Diaspora

Caught in the net of immigration | News | hometownsource.com – ECM Publishers

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.
Please log in, or sign up for a new account to continue reading.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Support local journalism. Subscribe today.
Support local journalism. Subscribe today.
Thank you for reading! On your next view you will be asked to log in to your subscriber account or create an account and subscribepurchase a subscription to continue reading.
Thank you for signing in! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Support local journalism. Subscribe today.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Thank you for reading! We hope that you continue to enjoy our free content.
Checking back? Since you viewed this item previously you can read it again.
Audrey Buturian-Larson, second from left, is pictured in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where she is currently studying and developing Spanish language fluency while also deepening her inter-cultural competencies. The Milaca High School graduate attends Augsburg College in Minneapolis and is studying abroad in Cuernavaca as part of a four-month program. Buturian-Larson penned an opinion piece for the Union-Times that takes a look at people caught in the net of the challenges associated with immigration. 

Audrey Buturian-Larson, second from left, is pictured in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where she is currently studying and developing Spanish language fluency while also deepening her inter-cultural competencies. The Milaca High School graduate attends Augsburg College in Minneapolis and is studying abroad in Cuernavaca as part of a four-month program. Buturian-Larson penned an opinion piece for the Union-Times that takes a look at people caught in the net of the challenges associated with immigration. 
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of immigration before I came to Mexico. I had learned very little about immigration while attending Milaca High School, other than the week that we spent talking about Ellis Island, and it turns out the little experience I had resulted in huge gaps in knowledge about immigration and deportation that I’m trying to fill while here.
For three months I have been living and learning in Cuernavaca, Morelos, which is about 90 minutes from Mexico City. Cuernavaca is perched in the middle of forested mountains and alive with people, life, culture, and food that I have been lucky enough to immerse myself in while here. My time has included so much fun and connection and has also been saturated with learning.
This learning has come in many different forms, from formal speakers to formal class time, from books and movies to experiences I’ve had walking around town, and from casual conversations with my friends while eating dinner to conversations I’ve had with people back home about these issues. These various routes of learning have led to a more interconnected, personal, and comprehensive understanding of immigration and its effect on the world, and have made my thoughts on immigration much more complicated and nuanced than when I arrived.
Family is one of the largest components of immigration. Protecting their family and making money for their family are two driving motivations for immigrating to the United States. In the cases of the braceros (guest laborers to the U.S. during WWII), 80-90% of their paychecks were sent back as remittance, to help fund the lives of their families That shows just how unselfish this act of immigration really is. It is hardly ever solely about serving themselves and making money for their own benefit.
This sentiment was reiterated by the testimonies of Cesar and Lucio (two immigrants who now live here near Cuernavaca and shared their stories with us). Cesar went to the U.S. without documents and Lucio went with them, but both of them went with the intention of making money for their families, to build homes, and to put their children through college. They also both talked about the dissonance of loving their children and wives and wanting to be the best fathers they could, but in order to do that they had to “abandon” their children for years at a time to make enough money to give their children the life they never had.
Another huge motivating factor of immigration is money. I had no sense of the power of the U.S. dollar. One U.S. dollar is worth 20 pesos, and the minimum wage here is equal to about $7 (USD) in one day. I share this fact to contextualize how much more your time is worth working as an immigrant in the U.S., whether documented or not. Going to the U.S. to make money may cost you a year or two of missing your child and a terribly dangerous journey to get there, but you will also make more money in one day in the U.S. than you will in a week here in Mexico. I feel like everyone would agree that if they could go somewhere where they earn a week’s worth of money in just one day of work, they would do almost anything to get there.
Most often, the argument against immigration that I hear is “If they would just do it legally I wouldn’t have a problem.” We learned, though, that even when done legally, like in Lucio’s case, immigration is not easy. I assumed, wrongly, that if you had documents, then you could come freely into and out of the U.S. and that those papers could not just be taken back, but that absolutely is not the case. Even when Lucio came into the U.S. legally, he was still treated terribly, still had horrible working conditions, and was still constantly threatened with deportation.
Even people who come into the U.S. “illegally” and then proceed never to commit another crime, like Ana Laura and Gustavo (two other immigrants who are now living back in Mexico), are constantly subjected to the threat of deportation. Ana Laura was on her way to get her legal residence and legal green card status when she was deported. She had children in Mexico and in Chicago, and while she was flying back to Mexico in 2016 to get her legal residence, she was stopped by ICE agents and they performed an “express” deportation. I did not know about this concept before hearing from her, but she explained that the government can either do an express deportation or require that you serve a sentence in the U.S. before being deported. In her case, they did an express deportation because they knew that if she served a sentence she could fight her case in court and could win, and they didn’t want to give her that opportunity. She was flown back to Mexico and forbidden from coming back to the U.S. for the next 20 years, being separated from her kids (who are U.S. citizens).
In Gustavo’s case, he was sentenced to serve two years in federal prison before being deported. He had been in Washington for 19 years and had two daughters (who are U.S. citizens) there. His only request was to place him somewhere near his daughters — the judge said, “This isn’t a vacation,” and placed him in Georgia, thousands of miles away from his children. After serving his time he was deported and, like Ana Laura, forbidden from entering the U.S. for 20 years. Both of these cases show the cruelty and lack of compassion ingrained in the U.S. judicial system, which allows for very little security as an immigrant whether “legal” or “illegal.” They were both deported in the 2010s and show a very recent example of the system.
Visiting Casa Tochan, a migrant shelter in Mexico City helped me better understand the urgency and scope of immigration today. While visiting there in October, we saw a shelter that was overflowing with Haitian immigrants who spoke French and Creole while the already understaffed crew of volunteers all spoke Spanish. The shelter has been running since 2011 and has been helping migrants since then through several different government administrations. The testimonies from the two immigrants who were helped by the shelter were heart-wrenching and personal, made even more poignant by the fact that they are so young. Their strength and courage to be able to flee their countries multiple times often by themselves at only 13 to 15 years of age is something that I will never forget. They work now for the migrant shelter that helped both of them in their immigration journeys and are so positive and funny and kind.
What I most want to express from my many conversations and experiences in Mexico is how every person, even though they made these sacrifices and were rejected and diminished and denigrated, every person that we heard from was full of life and humor and inspiration and hope for their futures. This was shown in their dreams of the future, whether to learn to drive, see their children graduate from college, help other deportees, or be with their children again. Each one of them left me feeling a strong combination of anger, sadness, determination to help, and hope. These emotions led me to consider my power as a U.S. citizen and how I can use it to take positive action to aid people caught up in the net of the immigrant struggle. I encourage you to look for opportunities to do the same.
If you want to talk more, feel free to email me at audreybuturianlarson@gmail.com.
Audrey Buturian-Larson is a Milaca High School graduate currently studying at Augsberg College in Minneapolis. She is currently studying in Cuernavaca, Mexico.
 
Your comment has been submitted.

Reported
There was a problem reporting this.
Log In
Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.
Success! An email has been sent to with a link to confirm list signup.
Error! There was an error processing your request.
Would you like to receive our daily news? Signup today!

source

What's your reaction?

Excited
0
Happy
0
In Love
0
Not Sure
0
Silly
0

You may also like

More in:Diaspora

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *