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January: A Year In Preview
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A Year In Preview

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© Getty Images


An Interview with Fabian Cobos

by frank
July 10, 2018

This interview with Fabian Cobos, the owner of Golden Goose Tattoo in El Paso, was conducted and condensed by frank news. 

Tatti: Would you introduce yourself?

Fabian Cobos: My name is Fabian Cobos. I'm the owner of the Golden Goose Tattoo here in El Paso, Texas. The first thing that people have to understand about El Paso is that it's definitely a border town. It's got that border mentality, and I think that's why you're filming and you're looking for people to talk to about this. You're going to find a lot of people who don't know what's going on, or that do know and can't really form an opinion about it, because what becomes part of that border mentality is everyone along this area, most of their families have been through some sort of process, legally or illegally to be here, and the United States immigration law is so complicated. If you're going to be tied to the law, and feel a victim to it then you're never going to get to live here. So to us, I think it’s more of immigration is just, the way it is now it's just something that it's evolved into, and it's always going to keep evolving, the laws always going to change. I don't picture it getting any easier.

Tatti: Has it gotten progressively harder since you've grown up?

Fabian Cobos: I think so. I was born here, so I haven't had to go through the process, but I know my grandfather on my dad's side made it a point to come here, become a citizen, and made sure that all his children became citizens, and it was very important to him for them to go through that process. He was very proud of it.

My dad still has the recordings of him practicing for the test, and trying to memorize the Bill of Rights, just everything, and he left a stable position in Mexico to come and be a garbage man here in the United States, and I know it means a lot to my father that my grandfather made it a point and was so proud of the whole process in becoming an American citizen, and that all his kids went through it.

He made sure that they all knew English, because he totally believed that this was the place to come to have a better quality of life, and he was right. My family has benefited tremendously by him making that decision. I have a lot of family that can't come over, and don't have money to go through the process. Then, I have family that did have the means or the resources that are now American citizens here. Fleeing the violence that was getting really bad in Juarez.

Tatti: It comes down to whether or not one is wealthy enough.

Fabian Cobos: There's a lot of factors: how wealthy, how motivated, because even if you're not wealthy enough, and I think now that's what they're trying to combat. 'Cause if you're motivated enough you can still get here. Whether you'll stay here or not is different, but that need and that want to come here and get a better life, it's a very human thing to want. Especially when the world around you is crumbling and you feel hopeless in what's your hometown.

It's better to run and hide to get into a better environment, then to run and hide and still face death.

That's why it's a touchy subject and I don't know what the right path is. I may have my opinions, but I don't know. I don't know if it's the right choice. I don't agree with a completely open border, but I do believe that there needs to be a process where it's more efficient and we are getting more of the right people in. I don't think that's the, and I may be wrong, but I don't think that's an aspect that our administration right now is looking at. I don't think they want anyone here right now, you know what I mean? Which is dangerous to us. To who we are as a country and to our economy.

Tatti: Does your business get affected when immigration laws get tougher?

Fabian Cobos: Not really, but I mean we're different. We do tattoo a lot of people coming across from the border, tattoo a lot of soldiers, tattoo lawyers, doctors. The tattoo industry, even when the recession was going on and the economy was really hurting, the tattoo industry wasn't greatly effected. People in their toughest times in life, when they're losing everything, their house, their car, and everything, will come and get a tattoo with their last dollars, because that's the one thing people can't take from them. It doesn't really affect my industry, but it does affect my neighbors and the people that I work next to, and I need them to thrive and flourish also. That's the thing is, I don't think many El Pasoans are going to dread on it, because here you really have to adapt to anything that's going on. There's so many factors.

When Juarez was going through the peaks of violence a lot of people were scared that it was going to affect El Paso business, and that people were going to run from El Paso. Which is considered one of the safest cities in America. In El Paso it's not that no one cares, it's just they don't really see that they can make a difference here. I think most El Pasoans focus in on the local government, but as far as anything federal or anything that goes beyond this area, not many people are willing to jump in to have a voice or an opinion. 'Cause we feel like it's so far from us. We don't know what's right or wrong. The media portrays it in so many different ways. It's hard to tell.

Tatti: What’s the reality of living in a border city? There is definitely a shared identity between El Paso and Juarez.

Fabian Cobos: Yeah, because if you're a born and raised in El Paso then you've definitely been to Juarez a few times, and you probably still go quite a bit. That process to us is something that we've always been a part of. It's nothing new for us.

Maybe new paperwork, or new fees, or whatever, but they're sister cities. It's how these cities exist. They lean on each other, and have from the very beginning.

El Paso is booming. Our economy is doing the best it's ever done. The private investment, the local investment is tremendous right now. It's an investor's dream right now in El Paso. So many opportunities, and so we're growing. We're considered one of the United States only boom towns right now, and you can see it. There's construction going on all over the place, brand new medical school. The unemployment has dropped tremendously. Everyone's got jobs. Everything is great in El Paso. I think El Pasoans are what make that happen, and it's not that we don't care. It's just when we're focusing here and we're making it happen, and making our dreams come true here, then we just kind of go along for the ride with what decisions are being made for us.

Tatti: Do you feel any emotional response, as a Mexican-American, to the rhetoric that you hear coming out of White House?

Fabian Cobos: I don't think that is has anything to do, and first of all yes I do, but I don't think it has to do with me being Mexican-American. I think it just has more to with me being human, and having compassion for what theses people have to go through. It means nothing, the fact that I'm Mexican-American, and how I feel about it. I have had family members come through legally and have become citizens legally, but yeah my compassion for those people are just based out of my heart. It has nothing to do with my race or where I'm from.

If there's not a clear and present danger, then what's there to fund? You have to portray a lot of different angels to keep the machine moving. You have to have something to fight. It's an industry.

That's why they're so quick to label everything as a war now. A war on this, a war on that, a war on this, because a war is the most profitable fucking thing we can do. There's so many industries involved in that.

You have to have something to fight. Especially now because what's happening now in El Paso is the same thing that created New York and San Francisco, immigration and migration. It's always been the most central part of our borders, and now the newest hottest border is the southern border and we're right smack in the middle. So it's only a matter of time, and you see the infrastructure going at this tremendous fucking pace, and it's only a matter of year to where we're going to be just as big as New York, L.A. It's going to have to be.

Tatti: What would you ask your senators about immigration if you were speaking to them?

Fabian Cobos: I don't think I'd be satisfied, I couldn't ask them.