Tuesday, June 10, 2008

"Why did you leave us behind?"

The NY Times published an article about immigration in Spain. There have been numerous legalizations of undocumented immigrants in Spain and other countries in Europe. For the most part this has helped the Spanish economy, although as usual, there are people that say it will be the end of their country.

The article speaks of problems legalizing, dishonest lawyers, and spiteful employers. However most significant is the story of Mrs. Delgado and her youngest son Allan.

Spain Grappling with Illegal Immigrants Tried Forgiveness
June 10, 2008

MADRID — With the United States riven by calls to legalize millions of illegal immigrants, Americans might consider the possible effects by looking at southern Europe, where illegal immigration has abounded and so have forgiveness plans...

In the last two decades, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Greece have run at least 15 legalization programs, including a Spanish effort three years ago that was among the Continent’s largest. With little domestic opposition, Spain legalized nearly 600,000 of the African, Latin American and eastern European workers who helped power its economy and brought this once insular land the strengths and strains of diversity...

Among the beneficiaries of the legalization policy are Ignacio Cantos and Sandra Delgado, a husband and wife from Ecuador who left four children and an economic crisis in search of Spanish jobs. Legalization has raised their pay and ended their fear of the police, who once jailed Mr. Cantos for lacking work papers.

It has also ended their separation from their youngest child, Allan, a gap-toothed 8-year-old sent with his siblings to live with their grandparents when he was 3. Since arriving in Madrid in March, he has been twirling his mother’s earrings and stroking her hair as if worried that she is a mirage.

“I would never leave my children a second time,” said Ms. Delgado, 38, a nanny who has been raising others’ children while aching for her own. “I’m sorry I did it...”

...[A] visit to Ecuador reminded her of how much she had missed of her children’s lives. “You go back and you don’t find them the way you left them,” she said.

Their income allowed the couple to bring just one child to Spain, and they brought their youngest, Allan. Arriving in March, he found the weather cold, the food strange. Puzzled by his parents’ fourth-floor walk-up, he said, “The houses are high.”

Fearful of losing his mother again, he grows jealous when his father hugs her. He exploded one night when he heard his parents laughing in the next room.

“He ran out of the bathroom and said, ‘You two are happier without me!’ ” Ms. Delgado said. “He still asks us to this day, ‘Why did you leave us behind?’ ”

With another willed smile, she added, “We’re so happy to have at least one of them back.”

for complete NYT article click here

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