I was 10 years old when I crossed over the border into Arizona with my parents in 2005.
We moved to Jackson Heights. My parents, Roberta and Salvador Alarcon, left my younger brother with my grandparents in Veracruz.
In New York, my mother worked at a Laundromat and my dad got a job in construction. He built and demolished houses in Manhattan and Queens. His boss exploited him. My father worked for 12 to 14 hours a day for $80. He had no idea you could sue for lost wages. He was always afraid of being deported.
In 2011, the family was forced to move from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom. At one point, my father injured his ankle. He was afraid to go to a hospital. In 2012, my grandmother passed away from cancer. My parents decided to go back.
My parents now have a small store in the town. My father is now working on farming and my mother is taking care of the store.
They are happy. But obviously, it’s not the same. Over here, they had cell phones and money to go to restaurants once a month. Now, they don’t have the money and have to work harder to get those things.
I don't understand how they had money for cell phones and restaurants with mom working off the books at a laundromat and dad raking in $80/day. Sounds like Mexico was a better option. And in fact, more Mexicans are returning than arriving these days.