"Look Jim, if I show up at the clinic [nearby public clinic] I cannot be sure I won't be arrested and taken away. You know, it is more dangerous now. I can never be sure when it is safe to go [get medical attention]. But, you know what it is, I do not want to be like those others [Latinos] who have "no shame" [sin verguenzas] and want what they want for nothing. If I can I will pay my way, and if I can't, I can't. I'll withstand the pain and take care of it myself, even if I have to pull them [his teeth] out myself. "
Juan would medicate the gaps in his teeth with Tequila soaked cotton balls, and aspirin.
Quesada tried to get him help, but Juan had to cancel dental appointments repeatedly when jobs became available. Day laborers never know when the next opportunity may drive up to them.
This is what pushes Quesada and others to push for a merging of social work and health care. Some facilities in San Francisco have already moved that way, as hospitals like UCSF visit churches and community centers on weekends to reach out to undocumented people in need of medical attention. Still, there's room for change.
"Doctors shouldn't have be social workers, but social workers should be there in the room," Quesada said, saying that would go a long way towards helping undocumented workers find the help they need. But despite a lack of options, they carry on.
"They're valiantly making a go of it, and don't want to dwell on the negative," he said. "They don't want to be seen as fighting for basic human rights, as not fully human."
The man we met outside the U-Haul on Bryant, Gonzalo Moran, has three trade school certificates, one of them in floor tiling. But he longed for one thing: time to attend school so he could get ahead.
"I go to school all the time, you know, if I have it," he said. "But it's hard, we're always getting a lower wage." And it's a barrier. A barrier to health, a barrier to education, and a barrier to a better life.
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