'The way they treated me, I don't like it at all'

  • Agustin Perez

    Lisa Jones

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

Thirty-one-year-old Agustin Perez of Driggs, Idaho, came to the United States in 1982 to make $4.50 an hour working for a potato farmer in nearby Ashton. He got his green card in 1990. When we interviewed him he was in the midst of remodeling a Mormon church in Jackson. He is preparing to sue federal immigration officials over the way they treated him during the Aug. 28 raid. Some excerpts from his interview follow:

Agustin Perez: "I went to Jackson to visit my sister. I went to see because I heard immigration was in town. I thought I'd better see if the family was okay. I saw the local police; they were searching my sister's trailer. So I didn't stop. I stopped at my sister-in-law's. I get out from the car and walk toward my sister's place. I walk to my sister's and I almost get in the trailer.

"This guy, he says, 'Stop, don't move.' I say, 'Why?' He said, 'Hands up behind your head.' I said, 'Why? I didn't do nothing.' He started screaming and points a gun at me, and says, 'Don't move,' and I say, 'Why?'

"The other guy walked around and grabbed me and pushed me hard against the trailer. It hurt! My brother-in-law was inside; another woman was inside. She watched everything, and my neighbor was watching, too. They saw him point the gun right at me.

"I got pissed off. I said, 'Go ahead, pull the trigger. If you're gonna pull the pistol on a person, use it!' I didn't think they were going to kill me, I just thought they were trying to scare me.

"Afterwards, they said, 'Why didn't you say you had papers?" and I said, 'Because you didn't ask me!'

"They take advantage of the Spanish people because they think they're smarter, or what do they think? That we're less than anybody else? We come here and we take nothing away. We come here to work because we need it. We pay taxes, we spend our wages here.

"I'm tired to see so much corruption from immigration and the police. I don't care about the money. I just want some justice; that's it. The way they treated me, I don't like it at all."

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