Archive for the ‘Immigration’ Category

Times were Hard, Then   6 comments

Last week I got into a conversation with my neighbor Mary, over the fence.   Since she has a new baby (a surprise) along with her 11 year old daughter, we talked about child-raising.  Oh, it’s old hat for me, she says.  I took care of my brothers since I was very young.  I was 13 years old when my parents both left for the United States.  Mary was left all alone to care for her 6 and 7 yr old brothers.   This sounds unheard of in the U.S., but remember El Salvador was at the tail end of a horrible civil war.   Mary didn’t know how to cook, she had to learn.  They were living in a different neighborhood at the time, and the water only ran once a month.  In between you had to go to a small creek to wash clothes or haul water back home when your water ran out.

Stories like these are often told by our grandparents (or great-grandparents, depending on how old you are).   It sounds like something from 50 or 75 years ago.   But this story comes from a woman who is only 33 years old – it was 20 years back.

Since then, Mary’s parents have been able to send money to help their children move to a better house, and were even able to save for her two younger brothers to attend school at university level in the states on a Visa, a major accomplishment for Salvadorans.

The house she lives in is pretty nice, so before today I figured her parents were U.S. residents, probably with a professional type job.  As Mary’s story unfolded, I learned  it is the opposite.   Her parent’s are ‘mojados’ – they are illegal aliens.   I was very surprised to hear this.  I wonder how hard they have worked these last 20 years to give a better life to Mary and her brothers.

Things are much sunnier for Mary’s family now.  We talked about how maybe one day her mom will come back to live here.  Here in a house she helped build, but has never seen, with her daughter, whom she cannot visit in El Salvador.

Yes, times were hard then, and it wasn’t that long ago.

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Of Coyotes and Car Crashes (Marathon them In)   2 comments

Carmen and I went for a long walk to the next neighborhood up the road from ours, called Naranjos, 30 minutes by foot and further into the country.  We stopped to visit a woman who owns a small convenience store who has a daughter Carmen’s age.

Marina has 3 children, the last of which is 7, and so severely disabled he will remain an infant forever.  He cannot walk, and has little muscle control – this began shortly after he was born.  Despite his disability, he is a very happy boy.  He sits on his mother’s lap, as if he were a 2 year old.  She is very affectionate with him, and he in turn is very responsive, always smiling and cheerful.

This poor woman was left a widow maybe 5 years back when her husband tried to migrate to the United States.   He was killed in a car accident, along with 6 others, in a car driven by Coyotes while in transit.

If any immigrant family could get permission to migrate via some type of special exception, I think hers would qualify.  I know of no exception in our immigration laws to obtain a work permit for extraordinary circumstances; because truly, the list of persons worldwide who live with a struggle like this is millions of persons long – many more than the approximately 1 million people allowed to legally immigrate to the United States each year.   I think most Americans who could have met this man and know his story would be sympathetic towards his cause, and perhaps even knowingly protect him.   If he made it, that is.

One would think the Coyotes would drive slower, if not for the safety of their passengers, but to avoid getting busted, considering the penalties for human smuggling.  Apparently, greed only drives them harder.  Each warm body is literally thousands of dollars in their pocket – so the faster they marathon immigrants to their destinations, the sooner they return to the frontier to ready up their next load of cargo.

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