SBS 301 Cultural Diversity/Prof. Koptiuch         Fall 2015       Personal Memory Ethnographies

Estafani Castillo

This Isn't Home Anymore

Back in 2010 when SB1070 was passed, I was only in high school and I felt scared and powerless. My parents migrated from Mexico as soon as they found out they were expecting me. All my parents wanted was to give me a better future and they did. The 22 years I have been on this earth I have always had a meal to eat, a bed to lay on, clothes on my back, and a roof over my head. I have been very blessed to have much more than I deserve.  Yet when SB 1070 was approved all I wanted was to feel safe. When SB1070 passed I did not feel welcomed in the state that I grew up in my whole life. I did not feel that Arizona was my home anymore. I have lived here in AZ all of my life. It was painful to think my family of four could be torn apart. I was only a teenager what was I going to do? I had never left the state of Arizona and now there was a possibility that I would go to a whole new country? I hated thinking about how different my family actually was from “Americans”.

I never feared for my family until the economy crashed in 2008. We began to cut down on many things. But bigger problems began to rise. Soon after SB1070 was passed Joe Arpaio began stopping traffic. Only stopping those who “looked illegal”. Not only did I fear for my father whenever he had some work but I feared for my mother too. Once raids began making the news she hardly went to the grocery store. Sheriff Joe Arpaio was racially profiling anyone who looked “illegal”. Every single day on the news I would hear how the sheriff posse ambushed a work site and arrest so many illegals. They would go to Hispanic supermarkets and arrested immigrants. I felt true fear, I felt hopeless. We would try to stretch the food we had as much as possible. Everyday there was beans, every single day my mother made beans. I began to hate them. But I couldn’t complain; how could I dare complain when I knew exactly why there were always beans. I could see how bad my mother felt having the same meal for a couple days in a row. We did not complain though, beans were the last thing we thought to complain about. No scary movie has ever brought this much fear as this time period we were in. I hated living here. All I wanted was to feel normal again.

Growing up I never thought about my parents’ legal status. Actually, growing up I thought I was better off than most of my friends. I lived in a good home, good family, and had nice clothes. You could say my sister and I were spoiled growing up. It was only us two so we each got what we wanted. Throughout elementary school all my friends were Hispanics or Mexicans so I never questioned what ethnicity I was. Then things began to change. All of the sudden some of my friends stopped coming to school. I used to be able to play outside with all my other friends and then Julio stopped showing up, and then Marco and Samuel did too. I used to ride my bike a lot and since we all lived right by each other I used to pass by their houses. All three houses looked abandoned. I used to think it was so strange how they could just disappear, I had just seen them the day before at school, so what happened?

  I felt as if my family and I were some kind of pest. As if we had no right to be here and that at any moment immigration would find out. Not only were we being hit with the economic crisis in which my father was laid off. But he could not go out and find a new job because he did not have documentation. My parents used whatever money they had saved to make ends meet. I was no longer spoiled, which at the time hurt. I hated it. I felt hopeless. I felt as if everything was being taken away from me and I could not do anything to stop it. Yes my parents went to all the rallies but that didn’t stop anything.

Both of my parents are hardworking. For the past 22 years their day has begun at 3:00 am when my mother wakes up to make my father’s lunch for work, and he’s out the door by 3:30. While my mother has taken care of my brother and I, my father has worked in block construction. Every single day outside in this Arizona heat, sick or not, body aching or not, he still gets up every morning to provide for us. When SB 1070 began to take effect I could no longer concentrate at school, home, anywhere. School is where I thought about my family’s future the most. Especially when we had to read silently to ourselves. I hardly ever read, I spent most of time just thinking. I lived in fear that my mother wouldn’t come back from grocery shopping, or my father wouldn’t come back from work, simply for looking “illegal”. And they are. But they are also good, kind, hardworking human beings. They are all I have. I could not tell you how many nights I cried myself to sleep in pure fear and heartbreak. What would I do without my parents here? How would I take care of my younger brother? Where would we both go? Where would all the years of hard work go?

My grades were definitely showing how distracted I was. I went from straight As to Bs and a C here and there. I often feared I was going to come home to bad news that my dad was caught, that I no longer had a dad. I decided to start taking the bus, that way my mom did not have to leave the house as much. She would drop me off when she had to go grocery shopping, which is when I was especially scared. With parents out of the house, what if they take both?

My father would reassure me there was nothing to fear but I could see it in his eyes, he was just as scared as I was. My dad would sit down at the kitchen table exhausted after a long day at work. Yet he did not complain; not once. Although my parents would try to act as if nothing was wrong, their tone of voice said it all. My dad’s appetite definitely showed that something was wrong. He hardly ate like he used to. I tried to eat as fast as possible or often say I wasn’t hungry so I wouldn’t have to sit in on their conversations.

Not only did I begin to see changes throughout school but also with my parents’ friends. Suddenly we wouldn’t go over to my dad’s friend’s house for a barbeque or we just stopped hanging out with close friends. I would ask my parents why we didn’t hang out with this family or that family anymore and all they would say is they moved. I then began asking jojo questions (we call my sister jojo) and I remember she tried explaining “our situation” to me as best as she could in a way that I could understand.

I explained to my brother that my mom and dad were not born here meaning that they came to Arizona without any papers allowing them to be here, therefore they are illegal. Because they didn’t have these papers, if an officer was to ask for them they could be taken away from us. At first he was scared of the thought of our parents being taken from him. But then he started to think, well why don’t we just go with them? I told him it wasn’t that simple. I told him that my friends did the same thing and left with their parents too, but that Mexico isn’t like how it is here. Everything that we have here would be gone over there. We wouldn’t be as fortunate over there as we are here.

            Immigration seemed to have slowed down once I graduated high school. Things began to turn around for my family when my dad was hired by a construction company and I continued my education at Phoenix College. After graduating last May I enrolled at Arizona State University. Recently Donald Trump began running for president and I sometimes feel that fear I felt back in 2010. I feel that these elections have distracted me from this semester because this time around there is much more at risk. My parents and I are paying for my tuition without any loans so there is definitely a lot more to worry about.  

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