Mexico Cultural Immersion Experience

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In 2007 I traveled to rural Mexico with the Puentes/Bridges Program. In February 2008 I shared my experience at a Southern Wisconsin Rural Imigration Summit.

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Mexico Cultural Immersion Experience

  1. 1. Life in Rural Mexico: Lessons from a Cultural Immersion Experience Jenny Erickson, Sauk County UWEX
  2. 2. This is NOT the Mexico we visited!
  3. 3. This is the Mexico we visited.
  4. 4. www.puentesbridges.org/
  5. 5. This is the story of my experience.
  6. 6. Mexico
  7. 7. Two Worlds
  8. 8. The Farmer’s Story  WI farmers needed additional workers  Hesitant to hire Mexican employees at first  Employees provide documentation  Pay is $10/hour  Now farms rely on Mexican employees Hispanics made up about 40% of all U.S. agricultural workers in 2005. (Census Bureau)
  9. 9. The Mexican’s Story  Difficult to make a living in Mexico.  Benefits of working in the US are obvious.  Workers typically want to return to Mexico  Becoming more difficult to cross the border  More likely to move family to the US
  10. 10. Long Term Impacts Some investment in infrastructure
  11. 11. Patrone  Father figure  Usually a man  Upper middle class  The person who distributes the pay  Someone you have to “obey”
  12. 12. Expectations of a Patrone  Mexican employees expect to work hard, but they expect help, protection and support when they need it. – Attend family gatherings if invited – Take employee to the doctor – If necessary, help employee get out of trouble
  13. 13. Buena Vista
  14. 14. Crossing the Border  Cost about $5,000 to $8,000 dollars  Borrow money from community members  Hire a “coyote” or smuggler to get across the border  Nearly 500 die crossing the border each year  Expected to help the next person
  15. 15. Crossing the Border  Main causes of death at the border: – Hypothermia – Dehydration – Sun stroke – Stinging by poisonous insects – Drowning – Car Accidents – Homicide US Border Patrol Statistics
  16. 16. Unauthorized Immigrant Population  11,550,000 unauthorized immigrants residing in US (arrived 1980-2006) – 8.4 million from North America – 1.4 million from Asia – 1.0 million from South America – 0.5 million from Europe Department of Homeland Security
  17. 17. Duel Identity  InMexico these employees are seen as as providers, responsible and hardworking  InUS they are seen as illegal. Salgado de Synder, 1996
  18. 18. Remittances $23.1 billion in remittances to Mexico in 2006
  19. 19. Summary  Impact of US dollars on Mexico was prevalent  Many opportunities for cultural miscommunication  Mexican people were outstanding
  20. 20. Questions?

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