Immigrant mothers making tough choices for their families

Flikr | credit: Kate Gardiner

We have all heard the phrase that a parent will do anything for their child. However, for some of the 4.1 million Mexican women living undocumented in the United States, this may mean leaving their child behind while they illegally enter the United States to become a domestic worker. This population of women wants so much to provide for their family that they are willing to leave their children in order to improve the circumstances for them. However, no parent should be forced to make this choice.

There is a huge political debate on both sides of the aisle as whether family reunification should be one of the main goals of immigration laws. While both the Democratic and Republican parties are hesitant to say anything that devalues the importance of family reunification, neither side is willing to make it the forefront of their immigration platform. However, this is a really important issue and should be addressed more seriously by both sides.

Often time these Mexican mothers are forced through tough economic, as well as social and political, issues to make the hard choice to leave their families behind. ‘“I came here because I didn’t have enough to feed my kids. I had nowhere to live because I was making so little money,”’ said Gloria Garcia, a 43 year old Mexican mother who was forced to part with her children.

While many of these mothers felt that they had no choice when they chose to immigrate to America, many of the mothers start to wonder, what was the best thing for their children? To stay and be poor but still be there for their children, or leave their children without a mother but have the ability to provide for them economically?

One of the main reasons these mothers regret their immigration is the fact that they left their children under false pretenses. Many mothers tell their children that they will only be gone for a little while. While many mothers believe it themselves, they still often stay in the U.S. more than 10 years. This means that even if they do go back home, or are able to bring their kids to the U.S. they have been separated from their children from a predominant part of their child’s life.

No child should have to live without one of their parents, and no parent should have to make that choice between being there for their child or making sure that their child can eat. In order to stop this, both political parties needs to start treating family reunification as a more important element of the immigration debate. We as a nation need to move towards a unified goal that no parent should ever have to make this hard decision that these mothers are, no matter what side of the border they are from.

5 responses to “Immigrant mothers making tough choices for their families

  1. This is a really interesting issue because it really shows how the real problem isn’t how to go about family reunification, but how to go about making it so that so many mothers aren’t in situations where they must leave their children behind in order to support them. If a parent is so desperate for the money to feed and take care of his or her family that the only plausible way out is to come to the U.S. and send money back home, then something must be done to alleviate the situation in that country. It would probably be in the better interest of the U.S. to help solve the problems that promote illegal immigration than to struggle with the politics associated with deportation and amnesty and such. It also really sucks that most of these migration catalysts are, in fact, U.S. or U.S. corporation influenced. Perhaps with a little more regulation and a little more aid, we could end a small amount of the exploitation, poverty, and oppression that causes these parents to be separated from their children and need to come be a “burden” on our society. What goes around comes around. This also kind of reminds me of the Marshall Plan that was implemented after WWII. The whole idea behind this plan was to give countries aid to reconstruct so that the would not become communist and the U.S. would not have to bomb them. I believe that’s smart spending because it made it so that we wouldn’t have to worry about the financial and ethical consequences of what we would have to do if they became communist. In the same way, it would be better if we looked at the problem of immigration from the source and see if we can help prevent it.

  2. This is an interesting issue to bring up because it goes back to the whole notion of why people migrate to the United States; people do not leave their homeland just “for fun,” leaving one’s country is a decision that involves a lot of suffering. For most people in the rest of the world, the United States is synonymous with success and a better life but the struggles and hardships associated with this search are not clearly explained. For example, these mothers migrate to the U.S. hoping to provide a better life for their children, for the simple (yet complex!) reason that they can’t provide a decent life to their children in their home countries. But in the end, it comes back to the question of, what’s truly better for the child? If mothers are experiencing all of the negative things associated with migration while their children are still suffering at home because they don’t have their mothers by their side, then would it really be worth to move to the USA and leave their children behind? Additionally, most of the time, the amount of money a mother makes in a job as an immigrant, is not ideal; she probably ends up barely having enough for herself and yet, makes the sacrifice of sending some to her children and other family members in her home country. Perhaps, it is sometimes better to stay by your children’s side if you cannot take your children with you wherever you are going in order to avoid additional traumas that can arise due to this hard separation between mothers and their children.

  3. I am very glad this issue was brought up because it is so interesting and is rarely discussed because it involves the role of the woman as an undocumented immigrant. Indeed, we as Americans have the belief that men are the only ones who leave their native land in seek of better opportunities leaving everything behind. Yet the sad reality is that millions of women leave young children behind because they want to earn more money to provide for their children’s well-being. I think about how my life would be without my mom being there for me and raising me, and I think it would be so hard to grow up knowing that you have a mother, but she is away working .Why do mothers’ have to leave their children? As American’s don’t we strive to have families united, not break them apart? Children are innocent and need care and love from their parents, but when a mother leaves them they believe that they are alone and they feel like their parents abandoned them. I agree with you, it’s time that both political parties come up with a program that will help family reunification, because mothers are suffering without their children, and children are suffering without their mothers.

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