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NYT: Mexico True Home For Illegal Aliens

From those lovers of the gorgeous mosaic at the New York Times:

In Return Home to Mexico Grave, an Industry Rises


Published: June 11, 2007

CONWAY, Ark. — Héctor Acevedo was 22, in this country illegally and far from his mother when he died last month in a car accident outside of town just across the Arkansas River.

But mother and son were soon reunited. The tight-knit immigrant network rallied to repatriate the body, adding Mr. Acevedo to a procession of thousands of dead Mexicans making their way home each year. A survivor of the accident approached a relative of another victim, who worked in a restaurant owned by one of Mr. Acevedo’s relatives.

An uncle identified the body, contacted the Mexican consulate in nearby Little Rock and arranged the paperwork. For $2,300, and a $500 contribution from the consulate, they bought the “Hispanic Package” at Brown’s Christian Funeral Services, which specializes in repatriation of remains to Mexico. Six days after the accident, Mr. Acevedo was buried next to his grandfather in the family plot in González, Tamaulipas, in northeastern Mexico.

“Waiting for the body was agony,” said Juanita Soto, Mr. Acevedo’s mother. “I had to see him, to caress him.”

Such posthumous reunions have become increasingly common in villages and towns across Mexico that have sent their sons and daughters, more often than not illegally, to find work in the United States…

Last year, Mexican consulates across the United States recorded 10,622 shipments of bodies for burial back home, 7 percent more than in 2005 and 11 percent more than in 2004. The consulates, which do not track the immigration status of the deceased, spent $4 million in 2006 to help repatriate bodies to Mexico, up from $3.4 million in 2005.

As debate rages in Congress over a proposed immigration law that would provide a path to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants and temporary working visas for hundreds of thousands, the reverse journey of the dead suggests that for many Mexicans the sojourn to the United States, legal or not, is meant to be temporary.

Home — at least in death — is south of the border.

“For Mexicans, the bonds of the family unit are very strong,” said the Rev. John Brown, who ministers to Hispanics at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Conway and who presided over a memorial service for Mr. Acevedo. “The bond is broken when they go to work in the United States. It is restored in death.”

In Mexican immigrant neighborhoods throughout the United States, collection boxes to help pay for the repatriation of a body are placed in grocery store windows. Employers also chip in. Mr. Acevedo’s relatives, for example, were reimbursed for his burial by the Chili’s restaurant where he had worked as a cook…

Mexican consulates negotiate discounts with funeral homes, and help in other ways. There is a clear benefit for Mexican politicians to be seen helping migrants in their final homecoming, spurring some Mexican state governments to help, too. The government in the state of Michoacán promises to pay for the transport of returning bodies from any point in Mexico to the deceased’s hometown in Michoacán.

Inevitably, haggling arises. The Mexican foreign ministry authorized the consulate in Little Rock to pay some $20,000, nearly half of the consulate’s budget this year for body transfers, to cover the full cost of transporting to Mexico City the bodies of seven illegal immigrants from Oaxaca who died last month in a highway accident in Oklahoma…

The intended point of this typically verbose New York Times articles is typically opaque.

One suspects it is to argue that the US needs to spend more money helping these poor people send the bodies back. Or at least to pass legislation forcing the employers of illegal aliens to pay their shipping home.

But isn’t the inadvertent message that Mexicans have no desire to become Americans?

Also note the other bit of information that slips out.

Mexicans are involved in a lot of fatal accidents.

This article was posted by Steve on Monday, June 11th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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