Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reverse migration

In an article in today's WSJ about undocumented immigrants returning to their home towns from the US, the following paragraph appears:

Some 1.35 million Guatemalan citizens -- 10% of the country's population -- live in the US, according to the Central American Institute for Developments Studies, an independent think tank in Guatemala. Some 3.5 million people back in Guatemala depend on these remittances to get by, the group says. Remittances are the top foreign-exchange earner for Guatemala, at $4.12 billion in 2007, ahead of coffee, sugar and other exports.

Staggering to think that 10% of the Guatemalan population lives outside the home country, and that 4.12 billion dollars are the top forex earner for the nation.

If people, especially those who oppose migration and thinking badly of migrants, could only read what this man has done, they might yet have humanity well up in their insides.

Example: Some weekends, Mr. Carrillo earned extra cash by doing landscaping on an 11-acre estate in affluent Howard County, Md. Reached by phone, the homeowner, Nura, asked that her last name be omitted. "We hired seven Americans who weren't up to the job," she said. "Then we found Ambrosio. He showed up on time and took his work seriously," pulling weeds, cutting fallen branches and spreading mulch. At lunchtime, she said, he was eager to practice his English.

Not long ago, he placed a long-distance call to Nura, the homeowner in Howard County, Md., to make sure she was pleased with the person he had recommended to replace him. On a recent Sunday, surrounded by his three children, he said: "If I could get the right papers – a visa – I would return."

He called to make sure he had done right by his former employer. Admirable.

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