Like almost every noche de mi vida, I was waiting for the bus with several of my bus-waiting colleagues. When you wait for the bus, you see the same faces on your stop and become friends with those in the mood to talk.
One of my amigos is a fifty-something year old man from El Salvador named Antonio. Antonio is the type of person who puts out his hand for a handshake several seconds before you reach him and gives you a genuine smile when you appear. Good people. Buena gente.
Today Antonio wasn’t too smiley and I asked him what was wrong. Que pasa mi amigo?
“Today is my son’s 7th birthday.”
I patted him on the back and congratulated him. Aren’t you a bit too old to have such a young child? I received a polite smile and a polite response.
“Ha, you know how it is.”
Under normal circumstances I would have joked about him having leftover cake at home, but I was all too familiar with the expression on his face. How long has it been?
Five years. This was a man who came to the United States when his youngest was 2 years old. His son knows his father only from pictures and his weekly telephone calls. Five years. Joder…
He went on to tell me that he would love to go back, but the dinero he was sending home was too good right now. All of his kids were in private school and getting good grades. Going back home is easy, but returning to DC, well, returning was another story.
It took him almost two months and two years of savings to have a “coyote” bring him across the border. He walked, bussed, hid, ran, starved, climbed and scraped to come to the US. He came to work. He came so that his family could have a better life…even if it was without him.
That’s why I don’t understand American politicians sometimes. He, like 95% of the Latino immigrants, is minding his business so that he can send money home. I promise you that if he could earn the same money, he would be back in El Salvador with his family.
Some idiota politicians go around the United States talking about “Protecting American Jobs”. I don’t think Antonio is taking a job away from anyone. Last time I checked, there wasn’t a shortage of restaurant dishwashing positions.
It seems they forget that the US was founded by people who wanted a better life. They had a dream. Those dreams now come from a people to the south, but it is the same dream.
Tonight, I drink to you mi amigo. To you and all my hermanos and hermanas who sacrificed everything so that their family could have more.