Ana Canenguez's second-oldest son, Job Ramirez, wants to be a news reporter. I asked the 18-year-old to write something about his life, about what it was like growing up in El Salvador, the process whereby he decided to come to Utah with his brother, his adaptation and what he thinks about the prospect of being deported back to Central America.
Ramirez spoke very little English when he got here, but in just 2 1/2 years has advanced dramatically, thanks in great part, he writes, to a teacher who took a keen interest in his language development. His tale sheds light both on the climate of fear and violence in El Salvador that he and his brothers fled from and also on his determination to better himself through education.
My name is Job Samuel Ramirez and I’m 18 years old.
The first thing that I remember is that we moved to a town where everything looked fine. I made friend since the first day, everyone there were nice to us. The years passed and I had a lot of friends everywhere. I liked to go school I was fun because everybody was humble without a bad mind.
Bad things started to happen when I was going to 8th grade. My mom send some money to us so we could buy a pair of shoes. I started to wear them the first day that I bought them. But the scary part happen the next day when I took them to school. At the end of the school day, one boy told me that for my safety “Don’t bring those shoes anymore to school, because the next time you bring them, you will get beaten.” I asked him why and he answered me that those shoes are just the ones the gangsters called the 18 street could wear them. He asked me to stop wear the shoes because they could get stolen. That was the first experience that I had when everything turned bad in my country.
The next thing that happened and to me was worst experience that I had in my whole life. I was in 8th grade still and I remember that It was night and we were waiting for my dad that come from his job. But we started to get worried when the time was getting too late and my dad wasn’t show up yet. Then we received a call from someone that it was hard to understand because the voice coming from the other side sounded very interrupted. A friend was there and we gave the telephone to that friend and she started to ask who was it. And suddenly she looked at me with a worried face and almost crying told that the person on the phone was my dad and he asking for help because a group of gangster kidnapped him from the morning to evening and they let him go but before that happen those gangster beat my dad up and they stole everything he had including the clothe that he was wearing that day. Thanks to God a good person found him and took him to her house that how he could call us. To me that is situation of my life that I will never forget.
In 2009 things got really worst, gangsters from each band got stronger that year. There were some rumors that the gangsters got stronger because the new president that started to govern that year didn’t have control over them. That year everything changed in my country and in my town.
It all started with a big chaos when the new president said in a presentation that he will stop all of those gangster and he will put them all in jail. When all the gangster heard that the did something that I had never seem. They menaced the government to go to all the school and kill every student if the government don’t leave them alone. But the government send a police people everywhere one day to find those gangster and caught them.
The gangsters did what they said. In my school there was a emergency clinic place call the Red Cross and I remember that they cancel all classes that day because a lot death people was arriving to that emergency place every 5 minutes. Gangster that day when crazy, they shoot everyone that was out their houses they said that wanted everybody in their houses. To me that was the most scary day that I had in my whole life.
Since that day I started to not go out too much because I didn’t want to get hurt or even kill. Days were passing and was still going to school with carefulness because gangster could be begin you and hurt you or steel all your things.
One day I was in front of my school and this boy came at me and I started to be scared, he look exactly like a gangster. He asked me If was part of the other gangster band call MS13 and I answered to him that I didn’t like anything of that. I didn’t like anything had to be with gang. And he look at me from my feet to my head and he asked what I had on my pocket and I said my cell phone and told to let him see it. I took it out and he took it from my hands and he told that he was going to take it. And then he told a last thing, he said that the 18 street gang is the one that govern all this town and he left.
A few month passed and every night my brothers and I went to my aunt house to eat dinner and it was a few blocks long. One night I decided to go to my aunt house by my self, when I was going back to my house I wanted go and visit one of my friend for a while but when I was getting close to his house and I noticed that all the house around had their windows and doors closed and nobody was out. Suddenly someone open their window and told me to leave because had been shoot, I got very scared and I left. A few hours later I noticed by a friend that the person who got shoot was my friend that going visit. I noticed that some gangsters came to kill him too.
That happened when was going to 10th grade. A few day passed and gangster said that were going to need more people to join them to get more stronger and they started to kidnap young man from 15 years old to 20 years old or closer to make them part of their gang. In that moment is when I really decided thought that I had to something or something could happen to me. My mom propos me to come to this country to the United States of America. At beginning I didn’t want to but things that were happen on my county made me take the decision to leave my country because almost all my friends were gangsters, I didn’t have that many friend like before. My town was full of gangster and they are mean to everyone.
A week later my brother Geovanny and I left our country and there was this man from Guatemala that said that was going to help us to get to the USA and we went to his house in Guatemala and he stayed there for two weeks, some days we didn’t have something to eat in there. After those two weeks another man came to that house and took us to Mexico. We were in the bus when immigration police caught us. My brother and I got returned to our country El Salvador, I so scared when I went back to my country. What I did while I was in my country was not go out of my house. We stayed there for a few days and I decided to give it another try because I didn’t want to stayed for the menace that I received from those gangsters. They told to join them or was going to disappeared from this world which means to get kill that’s why I didn’t want to stay in my country anymore. If I move to another state of my country they would find me anyways because my country is too small and to find someone is not that hard in my country.
Why I choose the USA to live, because my mom was there and I don’t have any relative in any other country. Well, I gave another try to come to this country and the second time was a little better actually because we found another man that was from our country that said that was going to help us to arrive where we wanted to go. He was with us all the way to USA but that good man didn’t mean that everything was going to be fine during the travel. We again didn’t have anything to eat some days and besides that at some places that we went to stay the night, they treat us bad, some days we had to sleep in the floor or even in the back of a car. One day we had to sleep in a ranch were the horses sleep. Another thing bad was that we had to travel in the back of a car for days without stopping. That was so hard because we wanted to eat something but they didn’t had anything to feed us.
Finally after all of those bad things that happened to us we arrived to the border between Mexico and USA. We stayed there for 10 days and we couldn’t go out because all that house was surrounded of mafia people and they were armed and no one could go out. And like before there were some days that we didn’t eat there. After those 10 days passed we went to that famous place call The Desert where people try to come to this country every day. In that desert the way that people use to travel is walking and we started to walk at night and we slept that night in the ground were it was so cold. We slept until 12 o’clock in the night. We walked for 5 hours and suddenly somebody screen that some border patrol was surround us and we all ran to everywhere and for a few minutes I lost my brother. What I decided while I was running is to find my brother and thanks to God I found him, we both got tired of running and walking and we sat in the middle of the dessert. We stayed there with some friends there for a few minutes and we saw two border police and we call them and they came at us and caught us. They took us to that place that us very similar to a jail. They putted in those rooms where we could even see the sun light, we didn’t know if it was day or night when we were in that room. We stayed there for a week and what they gave us to was cookies, beans and milk.
After a week a organization that’s call Esperanza Program took us to one of their houses because their job is help those minors that come to these country alone. If the minor have a relative in this country they help that minor to go to that relative. We were there for 18 days and those were one of the best moments that I had in my life. They really treated us as persons they really took care of us, they tough us many sports that I didn’t know, they took us out to know the city of phoenix, they took us to fun places too and they even took us to church. That place was one of the best places that I have been. The time to leave that house arrived and I felt a little sad because I made a lot of friends there. But we had to leave.
We came to the state of Utah in an airplane, that was a good experience because that was my first time in an airplane. We got in the airport and we were looking for my mom but I wouldn’t recognized her because so many years without seem her was hard to find her. But the good thing is that she did recognize us. At the first moment that she saw us she started to run and heard someone running and I turn around and there was my mom. She came at us and she gave a big hug and all crying she thank the representative of the organization for all the work that they did to help us.
Finally in 2010 we arrived to these country. Also it was very hard to my brother and I because here in these country everything is way too different compare to our country. Everyone here speaks another language in couldn’t even talk to anybody. After a few months the time to go school came and I really didn’t want to go to school because I couldn’t understand almost anybody but I went to school anyways, I gave it a try. The first week was so hard and told my mom that I wouldn’t go to school anymore and she told me to not give up, she told me that things will better while the time passed and she was right because after the first week a lot of teacher started to find resources to help me learn English and they did, but at my school there is teacher that I really appreciate because she worried too much about my situation and she help me with my learning as much as she could and I can say that thanks to her I can communicate with anybody I want.
In that year I received a award for working at school. They saw on me that I really want to learn and that is true because in this country I’m not scared of gangs band anymore. All my scared is go on. In this country I can focus on the school once again and in this country I noticed that there is lots of opportunities to students and who want to be someone in life can be someone in life. Now I’m in 12 grade and since I started to study here in the USA my grades have been higher because here I have all the peace and tranquility that I loose in my country but like every good situation have a least something bad we had problems here because when barley came to these country I noticed that it is against the law to come here without permission to enter. And now my family and I are in trouble with law we can say.
All the hard work that my mom did to get us here could be for nothing and all our dreams that we had could be taken down because in any moment we could be returned back to our country just because we didn’t have that permission to enter to these country. My family and I believe in God and we believe that He is going to something for us because all the tranquility that we had here we are not going to get it anywhere else. I have goals and dreams that I’m disposed to make them true. If they let us stay in this country. That’s my big desire that they let us stay here. I’m a good person I like to be involve in community. I like to help others and that’s I do at school now I help those who need help with any homework. And also I’m part of a organization now that is call Latinos in Action and what we do is get involve in the community and help other and I love because it is giving me a lot experiences that are making me stronger to keep going.
What I would to be when I grow up is news reporter and hope that those person of the immigration forgive us and let us stay to make my one of my desires true be a news reporter.