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US Renew News: Where Facts Make a Difference (Check Out Our News Coverage Below)

A USRESIST NEWS INVESTIGATIVE REPORT

AMERICANS ON AMERICA: WHAT MY COUNTRY MEANS TO ME

BY LINDA F. HERSEY

Americans on America is a USRESIST NEWS investigative report  series in which we interview  ordinary American on the values  they believe their country stands for, and what their country needs to do to  live up to those values.

# 3   Yemer Augilar ( Son of  Guatemalan Immigrants ) Safety is the most important value for them;  living in a California community where they are not threatened by gang violence and can help provide the basics for their siblings here, as well as their mother back in Guatemala. 

Jaime Aguilar left his wife, children and the only home he had known to make a new life in America, without the entrenched poverty and threats of violence that were all too common in Guatemala.

After 15 back-breaking years working menial jobs, Aguilar saved enough money and processed the needed paperwork to bring his three children to his adopted home of California.

But Aguilar only had a short time with his children, now young adults, after he suffered an aneurysm in 2019 that rendered him unresponsive and in need of constant care. Jaime Aguliar passed away in December 2020.

Today, Aguilar’s eldest son, 25-year-old Yemer, is the chief breadwinner working at a menial job.

There are an estimated 1.3 million people from Guatemala making their home in the United States, according to federal statistics. Guatemalans are the sixth-largest Hispanic population in the United States.

The Aguilars’ story – which Jemer told to US Resist News in a series of interviews, with the help of a translator — shows that each immigrant’s journey is unique, rarely linear and not easy.

Limited Job Skills and Education

The promise of a middle-class life that brought European immigrants to the United States in the early 1900s is not the reality that many immigrants from Central America experience today. While there is opportunity, prosperity eludes workers who may not speak English with fluency and lack job skills and/or a college degree.

There is no clear path to follow. Yet Yemer Aguilar is determined to continue his father’s efforts to build a life in the United States, a better life than they had in Guatemala.

Yemer works at a fast-food outlet. He does not have a computer or access to the Internet to take English as a Second Language classes. Without a college education or specialized skills, opportunities are scarce for employment that can sustain his family.

Because he is in the U.S. on a visa, without permanent residency, he does not qualify for food stamps, general assistance or Medicaid, government benefits that are a crucial safety net for people in poverty.

He is working through the bureaucratic process and only recently connected with a nonprofit agency that can help put immigrants like him on a more certain path to security and citizenship.

While Yemer appreciates the opportunity and freedom that a democratic society brings, he admits that life here is “duro” – hard. It was not easy at first for him to find employment. While he now has a steady job, it is low-paying, part time and lacks health insurance.

Yemer’s sister, 18, works alongside him, filling fast-food orders. The younger son is disabled by seizures and cannot work; without a “green card,” he cannot qualify for Medicare, which provides benefits for people with serious disabilities. The two siblings care for him, which limits their time and ability to connect with the greater community.

U.S. Represents ‘Safety’ for Immigrant Family

Asked about the American values that he appreciates most, Yemer does not pause: “Seguridad.”

Safety indeed for himself and his siblings means the most to him — living in a California community where he is not threatened by gang violence and can help provide the basics for his siblings here, as well as his mother back in Guatemala.

He also is realistic. Yemer says it is best to wait before trying to bring his mother to the United States. He cannot handle much more responsibility than he has now.

Yemer is proud that he could have a small funeral that honored his father and the elder man’s dedication to family. He holds up a photo of his father’s white coffin; a slender vase with flowers was next to it on a dais.

Yemer now wants to have his father buried in his home country, in the village where he grew up.  He is trying to raise money toward that effort. It is unclear if he will be able to fulfill that dream. He is connecting with California organizations that may be able to provide a grant for such a request, which is not uncommon among immigrants from Central America.

Yemer also is aware that immigration is a controversial issue, with the Trump administration painting a stark picture of immigrants like himself as criminals and a threat to society. That could not be further from the truth.

A grocer where the elder Aguilar worked as a janitor recently held a modest fundraiser for the family to help defray funeral costs. A cardboard box asking for donations sat next to the register. A photo of Jaime smiling, with prominent Mayan features, was taped to the side of the box.

Marta, one of the store clerks, recalled Jaime, who was in his 50s, as a “protector” and “gentleman.”

She said that Jaime Aguilar used to sit and wait for her to finish her shift to ensure her safety, as she left the store alone. She would bring him homemade tamales every year at Christmas.

“Jaime cared about people,” she said. “He would send presents to people [in his village]. He was important to them. He was a success.”

RESOURCES

MAF Immigrant Families Fund has a vision is to create a fair financial marketplace for hardworking people, assisting applicants with grants and other types of funding resources.

Latino Economic Development Center is a Washington, D.C., based nonprofit that equips Latinos and other underserved communities with the skills and financial tools to create a better future.

Hispanic Federation seeks to empower and advance the Hispanic community, support Hispanic families, and strengthen Latino institutions.

Americanos sobre América

Una Historia de Oportunidades y Dificultades de una familia Gualtemalteca en los Estados Unidos

Por Linda F. Hersey

(Tradducion: Kris Sosa)

Jaime Aguilar dejó a su esposa, sus hijos y el único hogar que había conocido para hacer una nueva vida en los Estados Unidos, sin la pobreza arraigada y las amenazas de violencia que eran demasiado comunes en Guatemala.

Después de 15 años agotadores trabajando en trabajos de baja categoría, Aguilar ahorró suficiente dinero y procesó el papeleo necesario para traer a sus tres hijos a su hogar adoptivo de California.

Pero Aguilar solo tuvo poco tiempo con sus hijos, ahora adultos jóvenes, ya que sufrió un aneurisma en 2019 que lo dejó insensible y en necesidad de atención constante. Jaime Aguliar falleció en diciembre del 2020.

Ahora, el hijo mayor de Aguilar, Yemer, de 24 años, que solo estuvo un año con su padre en los Estados Unidos antes de que el anciano sufriera un aneurisma que lo dejó con daño cerebral, es el principal sostén de la familia. Sin embargo, Yemer Aguilar está decidido a continuar los esfuerzos de la familia para construir una vida en los Estados Unidos, una vida mejor que la que tenían en Guatemala.

Su recuerdo más constante de su padre era la dedicación del anciano al trabajo y al empleo. “Trabajaba todo el tiempo”, dijo Yemer a través de un traductor.

Yemer trabaja en un establecimiento de comida rápida y su inglés es limitado. No tiene una computadora ni acceso a Internet para tomar clases de inglés como segundo idioma. Sin una educación universitaria o habilidades especializadas, son escasas las oportunidades de empleo que pueda sostener a su familia.

La hermana de Yemer, de 18 años, ha trabajado junto a él, atendiendo pedidos en una cadena de restaurantes local. El hijo menor está discapacitado por convulsiones y no puede trabajar. Los dos hermanos lo cuidan.

Preguntado qué es lo que más valora en este país, no se detiene: “Seguridad”.

La seguridad para él y sus hermanos es lo más importante para él: vivir en una comunidad de California donde no se ve amenazado por la violencia de las pandillas y puede ayudar a proporcionar lo básico para sus hermanos aquí, así como para su madre en Guatemala.

Yemer está orgulloso de haber podido ofrecer un funeral que honró a su padre y la dedicación del hombre mayor a la familia. Un tendero donde el anciano Aguilar trabajaba como conserje recientemente llevó a cabo una recaudación de fondos modesta para la familia para ayudar a sufragar los costos.

Más que cualquier otra cosa, Yemer ahora quiere que su padre sea enterrado en su país de origen, en el pueblo donde creció. Está tratando de recaudar dinero para ese esfuerzo. No está claro si podrá cumplir ese sueño. Se está conectando con organizaciones de California que podrían proporcionar una subvención para tal solicitud, lo cual no es infrecuente entre los inmigrantes de América Central.

Aunque Yemer aprecia la seguridad y la libertad que brinda una sociedad democrática, admite que la vida aquí es “dura”. Al principio no le resultó fácil encontrar empleo. Los trabajos que ha tenido son trabajos duros con salarios bajos y poca o ninguna seguridad para el futuro.

Una empleada llamada “Rosie”, en el tendero de California donde trabajaba el mayor Aguilar lo recuerda como un “protector” y un caballero. Dijo que Jaime Aguilar solía sentarse y esperar a que ella terminara su turno para garantizar su seguridad, mientras ella salía sola de la tienda. Ella le traía tamales caseros todos los años en Navidad.

“Jaime se preocupaba por la gente”, dijo. “Él enviaba regalos a la gente [en su aldea]. Fue importante, un éxito “.

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