I’m blogging this article and photo from the Washington Post yesterday about Arturo Zavala, a man I met while I was doing fieldwork for my first book, Beyond the Borderlands. The article focuses on the fact that the new Homeland Security Agency is not prepared to handle the workload that would be involved with an amnesty program. The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) of 1986 provided amnesty and permanent residency for over 3 million people. Current legislation before the Senate would not provide an amnesty, but if any type of work visa is approved in the next year the agencies charged with processing the visas would not doubt be overwhelmed.
Enter Mr. Zavala, who was legalized under the IRCA. His story is typical of many of the hongeros (mushroom pickers) in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania (a.k.a., the Mushroom Capital).
He waited years before his wife and children were able to join him in the U.S., and essentially missed the better part of his children growing up and family life in general. Mr. Zavala is a known to be a hard worker, good citizen, and an asset to his community. Making people like Arturo Zavala part of our nation, even with the potential backlog, seems well worth the effort.