Alex Meza today is 26 years old. I wanted to start the interview in a way that Alex would be able to tell me his life story without me interrupting him with questions. In addition, at the beginnings of the interview I asked Alex to start telling his life story staring from his childhood. This worked for me because I was able to find out a lot of information about his life.

The Interview:

Alex Meza At Age 17 In Phoenix, AZ

                I was born in 1979 in a small town in Durango. I have two younger sisters. My mother is a homemaker and my father farmed the land. Since I could remember I have help my father with the work around the farm. It is hard job; you have to weak up before the sun rises to feed the animals. My father and I maintained a small farm by farming corn and beans. We also owned some chickens, horses, and cows. I worked at the farm and I also went to school. I loved going to school back in my country, but because of economic difficulties I was unable to continue my education. One day I remember my father telling me that the farm was not producing like before and the people no longer wanted to our products. Since then things got worst and worst and the land was only producing just enough for the family to eat. The idea to come to this country came to me because all of those stories flying around in my town. Stories of how there are a lot of jobs and money everywhere. Also because many of my class mates left school to work in American factories.

I told my parents that if I was not going to be able to continue my education that I wanted to go to the United States. At first my parents did not agreed, after a week they said yes. My father sold three of his best cows and one horse to gather money for the smuggler that was going to help me cross the border. After my family and I gather enough money for the smuggler. I left my town in August 1994 with a small back pack.  It was a really sad day, my parents and my five year old sister where all crying, it hurt me more to leave because this was the first time that I saw my father cry.  First I took the town bus to the capital of Durango, Durango. From there I took a fourteen hour bus ride to Juarez, Chihuahua. People told me that Juarez was a dangerous place and to be careful. I was afraid and excited at the same time. I was only sixteen and it was my first time traveling by my self. I was in Juarez for two days and then the smuggler and me and 20 more people got in a pickup truck and crossed the desert. There were too many of us in that small pickup truck. In the small bed of the truck we all laid down like sardines. I was only sixteen so I was skinny back then. The smuggler put on the bottom the fatter people and for my luck the skinny ones on top. While crossing the desert I could hear the guys on the bottom complaining because the bumps on the road where making the truck almost fly. That was really scary because I taught that the truck was going to break in half. All I did was pray while I was holding tight to the guy under me and I remember telling the guy ďAgarrate guei si nos cameosĒ (hold down because if you donít we are going to fall down) It was dark and they drove for a long time, then the next morning we stayed in a house. I was happy when we got to Phoenix it was not what I expected. I expected to see a lot of nice houses and cars, but that was not the case. Now I know that those house and cars do exist, but not were I live, in south central Phoenix.

When I arrived in Phoenix I stayed at my auntís house, which was uncomfortable and I felt like a stranger because I really did not know her well.  My aunt knew some people that worked at Red Lobster, and that friend helped me get a job there as a dishwasher; were I got paid the minimum. I worked there for approximately one year and at the same time my aunt bought me some videos on how learn mechanic skills from home. I worked long hours at the restaurant and I was really tired every day and studying videos was the last thing on my mind. I still deicide to study the videos because I did not want my aunt to feel bad.  It worked out because a year later I began working in a mechanic shop. I worked there for two years and learned more skills and secrets most mechanics know. The pay was better so I was able to send more money to my parents.

I donít work there anymore, now I have a better job fixing semi trucks. I was hired by luck. Let me tell you how it happened. I us to go to that shop everyday before work and during my lunch hour.  I talked to the guys who worked there and I asked them many questions and I also told them what I knew. Three months later the man in charge of the shop offered me a position and since then I have been working there. I have also moved out of my auntís house and have my own place and own a truck. Buying my first car was one of my happiest days of my life. The first thing I did was to buy one of those disposable cameras ant took several pictures of my new 1994 Chevrolet and send all the picture to my family back in Mexico. My mother told me that she bought a picture frame just to put me and my new truck on the living room. That was four year ago I was just a kid, today I drive a 2004 extended Silverado Chevrolet truck and I also took pictures of it and send it to my mother. America so far has been good to me, I think that itís because Iím a hard worker and my mother prays for me every night, at least thatís what she tells me when we talk on the phone. I call them every week because if I donít my mother gets upset. I also call them when I send them money. I donít send them a lot; I send them two hundred dollars every two weeks.  I send them money because I know my father does not make enough money to survive on and to send the girls to school. I want my sisters to go to school and never stop until they get a decent carrier. When I talk to my family my mother gives me good advices and then she cries. On the other hand, my father only talks about the farm and how many cows have die and so on. He tells me to behave and to get in trouble with the police. 

I havenít seen my parents and sister for more then six years. I want to go back and visit them but itís really hard. It seems that it got hared after September 11. After this happen the government seems to be more against us, Mexicanos, like if were the ones flying the airplanes that crashed in the two buildings. Also those minute men in the borders and the death of poor paisanos in the desert, and the worst thing today you canít even trust the smugglers. No man! Crossing the border illegally is dangerous and that is why I created a plan. I am saving almost all my money so I can go back and open my own mechanic shop. To have enough money for every thing I need for the mechanic shop I nee to save more money for at least three more year.

I also want to go back because I donít think I could live here all my life, you know? I mean, adapting to this country was not hard. At first I could not understand the language, but with time and because I was only 16 year old, I think, I was able to learn the language in three years. Also I want to leave because the government does not want us here, you know? Donít get me wrong, most people that I have met have been really nice to me, but I canít say that I have never been discriminated. Most white people I have met have been nice to me, at least to my face. In the contrary, I feel more discriminated by my own people who are here legally. They always try to put me down, you know? It seems like they have forgotten they were illegal once. Like I said United States has been good to me and I came here with a plan, to find a job and save money to go back to my country and leave a better life, so far its my plan is been working I just hope not fall in love with a US citizen because then all my plans are going to have to change.

By April B Salazar