By the time that migrants left our shelter in Nogales, after being deported to that border city only a few days earlier, they had some sort of a plan clearly in mind or at least a direction in which they were moving. Only in a handful of cases did I learn what happened next, and in each of those their paths had developed differently than they envisioned.
I remember a 15 year old who was deported with his parents and planned to return to Puebla and enter the military so that he could study prepa (high school). I saw his mother in March of 2012 and learned that he had problems entering and that instead he was working in the avocado fields with his brother. I remember another woman who was deported and planned to return to her home community to find a job to pay for her son’s college education. But when I called her last summer to see how she was doing she said that she had not been able to find employment, was running out of money, and planned to try to cross again to the US.
On perhaps a slightly more positive note, I remember a father and his son who were planning to cross again after being deported. Neither of them made it to the US, but I did learn later on that the son got engaged to be married in Puebla – engaged to the girlfriend that he would have had to leave behind had he made it across the border.
Part of my research here is to explore the plans that different migrants have as they return or are deported and then how those plans (or hopes and dreams) intersect with their reality when they re-start their lives here in Mexico. However, I cannot so easily distance myself from that process. I, too, come with plans and hopes and dreams. These plans are, as my friend says, cute refrigerator art to hang up for consideration until they are replaced.
The beauty, and the challenge, of this year are to be open to whatever experiences or opportunities come along. The community life that I experience in the house where I live, as I bake cookies with the sisters or help the novices with their physics homework, was not part of the plan – but it is a great joy. Similarly, perhaps I will not make progress in finding people to contact here in Guadalajara or in Puebla and instead a contact will lead me to Oaxaca or to Zacatecas. I can choose to resist these changes and fight for “my plan” or I can choose to be open to what might happen and continue moving forward. I hope that in this year I will choose the latter, just as I have seen migrants choose to continue adelante in the face of much more dire and frustrating obstacles than those that I will encounter.