Oswaldo finds himself in Los Angeles

Before Oswaldo Vázquez arrived in the United States, he and his family researched youth soccer leagues for him to join from their home in Mexico. Two weeks after he moved to Los Angeles, he started practicing with the Hollywood Football Club.


Oswaldo Vázquez in his apartment in Chinatown before soccer practice. (Photo by Michelle Salinas)

Vázquez returned to the United States, the country of his birth, after living in Mexico for seven years. “I felt that I had reunited with myself,” he said. “When I came back to the U.S., I felt I was home.”

Vázquez left home when he was five years old after his dad decided to move the family to Mexico. Vázquez’s parents, Angel and Eva, had expired visas so they feared getting deported and separated from their three children—Sandy, Sofía and Oswaldo.

Angel and Eva had both emigrated from Mexico and met while working together at a car wash in Los Angeles. Eva is from the state of Mexico and Angel is from the state of Yucatán. When they decided to move the family out of the U.S., they headed to Angel’s native state and relocated to Motul, a town 45 minutes from the city of Merida.

Once in Mexico, Oswaldo was bullied because of his small stature. He started playing soccer and saw that as an escape. He looked up to his dad, who played on the Yucatán soccer team when he was young.

Oswaldo at soccer practice in Miguel Contreras Learning Complex in Downtown Los Angeles. (Photo by Michelle Salinas)

Angel and Eva always promised their children they would return to the U.S. to pursue an education.  Sandy was the first to make the move. Two years after moving to Mexico, she returned to Los Angeles, moved in with her maternal aunt, Sara, and started high school.

At 13, Oswaldo followed the same path. He left his family back in Mexico and moved in with his aunt, Sara, in Los Angeles.

The first night of me being in the U.S., all I wanted to do was rest. But I couldn’t sleep because I was thinking, ‘Oh my God, my parents, my mom, my dad, my little sister. I miss them,’ and I felt very emotional.” He adds,  “I had the support of my aunt, you know. She was my like my second mom, or I could even call her my mom.”

Oswaldo credits his aunt and his older sister, Sandy, for his successful adaptation back into the U.S.  His aunt Sara said they really made an effort to provide a welcoming space for him feel like he was home, even while away from immediate family.

Oswaldo resting before the next drill at soccer practice in Miguel Contreras Learning Complex. (Photo by Michelle Salinas)

Today, Oswaldo keeps in contact with them in Mexico through text and calls. He said, “They always tell me that every single sacrifice and every single thing that has been done has been worth it for my future, and of course for them. Because I think that if they come back in the future, I think we all can be a great family.”

In hopes that they can reunite their family, Angel and Eva are applying for visas to return to the U.S. Whatever happens, they are planning on having Sofía return to the U.S. and follow in her big sister’s and brother’s footsteps.