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A Sacrifice for his Family July 28, 2009

Posted by miguelsouza in Immigrants.
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José Teresoweb

José Lara came from Mexico to the United States to work, save money and make his dream of owning a house comes true. He is one of those known as temporary workers, people who come to the country to work for a few months and then go back to their homeland. (versión en español)

By Miguel Ángel Souza

José Lara arrived to the United States on April 3, 2009. Leaving Mexico and his family was not an easy task.

“I decided to come because it is really hard to find a job in Veracruz. If you get one, you do not earn enough money to support your family,” said Lara.

He was hired by James River Grounds Management to stay in the United States for eight months. Lara is one of the thousand of Mexicans that every year arrives to the country to stay for a few months, work hard, save money and go back to Mexico. It is called the temporary labor migration, a different style of migration that according to some researchers can be a way to control illegal migration.

The other face of migration

For some people, migration is a growing problem in the United States. But according to the World Economic and Social Survey done by the U.N. in 2004, there is a migration that can help both, the origin and the host country. It is the temporary labor migration.

“In host countries, temporary labor migration can help meet specific labor force needs while not adding to the stock of long-term immigrants. In origin countries, it can reduce unemployment and contribute remittances,” was one of the conclusions of the survey.

In Mexico, for instance, remittances are responsible for 20% of the capital invested in micro enterprises, according to the Mexican Central Bank. So, the money sent to their country by Mexican immigrants is not only helping to support their families, but also to generate new jobs. Mexicans also are the 4,9 percent of the labor market in the United States.

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Listen to Sarah Sherhols, who works at Liberty’s Promise, a non profit organization that helps young immigrants to be active American citizens. Most of the immigrants with whom she works are from Mexico.

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Looking for a dream

Lara, who is one of the approximately 4,000 Mexicans living in Richmond, is an example of a temporary immigrant. Working as a gardener at James River Grounds Management he earns $1,600 a month, which is much more than the $800 he received in Veracruz working as a mechanical. In Richmond he also gets extra money fixing cars during the weekends. Hispanics from different neighborhoods hire his services. He easily gets $2,000 monthly.

Lara expects to save about $8,000 before going back to his country on December. He said that if he were hired by his company next year, he would come back.

“I am willing to come two or three times more. I will do it until I get my dream come true,” he said.

His dream is the same that many others immigrants have: buying a house for his family.

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Padilla web

Rodolfo Padilla is one of the Mexicans that has made his American dream come true. He has two restaurants in Richmond.

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The dark side of the dream

Earning more money has many sacrifices. The hardest one for Lara is to leave his family.

“My wife and children did not want me to come. We all knew it was going to be hard, but I had to do it,” said Lara, who lives in Henrico County.

In spite he has been living here for three months, he misses his family. “It is hard, because every morning I wake up thinking they are with me, but then I realized that they are far away,” he said.

But he is not the only one who is suffering. “We know he is trying to give us a better life, but it is really difficult to understand he had to go. It is hard to say good bye to someone you love. The first days, my little brother was always crying,” said Carlos Alberto, Lara’s third son.

Alberto, 18, just graduate from high school in Veracruz and is planning to go to the army next year. He rejects migration.

“I would like our government to do something to avoid things like this. I would like our people to stay here, but I understand that there are no jobs. I know our politicians will not change anything. It is something that causes me shame. I am not happy to know that my father is in the United States. In fact, I do not like that country. I have heard that there is much discrimination,” Alberto wrote through Instant Messenger.

Other barriers

Lara said that leaving his family in Mexico is not the only sacrifice he has to face. Food and language are barriers he has to overcome too.

“I really miss Mexican food. In our country we are use to eat fresh and hot meals. Here everything is frozen. You have to keep it in the refrigerator and then take it to the microwave,” he said and explained that even though there are many Mexican restaurants in Richmond, food does not taste like in his country.

Language is also a problem for Lara, who does not speak any word of English.

“We are lucky to live together. If we were not, we would not have whom to talk to,” said Miguel Rosales, Lara’s coworker and roommate. He arrived along with Lara and said that living in the United States is quite different from Mexico.

“It is the price we have to pay for our wellbeing,” said Rosales.

Leonides Moreno, Lara’s foreman, said he knows it is difficult to come to work in the United States because everything is different. But he is sure that this is the only way for many Mexicans to have the chance to save money.

“You can work many years there and you will never save something. Here you can work hard and go back to your country with some dollars,” said Moreno, who is also from Mexico and has been living in the United States for six years.

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