Transcript

Marcos Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

View film

EAST CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL MEMBER 1:

Staff Sargent Elizabeth Perez, United States Marine Corps, please come to the front.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. As a member of the Lake County Marine Veterans Honor Guard, I present you with these national colors for the city of East Cleveland to fly at City Hall.

[Applause]

EAST CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL MEMBER 2:

East Cleveland takes great pride in accepting the flag. This flag, from you, is super special, because we here at East Cleveland know the plight of your journey. This flag represents freedom. East Cleveland is honored to accept this flag for everything that you represent and who you represent. I thank you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Thank you, ma’am.

EAST CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL MEMBER 3:

The residents of East Cleveland are very, very, very grateful for your service to the United States Marine Corps. I’d also like to acknowledge Ms. Veronica Dahlberg, who is the Executive Director of the Spanish organization and has chosen to partner with you, Sargent, as a means to help in your efforts. This is an unfortunate situation that led to the deportation of her husband. I, as an individual and a citizen of the United States, do support your efforts in regaining your husband’s citizenship to the United States.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Thank you, sir.

[Applause]

VERONICA ISABEL DAHLBERG, Executive Director, HOLA

If I could say some words here, too. Thank you so much for having us today. And the gift of the flag was really just a gesture of friendship and goodwill. However, I didn’t want to leave without asking, since you want to help Elizabeth, because we have not been able to get any help for her case. For five long years, she’s been separated from her husband, who was deported in 2010. And she needs her family to be together. And it just seems like we keep hitting closed doors everywhere.

And I think it would be helpful if we could get a resolution or a letter from the City Council in support of Elizabeth’s case. And we could give it to our senators and our members of congress, saying that the city of East Cleveland supports the reunification of her family, as a Marine veteran who has served 10 years. She deserves that they cut through the bureaucratic tape and reunite her family. So, we’re hoping that you can help us with the resolution. Thank you for your time.

EAST CLEVELAND CITY COUNCIL MEMBER 2:

We will talk to our law director and get back to you as soon as possible.

VERONICA ISABEL DAHLBERG:

Okay. Thank you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay, you guys ready to call Daddy?

IGNACIO PELÉ PEREZ (PELÉ) AND MARCOS ANTONIO ADAMSON PEREZ (ROCKY):

Yes!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Marcos!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah!

PELÉ PEREZ:

Daddy!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Hi, guys.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hey! Can you hear us?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Hi!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Who’s that?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Where’s my bed?! Is it at your house?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah, I’m in my house! Do you want to come to my house?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yes!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah, you can come.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Can I go to Daddy’s house, Mom?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You will go later, honey.

PELÉ PEREZ:

You don’t let me go to Daddy’s house. That wasn’t nice.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay. You guys want to say your prayers with Daddy?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Yes.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Are you ready, Marcos?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Ready? Pelé?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Ready, Pelé?

ROCKY PEREZ:

In the father, the baby, the son, the holy baba, and the baby.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay, Pelé. You ready? Come on, let’s go.

PEREZ FAMILY:

In the name of the father, the son and the holy spirit, Amen.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Dear Jesus,…

ROCKY PEREZ:

Dear Baby.

PEREZ FAMILY:

Thank you for my family, thank you for my friends, and I love you, Jesus. Amen.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Night, night, Pelé. Night, night, Rocky. Besito!

PELÉ PEREZ:

Daddy, are you going to sleep for a little bit?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

PELÉ PEREZ:

After you woke up?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Awwww.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Night, night, Pelé. Night, night, Rocky. Love you guys! Night, night, Pelé.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right, love you.

[Sound track] Marine marching commands being sung: Forward march, left right, low right, right left, left right, low right, right left. Left right, had a low right, low left right, low right, right left, left right.

SECRETARY:

Hello, Leopold and Associates. Hi, sir. Actually, Attorney Leopold is in a meeting right now. I can go ahead and take your name and number, and I’ll make sure he gets your message.

DAVID LEOPOLD, Immigration attorney:

Hi, Elizabeth. How are you?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’m good, and you?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah, good. So, you had no trouble finding us today?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Nope. Got here pretty good, thanks.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Good. It’s good to see you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You too.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Remind me, if you would, of your, your experience in the US Marines. When you got in, and, and, and, what you did there and, and, when you left the Marines.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

First, I joined the Ohio Army National Guard, before the Marine Corps, and that was in 1999.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We went to Afghanistan in 2003, January. So it was right at the same week when… Actually, the day we got on the plane to go to Afghanistan was the day former President Bush was on TV giving Saddam Hussein the 48 hours. And then I joined the Marine Corps. And I was in there for five years.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I love my country. I literally, literally put my life on the line. I mean, I was scared a couple times about things that could happen.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s not fair. My country won’t let my husband live here.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. So at some point, you leave the Marines, you get back here. Tell me how you met Marco.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I met him when I was in California. I actually met him walking down the street. And yeah, we just hit it off right away. I mean, ever since the day I met him, we spent every single day together.

MARCOS PEREZ:

What I love about Elizabeth right away, instantly, I get interested in having a relationship with her. I never meet somebody like, like, like her, like so human. And she’s not really materialistic. And when I’m in Mexico, I never meet my dad. I, I, I don’t live really much with my, with my mom. So, when I meet her, she totally become, right away, like my family. That’s what I love her for that.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

So, at the time that Marco gets picked up by immigration, you already knew there was a problem with his status. You had been to a lawyer…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mmhm.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…hoping to start the process…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…how does it happen that he got picked up? What happened?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

He was running through a yellow light. And the police called me on my cell phone. They couldn’t identify him, and they’re asking me who he was. And then the police told me, “Well, we can just call ICE. And ICE can verify who he is.” And I said, and I was really respectful, I was like, “No, sir. You don’t have to do that.” And right when I said that, right after I said that, my phone…I don’t know why my phone died. My phone died. Like, it just shut off, and I couldn’t call back.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

They were holding him on a traffic violation. The lawyer you talked to told you not to pay that bail? That would give him… to get him out on a traffic violation, because if you did that, then ICE would come and take him, Immigration and Customs Enforcement would come and take him?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

So you were not to pay the bail, so that he was held by the state authorities?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

All right. And, what happens next?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

After he spent his 14 days in Mayfield Heights, they turned him over to immigration. And then he just called me one day, from his cellphone number. And I was like, “Wow,” you know? “How am I getting a phone call from him?” And they had just dropped him at the border, and he was going to lose reception once he crossed the bridge or something.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Did you call the lawyer when, when Marcos was finally deported?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, I told him.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

And what’d the lawyer say?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

He told me, “Well, we’ll just have to file the visa paperwork from there.” In Mexico.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

There’s a law called the “permanent bar.” That means that if somebody enters the United States, and then they’re deported, and then they come back, and then they’re deported again, or they leave again, they’re barred, what’s called permanently. So, really, you don’t have any relief at all. You can’t get him back here for a minimum of 10 years.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

He wants to cross the border and come back now, even, today. I mean, he talks to me about it like every week, and I’m like, “No. You can’t do that.”

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah. That’s good that you’re telling him that. Because…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

But at the same time, it’s like, my kids. Like, just the other day, the older one actually told me that, [crying] sorry.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Do you need a Kleenex?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No, I’m good. He told me, we were going through pictures, and there were pictures when we were in Mexico, and he told me, “Mommy, can we go there to Daddy’s house and stay and not come back here?” And I was like, “What?” He’s so, like, you know, like, they know what’s going on, you know? They’re not stupid. They, before, they’re babies, and they’re infants; now they’re getting older, and they’re starting to, like, understand things, and it’s really hard for me.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Especially, like, when I look at them, and I know, like, how much I miss them, even if they’re at school, and think how bad… he is missing their entire life. And it’s really hard. It makes me really mad, because I have to move, if I want to be with my family, you know what I mean?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, technically, it’s like an exile. I have to leave and find another country to live, because my husband can’t live here. And I just can’t wrap my head around that.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Nothing’s impossible.

He had some brushes with the law.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Ah, he got convicted of possession of stolen property and battery?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I wasn’t there, and I didn’t know him at the time. I’m not condoning anything, as far as anyone hitting a woman. And he kicked her in the leg, and she called the police.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. I’m not questioning whether he’s a good man or a bad man. I know if he’s married to you, my view is he’s got to be a good guy.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

But, people make mistakes in life, and Marcos made some. So, we’re going to have to show absolute rehabilitation.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, he also has, because these are in 2001, so this is 13 years ago. So, he had nothing…

DAVID LEOPOLD:

So, that’s actually some good news. It’s in a, in a, in a pile of bad news. I mean, that’s where the hope is. There is some hope here. Okay?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, thank you very much for your time. I really appreciate it.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Good to see you, Elizabeth.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It was good seeing you. Thank you so much.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

All right. Be good.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We’ll be in touch.

CROWD OF MARCHERS:

¡Si se puede! ¡Si se puede!

Winston-Salem, NC

Migrant workers’ march

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’ve done a lot of public speaking, and I feel pretty comfortable. I mean, when I was in the Marine Corps, I could talk in front of people all the time. I’ve been continuing to do a lot of advocacy work with HOLA for undocumented workers, and I’ve been asked to speak at this event.

CROWD OF MARCHERS:

We want justice! We want justice!

BALDEMAR VELÁSQUEZ, Farm Labor Organizing Committee

We, we don’t want welfare! We don’t want food stamps! We want a fair day’s pay for a fair day of work! That’s all we want! And we want to be treated with dignity! We want to be treated like men and women that we are, to recognize our humanity, and not treat us like dogs that die under the trees. We shall keep walking justice together until we realize on earth as it is in heaven. ¡Sala victoria!

CROWD OF MARCHERS:

[Cheering]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hey, everybody! I can’t believe how much power we just felt going through that street. This is just awesome! The people on the bus that I came with, they understand injustices, as well. Many of them, their families have been ripped apart, and they have lost loved ones, but they are so strong, and they are here today. I also have had some suffering, but it’s very embarrassing for me to talk about that in front of this group of people that has endured a lot of suffering also. I’m a veteran of both the Ohio Army National Guard and the United States Marine Corps. “Semper Fidelis” is the Marine Corps motto, “Always Faithful.” Those aren’t just words, that’s a life standard. My husband, Marcos, was stopped in 2010, and he was an undocumented worker. He was scooped up and thrown away like trash. He is not trash. Everyone here is a man and a woman, and you deserve to be treated as a man and a woman and nothing else.

CROWD OF MARCHERS:

[Cheering]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

These injustices are just too great: from here, in the fields of North Carolina, all across the United States where families are being shredded apart. And what are our elected officials doing? Nothing! The only thing I see is injustices and families separated and people working in horrible, horrible, wretched work conditions, and that is not satisfactory.

CROWD OF MARCHERS:

No! No!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

For 10 years, I dedicated my life to this country. I absolutely love this country. If in command, I will never surrender the members of my command, while they still have the means to resist. This is the means to resist, and we have the means to resist, right here. This is what we’re doing! But let’s just take a moment of silence and recognize some real heroes: the people who have separated from their families or really work hard for their families.

Okay, thanks.

CROWD OF MARCHERS:

[Cheering]

ANDRES USECHE, Singer

[Singing Marching into the Light]

She worked all night long.

She cleaned up six floors.

Her working day is now beginning.

He worked all day long.

He picked up the crops.

His swollen fingers are still bleeding.

They work in the offices,

And serve in the restaurants.

His hands keep lifting America.

Some came from the South,

Some came from afar.

Tell me who’s the native American?

Did you forget you’re human?

And don’t you know we are the same?

Did you forget you’re my sister, my brother?

Don’t you feel we share your pain?

Did you forget you’re human?

Don’t you know we share your pain?

Out of

The shadows

We’re walking together and into the light.

Out of

The shadows

We’re walking together and into the light.

CROWD OF MARCHERS

[Singing]

Estamos

Unidos

Marchemos juntos

Estamos

Unidos

Marchemos juntos

ANDRES USECHE

[Singing]

Did you forget you’re human,

And don’t you know we are the same?

Did you forget you’re my sister, my brother?

Don’t you know we share your pain?

MARCOS PEREZ:

I haven’t been with my wife, Elizabeth, for two years. I don’t see her. I don’t see my, my kids, Pele and Rocky. It’s been a hard time for me. We’re in communication with Skype. It’s not the same, because we will not touch. We will not hug. We will not feel. At least, when you see them, you, you know they okay.

Getting back from United States to Mexico, it was starting another life again. Even with my family, when I leave Mexico, I was a teenager, different personality, different idea, different life. Now, I’m different. I’m like 43. And, and I feel like, when I come back, I feel like they forgot me. Because they don’t feel me. They don’t really have attachment with me in anything. We don’t talk really close. Nothing, and I feel like when somebody die. But now, my younger brother and I become really good friends.

MARCOS PEREZ:

My younger brother has been cutting my hair for five years.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Hey, hi, brother. Hi. How you doing? Good? Good. You want to cut my hair?

ALEJANDRO PEREZ:

Mmhm.

MARCOS PEREZ:

He’s really having a hard life, because he cannot hear anything at all.

ALEJANDRO PEREZ:

[Gesturing]

MARCOS PEREZ:

All righty.

You know, he’s a gay person. His sexuality, especially here in Mexico, people hate him right away.

Haha, okay.

ALEJANDRO PEREZ:

¿Esté?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Mmhm.

Sometimes, they kick him. And I always have to go and protect him, support him.

Little bit more.

He’s my brother, and I really love my brother.

ALEJANDRO PEREZ:

Mmhm.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Thank you.

ALEJANDRO PEREZ:

Okay.

MARCOS PEREZ:

So, just be careful. All right, see you.

MARCOS:

¿Quién es este? ¿Quién es?

I always love soccer. In Mexico, I become to be a soccer referee. Sometimes, it’s dangerous to be a referee. If you don’t have control in the game, sometimes you have problems with the players.

MARCOS PEREZ:

And sometimes, they get mad, and they get out of control.

And some referees, they get kicked. So, you have to have a good control in the game. And now, I’m better. I’m in the top referees in the league where I’m working. I like the adrenaline.

I don’t know why.

MARCOS: ¡Juegan!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

““Oh no! We are lost,” said the people. And the priests and the sisters began praying. “The pasta will cover our town!” they cried. And it certainly would have, had Strega Nona not come down the road, home from her visit.”

ROCKY PEREZ:

And Big Anthony!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What is Big Anthony doing?

Who’s that? Oh no…

JOHN WOOD, Elizabeth’s father

Hello!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay.

JOHN WOOD:

Ah! What are you doing?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Uh oh, it’s Pops!

JOHN WOOD:

What are you doing? Come back here! Roar!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Come on, guys. I’m going to take you upstairs.

JOHN WOOD:

Yeah, let me turn this down. Oh well.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right, you guys go upstairs.

JOHN WOOD:

Okay. Don’t break any mirrors!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What’s up, Pops?

JOHN WOOD:

The usual. Law.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Wah, wah, wah.

JOHN WOOD:

Lost two appeals, won one trial. So, how’s Marcos doing?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, as far as, so as far as Marco’s case is concerned, the lawyer basically told me everything was the same from before, about how the chances are remote and, we have to wait pretty much 10 years, and it’s still going to be hard at the 10-year point.

JOHN WOOD:

What’s happening with Canada?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, nothing right now, because I’ve got too much stress in my life to deal with looking for a job there, when really I feel like this is going to work out.

JOHN WOOD:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, I really… I know they say don’t put all your eggs in one basket, but I have all my eggs in this basket. Like, I feel like it’s going to work. I just don’t know when, is the thing. So…

JOHN WOOD:

Canada sounds good. How about Australia, have you…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, but it’s so easy to say that. It’s so easy to be like, “Oh yeah, go move to Canada, move to Australia, where you don’t know anyone, don’t have a job, don’t have a whole bunch of money.” Like, oh, yeah, it’s so simple.

JOHN WOOD:

I, I only mention Australia, because your sister’s already looked it out.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I looked into a lot of different countries for social work, and what their requirements are and everything. And it’s just, it’s literally, like, I can’t mentally, I can’t take it anymore. I had to stop.

JOHN WOOD:

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I had to stop. I just, mentally, was, like, not taking it. I couldn’t deal.

JOHN WOOD:

So, are you looking for jobs in the US now?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No.

JOHN WOOD:

Post-grad?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No. No, that’s what I’m saying. I’m giving myself until April 15th, because I don’t know where we’re going to be living or anything. And then another thing is, is I graduate in May. My GI Bill is done in May. That means I’m done.

JOHN WOOD:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, so, I have zero idea of what is happening, because I don’t know if we’re going to Mexico. I don’t know if I’m going to be looking for jobs in Canada. I don’t know if I’m going to be looking for jobs here. I don’t know if he’s going to be here. I have no idea. So, it’s really hard to, like, plan anything what I’m going to do. Because I don’t know yet.

JOHN WOOD:

You’ve always had contingencies for everything. I mean, this is the first time you haven’t had a contingency.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

JOHN WOOD:

So, what you’re telling me is you’re just too stressed to keep doing what you’ve been doing the past three years.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yep.

I’m getting ready to graduate Cleveland State University, Saturday. Woohoo! And I actually feel really good about it, because I had some major accomplishments while I was there. I was in the running for CLASS, College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences, valedictorian. There was about 30, I think there was about 30 students. Maybe a handful more or a handful less, but I didn’t get it. But just the fact that, you know, I was in that pool of students is just awesome to me, especially since I didn’t even graduate high school. And I did…the School of Social Work gave me the Student Social Work Bachelor Field Student of the Year Award for 2014.

But, Marcos isn’t going to be here. He just knows what I tell him on the phone. He hasn’t physically seen all the work I had to do. And so, like it’s, to me it’s like, such a big accomplishment, but, I mean, to him, it’s a big accomplishment for me, too, but just the fact, he doesn’t really know the whole scope of it. That’s a little hard, ‘cause I wish he was there.

Yeah, they’re doing the graduates first…

MATTIE DAHLTON, Elizabeth’s mother

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hey, Bia! Wait, do you see me?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Mom!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Over here, Ma! All the cards, Ma! Hey, Bia!

RONALD BERKMAN, President, Cleveland State University

Good afternoon. It’s my sincere honor to welcome all of you to the commencement ceremony. I invite each graduate to reflect on those individuals whose support was essential on your journey to graduation. I ask the class of 2014 to stand and give a round of applause to those who helped you reach this moment.

Crowd

[Cheering]

RONALD BERKMAN:

Let me ask you to hold your applause, as I talk about Elizabeth Perez. After earning her GED in 1998, Elizabeth Perez served our country for 10 years in the Ohio National Guard and as an active duty Marine. Her service was highly decorated, marked by her devoted volunteerism. In 2008, she enrolled at Cleveland State University to pursue a college education, and she graduates today with her bachelor’s degree in Social Work. I note that throughout her time at Cleveland State, she has been the primary caregiver for her two young sons. Today, on Mother’s Day, they watch their mom become a college graduate.

Join me in thanking these veterans for their service and sacrifice to our country.

Three months later

RABBI JOSHUA CARUSO, Fairmount Temple

Bruchim habaim. Welcome, everyone.

Fairmount Temple

Blessings, to all of you, who come here on Yom Kippur for our annual social action lecture.

JOY FRIEDMAN, Host/congregant

By show of hands, how many of you immigrated to this country? Keep your hands up. How many of your parents immigrated to this country? Wow. Okay, I think just about every hand in the room is up. I knew that it was a Jewish issue, that it, that it was an issue that affected so many Americans and so many Jews. We are not far removed from immigration, even if we’re not affected by the current immigration laws. I know that we are, as Jews, commanded in the Torah to love the stranger.

But today’s American immigration problem only made sense to me in terms of policy and numbers. I knew that 12 million people live “in the shadows.” I know that they don’t have documentation. I know that our immigration system, therefore, is broken. I know that our border is a mess. I know we need more work visas. We need family reunification.

So immigration reform is big, and today, we’re going to hear from Elizabeth Perez. Her family is one of the millions affected in this country by our broken immigration laws. Elizabeth inspires me. I want to be like her. She fights for her family and is incredibly courageous. She’s so courageous that she’s never been to a synagogue before today but was willing to come and speak to us, so I hope you’ll join me in welcoming her.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Thanks, Joy.

JOY FRIEDMAN:

Yeah.

AUDIENCE

[Applauding]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Thanks so much for inviting me to be here on the most holy day, Yom Kippur. I’m truly honored. My name’s Elizabeth. I’m your neighbor. I literally live five minutes down the street, right down Green Road in Cleveland Heights. We don’t have a huge undocumented immigrant population in Beachwood, so before I met my husband, I really wasn’t aware of a lot of things, probably like a lot of other people in our neighborhood, in our community, aren’t aware. To me, it was just a political problem. I didn’t really understand the reality. So, I’m like, “Well, people can apply. Why don’t they just apply like everybody else who comes here?” That’s what I thought. Which, not everybody can do that. Or, I thought, “Well, if somebody is married, and they have kids, they can stay here, so what’s the big deal?” But, I was wrong about that, too. It’s such an intricate system that there was a lot of things that I thought were real, but really aren’t.

So, I got out of the Marine Corps, I decided to start my new life in California. I had a sister there. I wasn’t looking to meet anybody, anything like that, but that’s when those types of things happen, when you’re not looking for it. When you’re looking for something, you can never find it. When you don’t want it, it just opens the door and hits you in the face, like, and that’s what my husband did. He opened the door and hit me in my face and was like, “Bam, I’m here.” I fell over, I was like, “Oh, I love you! This is great.” And when I became pregnant, like most women, I wanted to be around my mom and my sisters and my cousins who had kids. So, I said to him, “I want to go back to Cleveland, where my family is. So, let’s go back there to have the baby.”

And, I knew his immigration status was he didn’t have papers, but to me it was just, from what I thought, growing up over here was, “Oh, we just get a lawyer, fill out some papers, give them some money, fill out some more papers, give them more money. It’ll all work out.” Unfortunately, I was totally dead wrong. Eventually, he got a job at a janitorial company, and I started going to CSU to use my GI Bill, and we were just living life, you know, doing great stuff. And then I finally ended up having our son that January. And, come that June, I was pregnant again. I told Marcos about it. He was really excited. I was excited, but I was also a little sick at that point, so I went and took a nap with the baby.

He went to work, and then the phone rang. It was Mayfield Heights Police Department, and they said, “We have this guy. Who is he? Where’s he going? Where do you guys live? What’s his social security number?” I was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know what his social is.” I was like, “Oh, I don’t know where it is, I can’t find his wallet.” And I realized right away they weren’t going to let him out. That’s the day that my home became a house. I had to look at all his stuff. I had to look at his toothbrush. I had to lay in the bed and smell his pillow, see his shoes at the door, and his clothes. And I had the baby, and I was pregnant, and I’m like, “What’s going to happen?”

And then, within a month, he was back in Mexico. So, we packed our stuff, and we moved to Mexico City. And I didn’t last four months in Mexico City. We had no money. Our home didn’t even have power. We didn’t have a fridge to put food for the kids, or whatever. It slowly started less and less, and I wouldn’t answer the door. I wouldn’t answer the phone, because I didn’t want anyone to know I speak English, because then I might be a target. So, after two-and-a-half years, Marcos finally had his visa interview, and we were so excited about it, and he was completely denied until 2020. Fortunately for me, I was introduced to David Leopold and Veronica Dahlberg. I really have hope now. And that’s what’s so different, ‘cause I’ve seen what they can do. I’ve literally witnessed families being able to stay together and not be ripped apart, because of the work that they’re doing. Now, I feel like my husband, Marcos, will be coming home soon. I don’t know how, but I have total faith it’s going to work. For me, it’s not a question of when, it’s a question of if.

So, I want to thank everybody for having me here and letting me share with you. And gmar chatima tova to everybody.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay, Marcos. So,…

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…the fact that you have this record to deal with…

MARCOS PEREZ:

okay?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…make it extremely difficult to bring you back to the United States, even though, even though these are misdemeanors.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

These are in 2001, so this is 13 years ago.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Right.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

I want you to understand what we’re, you know how tough this is.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I understand.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. The flipside of it is you do have a US citizen wife.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

You do have US citizen children, and you do have a daughter in California.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

And you do have strong ties to the United States.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Okay.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

But, if you had been lawfully admitted to the United States…

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…and we had this record to deal with, it wouldn’t keep you, necessarily, from getting a green card. You may have to show hardship to your wife, but you could ask for that kind of dispensation. In other words, it isn’t necessarily a deal-killer. But, you’re out of the United States. And so, we’ve got a few different problems that we’ve got to deal with. The first problem is, as you know, somebody who has been deported from the United States and re-enters the United States, illegally, is subject to a permanent bar. You can’t apply to come back here for 10 years after your last departure.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Okay.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

And even then, you’d have to apply for a waiver for the convictions. All right? Any questions so far?

MARCOS PEREZ:

No. I mean, no, I’m okay, but…

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah, but you need to know, I mean…

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah, I know what I can happen, and I just, I’m just waiting for something, like for a milagro. Like…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

A miracle.

MARCOS PEREZ:

…miracle or something happen or, like, because…

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay.

MARCOS PEREZ:

…I know what I have, what I did. I know the laws. I mean, kind of like, I have to respect and go through the laws, and it can be really hard. I know it’s hard.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

What’s the difference between you today and you in 2001, like 13 years ago?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Oh no.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Is there a different person I’m dealing with, or am I dealing with…?

MARCOS PEREZ:

No, no. Sometimes, I show myself in the mirror, I see my face in the mirror, and I say, you know, “So stupid, man.” I mean, how stupid I was at that time. Now…

DAVID LEOPOLD:

So, the only other possibility under the law is to simply ask the government to take a close look at your case and see if they would consider paroling you into the United States. But you have to show very compelling humanitarian reasons.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Okay.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

It’s not an easy thing, and the reason that we’ll pursue this avenue is because we don’t have anything else, at the moment.

MARCOS PEREZ:

No, I understand.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

All right? And so, the worst that can happen is that they’ll say no. That’s the worst. You’re already in Mexico. It can’t get any worse than them saying no, but at least we’ve tried.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Thank you.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Now, the hard part is, is to be sitting in Mexico and not being able to feel like you have any control over what’s going on up here.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

I’m sure there’s plenty of people running around Mexico City whispering in your ear, you know, if you, if you just hire a coyote and come back, then what are you waiting for? Right?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

It’s a serious crime to cross that border without documentation, especially after you’ve been deported more than once.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I’m thinking I have to do something, because I’m desperate. But, I’m here for four years already. I can wait a little bit more, so…

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. Good. All right, so, what we’re going to do is put together a parole application to ask the government to parole you into the United States.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

What gets you back here is Elizabeth has an amazing history…

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…in terms of what she’s done for our country.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Oh, I know what she did for the country, for me, for a lot of people. She’s a really…

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah. Do you need a Kleenex or you need a moment? So, the application is going to emphasize her situation, her situation with the kids, and how much she needs you back here to be in your role as father, as husband, and how much your absence is an extreme hardship on her. Okay?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah. That’s what I want so bad.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

I know you do. It’s what we all want.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I feel totally confident, when we get this application put in, it’s going to be good. He’s going to be back here.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

You’ve got an amazing fighter on your side. You’ve got an amazing, an amazing fighter on your side.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I know. I know. She’s really good. I know.

[Song lyrics]

Though you’re not here, I feel your love, living in me…

Mexico City

MARCOS PEREZ:

[Singing]

Guantanamera, guajira, Guantanamera

guajira, Guantanamera

[Whistling]

You know, when we put the petition in, I have 90 days supposedly to get an answer. But now it’s started getting close to these 90 days, and it’s like, oof, we’re not hearing anything.

Okay.

I have to wait and pray. We don’t want to think about what are we going to do. But if my petition turned down, and I can’t come back to United States, I been thinking to have my family in Mexico. They have to live here with me.

All righty.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

[over Skype]

So, how was work?

MARCOS PEREZ:

It was good. It was a lot of referees today, and I have just one today.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Then next week, I I go back for my normal schedule.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

MARCOS PEREZ:

So, how’s everything with Pelé and Rocky?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

They’re fine. They’re in their room watching TV right now. I’m going to let them watch TV until dinnertime, and then that’s it. Pelé had his piano lesson today. My mom took him. So, I mean, the truth is, is he really doesn’t practice. I should probably have him doing something like track instead of piano.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Oh, okay. Well, that’s good. I was thinking about the petition.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah?

MARCOS PEREZ:

And I really expecting everything gets good, and I really want to be with you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I feel like we’re, like, right at the top. We just have to wait at this point. I’ve been working with Veronica, gathering letters from veterans. I mean, there’s not a whole, whole lot more to do but just really, kind of, wait. Veronica contacted that lady in Washington, DC who’s you know, trying to find out the status and trying to help push it through and everything like that. So, hopefully we’ll hear something from her this coming up week.

MARCOS PEREZ:

You know what? Lately I been just, like, dreaming, like, I’m with you and the babies, and now, finally, we get to the normal, our normal life. And, I’m dreaming you’re, like, playing with the babies in the park, going to eat something, doing a lot of stuff. But, let’s wait. Let’s see what happens, so…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

The hardest part is because we’re so close, and now it’s just a lot harder than before, because it’s like now it’s almost just waiting almost every day, like, we could hear something.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Sometimes, I don’t want to think, what about if something is negative, and I don’t want to talk about it, but I’m really in the line, like, I just want to cross and be with you and the babies.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, but you can’t do that. You can’t cross. You can’t even think about that, because if you do that, one, this whole five years that we’ve already been waiting would be for nothing. You know, you’d get caught. I don’t want to take that chance. And besides, it’s so much better if you’re back, and you can live free, live your life free and not have to look over your shoulder every three seconds. I don’t want you coming back in five years, six years from now, Pelé and Rocky are, like, in middle school, and then they see you one morning and then you’re gone again, because you got picked up at a stop sign or something on your way to work again. And then they have to live through all that trash again.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah, but…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s almost like, let’s just get it out of the way now, but at the same time, you know, I never thought it would be this long.

MARCOS PEREZ:

The time is killing me, like, waiting, waiting, you know?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I want somebody close to me, sleep with me, love me. I love you, Flaquita.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Love you, Marcos.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Let’s see, so let’s pray and have faith, and probably soon something can happen, so…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Just try to keep yourself occupied, because we’re almost done. All right?

MARCOS PEREZ:

So just be careful, so…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right.

It’s Christmastime, and Marcos isn’t here yet. We haven’t heard anything about his petition, and I’m feeling totally depressed about it. I get really, like, sad and all that stuff. You know, I can’t let anybody see that. No one that’s really close to me really knows, but it’s really, really wearing on me, bad. I’m really tired of this whole situation.

Be careful with that stuff, Pelé.

PELÉ PEREZ:

I’m always careful.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right, Pelé. I’m going to plug it in.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Okay, Mommy. Whoa! Bright lights! Did you put the pinecones on yet?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yay!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Put the pinecones on.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Okay. You stay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s not going to stay like that. Put it right there.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Put it right here?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

See?

PELÉ PEREZ:

That’s much better.

Who made this, Mommy?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I think Bia…you made this!

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yeah. Who made this?

[Singing]

I’m Mr. Snow. Hey!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Bia made that. Go hang it up, Pele.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Okay, Mommy.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Put the balls on. Put them down over here.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Okay, Mommy. This present is for Mommy! Happy Christmas, Mom!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Who’s this one for?

PELÉ PEREZ:

That one’s for Mommy.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Who’s this one for?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Daddy.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Who’s that one for?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Bia.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What about Daddy? What are you going to give Daddy for Christmas?

PELÉ PEREZ:

I don’t know. I forgot. Wait a second! I have an idea!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Baby Jesus!

[Singing]

Oh, little baby Jesus. Haha!

Happy Christmas, Mom!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Thanks, Pelé! What is it? What’d you get me?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Pinecones.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

[Gasps]

You got me pine cones?

PELÉ PEREZ:

[Laughing]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’re a pine cone.

PELÉ PEREZ:

[In a silly voice]

Jesus, please, please, bring Daddy home now.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Why are you making jokes, Pelé?

PELÉ PEREZ:

I’m not making jokes.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So you wanted to ask Jesus to bring Daddy home?

PELÉ PEREZ:

I said “now!”

Six weeks later

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hello?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Hello.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hey, David Leopold! How’s it going’?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Listen. I’ve got to talk to you about something. And, this is a very difficult call. I, I got, I got a notification this morning from ICE…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…that they denied our petition.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’re kidding.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Hello?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’re kidding.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

No, I’m not kidding. They, they, they denied the petition. They basically…it’s a very short letter, and it says that they weighed the equities, but they’re not able to grant parole at this point.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Wait, are you serious or are you joking with me?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

No, no. I’m not, I’m not joking. I’m, I’m serious, totally serious. I wouldn’t joke about something like…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

[Over David]

No, you’re, you’re joking with me, right?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Elizabeth. I would not joke about something like this. I’m totally serious. I’m sorry, but I am totally serious.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Wait. Are you telling me they actually denied the petition?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Yeah. They denied it. And it was denied apparently on February 6th, so…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Like, you’re telling me right now that they denied the petition, right? That’s what you’re telling me? Like seriously? Like they seriously denied it?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

They denied it. Yes. I’m not joking about this. I, I would never, ever joke about something like this. Yes. They denied it. And that doesn’t mean that there may not be other remedies, but you need to know, and I wanted Marcos to know. So I’m going to, I’m going to put it in writing. And this is what I think, okay? I would like to, to arrange a meeting. I’d like to get together so that we can go over exactly what’s gone on here, and exactly what the, what the options are. Okay?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No, you’ve got to be joking me right now. Like I totally, totally am not hearing this. Like, they totally did not deny this petition. I mean you’ve really got to be joking right now. Like, I’m so pissed right now. I’m really pissed. I really just…whoever denied the petition, I want them to come to my house for five minutes. I want to kill them. I’m going to kill them. I cannot believe they seriously, seriously, seriously denied the petition. For what? What was their actual reason why they denied it?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

I mean, they did say that they recognize the evidence that we presented, but on a balance, they denied it. And my preference would be, of course, to tell you in person, but I needed you to know right away. I, I need Marcos to know, okay? Tell you what, take care driving. Please give me a call when you get home, okay?

All right.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Elizabeth called me to give me the bad news about my petition get denied. But I was expecting to get positive news, because we are really been planning our life for the future, to be together. So, it was really a sad day. I start feeling like I don’t want to talk with nobody, I just want to be inside. But I start thinking, “You know what? You have to accept it, Marcos. Life is like that. It’s the way how it is, and it’s real.” So, I have to go forward. I fully think now, I still can’t have my family, my kids, everything. Why not? So, now I’m really thinking, like, we’re going to get together pretty soon in Mexico.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Hey, Elizabeth. So good to see you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You too.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

The last time we talked, it was a pretty tough conversation.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yep.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

What we tried to do, you know, when we got into this, you said to me that if you don’t try it, if you don’t try, you won’t know that you tried everything. You have done everything.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No. I cannot say that.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Well.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I refuse to say that, ‘cause he’s not here.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

But you have done everything so far, so far. It doesn’t mean you won’t continue to do things. Let’s talk about where we’re going to go from here.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. Continuing to pursue this on Capitol Hill with, with Ohio senators. But also there’s been a change in your, in your status…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mmhm.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…right? From the Veterans Administration?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, they increased my anxiety rating, my service-connected percentage to 80 percent. And it was at 30.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. Disa-, disability rating?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. You could use that word.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. Well, I mean, it’s important, not because, I don’t think anybody that knows you is ever going to claim that you, you’ve stood in any disability. Your strength speaks for itself.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, and, what they did was they changed my anxiety rating to a much higher level, which ended up bringing the entire percentage up.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

All right.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And although, I mean, it’s really clear, even in my records that although it’s, you know, started from when I was in the Marine Corps, but that this entire situation is agitated it up to that level.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I feel like that could be a strong player in this reconsideration.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

And, so, asking for reconsideration…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mmhm.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

…pointing out that in fact your, your disability rating has increased as a result of this, the anxiety, related to this deportation and this separation from Marcos, and the children, and everything you’re dealing with.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

This is clearly affecting your life. But you know what? Here’s the thing. I’m going to need you and Marcos to both be invested in this, too.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s not so easy, though.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

No, I know. I know. But, you take your mental break, but you’ve got to, you know, you’ve got to get back to where you were. And, it’s easy for me to say that, I know. But…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s been five years. I’m not going to lose my marriage over this fight. My marriage could be in crumbles. Like, this is ridiculous. I’m not going to keep fighting this and then look back and it’s been nine years. You know?

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Well, we also have to face the very realistic possibility that, you know, at some point, we have to go to another plan. And, legally speaking, that other plan, at this point, is, is, you know, waiting for those five years to pass and bringing him back.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’m not waiting five years.

DAVID LEOPOLD:

Okay. But I want to be honest with you, that is the next thing.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

This whole thing is just crap. They want to have this permanent bar for 10 years. That’s a huge chunk of time. So, when he comes back, I’ll be in my 40s. My sons will be 10 and nine, pretty much got one foot out the door already. And that’s when we’re going to start our life together? Everybody says the system is broken, and then in the meantime, my family’s paying for this broken system. It’s ridiculous.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

You know we’ve been working with Elizabeth on her case. You know her husband was deported in 2010. I want everyone to know that the petition was denied to bring her husband back. So, what this means is, are we just going to give up?

CROWD AT HOLA MEETING:

No.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Okay, are we going to leave it like that and just say, “Oh, it was denied. Too bad”?

CROWD AT HOLA MEETING:

No.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Okay, so what we’ve got to do is, we’re going to do a march. And I want Elizabeth to hear from you guys, because she’s counting on us.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mmhm.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

This is the only hope. What did the lawyer say? When you talked to him?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

He said I need to wait five more years, and then we can apply to get him back.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

So, the only hope Elizabeth has right now is with us and HOLA. But, it’s going to be hard. So please, everybody, we’ve got to give it all we got, on May 4th. The reason why is because if the media comes on May 4th, it’s going to be in the papers, hopefully, on Cinco de Mayo. And the people can see, Cinco de Mayo, while you’re enjoying your margaritas and your sombrero, think about all the people in our community who are suffering with this broken immigration system; just contemplate that. And so, for this march for Elizabeth, because it’s such a tough case, we’re going to need double the people. Okay, everybody raise your hand – who’s going to participate in this march for them? Okay.

MAN: Una fuerte aplaus para todos y gracias.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Thank you. Okay. Six a.m. Maybe, can we do seven? Yeah, okay, Seven. So, let’s make sure that we bring Elizabeth’s husband back on May 4th. ¿Sí?

CROWD AT HOLA MEETING:

Sí.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Ay. Esto fue muy débil. That was weak! Let’s make sure we get Elizabeth’s husband back.

CROWD AT HOLA MEETING:

¡Sí!

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Are we going to wait five years?

CROWD AT HOLA MEETING:

No!

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Gracias a todos por estar aquí hoy. Thank you to everybody for being here today. We need a miracle.

CROWD AT MARCH:

Yeah!

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

And so we’re going to sacrifice a little bit by walking the 20 miles and hope that our pleas are heard.

CROWD AT MARCH:

Woohoo!

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Okay, the first rule is we’re going to walk together, not separate, because I’m always the last one, and I don’t want to be, like, all the way in the back. So, Elizabeth, you want to say some words?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay.

CROWD AT MARCH:

Elizabeth! Woo!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay. My husband, Marcos, is on the phone, and that’s how I live my life, with him on my side but at the phone. I want to say thank you to every single person here. Thank you. Thank you, thank you to come out here to help for my family, too. Yo se que tienen que…

I was really down after Marcos’s parole was denied.

I know a lot of people are missing work…

But I’m back, and we are ready to roll.

I don’t like words, I like action. Thank you to HOLA. HOLA is the only reason I have hope for my family. The only reason I feel my husband is going to come home is solo HOLA.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Okay, well let’s get on the sidewalk and get in formation.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We have David Leopold, the lawyer is out here. My mom’s here. My mom’s ready to walk 21 miles. My cousin, Davey, flew in from Utah just to come to this march.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Elizabeth, we’ve got to follow the sign for 20.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

The weather is beautiful out here. There is a chance of thunderstorms, but I have total faith that we’re going to make it. We got almost 100 HOLA warriors organized, ready to do this march from Mentor, Ohio to St. Casimir’s to ask Our Lady of Czestochowa to bring my family back.

Why can’t my husband be here?

We’re in this to win this.

That’s how I see it.

It’s too long. It’s five years. It’s way too much time.

CROWD AT MARCH:

[Chanting]

Sí, se puede. Si, se puede.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

People have brought their kids out here and have baby strollers, and they’re ready to walk. This walk is going to take us all day long…

CROWD AT MARCH:

[Chanting]

Sí, se puede. Sí, se puede.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

…and I’m very humbled and proud of all of the Mexican community that’s out here. I’ve been there for their family when it was a threat of a deportation, and those families are out here today. We’re going to draw attention to my family and get people in power to bring Marcos home.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s getting darker out here. Rainclouds are forming above us. We felt a little light drizzle, but we can hear the bells of St. Casimir’s ringing, and we are going to make it.

CROWD AT MARCH:

[Chanting]

Yes we can. Yes we can.

PELÉ PEREZ:

I love you, Dada.

MARCOS PEREZ:

[Over Skype]

Are you happy?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yeah. Daddy, why are you not here now? I want you to be here now, now, now.

MARCOS PEREZ:

One day we’re going to be together! That’s the good part.

PELÉ PEREZ:

I miss you. I want you to come back now.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Pelé? Just remember Daddy loves you. I miss you, Pelé. I want to, I want to, I want to go back and go drop you in the school, and go after school, and go play with you.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Mmhm.

MARCOS PEREZ:

How you feel when you see your friends with, with their dads? How you feel?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Huh? Their dads are in Ohio.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Oh, really?

PELÉ PEREZ:

You are the only dad who’s in Mexico.

MARCOS PEREZ:

How do you feel about, like, you’re there and I’m here?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Bad. Hate it. Why is your daddy in Mexico, and I’m in Ohio? That’s bad. Very, very, very bad.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Don’t play with your food, Pelé.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Other kids have their dad, but I don’t have my dad.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Pelé. I love you.

PELÉ PEREZ:

[Crying]

Mommy, Mommy! I want Daddy! Daddy!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Pelé. We will be together, Pelé. I’m going to see you so much.

Mexico City

MARCOS PEREZ:

What do you feel like you want to eat?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I want those tamales from the guy who puts the whole drumstick in the tamale.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Know who I’m talking about?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

By your grandma’s? We’ve got to go over there.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah. Let’s go. We can go. Just let, I’ve got to go take shower…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Oh, okay.

MARCOS PEREZ:

…before we go there.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Oh, okay.

MARCOS PEREZ:

And yeah, oh tomorrow, I forget, like I, we’ve got to go play soccer. I’ve got to go play soccer. You want to go with me?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. I’m not going to stay here by myself!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah. How about like if you want to go, like, to the pyramids?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Or dancing?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Go dancing.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Or take, or take me out to eat?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

On a date?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And the movies?

MARCOS PEREZ:

We can go. We can go out with my sister.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No, but…

There’s been something I need to tell you. I’m here in Mexico, I been here for a little while, and I just found out me and Marcos are having another baby. I was here a little while ago, and I hadn’t seen Marcos in almost two years, and we had so much fun. We did not plan for this to happen at all, but we didn’t prevent from it to happen either. But, to be totally honest, at the end of the day, I was completely shocked that, you know, this is real, like we’re really having another baby. And it changes a lot of things. We got a whole ‘nother life to think about. It’s almost like a second chance. We can have this baby and raise it together. I’m going to stay in Cleveland and have the baby there, for insurance purposes. And then, I’m really, really hoping Marcos can come back before this baby’s born. But if he’s not, then we have a whole lot to think about.

It feels so weird to be here without Pelé and Rocky.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, by the time this baby is born, no matter what, if I’ve got to move, if you’re not in the United States, I’m coming’ to Mexico, because there’s no way I’m having another baby by myself. I did Pelé by myself, Rocky all by myself, and I’m definitely not doing it by myself again.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

The truth of the matter is, is that when we come here, you’ve really got to understand how it is with them all the time, like long-term. You know what I mean?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And then, and then I, talking about that depending on where we’re going to live, where we’re going to move. I mean I, I like that apartment, but I don’t want to stay in that apartment with Pelé, Rocky and another baby, where every time we’ve got to go outside, one of us has to go outside with them, really you. So it’s stuff that you’ve really got to, really, really…I know it’s hard, because you’re not with them all the time, but you’ve got to think of it in that angle, too. Like, more realistic, not just like it’s so simple.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s not as simple as that. It’s actually kind of complicated, with them.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I mean, if we move to Mexico, I mean I’m hoping that’s not what happens, but if that’s what happens…

MARCOS PEREZ:

I like that picture.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Nice picture.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We, we’ve really got to really, really have a plan. You know, we’re not just going to come down here and throw Pelé in whatever school and be like, “Oh, he’s a big boy, he can figure it out.” No, I don’t want to do that. I want to find something that’s going to be comfortable for them, too. Not just, “Oh, they’re kids. They can figure it out on their own. Kids are strong. I had to figure stuff I out when I was young.” That’s what they call the dinosaur mentality. So, I want to do for them, like, for me, them is my priority about moving to Mexico, not us and what we want.

MARCOS PEREZ:

It’s really hard to think about.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Oh, shoot. These are the pictures of the 43 students that disappeared?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

That’s what all of these are for?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah. Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

That’s crazy. They still don’t know what happened to them?

MARCOS PEREZ:

No.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, what do you want to do now?

MARCOS PEREZ:

What do you feel like?

You know, Elizabeth, the baby’s going to be here next year. When you planning to come to Mexico?

I bet it’s going to be until June next year, July or more. And it’s going to extend a little, little, and then it’s going to be the same thing all the time. Wait for me. Two years. Wait for me. Three years. And I’m in jail. Do you know how it feels? Why’ve we got to be like that? I mean, I’m with you hundred percent already. Five years, going for six years. What are you going to do, wait another four, five years?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, but Marcos, I, stop like, “I’m tell you this, this, this, this, and that.” I was on…I keep telling you, I’m on the same thing. I’m going through the same crap as you. It’s not like I’m sitting here, “Okay, Marcos. Wait three months so I can sit here in America and eat pancakes all fuckin’ day.” I’m on the same damn thing as you, where I feel so bad, “Oh, this is about to happen. He’s about to come home. Ahhh.” You’re not the only one waiting, being good and all that crap. I do the same crap!

MARCOS PEREZ:

I don’t care. I want family. Really, I mean, that’s what I want. I want somebody’s close to me, sleep with me, love me, like those, those those…I, nobody told me, “I love you,” or how much I want to be with you in my life except Pelé and Rocky. So, when you don’t catch all the stops, like, I’m not innocent. I’m not stupid. I’m not the king. I’m not the best one. But I’m one of the few, I want to have a family, to be responsible, to be a dad, to be next to you. That’s what I want. I don’t care anymore anything. If you want to be in Australia, wherever, let’s do it. You want to wait somewhere? Let’s do it.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mmhm.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I don’t care. You know time kills everything? You’re going to be better, you go down another road. What’s the problem, man? What’s the problem? I know that feeling already. I don’t want to get old and not having nobody, my kids already grown and all the stuff. No. So, let’s see next year, are we together, we not together, or I don’t know.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

No.

[Singing]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s going to be a long day today, because Congressman Jim Jordan is doing free haircuts for veterans on Veterans Day, so, my quest to bring Marcos back here is taking me to a whole ‘nother place. And sometimes I question, like, if it’s even worth it. I don’t care. I have to push myself and do it, which is what I’m doing right now. Jordan is actually a Tea Partier, so normally they’re more not for immigration or anything that has to do with it at all. A lot of people have a vision that Democrats are more compassionate or helpful, but that’s a bunch of crap. It’s not true at all. And Republicans, supposedly everyone thinks they’re just white supremacists or something, but a lot of them have helped with so many cases, to bring…make sure undocumented immigrants have not been deported and have stepped in to stop it. So, it’s like, which one is it? I don’t really care.

I just know that Congressman Jordan might be a Tea Partier, he’s still also a human being. I’m just going to talk to him like, “What if I was your daughter?” I don’t want a damn haircut, I want my husband home.

Well, here we are, parking spots and all. Ooh, all right. Hopefully he’s here, and hopefully they do women’s hair. Maybe he’ll just think I’m a veteran’s spouse and not an actual veteran, because I’m a woman.

Down those stairs!

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN, United States House of Representatives, Ohio 4th district

Well, we got one more here somewhere…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hey. Number 21?

BARBER:

You want me to cut your hair?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. Ready for me?

BARBER:

I’ve never cut a woman’s hair before.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Are you for real?

BARBER:

I’m serious. Never, ever.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I thought we get free haircuts.

BARBER:

Yeah that, that might not be a good idea.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Really?

BARBER:

Yeah. Never, ever.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

How about a shave?

BARBER:

No.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Thanks for being honest.

BARBER:

Yeah. Absolutely. No problem.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

You’re the first lady we’ve had.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Really?

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

You serve in, in the Army? Marine Corps? What, what, what? Navy?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Both, Army and Marine Corps.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You remember meeting me in your office in in DC? With Veronica?

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Oh!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Last year?

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

That’s right. Sure, that’s why. Yes, I do.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, and you came in and talked to us personally.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And I remember at that time, I was getting ready to put in a petition for my husband. You…Is it coming back to you?

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Mmhm. Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, it was denied.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

And were you, did we meet with you in Norwalk?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Nope. I haven’t been to Norwalk.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Okay, so you, you were in our office in DC.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, mmhm.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah, okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, that’s a little separate than what I wanted to talk to you about.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

As you can see…

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’m kind of in a hurry…

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

…for my husband to get back here.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, I know we talked about it like a year and a half ago, or about a year ago, but I’m hoping… I’m going to be putting in a new application, and so I’m hoping maybe you can help me with it.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Endorse it, help me get it…

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

And, your husband is in… been sent to…?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mexico.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Back to Mexico. Right. Right. Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s been almost six years.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

That’s how long this struggle has been going on.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

He can apply in 2020.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

But, I need him back here, like, yesterday.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And now we’re having another baby. And I really, really need…

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

…somebody, and I’m hoping it’s you, to help me to get him back here, because I get so much lip service.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Okay. We’ll, we’ll, we’ll look at it.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Maybe he’ll do something to help Marcos, maybe not.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Is there certain paperwork that you have to give us, or file or…? We got all the information we need, for our office to look at?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, I can get it to you, because I’m going to file a new humanitarian visa, because the last one…

I’m glad I came. I need to keep trying.

You can refile another one.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

We’ve got to look at the whole history and look at the file.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’re looking at a lot of history.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah, I understand. And we’re looking at somebody who served our country, and we certainly appreciate that. So, we’ll take a look at it.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And I would definitely appreciate that a lot more than a haircut.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay?

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Yeah. No, I understand. Thank you so much.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Nice to meet you, by the way. I’m going to steal a doughnut.

MAN

I’m Dick Bear.

CONGRESSMAN JIM JORDAN:

Oh!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Women service members must work three times as hard to be seen as equal to our male counterparts.

[Reading from computer]

Good afternoon, Congressman Jordan and staff. Last week, I read an article calling for Ohio veterans to come get a haircut paid for by the congressman. Unfortunately, the article did not state that it was a male-only barber, and women vets would not be able to get a cut. I felt that ever-too-familiar sting of a reality that a congress member who represents an entire area of people only represents whom they choose, in this case, male veterans. This is not a simple mistake but reflects the fact that our sacrifices are not considered equal, whether it’s subconsciously or not. Yesterday, I traveled three hours from Cleveland to Bluffton. Like all of the veterans there, I did not go for the free haircut, I went for an opportunity to speak to the congressman about an issue: my husband who was deported in 2010. However, I feel disrespected that my decade of service is not even worth a haircut, because I’m a woman. It is not even the cut, it’s the blatant disregard of an entire group of veterans’ sacrifices. I almost did not say anything, since I want the congressman to help me with my husband’s return to our family, yet I am still a Marine and still live by those values, which compel me to speak above everything else. Yesterday’s event was wrong and disregarded the service of over 2,000,000 veterans (the amount of female vets in the US). I hope that in the future, veterans’ events will be inclusive of all, not just what some think a veteran is. I will be sending you a copy of my petition for my husband in the next week for your review. I hope that you can find a way to advocate for this veteran and my family. Thank you for your time in this matter. Feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns. Send.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Mom, it’s a loud and noisy upstairs.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Get your ass upstairs, boy.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I swear to god, I am really pissed off at you, Rocky!

ROCKY PEREZ:

No!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Get your butt upstairs now! And I am not telling you again! Up there, now! You are out of control! Get up there and sit down! Quiet!

I am currently in my third trimester, and you know how people say girls are different? This pregnancy has been way different than the last two, but really, the weird thing is, because of everything that’s going on with Marcos, I’m so anxious all the time about this whole situation, you know, when the baby’s going to be born being the deadline, like, living together in Mexico or going our separate ways if we weren’t going to work out and be together. So, I’ve got less than two months, and then she’ll be here.

[Baby crying]

DORAELIA “DORA” ACOSTA, Friend:

Hey!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hey, Dora! What’s going on?

DORA ACOSTA:

How are you?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Pretty good. Congratulations on the citizenship!

DORA ACOSTA:

Thank you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

How’s it feel?

DORA ACOSTA:

It feels great, thank you. Come on in.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Sure.

DORA ACOSTA:

It was amazing, because that same court was going to decide whether I was deported or stayed.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DORA ACOSTA:

So, it was amazing walking out of there five years later, being a US citizen.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

In the same building.

DORA ACOSTA:

Yeah. The same building.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’m so happy for you.

DORA ACOSTA:

How’s Marcos’ case going?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s going. I mean, it’s just, it’s, that’s a battle, too. Like, the same thing I’m saying. It’s like, how much, how many hoops do you have to jump through, you know, for your family to be together. Like, I put in a visa application for him for the humanitarian parole last year, you know? It was denied. I put in another one this year; it was denied. I just mailed in another one again. I’m like, I’m just going to keep sending them.

DORA ACOSTA:

Do you think you would go back to Mexico if they denied it again?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I don’t think I have a choice anymore. If I keep staying here, and he keeps staying there, then it’s not going to work. Not that…neither one of us would want it to, but it’s like already, this summer’s going to be six years.

DORA ACOSTA:

Uh huh.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, it’s like, I feel like if they’re not going to approve it, then I, I need to move there.

DORA ACOSTA:

Yep. So, basically, in order to save your family,…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DORA ACOSTA:

…you have to move.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. That’s, that’s what I think. And my husband’s always been pressuring me a lot, like I’ve got to move there.

DORA ACOSTA:

Uh huh.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

But I don’t want to move to Mexico City. I told him that. I don’t want to live there. You hear, like, the travel department putting out warnings right for where my husband lives. And then he makes me paranoid about not wanting me to speak English on the street, because it’s a target. And he’s been, you know, like, on the bus, you know they c-, , people come on and rob the entire bus, when he’s been on the bus, a couple times. I don’t want to worry about my kids walking home from school, somebody, like, takes them. And I don’t know if, like, sometimes I don’t know if I, like, go too much into that, like, thinking that, or it’s really…I feel like it’s a valid worry, you know?

DORA ACOSTA:

I think it is, because if I go down there for two or three weeks, we watch out for the same things. Like, we’re just down there on vacation, and we’re always wat-, like, my son, I’ll be like, “Shh. Don’t sp-“ I’ll be, like, the same way,…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah?

DORA ACOSTA:

…because I’m paranoid. Because they are. There’s people that are just watching, and they do things. The…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DORA ACOSTA:

…danger and the kidnappings and all of that are out of hand. They’ll kill you for 20 pesos down there.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Jeez. That’s not even two dollars.

DORA ACOSTA:

I think Marcos loves his kids so much, and he’s afraid, because he sees how things are.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DORA ACOSTA:

I mean, if you were just Mexican, lived there your whole life, I think they wouldn’t care about you. But for you to be American and go down there…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mmhm.

DORA ACOSTA:

You’re, like he says, a target right away. For somebody like me or the kids who were raised up here, we’re a target, because they feel like, “Oh, they have more family in the US. We can kidnap them and get money.”

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And get something. So, you agree with me, like, you would feel the same way, like you don’t know if you want to take your kids there, too?

DORA ACOSTA:

No, I, well, when he was almost deported, when Luis was almost deported, I was the same way. Like I would flip-flop and be like, “Well, we can just, we can make it work.”

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

DORA ACOSTA:

But no. You just don’t have that security. My sister, when I went last time, she was like, “You don’t hold them like this, Dora, because they can slip, they can just slip them right out. You hold them like this. If they try to pull him from you, you, it’ll be harder for them to snatch him.”

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Wow. I get really nervous, like, if something happened to my kids. Like I think any woman does.

DORA ACOSTA:

If you live in Mexico City, you’re basically putting your whole family at risk. It’s like, taking a broken family and just dealing with it here, but taking your, or taking your entire family and putting it at risk in a really dangerous place. That’s a tough sit-…that’s a tough, tough decision.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I feel like…you know, something I think about a lot is like, you bel-, you know, you’re spiritual, right?

DORA ACOSTA:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Like, God doesn’t care like where you’re at. It’s just, the most important thing is like, having your family unit and being together, right?

DORA ACOSTA:

Uh huh.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, sometimes I feel like, by me staying here, am I, like, withholding from our family unit by not going there? That’s something, like, I struggle with, like, internally. You know what I’m saying?

DORA ACOSTA:

I think, at the, in the long run, you’ve just got to do whatever you feel is best for your family. And just try it, because you guys have to be together. You’ve struggled too much on your own, and I think you deserve that. You’re in a tough, tough situation.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, I’m glad you’re out of yours, Dora.

DORA ACOSTA:

Yeah. But it’s crazy how I had to become a US citizen, and you’re already a US citizen, and a Marine, you still have to put this big fight.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

Hello?

MARCOS PEREZ:

[On Skype]

I’m right here!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Oh, look at you!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yup, yup.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

See gorgie Georgie?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Wow. Jesus. She’s big.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. She got, she got big fast, huh?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Chubby, chubby.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, um…

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yep?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We got a lot to talk about today.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’ve talked to all the schools?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yep.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

On that whole list that we had?

So, today we have to decide before we get off this phone call, like, are we staying here for an extra year? Are we going to come there?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Like right now, I want to get prepared, get my GED, have it all set for the next year. And see if I can get a job where I can have medical. And you guys can move here to Mexico next year.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I remember us talking about, I’m always going to have a reason, and it’s going to be this many months until we come there. And now I feel like I want to say the same thing to you, too. If we stay here another year, I mean, part of me feels like I want to, maybe for selfish reasons, like, because, you know, the kids’ school and, like, we’re comfortable with, like, the insurance and all that type of stuff. And then another part of me is like, I just want to have a decision, whatever we’re doing, like we do something. You’re here or we’re there. Like, I hate this like, limbo stuff. And we’re just going to be like limbo for another year. And now, I got the VA pension, so we have a better opportunity to make it, moving there. And I feel like you just flip-flop on it a lot, too. You know, it just kind of makes me wonder, like, with this year, because coming from you it really surprised me.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, let me ask you this.

MARCOS PEREZ:

What?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You want me to move there, right? I’m not talking about the babies; I’m talking about us.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes. Yes, Elizabeth, for you. We are family, Elizabeth. Why I want to say yes for you, for everybody.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I know for everybody, but I’m not talking about just our family. I’m talking about us.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yes, Elizabeth, family.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Really?

MARCOS PEREZ:

We are family. We’re married, right?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah, I mean, I feel that way, but I’ve just got to throw it out there, because we’re going on six years, and this isn’t normal. So, we have to focus on, like, what is our plan, like, because I don’t want it to be nine years and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, well it’s been nine years already, and…”

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I don’t want you know, something crazy to happen.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I love you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Ten years, and then you finally come back here, and we’re finally living together, and we’ve been married for, like, 12 years and living together for one of them, you know? You’re going to have, like, you know, you’ve got your whole family here, and you’re there by yourself. You’ve got to get prepared for that, too, Marcos, because when we come there, we’re coming there.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And it’s, it’s your, the way you’re living now, by yourself, is going to change. I know you’re going to be happy about it, but I mean you’ve got to recognize, too, like, next year, we’re coming there.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Ready, set, go. No. Come on, Pelé. The pinecone game.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Are we going to Mexico? Am I not going to Mexico? The truth of the matter is, is I’m going completely, completely insane.

Come here.

And, I don’t know how much more of this I can take by myself.

ROCKY PEREZ:

You want to play rock, paper, scissors?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It’s like, we can’t continue doing this for another three years, or a little more than three years. And then, even still, in three years, there’s a huge chance it might not even get approved, period. I mean, he might have to live in Mexico forever. We don’t know anything. It’s like the, the future is this big, huge unknown.

ROCKY PEREZ:

I had paper, you had scissors. I am not enjoying this walk, Mommy.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Get up right now. You are really making me mad. You need to stop it right now. Do you understand me?

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You stop it.

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Give me that. You are misbehaving. Don’t start crying.
ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Look at me right now. Look at me right now.

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Stop it. Right now.

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Stop. Stop it right now. Look at me. You are misbehaving. You need to stop, and you’re doing it on purpose. Don’t start playing games. Stop. Look at me. Do not start playing games. You will…look at me…you will hold my hand. Do you understand me?

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

I am.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You will not say a word. Do you got it?

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

I am.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Nope. Shh. Quiet. I’m going to squeeze it every time you cry. No crying. Shh. Shh. Quiet. Shh. Hey! I said no crying.

ROCKY PEREZ:

[Crying]

I’m tired.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

It doesn’t matter.

Here we are again. Oh, Mary, I don’t know how much more of this I can take. Please, please, please. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses. We forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen. Please, Mary. I really need Marcos back here. I really need him to come back home. I’ll do whatever you want, whatever you guys want, but please, can this happen soon? I just can’t take it anymore. I try to have so much faith like it’s going to work, and I believe in you and everything. It’s just really weighing on me. Please. I trust you for everything. I love you. Amen. Father, Son, Holy Spirit, Amen.

Song lyrics: Thank you, oh dear Lord,

for the many blessings that you always give me.

Thank you for your love and your holy spirit that is always near me.

While down on my knees, I feel so unworthy,

and I cry, “I’m sorry.”

And my soul rejoices,

Giving you the glory,

For all you’ve done for me.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

I’m exhausted. I really hope this works.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

I know you put a lot into this.

McAllen, Texas

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

This is a lot of sacrifice on a lot of people’s part. My parents, you, Hilda, Stephanie. Very costly, and I’m really hoping that it works and Marcos comes home.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Won’t that be amazing, if they let him in?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

But wait, you didn’t get him a ticket back, so what are you going to do?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Drive.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Drive? How?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. We would drive home.

So, here we are in McAllen, Texas. And we’re in McAllen, Texas for one reason: ‘cause we’re going to bring Marcos home.

Take a couple days.

We’re going to do it in a different way than how we’ve been attempting the humanitarian parole before. What we’ve been doing is sending it to ICE, and it’s five times I’ve sent it to them, but it’s been denied. I spoke to a lawyer, and she informed me we can go to the US-Mexican border; Marcos would have to come up with the petition and present it to Border Patrol. And Border Patrol would then have the discretion to let him come into the country or, of course, deny the petition.

It’s like a shot in the dark, but if there’s a chance for Marcos to come home, I want to do it.

Me and Veronica looked it up, and there’s not a whole lot of information about can this really work? So, we’re kind of out on a little bit of a limb with this attempt.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

I really hope they let him in. They’ve got to do the right thing and let him in.

JOHN WOOD:

My daughter simply fell in love with a man in America, and the government told her that they needed their approval for him to live with her. I find that very bizarre. Marcos, he’s hard-working. And the only thing that any father asks of a son-in-law is, “Do you love the children?” And he’s a great lover of his children. And the separation I have seen over the past six years has not worked well for the family. Now, we’re down at Border Patrol, trying to convince them to let Marcos into the country.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

So, where we going now?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We’ve got to go to the car rental place.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

And then we’ll have a little meeting tonight to discuss our plans.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

I just got a call, this morning, from the Mexican Consulate, here in McAllen, Texas, and it’s horrible, horrible news. They reached out to the Border Patrol and were told that if Marcos shows up at the checkpoint, so that we could submit his petition, that he will be arrested and detained and held for up to two years. This is shocking, because we were told that we could do this. It’s unbelievable. This could have been a disaster.

I hate to have to give him the news, though. You know what I mean?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah. Yeah.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

How do you think he’s going to take it?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I don’t know. I don’t know.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

It’s a super cruel, harsh punishment.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

He’s going to be upset, but he’s going to be so happy to, like, see everybody at the same time. It’s going to be really important for him to see my dad.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Really, really, really, Veronica, that’s the big thing.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

I know. Take it easy. Don’t stress too much.

Customs waiting room

Progresso, Mexico

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

¿Okay, yo puedo entrar? Can I go in now? ¿Sí? Yes?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Hi, Veronica.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Hola. ¿Cómo estás?

MARCOS PEREZ:

How are you?

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

Good. I’m so sorry. Marcos, we…

MARCOS PEREZ:

No, that’s okay.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

…did not get the petition approved. We did not get it approved.

MARCOS PEREZ:

It’s okay.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

I’m sorry.

MARCOS PEREZ:

It’s okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Mm.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Hello!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What’s up! I missed you so much.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Mm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Man, look at you. You look so good.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I changed my…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Good thing no ladies are allowed in here.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I changed my shirt, like, million times, ‘cause it’s so hot.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

MATTIE DAHLTON:

Marcos. I’m so happy.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Hey, what’s up?

MATTIE DAHLTON:

I love you. I love you.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Ah, my suegra.

My mother-in-law. Wow. It’s incredible she’s here. I remember she cooked for me and give me all the attention. She’s a really nice person.

Anyway, thanks for everything.

JOHN WOOD:

Hey.

MARCOS PEREZ:

So what’s up, Sugro? Long time I want to see you.

JOHN WOOD:

So, you been working at all?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

I’m so happy to see my father-in-law, John.

JOHN WOOD:

So, come with me.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I know he’s really happy to see me.

JOHN WOOD:

You know, be nice for you to get back when we can still pick up a hammer together.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah, sure.

We have a really good time talking about when we worked together, but I can see he’s started getting older. And he always make me laugh.

JOHN WOOD:

And they went and broke the real estate market.

MARCOS PEREZ:

He’s a really nice guy, and I love him so much.

Oh, wow. You’re so cute!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

She’s just like me.

MARCOS PEREZ:

No. What’s up? You know who I am? No? ‘Cause you look at me like that, yeah? You are smiling? Where’s your smile?

I’m really excited to see my daughter, Georgia, for the first time.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

She’s going to eat your finger.

MARCOS PEREZ:

She’s really tiny. Emotionally, it’s kind of complicated, because I have another daughter in California. She’s 20 years old. And now I have Georgia, my new baby. It remind me how depressed I get sometimes, thinking about what I want for my first daughter, Daisy. I have all these dreams, all these goals to grow, like, a family for her.

She looks exactly like me.

Now, Georgia, she’s leaving me, getting back to United States.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Look at her. She looks like me. You look like Mama, right?

MARCOS PEREZ:

It’s difficult to live without her, without my family. But I know, one day, we will be together.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right, what time’s your flight at?

MARCOS PEREZ:

I’ve got to be there early.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, we’re going to go up to the bridge and cross the bridge, and then you’ve got your taxi coming to take you to the airport.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

Progresso, Mexico is a border town. It’s one of the toughest and dangerous states in Mexico.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’m really sorry this didn’t work. But, at least we tried.

MARCOS PEREZ:

After Elizabeth leave and go back to United States, I want to get out of here, take my flight and go back to Mexico City.

Okay.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right. Well I think we’re… I’m going to go straight now.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

And I’ll call you tonight. I’ll see you. Okay?

MARCOS PEREZ:

See you. Okay? I love you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Take care of yourself. I love you. Don’t forget that. Mm. Next time I see you, Pelé and Rocky will be bouncing all over the place.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Say bye to Miss Georgia.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Ah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

All right, love you. Take care. All right. Oh, my gosh.

Song lyrics:

Thank you, oh dear lord

for the many blessings that you always give me…

MARCOS PEREZ:

As you know, I’ve been depressed. I’ve been stressful and anxious being away from my family. That’s why I decide to join this holistic wellness center. One of the activities I did there is Zumba® dancing.

It refreshes my brain. It moves my mind. It makes me feel positive, active. It makes me feel good.

EDGAR ELOY CRUZ RODRIGUEZ, Yoga teacher:

[Translated from Spanish]

Take a deep breath. Hold it. Now exhale. This will make you feel calmer.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I try everything there. I take yoga,…

[Translated from Spanish]

I was in the US, and they deported me.

…I talk with a psychologist.

[Translated from Spanish]

I have been depressed, because my wife and kids are in the US.

It doesn’t always work, but I try to get better.

EDGAR ELOY CRUZ RODRIGUEZ:

[Translated from Spanish]

Let us think about your interior. Let us check your heart. I want you to visualize your family. Tell them how much you miss them and that you need them.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

You know we’ve been working with Elizabeth on her case?

GROUP AT HOLA MEETING

Sí!

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

She’s somebody who doesn’t give up. We filed the seventh petition on her case with ICE, and it was denied. People are in HOLA, they fight their cases and they leave. They fight their case, they leave. But Elizabeth is still fighting. Six years, and she’s still here. And we’ve tried everything, but there’s some things that are out of our control, like ICE and what is happening there, which…they’re out of control, basically. So, Elizabeth, do you want to say anything?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

VERONICA DAHLBERG:

¿Quieres decir algo a la gente?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Hello, everyone. So, Veronica just gave a little bit of the update that the petition was denied again; seven times. And this last time, I was for sure it was going to get approved. And what makes it even harder is recently we did an inquiry, and they said that no matter what we do for this petition, they’re just not going to approve it. They’re not going to approve it no matter what, is what they said. I’m still going to mail another one, probably next week, and we’re just waiting for a letter, because I’m not going to take that answer.

But I’m sure a lot of people in here know how hard it is when your spouse is in another country and you’ve just got to try to keep it all together. And we’re in our seventh year, and it’s really, really hard. I mean, it’s really hard on my husband. It’s hard for me to watch him, like, see how hard it is for him, because he’s a father, and he has no opportunity to be a father. We have three children now, and he hasn’t been with any of them; one of them for five months, that’s it. That’s it. That’s his only opportunity he’s had. And it’s really, like, draining on my entire family. And I’m really thinking, most likely, that we’re just going to go there.

And I don’t want anybody to feel like I’m giving up on HOLA, I’m giving up on immigration, nothing. ‘Cause even when I’m there, I’m still going to be sending petitions, I’m still going to be doing whatever I’ve got to do.

But the most important thing is I’ve got to have my family together, and I feel spiritually conflicted. It shouldn’t matter what land you’re standing in, what house you live in, what clothes you have on the back. You should have the people you love together with you. But it’s really hard, ‘cause I moved to Mexico before, and we didn’t make it. Like, we were hungry. And when I say hungry, I mean hungry. So, it’s like, it was really hard. So, I’ve always had this conflict, for the last, like, six years. And now I just feel like I’m called, like I, if I cannot get him home this year, before the ki- when the kids get out of school, I’ve got to, I’ve got to do it. I’ve got to make sure that we’re not divorced 10 years from now. I’ve got to make sure that when we have grandkids, we’re all at the same table, that this stupid immigration system doesn’t destroy my family, ‘cause it is not going to happen. They’re not going to win that. They’ve won this separation. They’ve won a lot of things. They’re not going to win that.

All right, listen to me, guys. I want to talk to you guys about Mexico, okay?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yes.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You know we might be moving to Mexico when you get out of first grade, Pelé.

PELÉ PEREZ:

I’m not going to play with my friends anymore.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Don’t you think you’ll get new friends in Mexico?

PELÉ PEREZ:

I, I’m really, I might get used to them. But then, but then how can I speak their language?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, you’ll figure it out. You’re really smart, Pelé. You’re really…

PELÉ PEREZ:

Should I copy the other kids?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Is that hotdog cooked?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Nope.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

[Laughing]

Lord help you. Let me see that. Let me just touch it and see if it’s at least warm! Okay. You’ll be fine. You’ll learn how to speak Spanish. It’s not that hard. You’re really smart. You’ll figure it out. You guys are both really, really smart. You do really good in school. You’ll do really good in school there, too. You’re just going to have to work a little bit harder. Okay? Okay?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yeah, but now I’m in second grade. And I’ll be in second grade next year.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’re going to be in second grade in Mexico. Okay? And you’re going to go to school. And you’re going to learn how to speak Spanish. Okay, and it’s probably going to be really hard for you in the beginning. But you’ll figure it out, because you’re really smart. Okay?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What is going to make you happy?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Playing soccer with Daddy.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah? Does Daddy always play soccer with you?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Rocky. Come here, Rock. Why do you not want to move to Mexico?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Because maybe the teacher will ask us a Mexico word, “How do you say in Spanish?” And we don’t know what it is.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

But you’re going to learn Spanish.

ROCKY PEREZ:

No. We forget.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You will learn Spanish, Rocky, and you’ll learn how to speak Spanish.

ROCKY PEREZ:

No, I don’t want to move there.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Why do you not want to move there?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Because we, we don’t want learning Spanish. We forget it. We don’t know Spanish.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’ll learn Spanish, Rocky.

ROCKY PEREZ:

No!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Why are you so angry about going to Mexico?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Because! The teacher will tell us what’s Spanish, and me and Pelé don’t know.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

But you’re going to learn how to speak Spanish.

ROCKY PEREZ:

No, I’m not going to Mexico.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Aren’t you going to be happy to see Daddy and live with Daddy and live in the same house with Daddy?

ROCKY PEREZ:

If we do not go to a school.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

But if we go to Mexico, you’re going to have to go to school in Mexico.

ROCKY PEREZ:

No!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We are going to Mexico…

ROCKY PEREZ:

NO!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

…and you’re going to school in Mexico.

ROCKY PEREZ:

But the schools just want Spanish. They just want Spanish, Mexico people there, not Ohio. And I don’t know Spanish.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay, well, we’re going to Mexico.

ROCKY PEREZ:

No!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We are going to Mexico.

Nine months later

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

What Spanish words did you guys learn today?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Rocky, how you say in Spanish, 49?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Cuarenta nueve.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Daddy, remember you heard me say it in the car? I can count to a hundred.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Mmhm.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

How you say 15?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Um…

PELÉ PEREZ:

You should know.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Fifteen?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Yeah.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Dose, trece, catorce y…

ROCKY PEREZ:

Quince?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yeah.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

How about this, how about this? Count as high as you can count. Let me see how high you can count, from the beginning.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Okay.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Me too?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Nope. Rocky first.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Cincuenta y seis… (56)

MARCOS PEREZ:

Pelé.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Cincuenta y siete, cincuenta y ocho, cincuenta y nueve… (55, 58, 59)

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

We’ve been in the Yucatan for a while now. We have another baby here, so we have four children now to take care of, so that just throws extra work into the mix.

PELÉ PEREZ:

I forget which one I was on!

MARCOS PEREZ:

Setenta y ocho (78)

PELÉ PEREZ:

[Yells]

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You better… Don’t do that.

Pelé and Rocky have been in school for a while.

MARCOS PEREZ:

That’s why I try to remind you.

PELÉ PEREZ:

No!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’ve got to calm down, Pelé.

Long enough to recognize that they each have their own challenges with the transition and language.

PELÉ PEREZ:

I know, I know.

MARCOS PEREZ:

The next one?

PELÉ PEREZ:

Setenta y seis…(76)

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Pelé will push himself, trying to be the best he can.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Setenta y nueve…(79)

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Rocky’s having trouble, ripping up his book in school, getting mad.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Pelé, you’re not looking!

PELE PEREZ:

No! I can’t…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Just things that, with time, will get better.

You’re not the ref anymore. You’re fired.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Oh, yeah, you called me fired? Then you get a whooping.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Okay, if you find it in one shot, then you are out. So, Daddy goes first. Okay, Dad.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Okay, yours is yellow?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Wait, I was supposed to go first! Okay, is your guy yellow?

MARCOS PEREZ:

Yep.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Yep. Okay.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Are you blue?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Okay, this is a blue. Let’s see, this is a blue.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Wait, why are you opening the blues?

ROCKY PEREZ:

‘Cause Daddy asked if it was blue.

MARCOS PEREZ:

It’s orange?

ROCKY PEREZ:

No, you said it was orange first, so it’s orange. So, you have to say it’s orange, so you have to flip all the ones that are orange.

PELÉ PEREZ:

You said it is orange!

ROCKY PEREZ:

I said it’s not orange.

MARCOS PEREZ:

So, now it’s yellow?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Yeah.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Is, is yours sea lion?

ROCKY PEREZ:

Yes! Hey, you heard that!

MARCOS PEREZ:

What I hear?

ROCKY PEREZ:

You’re…you cheated! I win!

MARCOS PEREZ:

[Lauging]

PELÉ PEREZ:

Ha ha ha!

ROCKY PEREZ:

You cheated!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay, now let-, now let’s start over. Come on.

PELÉ PEREZ:

It was just a joke!

ROCKY PEREZ:

He cheated!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay.

ROCKY PEREZ:

He cheated!

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Chill out.

ROCKY PEREZ:

Mommy, now we’re doing the people Guess Who?®.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Okay.

PELÉ PEREZ:

Again?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You know, since Marcos was deported in 2010, we have not lived together more than a couple months at a time. In essence, he has been a bachelor and I have been a single mom. Now we’re finally living together, after all these years. And we have to learn to live together again. And, it’s really not easy. We have a lot of tension.

A big problem that we have here is Marcos can’t find a job. And it’s definitely not for a lack of trying. He was offered a job as a security guard. He would work 60 hours a week, and he would get paid approximately 55 US dollars. And I told him, that’s really not the kind of money that we need to be making.

He feels emasculated, because he’s not working and bringing in money. And all of these things, I feel like he takes out on me.

We’re getting money from the VA pension in my name. He feels like he has to do everything I say, because I’m the one bringing money in.

MARCOS PEREZ:

But for me it’s like, I don’t need all this stuff. I told her, we can live a little bit cheaper, in a little bit cheaper place.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You’re the one that picked this place, not me.

MARCOS PEREZ:

No, I understand that.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

You picked this place.

MARCOS PEREZ:

No it’s not nothing like that. It’s because you feel comfortable.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

So, then you keep throwing it in my face that we moved here.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Because you feel comfortable.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Well, then stop throwing it in my face, I feel comfortable.

MARCOS PEREZ:

You feel comfortable. I saw you, like, you feel comfortable. I can see you. I mean, I’m not guessing. I can see you where, where you feel comfortable, where you feel happy. Otherwise, you, you not happy. And then what happen right now is, like, you have to adjust and accept it, like, you not going to see your mom, you not going to have your friends.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I already know that.

MARCOS PEREZ:

You not going to work with HOLA, you not going to have your friends, or whatever.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Marcos, you act like I never left home before in my life.

MARCOS PEREZ:

No, no.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

I’m a grown woman.

MARCOS PEREZ:

No, no. Well, the point, the end of the point is, like, the stress, like you no really happy, like, sometimes we argue and whatever. It’s, I told you, I’m happy. You see, I call my mom, and ah, it’s my life, I don’t want to…people be like me. I call my mom sometimes, I call, but you’ve got to be 24 hours, every fuckin’ day. From seven o’clock in the morning ‘til all, ‘till eight, nine o’clock. But I do all with the stuff, because I love her and for my kids. It’s, it’s just about you.

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

This is so stupid. Like, we’re here, we’re living here in a great place. We have everything we could possibly want right now. Our family, we’re here together, and we can’t get past, “I follow you everywhere.” “You tell me to do this.” This, this, “blah blah blah blah blah.” “You’re on the phone too much.” This or that. “Oh, you’re on the phone all the time, because you’re not happy with your family.” I’m on the phone all the time ‘cause I like to talk. You’re like this. “You have a friend. You have friends. You should care more about your family. Why you care about your friends all the time?” I have one friend, and we only text.

MARCOS PEREZ:

Okay, go ahead. It’s like, okay, “I don’t want to be here, I want to go with my friends,” like this and that. And we just got together. Okay, go ahead. That’s what you want, so what?

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Your deportation has just destroyed everything. You feel like when you have your visa interview in 2020, and it doesn’t work, we’re just going to go back to the United States, and you’re here, and we’re there, and our relationship is over. You feel like this is just a game for us, and we’re just here on a like a mini-vacation, until you can have your visa interview, like it’s this plan I have all planned out, in the beginning. When in reality, I don’t know what the heck is going on. I don’t know what’s going to happen with the interview. I don’t know what’s going to happen with immigration law between now and then.

MARCOS PEREZ:

I don’t have anything, like, really, really stable. So, if in 2020, they don’t say, “You know what, this is that, blah blah blah,” for me it’s not? So you can say, “You know, Marcos, the relation is like that, separate.” You got your babies. You got stability in there. You don’t need a man. You can have 10 if you want to. And then, I’m stuck here…

ELIZABETH PEREZ:

Your visa could get denied very well, yes. But why’ve we got to fight about it every single day now?

[Song lyrics]

In heaven, I have a holy father

who tells me I am never alone

Who tells me just to keep on believing…

27m
Massacre of El Salvador
Massacre in El Salvador
FRONTLINE, Retro Report and ProPublica examine the ongoing fight for justice for the horrific 1981 attack on the village of El Mozote and surrounding areas.
November 9, 2021