Immigration hurting Mexican families

Immigration hurting Mexican families
January 12,2007

STAFF WRITER

A study of immigrant families conducted in Lenoir County and Eastern North Carolina shows the influx of migration has negative effects on the traditional Mexican family.

The year-long study is the first of its kind on the sociological effects of mass migration; most have focused on economic aspects of migrant populations.

More than 35 Mexican immigrants and 10 immigrant families living in and around Lenoir County are part of the study, conducted by Olivia Resendiz and Blanca Ivett Vázquez, social psychology graduate students at the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana in Mexico City.

Research shows that fathers and males typically leave family behind to come to America and earn money to send home. Consequently, there is a high rate of divorce and emotional disturbances in children of migrant families.

“Many children drop out of school to follow their fathers to the United States,” Vázquez said, through the aid of an interpreter Thursday at Lenoir Community College. “What we are finding in children and youth is that they often develop psychosomatic diseases as a result of the stress.”

The effects on children can be more profound if siblings are forced to split up – with some remaining in Mexico and some living in the U.S.

The study, to be presented to the Mexican Congress in April, also follows hundreds of families still living in Mexico, of whom members have migrated to America. Mothers and grandparents left behind must assume traditional male roles, breaking the family unit Mexico is built on, Resendiz said.

“We are seeing the traditional family disintegrate,” Vázquez said.

The study will help American and Mexican governments, organizations and schools serve communities, said Juan Pablo Servin, president of AMEXCAN Association of Mexicans in North Carolina, who helped arrange the students’ 18-day study of Eastern North Carolinians.

“The benefits are going to be to institutes and organizations who are trying to understand how migration is affecting people psychologically,” said Juvencio Peralta Jr., LCC Occupational Extension Coordinator.

Peralta hopes to bring Resendiz, Vázquez and their advising professor Juan Antonio Barrera, here to present the study to state government this spring.

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