“The support of the family is the most important … that is what I wanted to give my son … that he might realize how our family is.” In one sentence, Alejandro* combined my experience at the border with the reality that I have encountered here. At the border I saw the pain of separation of parents from their children. And here I see the joy of reunification of families that were for years divided by the border. But even being with his broader family, being with his mom and able to support her, the pain of separation from his son remains. In fact, it is all the more poignant because he wishes that his son could know the love and joy of his family in Mexico.
And Alejandro is pulled by family from both sides of the border. If he goes to the US to be able to see his 3 year old son he fears that his mother will be heartbroken that he has left her again after being away for 12 years. As he says, now that he experiences the pain of separation from his son he understands in some way what his mom suffered for so long. Yet if he stays in Mexico, there is a chance that he will never see his son again. When he first returned, his wife and son came back to Mexico with him, but he and the mother of his child ended up separating and she returned to the US.
He sometimes thinks that it is better if his son forgets about him, if his son’s mom finds another boyfriend and better if that man becomes his father figure. Because, as Alejandro said while tears ran down his face, as an absent father he can do nothing. He says that nowadays “I don’t call him because when I talk to him he gets sad … he cries when I am about to hang up … it makes me feel terrible.”
For Alejandro, migration at this point isn’t a question of money. He hated the materialistic life of the US because what he most valued was his family. But now his family pulls him in two directions to the point of ripping. How can one choose between their mother and their child?
*name changed to protect privacy