Migration & Culture/Koptiuch
Nogales Fieldtrip Reports

Jason McLure
Mexico Migration Study

We had the fortunate opportunity to take a trip to Mexico last week, and although I have been to Mexico before, this particular trip was more informative and influential than all the previous trips combined. This experience opened my eyes to a new type of living, to a new unfamiliar existence, and most importantly to a plight that I have heard but not felt firsthand.

The first place we visited was extremely new to me. The thought that Mexico ever had a border patrol was a little unusual sounding to an American-born Arizona native. This seemed odd to me since migration always was presented as a problem to the country in which people entered. Now that the changeover from border patrol to Grupo Beta has been enacted, a more humane and reasonable sounding force is present. The way that this organization conducts business seems to be a great and wise change. The help, rights, and reality presented to the migrants is nothing short of crucial in changing the mindset of the migrants from the perceived opportunity to the harsh reality of migration. The organization also is helpful in changing the American thought of the migration "problem", to that of understanding the problems that face the individual migrant.

The colonias that we visited was another eye-opening experience. The way that the Mexicans as well as other Central Americans, for lack of a better word begin by "squatting" for residence on their journey to a better land, then, eventually live in this existence, is beyond me. It is heartbreaking that this perpetual cycle of poverty, and ill-fated life, is nearly inescapable. This is only reinforced by the devastating economy, as illustrated by the third destination on the trip. When we saw that the prices of groceries were lower than in America it was no surprise. When the daily wage was introduced to our group, a completely new side of the equation was presented. We all knew that the border separates not only people but also financial well being, but I think experiencing the actual difference was a shock to nearly everyone. It is almost impossible to fathom that milk is a full days work, or that one diaper is a half a days hard labor.

As a typical naive American I knew the general idea that "we" are fortunate to live here, and "they" have been dealt a bad hand, but the gravity of the individual dynamics is something that will not be understood unless experienced firsthand. It is easier to understand why migration is such an issue after seeing what life is like in a poverty and opportunity barren place.

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