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Once Upon a Time in Mexico: Ana's Story (Part V.)

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V. Ana graduated from high school with her best friend, Mercedes. Mercedes is tall, with luminescent pale skin and a bob of dark blonde hair cut just over her shoulders. She is the daughter of Gail Reynoso, the friend of Ana’s family. Gail’s mother immigrated from Britain after meeting her Dad and is a vocal advocate for immigrants’, workers’ and women’s rights, an incongruous voice in a deep red town, state and region. My daughter was in second grade and I lived on a street in town and just by coincidence Ana's Mom and Dad worked at the factory where I was working; she and Mercedes were in the same grade at school and they also lived just a few blocks from me on the same street, Gail recounts. One day my daughter came home from school and said that Ana's Mom had invited us over for dinner and that I should make something American, and her Mom was gonna make something Mexican and we were gonna eat together. And so we made BBQ chicken and corn bread and salad and went down to the…

Once Upon a Time in Mexico: Ana's Story (Part IV.)

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IV. When Ana arrived in Mexico, Missouri from California in 2001, the rural midwestern town reminded her of the village where she had lived with her grandparents, with its pastures and farm animals. I remember thinking it was so beautiful, it was all green, there were cows, and so for a minute it took me back to Oaxaca: it was something familiar and that was a good feeling, she says. The vast majority of the Latinx population of Mexico is from La Compañia, as brothers and sisters and uncles and friends kept following each other to the little town in Missouri with each new plant advertising for jobs. Lately some immigrants from Central America have started to come, too, from El Salvador, from Guatemala, from Honduras. There are other similarities. Gail Reynoso, a native of Mexico, Missouri and a close friend of Ana’s family, talks about how her father, who is from another small town in northern Missouri, became close to Ana’s father through their shared love of the outdoors and of the riv…

Once upon a time in Mexico: Ana's story (Part III.)

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Oaxaca is one of the poorest states in Mexico.
As living conditions were getting too difficult to raise a family, Ana’s parents decided to leave the region and settle in Mexico, D.F. Her father served in the military in Saltillo, Coahuila, in northern Mexico, but in the capital he took up work as a police officer, a position that made him a target. With a low salary and constant threats, the family decided to move north.
In 1998 Ana’s Mom and Dad left for the United States and she and her brother went to live with her paternal grandparents in Oaxaca. She was just six; Willy, her brother, turned two shortly after the family was separated and cried for nights and nights. Home was now a little town called La Compañia, a two-hour drive from the state capital, Oaxaca. A lot of people from La Compañia have emigrated, and most have ended up in Mexico, Missouri.
 In Oaxaca people hold this belief, Ana recalls with a smile, whenever a child seemed sad, that lemons would tell if that was reall…

Once upon a time in Mexico: Ana's story (Part II.)

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The first installment of this story was published in February 2019. With the Supreme Court's ruling on DACA on June 18th, it was time to publish the next installments.

II.
    I met Ana shortly after I started an ongoing social justice portrait project about marginalized communities in mid-Missouri and she was mentioned as someone I might want to photograph. She was easy to find; I was actively reaching out to immigrants in the area for participation in my project, and she had been outspoken about her status as a DACA recipient and speaking publicly about it for months. I had first heard about her as the Women’s March of 2017 was taking shape in the frantic aftermath of the presidential election.
    A year later, with passions settled into a predictable calendar of protests in response of presidential tweets and a handful of activists pushing for social change, I finally met Ana. We were both speakers at the Women’s March, now renamed Solidarity March, an event drawing smaller …

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