Interview with Jose Becerra
Juania Sueños interviews Jose Becerra about his experiences serving seven years in juvenile detention facilities and prisons throughout Texas. Becerra describes his difficult home life and the circumstances leading to his arrests as a teenager; reflects upon aspects of prison culture including work, food, social dynamics, and education; and discusses the nature of his relationships with his family and the "free world" while serving his sentences. Becerra discusses his early friendships, economic hardships, family dynamics, and experience being diagnosed with cancer and receiving chemotherapy treatment from ages four to eleven. Sueños and Becerra share their personal experiences coming into contact with the police and the criminal justice system while also being undocumented. Becerra reveals how being deported back to Mexico (where he currently resides) has impacted him and his family, and how his deportation has shifted his perspective on the so-called American Dream.
JOSE BECERRA: [inaudible Spanish][00:00:08]
SUEÑOS: [inaudible Spanish][00:00:18]
BECERRA: Joel, el gringo. Sí. [00:00:20]
SUEÑOS: El gringo, que? (laughs) [00:00:27] [inaudible Spanish] [00:00:27]
BECERRA: Sí [inaudible Spanish] [00:00:29]
SUEÑOS: [inaudible Spanish] [00:00:30] Are you much older than
BECERRA: I think he's twenty-five now, right? Twenty-five, twenty-six.
I'm thirty-five so– [00:00:38] about ten years [00:00:40]
SUEÑOS: So your'e about ten years– [00:00:40] Oh wow. So, how
old were you whenever you went to juvie or like started being in prison? [00:00:55]
BECERRA: Well, that's a good question. Nah, just playing. Let's see,
um, well, first time I ever went to jail I have to say I was young. I was a good fourt– fifteen, sixteen years old when I stepped into a juvenile detention center. I really never went to it, I mean, I'm not saying I'm bragging or anything, but I never was caught when I was young. I didn't start going to jail until I was like–to jail, like [inaudible] County Jail in Tarrant County [00:01:26] como las seventeen, eighteen years old. But, I did stay in juvenile detention center often. My mom had to go pick me up for, you know, fights or causing a havoc here and there. But yes. But I would say from– I would say a good fifteen years old I started. [00:01:51]
SUEÑOS: Oh wow. [00:01:52]
BECERRA: Yeah, really young so–
SUEÑOS: And then how would you feel after you got your freedom
back and you were back home? [00:02:03]
BECERRA: Wow. Just feeling that never–you can't explain the feeling,I
mean, the feeling that you feel is unexplainable. I still remember the first time–well, the first time I went to prison I remember was my mom, Junior, I mean, Joel y my smallest sister, Lizbeth that they pick me up downtown at the, I guess it's a subway station I'm not sure. One of the trains that goes to Dallas, and it was overwhelming, I mean. I only did two years that time but it was–for me it was like, Wow my freedom back. I didn't even believe it when I got out of prison, you know what I mean? I was like, Wow. All I knew was prison for two years, so it basically had turned into my world. Something that somebody should never say that they got used to it, but I got used to it. I mean, I was like, Wow. I admitted it. I was like, Okay I did the crime so now I'm gonna do the time. You know what I mean? But, when I got out, it was pretty–it was amazing. I mean it was an amazing feeling.[00:03:07]
SUEÑOS: I know that Junior or Joel always talks about you or he
talked about you a lot since we were in high school and would say that he missed you and that he would write you letters. Did you ever keep any of those letters from him? [00:03:25]
BECERRA: All my letters that I had, they, throughout these years that
I've been over here in Mexico, have been lost. Him, Erica, and my mom really always wrote me. They–constantly with communication, you know what I mean? Because that was one thing that people needed when they were locked up. Some kind of family, you know, affection that kept you staying inside because I knew people in there that their families never even try to reach out to them, you know what I mean? And that caused them to be even worse persons inside a prison than they probably were outside in the world, you know what I mean? They probably did some crazier things inside prison then they did in the world. And we say, The world because inside of prison is a world, you know what I mean? So you can't keep your mind in the outside world. You have to be inside and the world you were inside. That's why I used to reference, In the world. In the free world, we use that as well. [00:04:31]
But yeah, Junior, constantly kept in communication with me. That helped me a lot, you know, keep my mind focused on what I was going to do to get out, you know what I mean? Because you were easily influenced, especially if you were a young hispanic male and with other alpha males, you know what I mean, in prison. Easily influenced by other people like, Hey let's do this and, You know what, them people are against us or something like that. And in prison it's not something that you can– well, I mean, you can but it's gonna be really hard for you, you know what I mean? People are not going to take that, I want to stay to the side and not do nothing. They're gonna take that as a kind of weakness and try to take advantage of that, you know what I mean? Try to work, be deceitful, deceive you and try to get me in your trust by just telling you lies, you know what I mean? [00:05:28] So by having your family keeping communication it keeps you sane. It was mucho [inaudible] [00:05:37] stay focused on what you had to do. So yeah. Junior, my mom, Erica– you do know Erica, right? Junior's sister. [00:05:45]
SUEÑOS: Sí [00:05:46]
BECERRA: Yeah, well her – me ayudo mucho, las cartas que me mandaban, “she helped me so much, the letters they sent me.” [00:05:51]
SUEÑOS: Maybe if you have one of them that you liked in particular it
could be included in the book so that–cause it's gonna be a book about people's experiences who've, you know, been in detention centers or in jail. And if you'd be okay with that, then we could include some of that. [00:06:11]
BECERRA: Yeah, you know, I'll take a look. [00:06:12] Yeah, for sure.
I'll take a look at–cause I do have my drawings cause that's what I mostly spent my time doing in there– [00:06:18] drawing [00:06:20]
SUEÑOS: Oh yeah that would be perfect! [00:06:20]
BECERRA: Tattooing [00:06:21]
SUEÑOS: Yeah, your drawings. Send me some of your drawings if
you don't mind then I can include those for sure. [00:06:26]
BECERRA: I sure can. I have a whole–it's a whole bunch of unfinished
work that I had, but I mean most of it it’s cause it’s what I did, tattoos inside of there. That's what mainly distracted me in there was tattooing so–[00:06:40]
SUEÑOS: Wow, that's so cool. [00:06:42] How did you manage, like,
to do tattoos like with without any tools or?
BECERRA: Oh, we made tattoos with ordinary stuff like lights. We
used to–I don't know if you know, like, when you go to the restroom schools there's lights, the long lights? [00:07:00]
SUEÑOS: Mhm. [00:07:01]
BECERRA: They have something called the relay inside of them, it's
like a little square motor with copper wrapping inside of it. And somebody else took those apart and they contrabaned it inside of our dorm and then we got a little piece of metal, we bent it. We made our own guns in there. I can actually tell you almost step by step on how to make a gun, you know what I mean? And for needles, we use something called a wire brush. That was something that, like a brush–a wire brush basically that's what it is. Just to clean the walls. We just got the new ones and we use that as needles because it was the thinnest thing that we can find and I mean tattoos came out almost next to perfection, you know what I mean, if you knew what you were doing. But yeah, I mean that was a good experience right there. I mean then we did it with all–we did it with relays. We made hand-wrapped guns. What does that mean? We took a angel wire copper hair [00:08:00]. That means the the most thinnest one that there is. And we wrapped it ourselves with one thousand wraps, just called–you go five hundred one way, five hundred the other way. And we used two Scrabble pieces to make a base, you know I mean. And we just wrap them, and we used our radios to get power, basically. It was like a headphone jack for power. You just plugged it in there and there you go, you got your gun. And how we made it go faster or slower was with the volume. When you turned it up it went faster and when you turned down it went slower. [00:08:36]
SUEÑOS: Oh, wow. That's fascinating. That's amazing. [00:08:40]
BECERRA: Yes. I mean, I'm gonna tell you one thing about prisoners.
Well, I've only been in a prison in Texas so–and prisons in Texas are people–some of the most, not smart, but they know how to–I always say they know how to make things, you know what I mean? Like, what is called prison-made things. Radios, they wired radios so you can hear TV on the radio. Whatever it was on TV, you can get those channels on there, which is a matter of spacing out the receptors for the radio waves, and then you could also get an interception with the TV waves, and you all got nothing but audio, but [inaudible] [00:09:25]. I mean, I learned some pretty good things in there. I'm ashamed to say that prison was like a school to me because I learn how to be a better criminal. And not just that, I mean, most of my life–me, probably, you know, Joel that he likes computers, right?
SUEÑOS: Mhm [00:09:43]
BECERRA: Back when I was young I used to take computers
apart[00:09:46], you know what I mean? And just for the fun and to learn everything about them. Not learn exactly, but how do they work, you know? And since I was young, Joel, I mean, he used to watch me just take computers apart and put them back or try to modify them a little bit. But on my own, what I knew. And from there it went on, you know. Electronics, DVD players, tape players, whatever. When I got to prison, I've seen that they [other inmates] had this almost conocimiento, verdad? Podian quitar todas las partes, y ponerlas pa tras, “knowledge, right? They could remove all the parts and put ‘em back” [inaudible][00:10:22] and I'd be like, Hey I know a little bit about this, you know, let me help you out. And from there I went on, you know what I mean? And I starting making– in prison I started making guns and selling them at first. And since I wasn't–when I was in Fort Worth I started tattooing. That's what I picked up. I started tattooing, practicing. So when I went to prison, I basically tuned the tattooing, you know what I mean? I perfected it. I practiced a lot. But yeah, prison is something– in one way it's bad, but in the other way, fifty-fifty, one way bad and one way good. Because you learned a lot of things about yourself, about people, and you also get to see the bad in people so you can try to stay away from it.
SUEÑOS: Because you're in survival mode. It seems. So then you
have to learn. It's not like you have an option. [00:11:14]
BECERRA: Exactly, exactly. [00:11:16] That's the best way to put it.
Your'e on survival mode. Because, believe it or not, once you enter prison it's a different world. Let me tell you, when I first entered prison I was so paranoid. Even though in the world you could have looked at me and probably been like, Oh okay this guy right here, he's fearless. That's how many people see me, you know what I mean? I never back down from a fight even though nine times out of ten I'm gonna get beat up, you know what I mean? But, I never back down. But once I went to prison I've seen this was a whole new ball game now, you know what I mean? I wasn't playing regular table football. Now I'm playing professional football type stuff. And you go into prison–this is just, I don't know how it goes for other races, but this is for Mexicans, you know what I mean? I mean, you walked in your own people come to you, you know what I mean? They say, Hey where you from? I'm from Fort Worth, Texas. Okay, look there's some people from Fort Worth over there, you know, some people from Dallas you might want to talk to you, you know what I mean? They always ask you, when you first go in, Do you run with anybody? Are you affiliated with any prison gangs, you know.
When I first went in there, I wasn't affiliated with any gangs. It wasn't after maybe about a couple–maybe a year or so later that, unfortunately, I became affiliated with them. But they ask you, you know what I mean? They try to find a weakness to you when you first walk in, you know what I mean? So if you walk in with all your stuff and they see you got food or something that they can use of you, that can have to use, they'll approach you, they'll be friendly. Hey, what's going on? Your own race. I mean, Hey was going on, No yeah, yeah, Hey well can I have some soups or something? And, you know what I mean, they ask and if you give that's going to open the doors for them to keep asking, you know what I mean? And if they see you, that you're kind of paranoid or kind of nervous, they take that to their advantage and they use that. And that's, I believe, with every race, you know what I mean? Cause in prison, the worst thing that's in there is extortion. And they don't do extortion to the max, it's extortion as being friendly. Like almost asking it for a nice way, but if you're not street smart or anything like that your'e gonna think, Oh they just want to be my friend or something. But really it's nothing like that. It's they're just trying to take advantage of you and get everything they want from you, know what I mean? [00:13:56]
SUEÑOS: Yeah. Yeah. And it's almost like you don't have a choice
because safety–there's safety in numbers, as they say.[00:14:03]
BECERRA: Exactly, it's safety in numbers and these guys operate like
that, you know what I'm saying? I'm not gonna say I was one of those guys that extorted anybody or nothing like that because I've always had a good head on my shoulders. But, I mean, I did participate in stuff like that, you know what I'm saying? Unfortunately, I'm not too proud to say. [00:14:21] But we did practice some stuff like that, you know what I'm saying? When we see weakness–there was a time in my–this time that I went–last time I went to prison I did five years. In those five years it only took me six months to get accustomed to the prison lifestyle. What I did it was like shut down everybody from from the free world. I, not shut down, but I stopped thinking of them, you know what I mean? My mom and Junior and stuff like that. They try to go see me as much as they could, but they shot me to the boonies, you know what I mean? From Fort Worth to where I was at, eight, nine hours of driving, you know what I mean? And that's on the way. That made me go eighteen, nineteen hours going there and back. But–so I told them, Hey you know what, don't even–if you all can come visit me, that'd be more than wonderful, you know, once every month or at least every three months, or something like that, but don't waste y'all money coming down here, you know what I mean? I told them I can work– I draw, I tattoo. I learned how to cut hair better inside of prison, you know what I mean? So, there's things that make money there and–but unfortunately, yes, there was a lot of, Hey you know what, this guy over here got this and that and, You know what, let's go talk to him. And, unfortunately, we did take people's foods.
I remember one time, before I went to prison I was in the county, there was this white boy. And this white boy liked to talk out of his butt, you know what I mean? And–so it was me and one of my other friends and, well, associate I will say. And yeah, we went and took all this guy's food cause he had a big mouth, you know what I mean? He had a big mouth. He wanted to talk about his money and all that. So we took all this food. The dude didn't do nothing. I mean, the cameras didn't see anything at all. But, I felt bad afterwards, you know what I mean? I mean, I was eating the guy's soup in my cell and I was like, Damn this guy could've ate his soup later on, you know (laughs). He's gonna be hungry. [00:16:23]
SUEÑOS: What kind of soup was it was? Was it like Maruchan?
BECERRA: Yes, it was a Maruchanm. Yes, correct. We had Maruchan.
It was three kinds. It was the spicy beef. I mean, the shrimp habanero and then you had the regular, and then they had chicken. So, yeah, that's basically–that's another thing we could talk about as well, the food there, you know what I mean? I still make Maruchan–I don't know. Since I was little Maruchans have been my thing, you know what I mean? Way before I went to jail. My mom always bought me a 24-pack of packets of Maruchans and that was me, you know what I mean? Nobody else ate 'em but me. [00:17:01]
SUEÑOS: (laughs) [00:17:03]
BECERRA: And–[00:17:03] when I went to–[00:17:04]
SUEÑOS: Which flavor did she get you? [00:17:04]
BECERRA: Always chicken.
SUEÑOS: Always chicken? [00:17:09]
BECERRA: Yes. [00:17:10] I mean I like all of them. I don't have–if it's
Maruchan label, I'm in there, you know what I mean? That's my–I swear to God I'm gonna get a Maruchan tattooed on me. It's one of the things that I got going cause I love 'em. [00:17:24]
SUEÑOS: (laughs) [00:17:26] And they're relatively cheap and they
fill you up. They're pretty good. Yeah. [00:17:31]
BECERRA: They're awesome, yeah. [00:17:32]
SUEÑOS: So whenever you were younger and you liked to take
computers apart, what did you think that you wanted to be, like, when you grew up? Or did you think about that at all? Like, I want to be an engineer or–? [00:17:43]
BECERRA: You know what, to be honest with you, when I was young I
didn't think about my future. I lived day by day. My motto back when I was young was, You know what–can we cuss? Can I cuss? I can right–[00:17:59]
SUEÑOS: Yeah, you can cuss (laughs). [00:18:00]
BECERRA: Oh, okay (laughs). I was like, Fuck it, you know. That was
my motto. Fuck it. Yeah, I ain't got no money, well fuck it, I don't care, you know what I'm saying. I'm gonna eat. And that's how I was when I was young. I wasn't thinking about my future, nothing like that, because at a young age I was in the streets, you know what I mean? I was–if I would think right, I was a baby about fourteen years old. I'm in the streets already smoking marijuana, you know what I mean? And I'm running with the older cats. I'm not running with people that were young, like my age. I was running with the older cats and soaking in their game. That's basically how I was raised. And my mom, trust me, my mom tried to keep me in the house all the time. My mom went to the extremes. Did not let me out, you know what I mean? the windows, she would drill them (laughs) so I wouldn't leave at midnight through my windows, you know what I mean? The doors are locked [inaudible] [00:19:03] with key and there was no key for you to open it, you know what I mean? But I always found my way to go out there in the streets and, well, how they say, Thug it out, you know. But when I was growing up I wasn't thinking that, Wow ima be a doctor or I'm gonna be a fireman or nothing like that. Nothing like an engineer. Nothing. [00:19:21]
SUEÑOS: [00:19:22] You were thinking, like, How am I gonna help
my family? Because, you know. How am I gonna feed my family?
BECERRA: Exactly. [00:19:30]
SUEÑOS: [00:19:30] I remember Joel told me that you would give
him like video games, or you once gave him a video game and he was really excited. Like a PlayStation two or something.
BECERRA: Ah yes, yes, yes. [00:19:42] One time, well I'm not gonna
go into detail, but I came across a whole bunch of PlayStation Ones with screens on 'em. Brand new. Over sixty of 'em. And Junior seen them. I came home and Junior seen them, and he was like, Hey what's going on? I was like, Nothing bro. Look grab you a PlayStation man, grab an extra control, you can have it. And he was like, For real? And I was like, Grab it bro, it's yours. And he was really, really happy about that, you know what I mean? And yeah, that's basically what I was thinking about. I mean I grew up in a home without a father, you know what I mean? That did not affect us as much because my mother was my mother and my father. She did everything for us. My mom was always working. I was the oldest one from the clan so I was always taking care of Joel. I was taking care of Erica and Lizbeth, but those are my sisters. And I was always in the street. I became a thief at a young age. I hate to say it, but I became addicted to stealing. It was something that I had to do. Like, I couldn't go to a store not steal a candy, you know what I mean? Something like that. Or I couldn't go to–I don't know if you remember Carnival Food Stores? [00:21:09]
SUEÑOS: Mhm [00:21:10] .
BECERRA: You remember Carnival Food–okay, I couldn't go to a
Carnival Food Store and not come out of there with a forty, you know what I mean? I'll go in there and steal a beer. Just to steal it. I had money, but I'd rather steal it than buy it, you know what I mean? Yeah, it was–it was hectic when I was young. I'm not gonna say that not growing up without a father affected me because they really didn't. Like I mentioned, I hung around older people, you know what I mean? So that affection was filled, like they–I'm not going to say they gave me father affection, but they gave me a [me dieron consejos] [00:21:46], you know what I mean? And they will be like, Hey bro I know you're young but chill, do this, get money, don't worry about it, don't think about it, just get money. That's what they would tell me, you know what I mean? They weren't trying to be father figures to me. They weren't trying to tell me, Stop smoking weed, stop drinking, or go home. They wouldn't tell me that. Be like, Nah chill, smoke a blunt, let's go get some money. And that's what we did, I mean, we went to get money.
SUEÑOS: [inaudible] [00:22:15]
BECERRA: Yeah. [00:22:17] I remember one time that one time Junior
did come into my room and he was like, What's going on here? But I had a radios, I had subwoofer systems, amplifiers up the wazoo, you know what I mean? In my room. I'm gonna say a good hundred stereos and a hundred plus speakers and amps and stuff like that. And that was just in one night, you know what I mean? Ridiculous stuff like that. And I mean it was addicting to me, like, the adrenaline rush that it gave me was uncomparable to any other drug that I could tell you, you know what I mean? It was crazy. I would think I was in the movie "Fast and the Furious" when they had the black cars, the very first one, you know what I'm saying? Cause that's what we rode around in. Hondas. [00:23:05] And, that's how I was, I mean my life was a movie. Nobody could tell me different when I was young. It was a movie. [00:23:15]
SUEÑOS: You always liked seeking out like strong ex– or like intense
emotional experiences? Like the adrenaline you said.[00:23:23]
BECERRA: Exactly.[00:23:22] Exactly. I had a lot of friends that also try
to follow the steps and, ima be honest with you, not a lot of them could keep up. I mean me, I learned how to steal cars from the Asians–the Asians I used to hang out with. Basically let's say I graduated from car stereos to stealing the whole thing, just hanging out with Asians. Because back when I was in middle school, that's who I hung out with hung out with. I hung out with the Asians. I was a break dancer back in my days and all my friends were Asians. They were Vietnamese. [00:23:57]
SUEÑOS: Oh wow.[00:23:58]
BECERRA: Vietnamese or Cambodians.[00:23:59] I only had, let's
see, it was me, Nestor, his brother Junior, Carlos, and a black guy named Mario who thought was Mexican. He still lives around Fort Worth somewhere around there. And then the sixth member, his name was Song. Sang. He was Vietnamese and we started hanging out with him. And from then we we met other people, Vietnamese, and his uncles and cousins and all like that. And they were into stealing cars. And they recruited Song. And they recruited him and that's where he went. We parted ways [inaudible][00:24:42] we grew up, but then all the Asian people that I met around there, I started hanging out with them, you know what I mean? Going out to parties with them and just going with that in there, that's how I came about–Hey man, they told me that you can get into cars pretty fast, man, Let's go and see what you got. And I was like, What are you serious? And they're like, Yeah man let's go see what you got. We can teach you, you know, so you can help us out and this and that. And from there it went to us stealing cars. I only stole Hondas, but that's all we stole was Honda Civics, Honda Preludes, Honda Accords, whatever. If it was Honda would steal it. And, sometimes I became so addicted to stealing cars that I would steal them just to joy ride 'em. [00:25:26]
SUEÑOS: And then just put them–leave them back?[00:25:30]
BECERRA: Hey, I would just leave 'em anywhere. I'm not gonna lie to
you, I've stolen cars to go to from point A to point B.[00:25:36]
SUEÑOS: That makes sense. [00:25:38] So if you were to meet
yourself like during that time, during your teenage years, what do you think that you would say, like, to the past you? Like the age that you are now? [00:25:50]
BECERRA: Well, that's a good question. That's a very good question.
Cause now, I'm way way beyond mature. I do too much thinking now. I would say to myself, you know, Hey man, open your eyes bro, because I'm you from the future and it ain't nice, you know what I mean? Well, it's nice right now, I mean. I'm living. I'm living a normal life. I have my own house, you know what I mean? I work from home. That's what I–I work from home. I'm on my computer all day. That's all I do. And, I would tell him man to be careful man, slow down, slow your pace man, slow your roll. Because life gets tough and–if I was talking to myself, I would get [life for using to get real tough.][00:26:40] So, slow down cause you gonna crash.
SUEÑOS: And you're a cancer survivor, right? [00:26:47]
BECERRA: That's exactly correct. [00:26:49] When I was young–when
I was nine years old, I had a cancer, I think it was called the Hopkins lymphoma. And this time we're living in Dallas. Well, we weren't–we're living in Dallas, yeah. We're living in Dallas, Texas. Garland, Texas, actually. And, yeah, I was diagnosed with cancer. I mean, when I started I was–it was horrible. I was always in pain. I lost all my hair. I mean we went to treatments, I remember, at Children's Hospital in Dallas and they gave–they told my mom, you know, I was right there. They were like, Your son got six months to live, you know what I mean? We done everything we could, I mean, we just can't stop it. And to me, I was young, I didn't know what that meant, you know what I mean? I didn't, you know, I didn't know what it meant when the doctor said, Your son only got six months to live, you know what I mean? I was like, What do you mean? Live here? You know, I was thinking–cause I was always in the hospital. I was always in the hospital. Till my mom was like, You know what, my son's not going to die. She found a hospital called Cook Children's Hospital in Fort Worth, right there. And we went there and they had some chemotherapy. I remember the Dallas Cowboys actually opened a new floor at that hospital when I first was there and they– basically, I met Troy Aikman and stuff like that when he was back– famous quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. And, yeah, he told me, Man, keep your head up, man. When I was young, I didn't know who he was, but I know who the Cowboys were. And he was like, Keep your head up, I know you got a lot of cancer.
I was one of the cancer patients that was not the worst, but one of the worst, you know what I mean? And, fortunately, Cook treatment was very good and take care of that and they didn't give me no six months, they gave me the rest of my life to live. They were like, No he's good. We got chemotherapy. He's going to lose more of his hair, but he's gonna be okay. And two years later after that I was eleven years old and the cancer was gone, you know, it was dormant. Until this day the cancer is gone and that's one thing that I do appreciate from them that they helped me out because, you know what I mean, I mean that's something serious. Cancer's something serious. Not everybody survives cancer. [00:29:09]
SUEÑOS: Yeah. [00:29:10]
BECERRA: I remember not a lot from my cancer days, to be honest
with you. I think the chemotherapy and me being always sick and always sedated interfere with most of my memories cause I don't have recollections of much of that. I have pictures that I can see that my family has, that I could be like, Okay, look, I remember a little bit about this, you know what I mean? And I only have memories of me when I– like, happy memories, basically, when my family was with me and that was it. But, having cancer did affect a lot of my when I was young, so. But I'm glad everything's good now, so.[00:29:54]
SUEÑOS: So, how much time did you serve, like, altogether? And
then, how come– can you tell me how come you wound up in Mexico after serving all the time in the states? [00:30:05]
BECERRA: Oh yeah, I can. I mean, the first time I had a four year
sentence I only did two years. And then this time I had a five-year sentence and I did the whole five because I really wasn't (pause) I wasn't being good, you know? I was in there just acting up cause I knew I was gonna get deported. I was born here in Monterrey. In Monterrey, Mexico. So, when I was fourteen months old, I went to California. We migrated to the US. And from California, when I was five, we went to Texas from five and up, right. And I was trying to get my papers. My father at that time was trying to get my citizenship, but my father was al–he became a drug dealer as well. So once he started doing that, my– getting my papers was basically put to the side, you know. He was doing his thing so the family can survive, you know what I mean? Selling cocaine. And I seen it all, I mean, that right there could be something that probably influenced me. Not influenced, but subconsciously influenced what I became because I seen it all life with him. And the second time I went, I did the five year sentence. The whole thing was seven years, you know what I mean? And then when I was doing these five year sentence, a year and a half into the sentence, immigration comes to talk to me. And they tell me, Hey what's your name, you know? I gave them my name. Me, I stuck to my story, I was born in the US, you know. And it came out that I was from over here, and they were like, Well, you're gonna get deported bro. That's all we can say, and you can do half your time and then get deported. Well, since they told me that I was getting deported I lost my mind. I was like, Wow I'm getting deported, well why am I gonna fight to get parole or anything like that? I mean, I'm not gonna get any parole, and they don't give parole to illegal immigrants, you know what I mean? They either serve most of their sentence and get deported or just get deported right away. But yeah, I did those five years and then I was deported over here to Mexico, so.[00:32:23]
SUEÑOS: What does–that's really silly that they do that. That's
insane to me. I'm also–I'm undocumented. So, I feel that. And I've only been arrested once when I was younger for stealing too. (laughs).[00:32:41]
BECERRA: Mhm [00:32:41]
SUEÑOS: But yeah, it was really scary because I thought I was
gonna get deported. [00:32:45] And I didn't know what my mom was gonna do. But–so what does the American dream mean to you? Like, when you hear that, like the American Dream. What do you picture? [00:32:57]
BECERRA: Well, [00:33:00] on my behalf, the American Dream is
basically–since I live here in Mexico, ima tell you that a lot of people have that dream, (external sound)[00:33:09] you know what I mean? But not a lot of them do. A lot of them don't like the US. But, I mean, the American Dream to me is basically going to States, working, and having a better life. Because in Mexico, you work, you work, you work, and you work, (laughs) you know what I mean? That's it, that's all you do. In the States, you can work, you're gonna get your house, your automobile. You're gonna get things that you need to live, right? You gonna keep working as well. You're gonna work, work, work, but you're working for things that you're getting, you know what I mean? In Mexico it's is a lot harder because you can work, work, work and you're–at the end of the day, you pay all your bills, buy a little bit of food, but you ain't got nothing to eat at, you know, by the end of the week. And the States, to me, going–the American Dream is going, living right, and just being with your family, you know what I mean? And that's it. Because, to me, that's the American Dream. Just going to the States, living right, and getting away from the poverty. Because that's what everybody basically tries to do their whole life. And not just criminals, you know, like that. Everybody works, work work. Criminals work their own way, but I mean normal people also work and all they wanna do is their best for their family because, I mean, I've never met anybody, criminal or a normal citizen, that has said, You know, I work for myself or I work just to have fun. Nobody. I've always met people, You know, what, why did you sell drugs? or, Why did you steal? And I've always had, nine times out of ten, the same answer: Shit, so my family can get ahead. Why'd you sell drugs? For my family, you know what I mean? And I believe that the American Dream, I mean, everybody should have a chance. Not just be–yeah, I mean, in my situation, I understand, you know. I kicked the ball too far, you know what I mean? I took it to a further extent that I shouldn't have, you know what I mean? But, I mean, yeah. [00:35:21]
SUEÑOS: Do you think about going back–and I'll let you go in a little
bit since it's already forty minutes and I know you have work in a bit, but we can always pick up where we left off next time that we talk.
SUEÑOS: But yeah, do you have plans to go back? It's the last thing
I'll ask you. [00:35:39]
BECERRA: Yeah, I actually do have plans to go back. Like I mentioned
to my fam, you know. I don't know if they (pause) how they take it or nothing. Basically, since I've been in Mexico, I've done more than I've ever done in my life, you know what I mean? I own my own house. So, in the States I never owned my house. I've always–I was always in the street. I was always at a friend's house, stuff like that. But, I want to get myself situated one hundred percent before I can go back to the States so I can be like, you know, have something to fall back on, basically. Like, if I do go back with my family that I have now here, take them over there as well. And, if worst comes to worst, I have to come back when I have a house to come back to, you know what I mean? Because I don't want to go over there and, I know myself, you know what I mean? I'm easily influenced, I'm a [inaudible] [00:36:44] kind of person. If money comes in my path ima be like, You know what let's go get that. Because, Yes, let's go get that. Even though I've been through what I've been through, I know myself enough to say, and I can be honest and say, You know what, let's get that money bro. Let's go get it. You know what I mean? So, I'm still fighting with those demons, but day by day I'm overcoming that cause I know money isn't everything now. But when I do get back to the States–I know I do want to go back. Most definitely. Yes. Cause all my family's over there.[00:37:22]
SUEÑOS: That's beautiful. I love that. I'm still fighting with my
demons.[00:37:26] Well, I guess that will be a good time to get off. I'm gonna go have breakfast in a little bit, but I'm gonna keep in touch with you about the consent form and then we'll do another call if you’d like, and we can also exchange, like, your art. Like if you could maybe scan it or take a picture?[00:37:47]
BECERRA: Oh, sí, sí, sí. [00:37:46]
SUEÑOS: So we can include it. That would be really cool. And if you
have, like, pictures of yourself when you were young then we can include some of those too.[00:37:54]
BECERRA: On that note, the pictures, you might wanna ask Joel
porque, to be honest with you, I ain't got no pictures of myself when I was young. [00:38:04] I have one, maybe, that I have here that Erica sent me when I first got here. It was of me (interview ends).
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