Benjamin Oveda is answering questions for a local blogger.
Sure, I’ll tell you about my life. What you want to know?
Yes, I come across the border by walk. It was at night and it was scary. I don’t like to talk about it too much. Many people make this trip.
I coming from Puebla, that’s in Mexico. I live in Sunset Park, in Brooklyn. My name? Benjamin Oveda. Is that my real name? What do you think?
In Mexico, I have six years of school. The reason is because there is no secondaria school close to my village and we lived in rural area, el campo, so I had to work on the farm. No, not a big farm like in America. It was a farm for our family. Animals? Sure, we had chickens, some pigs, a burro. We had some fruit trees. And, we grew vegetables, beans, chili peppers. And, corn. It was good life at that time, but now is too hard to live that way. And, there are no jobs, so everybody come here.
I go two nights to the English class. In my class, we have the people from like Mexico, China, and Yemen. They speak the languages Arabic, Chinese, and Spanish. Brooklyn is melting pot. I learn this in the English class. Some Americans in Brooklyn don’t like the immigrants. But, America and Brooklyn was always a melting pot. This country it’s made by immigrants.
I have my wife and my three children in Mexico. When I came to the United States, my kids were small. Now, they are big. I sent money and my parents help my wife take care of our kids. How long? I haven’t seen my kids in like 14 years. I have a granddaughter I never met, too. I have 44 years old.
I came here to work. There are no many opportunity in Mexico. Right now, one American dollar is 18 pesos. So, when I send the money to Mexico, it makes a lot of pesos. My father was able to have the operation he need with the money I send. My kids go to the university now. Everyone has better life because I come to America.
When I arrive in New York, I live with my cousins. We were six in one apartment. My cousins worked in restaurants in Manhattan as busboys and dishwashers or in construction, six or seven days a week, 12 hours every day. We come home, take a shower, go to sleep. On the day off, we go to the laundromat.
I got a job delivering the pizzas on a bicycle I found in the garbage. But, I stopped that job when I get hit by a car. The car bump my bicycle a little bit. But, I get scared, because the people in New York, they drive crazy, so I got different job working in a warehouse of the meat store. I carry the big pieces of beef. That’s why my arms muscles are big. (laughs) I like my job, it’s hard work. The carniceria smells like blood all the time, but I get used to it.
Many people say the Mexicans are good workers and they work for cheap. Some Americans say we are lazy, always drinking Coronas, use all of the money for women. I don’t hang out with the people like that. I pay the taxes. Yeah, I do that, even though I don’t have Social Security number. Sure, I know guys who spend all their paychecks on women and beer and have no money to send to Mexico, but most guys like me keep our noses clean, learn the English language, and send money home.
But, I think maybe I go back to my country next year. It’s too hard here. At least in Mexico, I have my family. I know I’m supposed to must be strong, but sometimes I get low feeling. I don’t want to drown my pain in the beer. So, I spend my free time going to English classes and working extra hours if my boss gives me and, I sometimes play futbol with guys from my country.
Some people want to keep us out, but who is the first person they call when they need cheap construction labor or people to pick fruit or clean their house or work in the restaurant kitchen or in the chicken process factories? They get the Mexicans and Central Americans to do these jobs. And, then they say Mexicans are taking jobs away from Americans. I don’t know any Americans want to work for six dollars for hour, do you?
When I came here, I had big plans. I was going to make a lot of money and make a business someday. Like, these two brothers who came here from Puebla without papers and bought a diner and now have a good business making the food for the Yuppies who eat a lot of take-out.
So, I am patient and I wait for “my ship to come in.” This is American expression I learn in English class. But, if I go back, I will not come here again.
I want my kids and my wife to have good life. I want my parents to live good life when they are old. I don’t want to live in the small town and ride a donkey and live in a shack. Maybe you don’t like me because I don’t have papers. But, I don’t do the crimes. Look, I don’t want to marry your daughter. I don’t want to take your wife. I don’t want to break into your house and steal your stuff. I just want to work.
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