Well, after the drama of what to do about my upcoming visitors, it turns out that Juan has decided to wait a week or two before coming to visit SMA. His older sister is in the process of trying to cross the border without documentation, and he wants to wait to confirm that she is safely in el Norte before he leaves home himself. So perhaps next weekend.
I know from experience that I’m likely to get all kinds of howls from readers who oppose Mexican immigration. Before the howling starts however, I’d like to write a bit about Juan and his family and why his sister has decided to undertake a perilous journey with her husband.
Juan is 27 years old, works in a public library, and has no intention of coming north. His is not a migrating family, and although they are not wealthy, the do manage to scrape together a relatively comfortable existence in Textitlán. His wife works as a seamstress at home so she can watch their two small children, and his work, while it does not pay overly well, does keep him in touch will his intellectual interests.
His sister, whom I will refer to as Marisol (a pseudonym) married in January. Her husband has been working in the U.S. as an undocumented laborer for several years. He returned to get married and being that they are both in their late 20s, to start a family. Marisol recently found out she was pregnant. She did not originally plan to travel to the U.S. with her husband, but the baby changed that. She wants to be with her husband when her baby is born, and she knows that if he successfully crosses the border now, it could be years before he can return home again. So in this case, the difficulty in crossing the border actually influenced her decision to cross illegally herself. If she knew he could come back, say, when the baby is born, she probably would have elected to remain in Mexico.
Over the next few days, or perhaps weeks, Juan and his family will wait anxiously to hear news of his sister’s journey north. She has decided not to risk a walk through the Arizona desert, as she (and the family) does not fancy the mortality rate. She has worked as a paramedic for many years, so she’s saved enough money to pay the exorbitant fee to cross with illegal documents. The journey is still risky, however. She knows from talking to her neighbors in Textitlán that crossing is not as easy at it once was. I wish she wasn’t taking this risk, and like Juan, I will worry about her until I know she is safe, either in the U.S. or back home in Mexico.
But Marisol is going north, regardless of the risks or costs involved. Her story is one that demonstrates how difficult it is to shape legislation to influence personal decisions when it comes to migration. She wants to be with her husband, pure and simple, and U.S. border policy can do little to change that.