Israel Garcia

Savitha S, March 26, 2017

Israel Garcia: In His Own Words

My name is Israel Garcia. I think a good example with social justice was the time I was a student, a PHD student in El Paso, I was crossing the border going back to Mexico. And then, when I was coming back to El Paso, the officer from the border stopped me right there and asked me what I was studying in El Paso, and why I was coming to Mexico and coming back, kinda like interrogating me. So, I answered everything he asked me, but then he politely asked me to follow him to the inside of the offices. And we went inside, and they just told me you go into a room, which it was basically a couple of benches on the side, no windows and then they asked me to sit down there. I did, and they just closed the door and that’s it. And I didn’t even know why they even kept me there or what was going on, so I was there sitting for like three hours, waiting for them to tell me what was going on. And then, finally somebody came by and opened the door, and they just told me, “You can go now.” So I didn’t even know what happened.

I find myself going through questioning, in the sense that, for example, I said that I’m going back to El Paso, and they ask me, “Where are you leaving?” I said, “El Paso.” And then, they kept on asking, “Yeah, but where in El Paso? Give me your address.” So, they already have that information in front of them in the computer.

The first place I began as a student with a visa, it was El Paso, so it is very similar to Mexico, and it has a lot of people from Mexico living in El Paso, so everybody basically speaks Spanish, so yeah, you would hear people speaking in English, but the majority of the people in El Paso speak Spanish. So, it didn’t really feel like I was in a different country with a different language because everybody was utilizing the same language. So it was really not that difficult until I started travelling through conferences and everything, so I need to communicate more often in English with other people.

I think one time I was walking around, at the department store or like dinner, resorts something like that and then, a person approached me and asked me if they could help me with something and I was like, “No, I’m just looking around, thank you for your help.” And then, I kinda had this feeling that this person was following me, and I would just look back and see that person pretty close, I don’t know maybe like six feet away from me or something like that. And then, I’ve noticed that she’d been talking on the phone or radio about, “There’s this guy that’s by himself and I’m just checking he’s not shoplifting or anything.” So then I turn around, and look at her, like are you serious? Are you telling me that you’re escorting me to check I’m not doing anything illegal?