Sunday, April 25, 2010

Dashed Hopes

There's an interesting story by Oscar Rene Oliva in the Latin American Herald Tribune about the plight of Guatemalan immigrants to the United States.  It identifies several topics to consider when discussing both legal and illegal immigration in the classroom (as my US-LA class did this week using Greg's book).
The hopes of most that "set off in search of the “American dream” end in frustration
Repatriated migrants return deeper in debt with traffickers charging a non-refundable $4,000 - $6,000.
It's difficult to identify "the traffickers because they’re often camouflaged among the migrants.” 
Women “are highly vulnerable to sexual exploitation and white slavery.”
"Children are taken to serve as beggars, gum vendors or clowns.”

Approximately 80% of the Central American migrants traveling through Mexico are exploited.

Immigration leads to broken and/or separated families and people losing touch with their culture.

Governments can't "tell people not to migrate, because it is a right that is linked to development.”
At the same time, remittances create new problems including a dependency on relatives living overseas.  The $100 or $200 sent from the US is more than many would make working.
Remittances are not invested to satisfy long-term needs.  Guatemalans tend to use them to meet basic survival needs (food and shelter) or on luxury goods (Sky and Direct TV).
Children don't concentrate on their education.  Instead, they focus on following a parent to the US.
And the final kicker

Despite the risks and the constant deportations in handcuffs, during the flight, Guatemalans will not stop pursuing the “American dream,” Maldonado said.
I'll bet that very few of those involved with the recent Arizona immigration bill have thought about any of these problems.  Actually, I'm not sure that they care.

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