Janitor at Stanford University
My name is Doroteo Garcia and I am originally from Oaxaca Mexico. I came to America in 1996. I crossed the border to work and make some money for my kids and my family.
I came here and I found an apartment with a couple of friends. I found a job for $7.50 and hour with a janitorial company. In 1999, I started working at Stanford as a janitor through a sub-contractor called Manpower. I cleaned the dorms for the students. I worked in the dining room too. When the students are on vacation, we clean the dorms for conferences since Stanford rents the dorms. Later when the students are back, Manpower put me in different dining rooms, sometimes one month, two months. After that, when the students leave, I clean apartments, dorms. Finally, I applied for one janitorial company in Stanford and I’m still there. The building that I clean now there’s not too many offices but more lobbies and bathrooms.
We immigrants do not take work away from Americans. I will give you an example. In my company, one time they asked the workers about 20 open positions for nighttime janitors. Some of the workers were legal residents and they went to work, but they worked only two, three days and quit. They didn’t want to earn the minimum wage of $15 an hour working all night. If workers have a legal residence they want to make more money. This job is only for undocumented immigrants. The people that aren’t legal are really doing jobs that nobody else wants. Not only janitors but also the same is true for restaurant workers.
I am also a union leader and organizer. I do not like to see injustices. I helped organize so we get healthcare, dental care and some benefits like vacation and sick days. I also fight for salary increases. We now get $18. an hour but all my money goes to rent- it is very, very expensive to live here.
My neighbors, my coworkers, we watch the news everyday. We feel scared, we’re worried what will happen. My coworker has four or five children, sometimes she asks me, “Doro, I hear the news they want to cut the food stamp program. What do you think?” “I don’t know.” Every time when we hear something in the news, we’re affected because we don’t know what’s going to happen. My coworker has little children here and she worries, “What happens if one day I can be deported? What would happen with my kids? Because my kids were born here.” it’s very sad, very hard how we can help these people.
I remember when I was coming here, my family said to me, “What happens if something happens to you when you’re traveling, when you cross the border?” I told them “I don’t care, I need to look for a better life.” How can we fix this problem? We can change the law. Million of people are living here undocumented all over the US, These million people work. These million people pay rent, pay taxes, have children here, and have a life here. We’re waiting for something so we can be free and live without fear. We want to have a normal life.