Following the dream

Second of a two part series examining the Sonoma immigrant experience, particularly in the context of the “Immigration Modernization Act” now before Congress. Read part one here.

Unlike Maricela and her family (profiled in part one), who were pulled toward Sonoma by the hope of prosperity that the American dream promises, Noe, a grape-picker originally from Jalisco, a rural Mexican town with a landscape similar to Sonoma’s, was pushed out by desperate conditions.

Noe couldn’t stay in Jalisco because he was, he said, pushed off his land. He has lived in Sonoma for 13 years, with a green card he obtained through his father, who is now a citizen and has been picking grapes in Sonoma since 1975.

Noe is one of the few immigrants with a green card who doesn’t want any part of the American dream for himself. His dream is to go back to Mexico and earn the living he was supposed to have had as a farmer owning his own land. He has no plans to become a citizen.

“I don’t like to live here in the United States because it is a lot of stress and pressure,” he said through a translator. “(The American dream) is only a dream … it’s not a reality. To own a house you have to work up to 12 to 14 hours a day just to be able to pay the house off.”

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