I was a teacher’s assistant for the Northwest Michigan Migrant program for a summer. The education offered was limited by government funds and many times by small minded teachers who were looking for a regular check through the summer months
(though you can’t blame them on their salary). I was really impressed by how responsive and wonderful their parents were- especially dealing with such long hours and ridiculous conditions. They were the best parents I ever met in that Northern Michigan area. It was a wonderful family community. At the same time, I rode the bus home with those children many nights to see those living conditions. As I have worked with kids over the past few years, I still remember those wonderful children and often want to reach out in some way. This article reminded me again, and makes me wonder — as a documentary photographer — is there some way to use my skills to help these people — equivalent of WPA — or is there a greater need for teachers in those communities? The writer, while a wonderful article, left me with no way of ACTING on what I read about. We educate ourselves so much about the problems- now how about some ACTION and POSSIBILITIES?
I think this following excerpt from ‘Migrants No More’ is at best ignorance, at worst an attempt to mislead:
“Initially, Vicente and Isabel did plan to return to Mexico, once they saved enough money. But then they had children — a son, now five, and two daughters, ages four and three — and migrating home became too expensive (coyote fees have tripled, to more than $3,000 per person, since Vicente first crossed in the early 1990s) and too dangerous.”
If Vincente, Isabel and their children want to return to their ancestral home, all they have to do is go to the border and cross. If they have lost their Mexican documentation, they can go to the INS office. They’ll send them home for nothing. You need a ‘coyote’ to bring you into this country from Mexico. You just need a bus ticket to return. If you can’t afford a bus ticket, the INS will see that you get one.
I am hoping that like other immigrants these men and women will work their way up the economic ladder. It may however be much harder that it was for our ancestors. I am pulling for them. They obviously have guts and desire to make that first trip across the Sonoran desert.
Salt Lake City, UT