We are here to fight against any violance with experience
Xavier A. Méndez, owner of the Law Offices of Xavier Méndez in El Paso, Texas was born and raised in Puerto Rico. His parents taught him that through hard work and determination anything was possible, a principle that he has applied throughout his life, at school, in the military, and in court.
Mendez shares, “By the time I was five, neither of my parents had graduated from high school.” My dad had finished his primary education and my mom left school to get married at the age of 15. They migrated to New York City in the 1970s where they experienced the difficulties of being an immigrant family without a formal education. “
In 1980, the year he was born, Xavier’s family returned to Puerto Rico. His father, then unemployed with a son and a pregnant wife, had to start from scratch. Those disadvantages would form the basis for the formation of Xavier’s character.
“It was during those difficult times that I learned the two most important lessons of my life: Don’t let circumstances interfere with your dreams and that one can only be guided by example. My parents never asked me to do something they wouldn’t do, ”he adds. “I remember my mother telling me that education was something that no one could take away from me. My father was a self-taught mechanic and my mother was enrolled in night school at the time. Through hard work and great sacrifices, my father completed his high school. My mother went further and finished her postgraduate studies ”.
Méndez’s parents did even more than give him a good example of self-improvement, they raised a dreamer, a visionary, a reliable leader. He was still a teenager when he enlisted in the United States Army Reserve. “When I first saw the army entry exam, it seemed to me that it was written in Chinese. I spoke very little English at the time. I answered most of the questions at random. It must have been a matter of luck, but I managed to pass the exam by one percent. “
However, the real challenge would come months later when he reported to training camp knowing almost no English. “For almost a month I ate exactly what the person in front of me in the food line ate. If the one in front asked for meatloaf, all I could say was – “Same thing please.” “I knew that if I wanted to get ahead in that training camp, I couldn’t depend on others or luck. A man creates his own luck ”.
He continues, “They gave you this book in boot camp that has all the lessons and skills you have to achieve to graduate. Every night when everyone went to bed, I stayed awake studying in the only place in the barracks where no sergeant was going to disturb you, the bathroom. I can still feel every muscle in my body sore after a day of training, my eyes heavy as I strained to read.
As the days went by, my English improved dramatically as well as my self-confidence. He was beginning to fill leadership roles. By the end of the training, not only had I managed to survive, but to my surprise and perhaps to the surprise of everyone else, I graduated with the highest grades of the whole group.
Hard work in the military not only gave Mendez honor and distinction on graduation day, it also gave direction to his life and the boost he needed to succeed in college. “Being away from home and facing suffering in a military training camp is a great challenge and not speaking English well multiplies that disadvantage tenfold.”
that the immigration issue took on a human face for the first time. While some people were fleeing the calamity of war, others were arriving from countries that were in an even worse situation. They were sub-contracted workers to do those jobs that the soldiers would no longer do, such as cooking, laundry among others.
I met countless of them and listened to their stories. They were ordinary people, like you and me, entering a land ravaged by war, armed only with their hopes of a better future for themselves and their families. It was through their stories that I realized that immigration is an integral part of human nature. There are those who say that life is a journey… and it really is ”.
After serving a year in Iraq, Méndez returned to Puerto Rico and finished law school. Three months later, he was stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. “It was so unreal to drive on the interstate, look out the window and see Mexico, then turn to the other window and see the United States.
I was so fascinated by the fact that one could walk from one country to another that I had to go and see for myself. In those days, we soldiers were forbidden to cross into Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, so I would park my car in downtown El Paso, walk towards the international bridge and spend hours watching people, I was amazed. “
Seeing hundreds of people coming across the bridge seemed surreal to Mendez, but it didn’t end there. “I would stand on the left side of the bridge to see people coming from Mexico, then I would switch to the right side to see people leaving the United States. I remember trying to make eye contact with them as they walked to see if that way I could get an idea of what they were feeling.
Some were too exhausted to realize that I was there, some did not look at me but did not see me, but something magical happened with those who looked at me and smiled back at me. Regardless of which direction they were going, their gender, age, color… when we made eye contact, I could see myself in them. I also had to immigrate in search of a meaning to fulfill my destiny ”.