May 8, 2006 National public radio
World
Migrants' Job Search Empties Mexican Community
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR

Morning Edition, May 8, 2006 Some places in Mexico have a long history of migration. But for others, including the provincial capital of Malinalco, it's a relatively new phenomenon. After leaving for better-paying jobs in the United States, migrants find themselves missing their families and communities back home.
   On the surface, Malinalco -- with its cobblestone streets and weekend visitors from Mexico City a few hours away -- looks fairly prosperous. But something is ravaging the community: Its people are leaving.
   "At least five to 10 percent of the population here goes to the United States," says Benito Ceron Mancio, who works with the Malinalco municipal government. "It's been increasing incrementally, but we can see that today it is much more than it ever used to be."
   Salvador Hernandez is among those who've gone north. The 20-year-old man has been working as a bricklayer in Georgia for three years and has just returned home for a visit.
   "You miss your family when you are [in the United States]," Hernandez says. "I am lonely there..."
   He left school at 14 and started to work in the countryside before deciding to follow his many relatives who are working in the United States.
   "One goes north for the work more than anything," he says. "There is always work there, in the fields or the restaurants -- many things."


Malinalco is a quiet provincial capital with cobblestone streets. But despite its charm, more people are leaving every day.
Ellen Calmus


Benancio Nieto, 77, works long hours in his field. This season, the subsistence farmer is planting rice with the help of his son. But he says times are hard because of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).

   In the United States, Hernandez lives with four other immigrants in a two-bedroom apartment. He manages to send $100 to $500 home each month. He says he works long hours. In his spare time, he watches TV or goes to the mall. He misses the festival days in Malinalco and going to church with the community.
   But in Georgia, he earns in one hour what it would take an entire day to earn back home (if there were steady work in Malinalco, which there isn't). His dream is to make enough money to come home to Malinalco, get married and build a house.
   Cecilia Gonzales works at a lunch counter in Malinalco. The young girl's brother is in the United States, and some of her friends have just left for there.
   "Here it's the same story, almost all of the young girls and boys go over there to make money and to realize, according to them, their American dream," Gonzales says. "There isn't any work here, everything is scarce, and there's lack of money."
   She also is thinking of leaving. She sees that many of her friends and family come back from the United States with clothes and cars. Still, Gonzales thinks immigration may not be so great for her country.
   "On the one hand it's good, but on the other it's bad because Mexico is belonging more and more to the U.S.," Gonzales says. "Everyone is heading over there. Mexico is emptying."


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May 9, 2006 National public radio
World
Mexican Migrants Leave Kids, Problems Back Home
Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR

Morning Edition, May 9, 2006 When Mexicans migrate to the United States, many leave their children in the care of extended families. That's causing problems back in their home communities, with children doing poorly in school, dropping out or turning to crime.
   In the rural village of San Andres Nicolas Bravo in the province of Malinalco, Alexis Silva Carreno, 14, has nearly been expelled from school several times. He says his troubles can be pinpointed to the day in 2001 when his father left for the United States.
   Alexis began drinking and hanging out with friends who were part of a local gang led by Mexican youths who had grown up in the United States. He started doing drugs and was eventually sent to a state home for troubled kids.
   He was left in the care of his grandmother and extended family. But it didn't help how he felt.
   "I felt discriminated against, like I was worth nothing, like trash," Alexis says.
   According to the headmistress of his school, Alexis' story is far from uncommon. Antonia Figaroa Ibanez says that more and more parents are leaving their children behind to be cared for by relatives.
   "It's affecting us hugely," she says. "Out of 73 children in one class, 10 have neither of their parents here. That's a big number."
   In a town near Malinalco, teacher Carmen Sanchez says that when a child's parents leave, there is a clear consequence.
   "When they don't have their father or mother, they lack confidence ... in the academic sphere," she says. "It means that they will be more likely to miss school and to drop out. They are also less respectful of their grandmothers or uncles or their teachers."
   Ellen Calmus works with Proyecto El Rincon (The Corner Project), which helps the children of migrants in Malinalco. She says that because crossing the border illegally has become more difficult and costly, migrants don't want to risk returning to see their families.


Alexis Silva Carreno is a troubled 14-year-old. After his father left for the United States, the boy became involved with drugs and a local gang. He says that now that his father is back, he has cleaned up his act. But he dreams of heading north.


School headmistress Antonia Figaroa Ibanez is worried about the future of the children in her rural school. More and more are leaving at a young age to go north, and the ones that are left behind by their families drop out early.
James Hider

   That has meant that many of their children are now going north, unaccompanied, to reunite with their parents instead.
   Alexis Silva Carreno says that his father has returned from Texas. And now the boy has stopped drinking and hanging out with the gangs.
   Still, there's been more trouble at home. Now, he says he, too, is thinking of going north.


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