AdlerHellman

AdlerHellman - The World of Mexican Migrants The Rock and...

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The World of Mexican Migrants The Rock and the Hard Place Judith Adler Hellman TNE NEW PRESS NEW YOR~ LONDON
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2 Nopal Verde: The Life of a Town Zacatecas lies in the parched northern desert of Mexico and has a pop- ulafion of only 1.3 million. But the number of people who could be said to call it home is much higher because proportionally it is the most active immigrant-sending state in Mexico, with more than half of the population livipg outside of the state. Indeed, those Zacatecans who still live in Mexico are connected through their migratory net- works to communities all over the southwest of the United States. And in "Nopal Verde;’ a town in the driest region of Zacatecas, we can see what out-migration means for those who remain in a place where the greater part of population now resides al otto tado. How large is Nopal Verde? As is the case for all of rura~ Zacatecas or, indeed, for every part of the state outside the capital dty, Cindad Zacatecas it all depends on whether you count only the people who live in the town at any given moment or those who emi- grated early enough to have had the chance for amnesty in 1986 and who come and go regularly between Nopal Verde and Tulsa, Okla- homa-or whether you include as well those with no papers who would like to return regularly but c~o not dare to do so since September H made the return crossing into the United States so dangerous and expensive that they just stay put in the United States, skipping the fes-
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24 The World of Mexican Migrants tival of San{a Cruz and dewing themselves the company of friends,. brothers and sisters, aging parents, and even their own children. At the health clinic in Nopal Verde, Silvia, the nurse-practitioner, describes the logistical problems she faces in trying to keep track of the shifting population of the tmvn. "In NopalVerde;’ Silvia says,"children, as well as teenagers and adults, migrate back and forth]’ and the nurse confesses that at any moment she has no idea how much vaccine to or- der for children’s inoculations because until they actually show up at the clinic, she carmot guess whether she will be vaccinating the same thirty children who were brought to the clinic last year, or whether twenty-five of those kids are now in Tulsa and only five or six will show up for their shots. My friend, Gonzalo Llamas Bernal, who has brought me here to his hometown, says, "Well, there really can’t be more than two thousand of the five thousand who supposedly live here." Siavia, however, differs in her calculations and thinks the population may than one thousand;’ she says. "Forty-four men migrated this month alone, and these are just the people we can think of. I mean just the people who, between us, we knmv personally and can count!" Both Gonzalo and Silvia agree that Nopal Verde has long been a migrant-sending town and that even before the Me,can Revolution of 19t0 to 1917, men from Nopal would cross the border to work in agri-
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AdlerHellman - The World of Mexican Migrants The Rock and...

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