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Imagine this, living in a very small town, smaller than Kachina Village, with only one store where you could make and receive phone calls, there are no public phones, no residential phone lines, no electricity and no running water. The roads are not paved until you get to the main road where people travel the most. The next town is about thirty minutes away, and there is only one bus that comes to this small town once a week, so people can go shopping and do other things. In this small town there are hardly any vehicles, people either walk, bike, or ride donkeys. There are hardly any jobs and so the only thing you can do is to leave for another place and look for a job to support your family. If someone told you that there was a place where people had many opportunities to find work and make better money, would you go? This small town I am describing is a place called La Huertilla in a state called Oaxaca in Mexico; it is the place where my son Mauricio’s grandparents live.
Many young children are being torn apart from their families. Many parents come to the United States to make money and send back. They would leave their children with grandparents or other family members, until they are able to bring them up to the U.S.
Is there a way the United States could open up the Mexican and United States border? If we as American citizens can cross into Mexico without showing passports, visas, and driver licenses, why could we not turn around and do the same for Mexico’s people who would like to enter the United States. The United States should allow Mexican Immigrants to migrate and visit freely, because I believe it is not fair for the Americans to not have to show papers, while Mexicans have to.
Imagine yourself leaving for another country only with one belief that it will be to better support your family. With this engraved in your mind you pack a small bag with only three pairs of clothes to change into. You are finally at the border, after leaving your loved ones behind, reassuring them you will send money to support them. Now you have to decide when you will jump the border.
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According to www.immigrationtimes.com (2002), “Over one-million immigrants come into the United States every year. Of these 800,000 arrive legally, while around 300,000 come in undocumented. Currently the largest immigrant group is comprised of Hispanics, which in turn has made this group the largest minority. Hispanics represent 12.6% of the U.S. population” (www.immigrationtimes.com.2002). Most of the illegal immigrants are the younger generation of today. The main reason they tend to come to the U.S. is to work, and with the money that they earn, they send it back to Mexico to their family.
According to www.inmotionmagazine.com “The value of the peso is going down, while the prices are going up. Salaries are not growing with inflation. People cannot afford to feed their families” (www.inmotionmagazine.com.1997). Many choose to jump the border due to the fact that they do not have time to fill out applications for passports and visas, since there is a long waiting period.
According to www.ailf.org (2001), President Bush stated,
The long term solution, however, for immigration is for Mexico to be prosperous
enough to grow a middle class where people will be able to find work at home.
And I remind people all across our country, family values do not stop at the Rio
Bravo. There are people in Mexico who have children, who are worried about
where they are going to get their next meal from. And they are going to come to
the United States, if they think they can make money here. That is a simple fact.
And they are willing to walk across miles of desert to do work that some
Americans will not do. And we have got to respect that, and treat those people
with respect (www.ailf.org.2001).
I personally think that the United States could work with Mexico and open up the border. In doing so, we the United States could prevent many deaths of heat exposure from happening. We have to remember that the people jumping the borders are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and so on. Illegal Mexicans will always be jumping the border risking their lives. Therefore, Mexicans who come to America to find work which will give them a chance to have a better life for themselves and their family. They will go to great lengths to have a better life with many opportunities around them. If we could open the border, we would not need to have as many police, national guards, homeland securities, and military protecting the border, when they could be doing other things to better serve our country.
According to www.ailf.org, President Bush stated, “Mexico is an incredibly important part of the U.S. foreign policy. It is our most important relationship, because we are neighbors, and neighbors must work together” (www.ailf.org.2001). How very true this is! We are neighbors living just across the border from each other.
In an interview by Motion Magazine with Roberto Martinez, who is the director of the U.S./Mexico Border Program, an immigration law enforcement monitoring project of the Americans Friends Service Committee, in 1992, he became the first U.S. citizen to be honored as an International Human Rights Monitor by the International Human Rights Watch. He has been a Chicano civil rights and human rights activist for the past twenty-years. Motion Magazine interviewer asked Roberto, “why are people moving across the border?’ Martinez’s response was,
People have migrated, gotten amnesty, and are sending for their families-wives, children. But it is still the lure of jobs, the demand for jobs. It is just like drugs, if there was not such a great demand for drugs in the United States, there probably would not be any drug trafficking. Same with jobs, the United States created the immigration crisis by sending for people to come and work here in the United States. There is still a big demand for cheap labor (www.inmotionmagazine.com.1997).
With the heavy migration, I would agree with Martinez’s answer about “how would you change the laws?” He responded with:
First, we have to get control of the human rights problem. We need better training of the agents so they will not abuse the migrants. Several of them have been indicted recently for rape, beatings, and so on. Secondly, once we get the human rights issue under control we need to revisit our immigration laws, we have three to five-million undocumented migrants in the U.S. and we have to look at the amnesty issue all over again. Need to find ways that people can cross to the U.S. and work legally. This is something that has to be agreed on by Immigrants Rights Groups as well as by Congressional leaders and immigration authorities (www.inmotionmagazine.com.1997).
Through my experience, I know how determined the Mexicans are and want to cross the border into the U.S. I know many Illegal Mexicans in other states and also here in Arizona. I treat them just like anyone else and they all have one thing in common and that is to support their family. I have two children who are half-Navajo and half-Mexican. My older child is seven-years old, his name is Mauricio. I met his father Demetrio while working at McDonald’s near the Grand Canyon. Demetrio is from Oaxaca, Mexico and is illegal; he has jumped the border many times. Each time I was scared for him. I would wait on the U.S. side of the border for him, once he jumped the border safely, we would return home to the Grand Canyon. Although, I would be scared the whole trip home, making it to Tucson was the scariest, and when I reached Phoenix, I would feel a lot better and not so scared anymore. I always thought about what I would do or say if I came upon a road block. Fortunately, I have not run into any, (knock on wood).
However, many Mexicans coming to America need to have someone here in the U.S. to help them out. Most of the time there is a relative already here and they send money for their family members or friends. They are the ones who pay the coyote’s to bring them to their destination. Coyote is an individual who smuggles Mexicans into the United States illegally. Finally when in the United States they have to go find someone who could make false green cards and social security. Then finally they are off to finding a job and that is when their life begins in the United States. Many take low paying jobs but because all they need is food and clothes, they send the rest back to Mexico. Many Mexicans live together so they can all split the rent and it does not matter to them where they live as long as they have a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food in their stomach. Many would rather choose to stay in the United States permanently than to go back to Mexico. Because of the war in Iraq, the border is now tougher than ever.
My second child is two-years old, and his name is Alanzo-Adan. His father is also from Mexico, a small town called Trancoso, which is located about fifteen minutes out of Zacatacas. Adan also jumped the border because he did not have a passport or visa. It has been three and a half years since he went back to Mexico to visit his family. Although he misses his family very much, he does not want to go back to Mexico, unless it is for good. He knows that the border is really “tight now”, especially after September eleventh and with the war going on. When I go to Tucson to visit my brother, he will not come with us. He is afraid we might be stopped by the police and because he does not have legal papers they could arrest him and deport him. Simple as that! I know many families who are married to or living with an illegal Mexican. They just have to be extra careful and watch every step that they make.
According to Francis, S. (2001). In his article “Immigration Depopulates Mexico and Overpopulates America”, he wrote;
Migration is a multi-billion dollar venture for Mexico. Immigrants send home an estimated $6.3 billion each year. That money –the nation’s third largest source of income, behind oil and tourism-has not only provided relatives money for food, clothing, and medicine. Migrants also pooled their money and filled in for strapped or corrupt local governments by supporting public work projects that ranged from paving streets and installing potable water systems to refurbishing churches and furnishing classrooms with computers” (para. #6).
According to the Arizona Republic on Sunday the thirteenth of April, it showed the exchange rate of every one dollar to one peso. Every one dollar is worth 10.77 peso (Arizona Republic.p.T4.2003). That at the moment is very good! Imagine it in U.S. dollars, if you have ten dollars, you would actually have one-hundred dollars, if you have fifty dollars than you would have five-hundred dollars. Now with this in mind the Mexican money is called peso, therefore if you go to exchange the U.S. dollars to pesos, of course they would charge for exchanging. In general, like I said if I had one hundred U.S. dollars, I would be able to get close to one-thousand pesos. Now you can see one of the reasons why the Mexicans risk their lives to come to the U.S., they need to support their family just like every other family in America.
I believe we are the only country where as American citizens we are free to live our lives, speak our minds, and voice our opinions without being intimidated or punished for it. America offers freedom to everyone in America. Therefore, this is the reason why many Mexicans come to the U.S. to have a better life and to be able to support their family.
With the war in Iraq, many Mexicans who are not citizens of the United States are fighting at the front lines. They are protecting our nation! According to Robert Lopez (2003), who wrote an article in LATimes, “U.S. grants status for so-called green card soldiers killed in action. The posthumous citizenships were granted as legislators in Sacramento were preparing to debate a resolution urging Congress to grant citizenship to all legal immigrants who are discharged honorably from the armed service” ( para. #2). I personally would agree with granting citizenship to non-citizens of the U.S. for fighting for our country. I believe we owe it to them!
From my personal experience, traveling through Mexico to Oaxaca, I completely understand why these Mexicans risk their lives to come to “El Norte”, seeing how they live, where they live, and how they are dressed, especially the children who make a very big impact, and make you realize how people are barely getting by in the third world country.
In conclusion, opening up the border would be better for everyone, especially the Illegal Mexicans who are faced with danger everyday from jumping the border. In the Washington Times (March 27, 2002), it stated, “The steady, massive flow of legal and illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States cannot be stopped and will not decrease even if the Mexican economy blooms, U.S. and Mexican demographers say” (www.washingtontimes.com.2002). The study conducted by Mexico’s National Population Council (2002), a ministry of the Interior agency stated, “The migratory phenomenon between Mexico and the U.S. is structural and permanent” (www.washingtontimes.com.2002). Therefore, opening up the border would not be such a bad idea, because Mexicans will still be migrating into the U.S. no matter if it is legal or not, so I believe Mexicans should enter freely, to have better jobs that will enable them to better support their family in Mexico.