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Love and Immigration

Mothers Day is huge for Latinos. The legend about the highest records in telephone calls from the U.S. to Latin America on May 10 is basically true. With Christmas and other holidays is more or less the same. For many immigrants Valentine’s Day is also a very special moment.

Our last edition generate a very intense reaction from our public, mostly positive, though some said that our point about the painful fact that for many immigrants is impossible to actually huge their loved ones, was too much. Yes, maybe it is, but sadly it is also true.

Because of that we emphasized about Valentine’s Day as a perfect excuse for advertisers to pitch you all sorts of products, from heart shaped chocolates to stuffed animals, passing for suggestive lingerie, sex toys, more sugar and jewelry. What in real America is a good pretext to practice the country’s favorite sport –called buy-buy-buy, for many immigrants this celebration can be a hard remainder about a very serious issue: how to be close to our love ones when you sleep several thousands miles away of each other?

Long distance relations are not easy. Any teenager knows that. But for the 40 million people who decided to move their home here, leaving behind the town were they and their parents were born, the struggle is particularly complex. Even with the advantage that came with the recent revolution in the communications technologies –Skype, WhatsApp and Face Time are lifesavers–, the challenges related to keep families together despite physical distance are many and very complex.

There is where the Latino family strength comes into the scenario. Pretty much everybody close to the Latino community knows about the very powerful links between them. In average their families are larger than others, therefore their family income is higher. The single parent rate is significantly lower that among other segments of the population. As proven once and again Latinos care a lot about the immigration status of their relatives they live with.

As a general rule grandpa and grandma stay at home –sending them to a retirement home is even considered cruel. In sharp contrast with mainstream America tradition a Latino family does not expel their kids out of the house the day after High School graduation. For many reasons –some cultural some practical, Latino family’s interconnections are very powerful.

Therefor when distance challenge that relations the challenge is never easy. There is when the pain can be overwhelming. Not to mention the insane notion of been forced to wait in line for over 20 years to get a chance to reunite with their parents, sons or daughters that the extremist in the immigration debate still support. Forget the papers for a second. Just because of the distance, for many people just to be able to share a bear hug with a loved one is not possible. To be able to say goodbyes to an elder parent is not an option. To be able to embrace and share feelings and pleasure as a couple is just a dream.

Now we understand why some holidays can be a so tough for immigrants. As in many other aspects of their lives, their affection for their culture, traditions and loved ones constitute some of their most relevant contributions they can bring to their new home as new Americans.

Now it is clear for most people that they represent a big asset for the nation’s economy; that many of them love this country as much as anybody. And if we are able to recognize the basic principles all of us share as fellow humans, we could be a little more empathetic with them, and hope next year they will have a chance to spend Valentine’s Day with their loved ones.

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