I Came Through Mexico


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A Dream Displaced: Part 4

Each mile I drove felt like a pound no longer weighing me down. A few months later, I graduated from an accredited institution, the first in my family to do so. I found a job with a Christian book company in Nashville, Tennessee, with full benefits. A year later, I got married and bought my first home.

My wife would have to drop out of college because I pay the tuition. I thought I would never feel that kind of anxiety and dread again, but I was wrong. I am also an Uber and Lyft driver, but without a valid driver's license, that source of income will disappear, too.

If we lost our house, we have no family in Nashville to stay with. I have no clue how I would make a living, or where I would go.

You came to mexico | Spanish Translator

I feel trapped—Hispanics make fun of my pronunciation and tell me I act like an American, and Americans say I do not look like them and need to go back to where I came from. I do not know how to act any other way. It hurts to be told I do not belong wherever I go. But what hurts me the most—more than the alienation, more than the fear—is the sense of betrayal.

If I were any less grounded in my faith, I honestly would have left the religion. Many of them, I know, are struggling in their own lives. I pray that our shared faith will give them compassion for immigrants like me, and I wish that we can love one another as much as I love this country. I'm also praying for a solution. My priority is providing for her, but there are no guarantees. In the meantime, I take refuge in my faith. Skip to Main Content. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter. She bid goodbye to her family, weeping over leaving her parents and siblings behind as she and her infant son followed her husband to Los Angeles.

These immigrants worked shifts in factories, restaurants and the produce market. They rented small apartments.


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For generations, San Juan de Abajo, an agricultural town in the Pacific Coast state of Nayarit, funneled hundreds of people into Lincoln Heights on the faith that the Eastside neighborhood was a base camp for building a better life. The chain migration profoundly changed both places — and created economic, cultural and familial bonds that remain deep decades later. Lincoln Heights, long a beacon for a better life, has lost some of its luster, with fewer jobs, rising rents and increasingly difficult border crossings.

They came to L.A. from Mexico for a better life. Now some are finding it — back in Mexico

At the same time, San Juan de Abajo has been transformed from a rural, backwater town into a more prosperous, modern place, powered by the booming tourist economy of nearby Puerto Vallarta. These changes have some immigrants reflecting on their choices. That is where Elena now finds herself after 37 years in Lincoln Heights. Her children who grew up there found the success through education that eluded their parents. Her daughter graduated with a degree in child development from Cal State L. But for Elena and her husband, Santiago, home has remained, after all these years, a one-bedroom rental apartment.

Even if they wanted to move into a house, the rising gentrification of Lincoln Heights has driven prices well beyond their means. On her annual visits to San Juan de Abajo, though, Elena began to see surprising changes: She longed to return. The Mexican village Elena visits is not the one she left. The money that pays its rent, as well as the salary of the young woman who cooks, is raised by San Juanenses living in Lincoln Heights and other parts of Los Angeles.

The Friday Cover

But even as those in Lincoln Heights help feed the poor in their Mexican hometown, the signs of an improving economy here are evident. Sixty years ago, when the main migration out of San Juan started, only the rich had cars. Most people walked, pedaled bikes or rode horses.

Now cars fill the streets, jockeying with buses and motorbikes to get to jobs in hotels, restaurants, shops and casinos, many about an hour away in Puerto Vallarta.

I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico
I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico
I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico
I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico
I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico
I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico
I Came Through Mexico I Came Through Mexico

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