September 11 Digital Archive: XML Document


Article Order:5

Title:Aztec invasion in the Big Apple

Author:Maria del Carmen Amado


Original Language:Spanish

Translator:Telesh Lopez




Body:Statistics show that the Mexican community is the third largest immigrant community in New York City.

Janet Ortega, 29, belongs to a new group of Mexicans who chose the Big Apple as their new destination. She works in a restaurant on Second Avenue and 110th Street. She decided to come to the United States, "because here there is work and in Mexico there isn't."

In the establishment, the faint lights mixed with music from Los Bukis, the smell of food and the residue of liquor filled the air, the clock marked 11 in the morning and Janet was already working. "I will have a double shift and I will continue until four in the morning, said the mother of five children whose salary for 15 hours will be $140. "Life here is very difficult here for Mexicans, she admitted.

Mainly concentrated in the western part of the country, in the last 10 years, a large number of young people like Ortega, mainly from the Mixteca region, have veered their way toward New York and North Carolina.
According to Consul Norberto Terrazas, head of legal aid for Mexican nationals at the Mexican Consulate in New York, the number of Mexicans is about 500,000 and 600,00 in the metropolitan area (including the five boroughs, New Jersey and Connecticut) and goes up approximately 10 percent a year. The Census, which could not count thousands of immigrants, registered 186,876.

As the third largest community group in New York, this communitys situation is not one of the best, and, like any first generation of immigrants, their case is dramatic. They face health problems, housing and education, without escaping problems with the law (there are 367 in New York Citys prisons).

Many are objects of discrimination, while their political participation is low. But our compatriots have a real good reputation and they are hard workers, said Terrazas.

The biggest problem is their average income is between $13,000-$15,000 a year, the lowest in the city.

In the consulate, we get visits from about 400 persons a day with various needs. The principal one being after immigrating, is the need for legal advice, said Terrazas.

For Mexicans, who traditionally had a high rate of temporary stays, the situation has changed in the last decade, explained Robert Smith, a professor at Barnard College. Because of the rise of restrictions in crossing the border, their stay is permanent, because if before they came and left, now they can't.

Nevertheless, they are not alone. The consulate and community organizations offer education, to prevent their migratory vulnerability to continue being objects of abuse, explained Terrazas. Many think because they are undocumented they have no rights, but they are protected by the constitution in case of arrests, searches and other penal problems.

With an age range of 15 to 40-years-old, and because of separation from their families, many Mexican immigrants are prey to gangs and crimes that lead to prison. They are also objects of discrimination for Anglo and African Americans, whom, "for being larger think we are afraid of them," said Ortega. One more thing: because a high percentage of Mexican immigrants do not speak English, their assimilation into society is slower.

But Mexicans are ready to face the difficulties, said waiter Celestino Sarmiento. We work hard to help our families progress and show that Latinos will get to the top, said the 23-year-old.

Our community needs to organize and demand respect because we contribute to the economy, said Gerry Dominguez, director of an organization in El Barrio, which offers English classes and assistance finding jobs and help with immigration cases. Our fight is strong to help the poorthe majority being undocumented people who cannot get public assistance as other groups do."

The Tepeyac Association, which yesterday concluded a journey of 45 days with the Guadalupan torch, are also trying to legalize the almost eight million undocumented immigrants, 50 percent of which are Mexican. " We want more support and compassion for immigrants, defending their human rights and from the abuses of labor," said Tepeyac Director Joel Magallan.

Although there are 367 Mexicans in prison, immigration violations are not very high, and most are sentenced for drugs, homicides, robbery and fraud.

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