Saturday, June 14, 2008

Week One (Karen)

In the US, we often say that family and friends are the most important things in our lives. But it begs to question just how much we love them. How much are we willing to sacrifice? Can we talk the talk and walk the walk? This week has definitely made me question our claims, my own even.

Family is a constant theme in the personal stories we have heard. The migrants risk their lives crossing the desert. Not to mention the risk of never seeing their families again, risk of US federal prosecution, risk of losing the thousands of dollars they invest in each trip. But what drives them, from the father facing 150 days of jail time to the two men waiting in Altar, is desperation. Hearing these stories stories over and over again makes me wonder if we would be willing to do the same. The teary eyes reveal the constant struggles, concerns, and fears the men must endure. And even if the migrants make it to their final destinations, they are never safe. A few of the men we conversed with had lived up to 20 years in the US before being deported. These men, who speak perfect English, now face the difficulty of returning back to the lives they had built.

But perhaps the story that best reflects these various issues was the one told by the migrant at CAAMYN. Migrants were scattered around the shelter's courtyard so Raquel, Sarah, and I approached two men sitting along the wall to see if they would be comfortable talking with us. As we delved further with our questions, we found out more about this one man. He is a father of two and fisherman, who had lived on the coast in Ash, NC. He came back to Mexico for family, but as a result, he is now caught between the US and Mexico. He mentioned that he owned a boat in Mexico but that the Mexican government would not issue him a fishing permit. He also talked about the difficulties of getting the proper papers to immigrate. You can either choose to stay in Mexico and apply for papers or head to the US to see what you can find, he said. But if you get prosecuted, you are ineligible to apply for future papers. With tears in his eyes, he asked if we could help him. But can we? What can we do to even scratch the surface of their problems?

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