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  1. #1
    Senior Member FedUpinFarmersBranch's Avatar
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    BOO HOO-Migrant children finding Mexico a strange world

    Migrant children finding Mexico a strange world
    By JEREMY SCHWARTZ

    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    CUIDAD HIDALGO, Mexico — After nearly seven years in the United States, 16-year-old Edgar Gutierrez was back in a hometown he hardly recognized.

    He returned to relatives he couldn't remember. Kids thought he was stuck up because he had lived in the United States. Teachers scolded him when he pronounced his name with an American accent. Edgar grew up in these mountains of Central Mexico, but now he felt like a stranger.

    Edgar and his family, who moved back after years in Atlanta, are among a fast-growing number of undocumented immigrants who are returning to Mexico to start over. Some are drawn by a desire to return home after meeting their financial goals; many more are pushed by the faltering U.S. economy and tough local laws aimed at illegal immigrants.

    Coming back to their hometowns, mostly in rural Mexico, they find the same grinding poverty that originally drove them out. Returning migrants face a gauntlet of challenges, from finding a new job to reconnecting with family and friends.

    But experts say the burden falls most heavily on the children, who spent their formative years in American schools, watching American TV, wearing American clothes and listening to American music.

    They are returning to a homeland they know through stories and photos. Some speak no Spanish. Others speak both Spanish and English with an accent.

    For most, the biggest challenge is adapting to a different educational system. Parents and migrant advocates say these kids risk falling through the cracks when they return.

    "What happens is, the kids stop studying because (the adjustment) becomes too hard and there is no one helping them," said Arturo Lopez, who runs the municipal migrant aid office in Ecatepec, a sprawling suburb of Mexico City.

    Edgar struggled at his new school in the state of Michoacan. His English teacher sent him to the principal's office when he corrected her pronunciation. He couldn't understand the Spanish terms in his science class so he found translations on the Internet.

    In the end the strain was too much. He quit school and spent his days in his new neighborhood of unfinished concrete homes and dirt streets.

    It was a long way away from Cross Keys High School in Atlanta, where he was in the Junior ROTC and 4-H Club and dreamed of joining the U.S. Navy.

    While no precise figures exist for the unfolding phenomenon, officials in states like Michoacan and Zacatecas are warning of an impending flood of returnees, and urging officials to prepare.

    "There's no work for them (in the U.S.) so they figure it's better to come back to their own country," said Griselda Valencia Medina, the secretary of immigration for the state of Michoacan. "As bad as it is here, they at least have a place to live and to eat."

    In Obrajuelo, a tiny farming village in Guanajuato state, Lourdes Perez has just arrived in her hometown after six years in Austin, Texas. Her 8-year-old daughter, who finished 1st grade at Odom Elementary in south Austin, is slowly coming out of shell shock. Her 6-year-old son keeps asking when they are going back.

    Perez says she returned because it became increasingly hard to find steady work as an undocumented migrant. "It's slow (in Austin) for everything — restaurants, construction, everything," she says.

    Perez herself feels a little shell-shocked, but she's concentrating on enrolling her kids in school, something that's turning into more of a bureaucratic nightmare than she expected.

    Former migrants often return to find a system not inclined to help. Many are surprised to learn that U.S.-born children need an apostille, an international document similar to a notary stamp, for their birth certificates. Without the apostille, the Mexican school system will not enroll their children.

    Down the road from Perez's house, 14-year-old Oscar Barcenas is struggling to make sense of his new home.

    Oscar was born and raised in Georgia, living in the rural town of Clayton for the last 13 years. Then his father decided to move the family to his hometown to bring his children closer to their relatives and invest in local businesses.

    Oscar had visited Obrajuelo a couple of times over the holidays. But when he arrived in February to stay, he felt like a stranger in a strange land. The move stirred questions of identity.

    "Over there I felt more American," he says on his porch overlooking the town. "After a few months though I started feeling more Mexican, and I was OK with that ././. I'm starting to get the hang of it here."

    Like many returning migrant children, Oscar struggled in school. Although he spoke Spanish at home in Georgia, he couldn't read or write it. Teachers showed little patience, and he is now repeating 7th grade.

    His classmates looked at him like a novelty, mocking his accent, but soon he came up with some survival strategies: "I pretty much made a deal with them that if I helped them with their English, they'd help me with the other subjects," he says.

    Girls, he suspects, like him more for his family's U.S. dollars. He misses Georgia and plans to return when he grows up. He wants to be a police officer, but can't imagine being a cop in Mexico, where corruption among police is rampant.

    "I wouldn't want to be a cop here because they don't care about anybody," he says. "I'm pretty much planning on life over there. That's what I'm used to."

    Parents say they also face discrimination when they return.

    Omar Martinez, 32, said school officials refused to enroll his 4-year-old son, who was born near Oakland, Calif., at a local kindergarten in Ecatepec.

    "They said they don't want foreigners," he said. "They couldn't explain it, they just said they didn't want foreigners."

    Martinez and his brother, Ivan Martinez, returned to Mexico over the summer, moving their families when their mother fell gravely ill. Both said they spent weeks trying to find schools that would accept their children, ages 4 to 13. They eventually found a welcome at Cinco de Mayo elementary school and principal Patricia Cervantes.

    Cervantes said the school has taken in several migrant students over the last few years and strives to give the returnees extra attention. Cervantes said the school can do this because of its small class sizes – 25 kids per class compared to an average in Ecatepec of about 45.

    "It's our job to help them integrate into society," Cervantes said.

    But experts say the situation shows how ill-prepared most Mexican schools, as well as the government in general, are for the expected flow of returning migrants.

    "The authorities know that the migrants are the ones that help the country the most (through sending money home), but then they don't help them when they come back," Lopez said.

    Experts also say that more needs to be done in the United States to prepare returning migrants for the challenges — both bureaucratic and psychological — they face in Mexico. Lopez calls for educational campaigns in Mexican consulates as well as publicity campaigns on Spanish-language radio stations.

    In Michoacan, where about a quarter of the population has migrated to the United States, officials are scrambling to put together economic plans to deal with the potential return of thousands to rural areas.

    Officials hope to help returning migrants set up small businesses and help parents with documents like the apostille. The hope is that rural areas can absorb the returnees without severe dislocation.

    Back in Ciudad Hidalgo, Edgar, now 17, has decided to return to school. After initially being overwhelmed by the move to Mexico, he's determined to make the most out his new beginning.

    He's enjoying the freedom of being back in Mexico. Like many undocumented kids in the United States, he says he didn't go out much, but now attends dances and plays soccer until 11 p.m. with new friends and long lost cousins.

    And he's traded the view from his Atlanta apartment — dumpsters and a parking lot — for a dramatic mountainside. He's also re-connecting with grandparents who didn't recognize him when he returned.

    But Edgar still feels caught between two worlds. "We're getting used to it," he says.

    "It's like ... a new life. Everything is new. New friends, new neighborhood. It's hard to come back."


    http://www.statesman.com/news/content/s ... 5_AUS.html
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  2. #2
    Senior Member Ex_OC's Avatar
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    I don't see what they're griping about. Millions of Americans wake up every day wondering how their city turned into Mexico overnite. Same banana, but know they know how WE feel.
    PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH. PRESS 2 FOR DEPORTATION.

  3. #3
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    Now tell us a story of how the kids feel when they move to the US. It's the same old story-they don't fit in.

  4. #4
    Senior Member grandmasmad's Avatar
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    Some speak no Spanish
    Well..the parents even after being here for 15 to 20 years...speak no English.....so...I guess no-one communicates over their dinner table
    The difference between an immigrant and an illegal alien is the equivalent of the difference between a burglar and a houseguest. Join our efforts to Secure America's Borders and End Illegal Immigration by Joining ALIPAC's E-Mail Alerts network (CLICK HERE)

  5. #5
    Senior Member ReggieMay's Avatar
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    But experts say the burden falls most heavily on the children, who spent their formative years in American schools, watching American TV, wearing American clothes and listening to American music.

    And flying Mexican flags!
    "A Nation of sheep will beget a government of Wolves" -Edward R. Murrow

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  6. #6
    Senior Member Ex_OC's Avatar
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    "The authorities know that the migrants are the ones that help the country the most (through sending money home), but then they don't help them when they come back," Lopez said.
    And THERE you have it, ladies and gents. MEXICO CORRUPTION 101.
    PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH. PRESS 2 FOR DEPORTATION.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by grandmasmad
    Some speak no Spanish
    Well..the parents even after being here for 15 to 20 years...speak no English.....so...I guess no-one communicates over their dinner table
    I know of a case where a kid who didn't have a lot of ability lost the ability to speak to her parents in spanish. She was around English all day at school and monolingual mom and dad must not have talked to her very much because she lost the ability to speak spanish. Not everyone has the capability to be bilingual.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Ex_OC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mayday
    Quote Originally Posted by grandmasmad
    Some speak no Spanish
    Well..the parents even after being here for 15 to 20 years...speak no English.....so...I guess no-one communicates over their dinner table
    I know of a case where a kid who didn't have a lot of ability lost the ability to speak to her parents in spanish. She was around English all day at school and monolingual mom and dad must not have talked to her very much because she lost the ability to speak spanish. Not everyone has the capability to be bilingual.
    You are absolutely right, Mayday. Not only that, it is NOT MANDATORY in any of our laws.
    PRESS 1 FOR ENGLISH. PRESS 2 FOR DEPORTATION.

  9. #9
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    Amazing that these youngsters, who are probably at an age where they see no future in the situation their parents put them in. And guaranteed that they will be back across the border sooner than later, legally or illegally.
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  10. #10
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    What happens is, the kids stop studying because (the adjustment) becomes too hard and there is no one helping them," said Arturo Lopez, who runs the municipal migrant aid office in Ecatepec, a sprawling suburb of Mexico City.
    They don't study here either. Welcome to the real world !
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