Hundreds of thousands of individuals move to Mexico from the United States each year. This number includes both those who are deported and those who choose to return. Many of those individuals spent their formative years in the United States and experience distinct challenges upon return to Mexico, including extreme culture shock, depression and mental illness, and barriers to accessing employment and education in Mexico.
An anthology called “Los Otros Dreamers” (Jill Anderson & Nin Solis/2013) documents the stories of 26 individuals whose lives have crossed borders, cultures, languages, and nationalities. Host Frank Stasio discusses the book with co-author Jill Anderson and contributors Claudia Amaro and Maggie Loredo.
Jill Anderson on the story behind "Los Otros Dreamers"
I’m originally from the US but an immigrant to Mexico ... In 2012, as part of a research project, I began to meet and talk to young people who were born in Mexico, had grown up in the US, and found themselves back in Mexico. Many of them due to deportation, others because of the deportation of a family member, others because of the obstacles they faced and the threat of deportation that led them to make the decision to move back. And listening to their stories I was so moved, and it was so clear that their stories were not being heard or recognized in Mexico or in the United States.
Jill Anderson on the definition of “Los Otros Dreamers”
Los Otros Dreamers certainly refers to the movement of Dreamers in the United States which raises up the situation of young people who want to study and don’t have a path to citizenship in the US. But the “otros” refers to being “the other side of the border” in Mexico and also being “other" ... in the sense that there are people in the book who have criminal records, who were deported, who would never have qualified for the DREAM Act or DACA. There are also young people who would have qualified for DACA but they returned before 2012.
Jill Anderson on how “Los Otros Dreamers” experience discrimination
Many people experience discrimination in the process of return and after deportation in their home countries ... and discrimination at all levels: culturally, institutionally, and also linguistically ... People are struggling to overcome that discrimination in the same ways that they’ve been doing in the United States for generations ... There are examples of young people who it took two or three years to finally revalidate their studies ... This institutional discrimination is something that is transnational ... you don’t leave that immigrant past behind and suddenly become a Mexican citizen.
Maggie Loredo on her story
My parents decided to bring me to the United States when I was almost three years old. I grew up in the US thinking, like, I was just as my friends. I didn’t see any difference until I was about to graduate high school when I just realized that I wasn’t going to be able to drive, to get a license, get a part time job or go to college. I found myself making the hard decision to go back to Mexico— a country I didn’t know but I thought I had rights because I was a citizen ... I got back and realized I didn’t have papers in Mexico because my education wasn’t recognized in Mexico. I had to go through this long process, and there’s basically not support. Along with the cultural shock, being alone, and not having anyone who could understand me.
Claudia Amaro on her story
I came to the United States when I was 12 years old after my father was killed in Mexico ... In 2005 my husband was deported, and I took the decision to take my son, who then was 6 years old, and move back to Mexico ... It was very hard for me. I had to erase my past ... My son was bullied for being American. I really had to be very careful when I spoke. I couldn’t speak about my past. You basically erase your past. I was able to come back [to the US] after my husband was kidnapped by two police officers for ransom ... I came back in an act of civil disobedience in 2013.
Jill Anderson on how NAFTA impacts “Los Otros Dreamers”
Many of the young people in the book are in a situation where their parents were expelled from Mexico in the ‘90s because of the impact of NAFTA. Because jobs related to specific industries, like the shoe industry, like agriculture, disappeared rapidly with the rapid change of NAFTA and the influx of US products into Mexico ... These families are the product of US-Mexico policy. Government policy that is directly impacting their lives and displacing them once again ... they return to communities in similar conditions or worse than what expelled their parents in the first place.
Claudia Amaro on the impact of the project
We were living in the shadows. At some point I felt like I didn’t have any past and my future was pretty blurry ... The book and the stories have been a path for me to find an identity, which is an identity that a lot of people might not understand, which is where we can actually love two countries. We know all the wrong and broken things in the United States. And we understand all the problems that are in Mexico, but at the same time we love both those countries. So, I think bringing that identity of being bicultural was a great thing.
Maggie Loredo on the non profit Otros Dreams en Acción
Our organization is really fighting and speaking up for our rights to be in Mexico and be with dignity, but also in the US, as we are part of mixed-status families. Some of our parents are residents, some of our siblings are citizens, some of them have DACA, and a lot of them are still undocumented. But there is no way we can separate these two countries now. Our organization helps with mental health, access to employment, and trying to find opportunities in both places.