The Hindered Dream of an Immigrant

Por Ricardo Enrique Murillo
April 2013

Home. To live in parenthesis. To live in the meanwhile.

On the cord extended and horizontal.

Between two points.

-          Poem found on the blog Letras Libres

In March, the weather change is approaching and Hispanic workers are preparing to start another season of work in the fields and in the restaurants of the Hudson Valley. The historian Richard Hull believed that only in Warwick, there are at least 1000 Hispanics who work at least part of the year and that some families have already been established as permanent residents of the village.

Warwick is a picturesque village located in a mainly agricultural area, located 90 miles north of the city, and borders with the state of New Jersey and about 80 ranches that surround it. The employers pay very little and deny them health insurance, but the immigrants manage to improve their living conditions when they return to their places of origin, having worked 10, 12, 14 and 16 hour shifts and keeping a tight budget. Nonetheless, for José Luis, a 47 year-old immigrant from Morelos, fulfilling his goal that was planned six years ago to send remittances to his family remains a challenge. In November 2010, he was diagnosed with an infection that emerged as an inflammation in the upper part of his left leg. At first he did not give pay much attention to the problem. He did not think that it was going to get worse. He then had to seek medical attention in a rural clinic and a Hispanic doctor volunteered to do an emergency colostomy in an emergency room with Warwick hospital equipment.

The procedure consisted of diverting the intestine that was cut off while the rectum healed. He spent several months in bed, unable to move, hoping that his physical condition would improve so that he could work again. He was anxious to see his wife and children, and so the doctor told him to return as soon as his rectum was cured so that he could run an analysis and revert the intestine back to its place. José Luis estimated that his bowels healed over a year ago, but because of the lack of health insurance, they have not normalized and he continues to use bags that cost 130 dollars per month to defecate.

In addition, during the first operation, they discovered that he has diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. With all of these problems, it is easy to imagine a man beat down with sadness. He had to take pills daily for his three diseases, as well as maintain the diet recommended by doctors. He also joined a diabetic support group at the clinic called The Alamo.  He began checking his blood sugar, talking walks and has become a reader. Like many immigrants, after crossing the border he went to places where relatives who traveled before him resided.  José Luis is grateful towards his brothers because they have been supporting him all this time. He said that he doesn’t know what he would do without them.

Now that he sees fellow members of his country reach the Hudson Valley, he says that he feels ready to work in a restaurant where it is not required to lift so much weight, but fears that when employers see his bag, they will ask him to leave. This same situation has prevented him from returning to Mexico.

José Luis has not given up. He says that he would like to see his family this year. Allegedly, he does not work, but in reality he has not stopped working temporary jobs that pay him enough to buy the medicine that he needs. His goals remain the same: work full time, send remittances to his family and save as much as he can to get the necessary operations back home, because he was told that he can only get treated if it is an emergency.                   

*Translated by Emely Paulino

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La Voz, Cultura y noticias hispanas del Valle de Hudson



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