Undocumented (Illegal) Immigrants
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Undocumented (Illegal) Immigrants in the United States From: Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society, by Leo Chavez. Separation. Migrating for work is culturally and socially constructed U.S. Employers lure Mexican workers to the U.S.

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Undocumented (Illegal) Immigrants

in the

United States

From: Shadowed Lives: Undocumented Immigrants in American Society, by Leo Chavez

  • Migration as a Part of Family History Example: Enrique Valenzuela

  • Father worked in Bracero Program for 12 yrs.

    • From 1942-1967, a work program where the U.S. government allowed American employers to hire Mexican laborers for short periods of time

  • Enrique worked on a rancho (ejido) while his father was in the U.S., soon left because there was no work and family was going hungry (1963)

  • Enrique cont…

  • Enrique went to Mexico city to find work: first worked selling produce, then worked in a small factory making cars earning 22 American dollars a week,

  • Only enough to pay his rent.

  • In 1970 his father was working in San Diego and Enrique wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps

  • His father laid the foundation for Enrique’s move and illustrates that most Mexicans try to find work in their country before moving to the U.S.

  • Target Earners

  • Earn a certain amount of money then return to their country

  • Common among young unmarried men and women who want to help their parents

  • Immigrants will use money for a number of purposes

  • A. Save money to build a house in Mexico

  • B. For college in Mexico

  • Central American Immigrants

  • Reasons for immigrating to the U.S.

  • Dissatisfaction with the local economy

  • Political conflict

  • a. Rebel military groups fighting the government

  • b. Disappearances/kidnapping

  • c. Torture

  • d. Arbitrary Arrest

  • Costs

  • Coyote: an experienced Mexican who will help illegals cross the border.

  • Costs thousands of dollars

  • Many times Coyotes will take money and not assist families or leave families in remote areas

  • Coyotes lie about the money they received and ask for more

  • Dangers

  • Crossing rivers: drowning

  • Deserts: Hot and dry in the day time, cold and dry at night, die of heat exhaustion

  • Mountains: many illegals become disoriented and cannot find their way out of the mountains or deserts

  • Border Patrol: have been known to shoot immigrants

  • American citizens: vigilantly groups (minutemen)

Dangers Cont….

6. Crossing busy highways in southern California, immigrants have misjudged the speed of vehicles and have been killed

  • Life Outside San Diego

  • Living camps outside of major cities

  • Illegals will dig holes in the ground and find cardboard to cover themselves in to protect them from the elements

    • Advantage to living in a hole: Border patrol cannot see them

    • Disadvantage: Fleas, rats, snakes, water from rain, brush fires, and disease have all been known to kill immigrants

Life Outside San Diego Cont…

Disease: from lack of clean drinking water, waste remove, and using such things as pesticide buckets for drinking water

Gang violence: Gangs routinely come into the camps and arbitrarily kill workers for no reason…or for initiation into a gang

  • Living in Constant Fear

  • Many illegals have stated the following:

    • “We’re living in a chicken coop”

    • “In all of the these 16 years I’ve lived in the U.S. it feels if though I’ve been in jail. I don’t feel free. I came to this country to work not to do things you shouldn’t do. If you go out, like when you go out for fun, it’s always in the back of your mind, will the INS show up? Or when you go to work you think all the time, from the moment you walk out of your home you think, will the INS stop me on the way or when I’m at work?”

  • Living in Constant Fear Cont…

  • Home as a refuge

    • Parents will not let children outside of the home

    • Parents not apart of child’s life in school because of fear

    • Illegals will not seek medical help when needed

    • Illegals find it difficult to seek legal help when they are wronged