Teenage Diaries Revisited: Living Life Under The Radar

Name: Juan (NPR is not revealing his full name, because he is living in the country illegally.)

Hometown: Loreto, Zacatecas, Mexico

Current city: Denver

Occupation: Plumber

His first radio diary:

Juan came to the U.S. with his family, who crossed the Rio Grande illegally in 1992, and he spent his teen years in Texas, a few hundred feet from that same river. The family lived in a trailer. At times, there was no food to eat. When he was 18, Juan recorded a diary about life along the Rio Grande, and his dreams for the future.

His new radio diary:

“If you meet me on the street, it’s not even going to cross your mind that I’m an illegal resident. I’ve been here so long. I’m one of you.”

Juan has made a life for himself in Colorado that might seem like the American dream: a house, a job, two cars, three kids, a happy marriage. But he remains in the U.S. illegally. Juan’s radio diary chronicles life under the radar.

Why he recorded a teen audio diary:

“To me it was like I was doing something cool, something important, something that was going to be part of my life, I knew that back then. I was like, maybe 20 years from now I’ll be talking about this. I honestly believed that.”

Produced for All Things Considered by Joe Richman and Sarah Kate Kramer of Radio Diaries, edited by Deborah George and Ben Shapiro.

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