I was caught by the police. I had not committed any crime but the police was looking for somebody else and maybe I resembled the person they were looking for. I don’t have any problem with the police. They held me for 3 or 4 days and they turned me over to the immigration detention center in Tacoma. I was there for 6 months in detention. They asked me if I was afraid to go back to my country. I said yes, and so they did not deport me. Because the truth is I cannot go back to my country. I worked close to the government in my country and that’s the way they are.
I took that picture downtown because sometimes, with just seeing them, the cars of the Border Patrol, you’re afraid. You wish you didn’t have to see them because they’ll ask you questions, just as a precaution. I took that picture just for the fear I have of seeing them. I was happy to be able to take the picture.
Question: Even if you’re not doing anything wrong they are intimidating?
They handcuffed me, and put me in the back of the patrol car, they put me there in that cage, I was there about 15 days, then they transferred me to a cell, and then another cell, then another, and finally the last one was in the big house in Mexicali. That was the last cell they put me in. Then they sent me back to my country. All the way over there, so I came back again. I could not stay over there because it’s is even harder over there. Sorry to say this but over there, they will blow your head off. If you ask, they say, “Ah, get a job,“ but there are none.
I teach cooking. I like cooking and sharing. I make food for sale in different events. Cooking is something that I have in my blood. Selling is what moves me forward in life. When I host a food sale, It feels as if I have won the lottery.
A mi me gusta cocinar y compartir. Doy clases de cocina, y preparo y vendo comida en diferentes eventos. La cocina es algo que llevo en mi sangre. Vender es algo que me mueve hacia adelante en la vida. Cuando hago una venta, siento como si hubiera ganado la lotería.
I took this picture because it reminded me of a small town in California where I work picking grapes for the wineries. Every time I see grapes I remember that because I picked many grapes for wine. I was 15 or 16 years old. That’s where I left my youth.
Tomé esta foto porque me recuerda de un pueblito en California donde trabajé cosechando uvas para las fábricas de vino. Cada vez que veo uvas recuerdo eso poque coseché muchas uvas para vino. Yo tenía unos 15 o 16 años. Allá es donde dejé mi juventud.
I like my work doing housecleaning. It’s hard but I like it. I plan on being here two more years, maybe less, then I’m going back home. Here is a piggy bank, I’m trying to fatten that piggy bank for my trip home.
Me gusta mi trabajo limpiando casas. Es duro, pero me gusta. Yo planeo estar aquí unos dos años más, tal vez menos, y después me voy de vuelta a casa. Aquí tengo una alcancía, estoy
engordando esa alcancía para mi viaje a casa.
I get hope from this tree. I was trying to connect with it, to absorb its energy. The fruit of my work is to positively impact someone. I have made many changes in the life of the women that I work with. For me, it is huge when people tell me ‘Gilda, you cannot imagine what you have done with my life’. I will continue believing in myself and in what I do.
This is the parking lot of Casa Latina. Those two parked vans represent those vans would not be parked there; they would be taking workers to different places. But right now they’re parked, which is sad. It means there’s not enough work.
Éste es el estacionamiento aquí en Casa Latina. Esas dos camionetas estacionadas quieren decir que no hay trabajo. Si hubiera trabajo no estarían paradas allí, estarían llevando trabajadores a diferentes sitios de trabajo. Pero ahora están paradas, lo cual es triste porque quiere decir que no hay suficiente trabajo.
Here we have to take on work courageously, if not they will ask, “Who can use a jack hammer? Can you do it?” I said: “Yes, yes I can.” So they sent me. I have used the jack hammer only three or four times before. Once I had to break down a bench, it was the first time, and I broke it down, but I don’t have a photo of that.
These three people standing in front of Casa Latina, like we all do every day, talking about where we will get a job today. This is what they’re saying, “Oh, SOB, how will I make my money today?” It is a big sadness to get up each day and not make any money, to end up empty and not have any work. You can pray to Jesus and say, “Give us our daily bread,” or you can also say, “Why are you not giving me enough bread?”