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Immigrant Stories: Mexico

Arnulfo Garza, Mexican - First Generation American

Arnulfo Garza is the first of a long line of proud Mexicans to be born in the U.S., just beyond the border. The town of Bronzeville, Texas was not only the place of his birth but also the place in which his parents met, married and conceived. His father’s family left their seaport town in 1914 during the Mexican Revolution. His mother visited relatives and decided she would never return to her home in Monterey, Mexico.

Bronzeville, Texas plays a large role in Arnulfo Garza’s story. It was there that his father opened a small bakery and where he attended school. He describes Bronzeville as a mostly Mexican community where English was sparsely heard and did not begin until grade school.

A few years later, he convinced his father to sign a waiver early-enlisting him into the service. Seven years into his life-long career, he met and married his wife. It was at that moment he realized that military life did not fit married life and relocated to St. Louis, Missouri to work at McDonald Douglas in airplane manufacturing.

He didn’t miss military life, but instead was homesick for his strong Mexican-American community that he left behind in Texas. It was not until he discovered a small town hall style gathering in Fairmount City, that he began to feel a sense of community again.

Over time, the Mexican-American Community grew and Arnulfo was introduced to a community located in St. Louis. Overjoyed, he began taking on more responsibility as President of the organization. He revolutionized the Benito Juarez Mexican Society, bringing advertisements and introducing mariachi groups to the festival scene.

When asked whether he considers himself Mexican or American, he replied with a resounding “American,” though he mentions that some of the others in the community do not share his enthusiasm.

After retirement from Boeing, boredom led him to agree to manage a small group of housekeepers. He enjoyed the work so much that after the company went under, he continued to help others find work with the connections he had made over those two years serving as supervisor. His only regret is that he cannot help everyone and sometimes his help is not enough to keep them afloat for long. He understands that helping undocumented workers is risky and against the law but compassion for people helps him to push forward and do what he can. He hopes to one day combat injustice and prejudice in his community and bring the two cultures together in harmony. One could only hope that his dream becomes a reality.

Facts about Mexico

The site of several advanced Amerindian civilizations – including the Olmec, Toltec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Maya, and Aztec – Mexico was conquered and colonized by Spain in the early 16th century. Administered as the Viceroyalty of New Spain for three centuries, it achieved independence early in the 19th century. Elections held in 2000 marked the first time since the 1910 Mexican Revolution that an opposition candidate – Vicente FOX of the National Action Party (PAN) – defeated the party in government, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). He was succeeded in 2006 by another PAN candidate Felipe CALDERON, but Enrique PENA NIETO regained the presidency for the PRI in 2012.

The global financial crisis in late 2008 caused a massive economic downturn in Mexico the following year, although growth returned quickly in 2010. Ongoing economic and social concerns include low real wages, high underemployment, inequitable income distribution, and few advancement opportunities for the largely indigenous population in the impoverished southern states. Since 2007, Mexico’s powerful drug-trafficking organizations have engaged in bloody feuding, resulting in tens of thousands of drug-related homicides.

Population: 125,959,205 (July 2018 est.)

Location: North America, bordering the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico, between Belize and the United States and bordering the North Pacific Ocean, between Guatemala and the United States

Languages: Spanish only 92.7%, Spanish and indigenous languages 5.7%, indigenous only 0.8%, unspecified 0.8%

Religions: Roman Catholic 82.7%, Pentecostal 1.6%, Jehovah’s Witness 1.4%, other Evangelical Churches 5%, other 1.9%, none 4.7%, unspecified 2.7% (2010 est.)

Ethnic Groups: Mestizo (Amerindian-Spanish) 62%, predominantly Amerindian 21%, Amerindian 7%, other 10% (mostly European)

Information from the CIA World Factbook