Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Illegal Immigration from the Perspective of a Gringo in Mexco

I was speaking with a Mexican waiter the other day who works in a nearby restaurant about Allan and my recent trip to the US. The waiter whom we'll name Jose commented that he was planning on going to the US next Spring.  When I asked how, he responded "illegally, like everyone else".  Of course I could not just let that comment go, I had to find out more and ask some questions.  How much would it cost?  Where would he leave from?  What would he do in the US?

For $23,000 pesos (or roughly $1,800 USD) a coyote (or human smuggler) would take Jose and 14 other people from his hometown of Chiapas, Mexico to the border.  They would then cross the desert by foot, and once in the US a van would pick them up and take them to Miami.  Once in Miami Jose would work in construction for 4 years, save up enough money and then return to Mexico and buy a house in Chiapas where there is currently no work and little money.

He thought the Spring was the best time to go in terms of weather and safety.  According to Jose there is currently a lot of police activity near the border making it unsafe for illegals. He was also waiting for the coyote to assemble a group of 15 people in total to take across at once.  That's roughly $26,000 USD total for all 15 people.  Perhaps I'm in the wrong business.

I mentioned to Jose that there was no guaranty the van would actually arrive once they crossed the border - they could just be stranded. Jose seemed confident he would not be abandoned.  I guess this is a well-known "reputable" operation.  

Although I don't know Jose that well, he seems to be a very nice, personable and trust worthy fellow.  He always has a smile on his face, and is always willing to help.  Over the past 2 years we have met several people like Jose who were either planning on going to the US or had just come back.  They all have interesting stories of why they went, why they returned or why they were going.  One guy was doing construction in Washington D.C., hit his girlfriend, was then thrown in jail and sent back to Mexico.  He has been the exception - the bad apple being returned.

Having this personal contact with  future and former illegal immigrants has given us a lot to think about in terms the whole immigration debate.  The prospects to get ahead in Mexico are slim.  In the US there is much more opportunity to succeed.  There is also a need for foreign workers.  Many US citizens don't want to do the manual labor jobs that illegals do so eagerly.  For example Jose works in Mexico 6 days a week, 12 hours a day and barely makes enough to get by.  He can't afford books to read.  In the US he could work for only 4 years and save enough money to buy a home in Mexico.

The US has to find someway to address the immigration issue so people can go to the US legally to work, and maybe eventually work towards citizenship.  I think some sort of foreigner worker program would solve it - where foreigners would be allowed to legally come to the US to work, get registered with the US government so we can track them and so they can pay taxes, and perhaps after say 10 years they could apply for citizenship.

It serves nether the US nor the rest of the world to have this open border with people sneaking in.  I certainly don't condone illegal immigration, but do realize there are many people who are honest and hard working and would like to come to the US to work and live in search for a better life, like my ancestors did a century ago. Of course they should do so legally not illegally.

Playa del Carmen Rentals | Condo Rentals Playa del Carmen | Villa Rentals Playa del Carmen

Allan eating lunch at Cactus

My meal at Cactus: Chicken Tacos with Refried Beans and Guacamole

Demi at the Beach

Demi Again

Demi between Allan's legs

Allan and Demi

Our colorful beach chairs

Playing Dominoes at Xaman Ha

Another view of the Domino game


Allan and Janet

Playing Cards

More Cards

We're Playing Cards in the Pool!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Vacationing in the USA

Allan and I just returned from a wonderful 2 week vacation in the US.  We spent about a week in the Boston area visiting my family, and then about a week in Maine visiting his.  Granted we spent about 2 hours a day responding to emails, but overall it was not an intrusion into our relaxation time at all.  When you own your own business, working on vacation is just part of the package.

The trip was a non-stop adventure visiting family, seeing great friends, eating amazing food like boiled lobster, lobster rolls, Chinese food, clam chowder, to name a few.  I took my niece and nephew to a water park for the day; Allan, my parents and I spent a day on the cape and then a few days on a lake in Maine; we had a BBQ with about 30 close friends and family; Allan went to his high school reunion and saw people he has not seen in 50 years.

To say the least we both were ready to crash upon arrival in Mexico. We arrived back in Playa del Carmen yesterday afternoon at around 4pm and were completely exhausted.  We both were in bed at 5pm and I slept until 6am the next morning. 

The fact that we now vacation in the US strikes me the most.  Before we would go to Italy or Spain.  Now 2 to 3 times a year we go to Boston, a place we loved but certainly were tired of and never expected we would be vacationing there.  It's a strange feeling thinking about being a tourist in your hometown and country.  Mexico very much feels like home now.  The US is now a place to relax and get away.

In an ideal world we'd love to have our friends and family close by.  Now it takes purchasing plane tickets and flying to another country to see my best friend or my parents.  Allan has children and grand children he'd love to see on a regular basis.  However, our life in Mexico is very full and very busy.  I can't think of a single instance when I've been bored or have had nothing to do.  I would cherish such a day as a welcome escape.  Granted too many days with nothing to do would bore me to death, so I much prefer a very active lifestyle as opposed to a sedentary one.

Me and my friend, Gordana and her husband, Franjo, at the BBQ.

Allan and his brothers, Bert and Tom, at the high school reunion.
Allan and I at the cottage on the lake.

Allan and his family - kids and grandkids

Me and my folks

My niece and nephew at the water park.

Me and my good friend, Josh.