NYT: A Surprising Salve for New York’s Beleaguered Cities: Refugees

“While President Trump has cast incoming refugees in a sinister light, the influx into the beleaguered communities along New York’s old Erie Canal has been a surprising salve for decades of dwindling population and opportunity.

The impact has been both low-budget and high-tech: Foreign-born students from countries like Iran have flocked to programs — and paid tuition and fees — at upstate schools offering advanced scientific degrees, while street-level entrepreneurs have started shops offering knickknacks and takeout for curious locals, and exotic staples and calls home for homesick émigrés.

Local businesses have found cheap, willing labor in the rolling stocks of refugees, while resettlement agencies have used federal funding to assist with their assimilation, creating work for everyone from refrigerator sellers to house painters.”

–Read more at New York Times

Back when border crossings were easy

While growing up in San Diego, California in the late 50’s & 60’s, I have fond memories of visiting Tijuana, MX just about every other weekend to visit my Dad’s father – Big Tata.

His sister, brothers and their families would all meet and we would have a great time -me playing hide n’ seek late at night with my many cousins.

I haven’t visited “TJ” in many years but I remember like it was yesterday.

Crossing was a breeze, border guards would just waive you through, no issues, no problems.

In fact, later when I was in my late teens, crammed in a buddy’s car laughing and joking late in the evening, again, they just waived us through.

The times I remember the most were traveling with my family, stopping at my parents’ favorite restaurant “Cocos” to order combination plates, beef burritos with rice and beans. It seemed like a very large place at the time and I have faint memories being able to order and either eating inside the place or in your vehicle!

After we ate, we would ride to a local park where us kids would get Raspados (snow cones) or ice cream which for some strange reason my brother and I called “Nieve” which means snow.

On our way out, I can envision the young street peddlers enticing us to buy ceramic statues, velvet paintings, peanuts and even fireworks. I can still see that young boy with a half carton of “Chiclets” chewing gum looking right at me while I’m thinking he had the best job in the world.

I wish entering and exiting was that carefree and easy nowadays.


Food, A Universal Language of Family & Love

Food is a universal language that everyone shares.  A language of family and love that spans generations and borders.  It can evoke a memory from just an aroma.

From the minute I tasted my Mexican-American mother-in-law’s tamales, then ‘pink’ cookies and pan dulce, I was hooked.  And she loved the food she could share in New York – sweet corn, iced animal crackers, and coonies (or white hots).

Over the course of our marriage, I’ve made various Mexican dishes and dined in numerous Mexican restaurants, making memories with family and friends.

Now my daughter is the expert Mexican cook in the family; author of her own regional cookbook about Querétaro.

For Christmas I gave my co-workers copies of Nicole’s recipe book.  It has sparked interest and conversation about the food, the ingredients,Querétaro and México in general.  I hope sharing that book about food has led to a greater appreciation of a different culture.


We live in a beautiful multicultural world.

I believe we should #BuildBridgesNotWalls so love can cross borders and oceans. My husband and I come from different parts of the world. We were born under different flags, attend to different churches, and speak different languages. Nonetheless, we are both caring, passionate, creative, hardworking, and loving human beings. We respect each other and embrace our differences. Multicultural and bilingual families like ours enrich the lives of our own children, friends, extended family, and community. The world is multicultural! And we should all celebrate that!


Let’s not make it harder

My husband’s sister married an Australian, and they live there now. My brother married a French woman, and they live in the UK with their toddler daughter (who holds passports from three different countries).

It’s a challenge having close family on three different continents, but I feel fortunate that at least there is not a wall dividing us.

We are a nation of immigrants, and that trend continues. We should not be creating policies that further divide families who already live far apart.


Culture Loves Company

In my three years of living in Mexico and immersing myself in Mexican culture, I learned a very important traditional dance from the area. My town had a traditional Concheros youth dance group which they happily allowed me to join, even though I wasn’t Mexican, and no longer a youth. They welcomed me with open arms and a lot of patience as I learned the steps to the different dances. They even let me perform with them! Some of my happiest times in Mexico were when I was dancing with them. I am grateful for the opportunity, and I was very sad to leave. I still practice the dance in my home in NY and rememover all of the wonderful times we had!


Stronger ties make both countries stronger

The U.S. and Mexico are neighbors and allies in an increasingly connected and globalized world. We rely on each other economically and for improved national and global security. There are many American citizens living abroad in Mexico, and many Mexican citizens living abroad in the States. It is important that both countries remain close allies, instead of one country antagonizing the other.