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Hugo Comes to Phoenix
I am doing my interview with Hugo Chavez from Guadalajara, Mexico. I know Hugo from work; we work at PF Changs China Bistro in Peoria AZ. I am a server there and he is a server assistant, and we have been working together for a year and a half. Hugo is a hard worker and one of our best server assistants. I interviewed Hugo in the private dining room after one of our shifts. Leo another server assistant was in there with us, and his English is a little better than Hugo’s so he helped translate some of the information for us.
Hugo moved here to Phoenix, AZ in 1995, and has been working in the restaurant industry ever since. Hugo paid cash to come across the border on a bus, with a regular group of people some that were already American citizens, and luckily he was just never questioned of his identity. He also has not been back to Mexico since then. He is an illegal immigrant, and actually purchased fake information and identity.
Hugo has six brothers and six sisters, and says all the men in his family are here in the US working and the women are back in Guadalajara still. He and all the men in his family send money to their homeland for their family. He also said that he calls back home about every eight days, but he hasn’t seen his family in three years.
Hugo does not attend school he just works full time. He fits in very well at work, because a lot of other back of the house employees and server assistants have migrated here and they all can keep there Spanish up with each other. Hugo can speak enough English to communicate with the customers and other employees, if he can’t say what he wants to or can’t understand he just simply gets one of the other guys who are fluent in both languages to help translate.
Hugo left Mexico because from the area where he came from there are no jobs and no money. His family at home lives in a poor neighborhood and doesn’t even have running water. It is tradition in his family for the men to come here and work, and for the women to stay in Mexico. Here in Arizona Hugo lives in a house that has electric, running water, appliances, and even cable television. He lives with his brothers down on 75th ave and Thomas Road. His brothers also work in the restaurant industry or in landscaping. Hugo’s biggest expectation’s for coming to the United States was to “meet beuno ladies and make lots of dinero”, and so far America is everything he thought it would be.
Hugo is part of the wave of people known as the new immigrants. According to Charles Clark, in his article “The New Immigrants” from the Congressional Quarterly these modern immigrants are becoming wealthy and well educated. He also mentioned in his article that Americanization doesn’t mean having to give up your ethnic traditions, customs, cuisine, or birth languages. When I asked Hugo if he felt Americanized since he has been here for about nine years he said “yes”, because he had a cell phone, car, money and cable TV, but he still speaks Spanish and he still lives under his ethnic traditions and always eats Spanish food.
According to Sassen, in her article “Why Migration”, immigrants come here to the US because of poverty, unemployment, economic stagnation, and overpopulation in their homeland. These are all the reasons why Hugo left Guadalajara, Mexico. He wanted to escape a poverty stricken life and to give his family the chance at a better life. Sassen also talks about “bridges” for migration. Hugo’s bridge to come here to Phoenix was his brothers who were already here and established a life so far, and they also sent Hugo cash and set up his transportation here to the US.
As described by Schiller, in the article “Transnationalism: A New Analytic Framework for Understanding Migration”, a transmigrant is a person that develops social fields that link their country of origin to their country of settlement. Hugo fits that definition of a transmigrant. His whole family has built a social field transporting all the men here into the US. He maintains a relationship from here in Phoenix to his family in Guadalajara socially and economically. Hugo has developed his identity here in AZ, but his heritage and traditions lie back in Mexico, and his family there helps keep them alive.
In Border Action Networks article, “Justice on the Line, they talk about how the US Border Patrol abuses their power and are also known to violently attack migrants when trying to cross the border. When I asked Hugo if he was afraid to come across the border illegally, he said of course. He knows people from his homeland and has heard stories how people would get hurt or die trying to cross over. That’s why his family crosses in a vehicle. The worst that could happen is that they wouldn’t let him across, versus people that try and cross in a vacant area.
In the article titled “Remittances, US Latino Communities, and Development in Latin American Countries”, from Migration World News, they talk about how Latino households remit their money back to their homeland. This is another article that describes issues that concern Hugo. He sends part of his money back to Guadalajara, every month about $150-200 dollars. This is how his family in Guadalajara survives, and it is so little compared to here that Hugo still gets to have all the things ha has here as well. Hugo loves his life here in Phoenix, AZ, and he has the type of life that his family in Mexico can’t even imagine. He is an active member of society here, and a hard worker. Sometimes he doesn’t understand why the rest of his family can’t come here and live this “better life”. He does feel very fortunate to be here and would never go back to living in his homeland. He loves to be part of the American society, and continues to speak his language and keep his customs alive!