There seems to be a bit of miscommunication in regard to yesterday’s post.
I’m well aware that if you polled immigrants who came here looking for a better lifestyle that if offered the choice between staying here and venturing back to their place of origin, most would likely pick staying stateside.
But, one can’t ignore the growing trend of some (not many, not most, not all) immigrants opting to return to their home country.
Why? Is it better? Depends on what you define as better, though by our standards, no.
Are there as many opportunities available anywhere else than there are in America? Doubtful.
Are people still returning home? Definitely.
As written in the original report in which I based yesterday’s post on, despite things moving slower, possibly a bit more volatile, and surely less well off in their birth nations, some are still deciding that they’d rather deal with simple than take on our recession.
A reader born with a U.S. citizenship in Mexico says while he certainly would rather live in America than Mexico, he understands why some people have come to the conclusion to go back where they started.
He offers a perspective both sides of the debate can learn from.
Here are his thoughts:
“Now I’m not one to talk about the hardships of being an immigrant.
I was born with a U.S. citizenship in Mexico thanks to my American mom.
I came here with nothing but some clothes, $500 in savings and a pretty nutty American girlfriend to move in with. I’ve gone from my first job making $5.50 an hour flipping burgers at a ski resort to being an “international trade specialist” in training.
Still, there some things are just so much easier in Mexico. For example a couple of years ago when I was a temp and had no insurance I discovered that I needed a root canal. Without insurance it would have cost me about $2000.
I flew back to Mexico, spent time with my parents, partied a bit and spent $250 to have an expert who specializes in root canals take care of my tooth. Yes, we have universal healthcare but that just means private doctors have competition and charge less. Some people claim it takes them a couple of days to recover, but I was eating lunch two hours later and he barely used any drugs on me — just one shot.
Also back home having a job entitled me to receive a portion of my salary in untaxed food stamps, and I could move into government housing. I paid a little bit each month for the place, which one could eventually own after a certain number of years and sell back (to a stranger or back to the government) as a down payment for your next home. Food was abundant and natural, gas was mildly subsidized and states organized movie and culture festivals.
Of course I’m not going back, I’m lucky to be where I am, but if I did I think I would work less and have a simpler life. Then again like I said, I had it easy growing up, we were lower middle class during the Peso crisis. That means our house got pretty run down and we stopped making cosmetic repairs on our car but we were fine.
On the other hand I worked for my father’s hardware store and I frequently caught barefoot children shoplifting glue or paint thinner. I also dated a girl who pretty much had no roof on her home and lived out in the dirt road areas. It is likely that the people who are going back are those who have something to go back to like me, not those who came from extreme poverty, filthy water and lack of services.
Just food for thought, hopefully this e-mail fits into some sort of big picture.”
When I asked whether or not I should sneak into the luggage of immigrants going back home, I was being facetious. But, when Javier writes that he imagines he would work less and lead a simpler life back home, he conveys the same sentiments expressed by a Kenyan man to the Washington Post about leaving his professional job to return home. He felt that despite his country’s problems, people seemed happier than they do here.
As another reader pointed out, immigration to America occurs in waves. But with a severe recession stateside, growing economies in countries like India and China, and changing attitudes the world over, is this recent wave the start of a permanent shift?
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Michael Arceneaux hails from Houston, lives in Harlem and praises Beyoncé’s name wherever he goes. Follow him on Twitter.