like work so hard and I’m like, they treat them bad, and I’m like you better be glad someone’s working for you and then people—like a lot of Americans are like, “oh you need to go back, you’re taking our jobs” and blah blah blah. “and you don’t pay taxes and you’re just stealing from us” but these are jobs you don’t want. I mean if you filled these jobs in, people would not need to come down with H2 visas to work this. And like a lot of people are like the Hispanic people that are undocumented don’t pay taxes, but they do, they pay taxes on everything. Like, my parents are documented but we pay taxes on our house, we pay taxes on our car, we pay land taxes, we pay every tax. Every tax. It also makes me upset when people are like—we put into the economy as much as we take out. So I mean, we’re not just consuming and not putting anything back. I know because a lot of Hispanics they shop at Wal-Mart, they shop everywhere, and I mean it just—it makes you mad. I’m starting to get mad [laughter] no, it’s just terrible how everyone’s like ster—like how all Hispanics are stereotyped bad or like trying to take our jobs, and it’s crazy. And I did some research, on um, on agricultural business in California, and basically everyone that works in agriculture is Hispanic. Basically. And um, there was—I can’t exactly recall the name of the campaign, but this was like in 2010. The agriculture people that worked, they made a deal with—I’m not sure exactly, I don’t remember. But the agriculture people made a deal with the American people that were like, “oh they’re taking our jobs, and that’s why we don’t have jobs, why we have so much unemployment in this country” and they were like ok, for every American that wants to work in the Agriculture business, to work in the fields and stuff, with the tobacco or the strawberries, or whatever, for every person that applies I will fire one of my people that works out in the fields. And they were like, okay. So and I think it was a time frame of like a year, and in that time period they had like twenty applications, like twenty people apply to work in the field in a year. So I’m saying like if these people really wanted those jobs like, they would have gone and applied, cause they were guaranteed a job. But they don’t want to do it, so I don’t know why, they do their jobs, but they do it out of necessity. Like my aunt, she lives in um, Nyarit from where we’re from, in the fields and she plants and picks tobacco. And she works from Monday to Saturday and she earns—I think it’s like, it’s one thousand pesos. And if you convert it to dollars, it’s one-hundred dollars so she basically earn one-hundred dollars all week working from sun up to sun down. It’s crazy, like it’s really bad. Like you get nothing down there. I know people that make like five hundred pesos in two weeks, which is fifty dollars in two weeks. And you have to live off of that. You have to feed your children you have to clothe your children, so that’s why a lot of people come down here. Because it’s really hard down there. Unless you’re one of the political people or people that know important people, you’re like on the down end. From where I’m at because I’m focusing on my part, I really don’t know other parts. But I guess Mexico it’s really—but yeah. Yeah so I mean, that’s what I—I mean, I’m very on the pro-immigration—I’m for the—and not just because I’m Hispanic; because I just see like, how things are. And I’ve lived them, you know? When my dad came over here he um, he lived under a bridge for like a week. No, I’m lying; he lived under the bridge for like two months. He couldn’t find anywhere to live and um, the first time he came down here and he um, I’ll never forget this, he was working and as like, he would clean—no, he would wash people’s clothes and he would like iron them himself. Yeah he was living under a bridge for like two months, it was really sad. Cause things are hard, but I mean he made it this far! I mean, he’s a citizen, we’re pretty good here. So I mean, that’s what I’m saying, if people are given the chance to, they’ll succeed and stuff. So.
KG: Well, thank you very much for your time.
MR: No problem, no problem.
KG: And that about wraps it up.