The following is a guest post by contributing author James Clark.
The United States may have invented the Idea or the concept of the American dream, but the working-class people living South of our border go to bed and wake up with this dream on their minds. This story is about a mother in Ecuador who was making only $100 a month who came to the United States to give her son Washington and her daughter Samanta what she could not afford to give them in Ecuador….a private Catholic education.
“Immigrants — both documented and undocumented — made up 16.9 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2016. – Bureau of Labor Statistics
I worked as the Spanish teacher and translator at St. John Paul Catholic School for three years. I know that many of the Hispanic parents who have children enrolled at the school work two, sometimes three jobs to make ends meet. Each one of these families has a story of hardship to tell. I am simply picking one out of the myriad cases to show how real the struggle is for immigrant families.
“As of May 2018, average rent for an apartment in Minneapolis, MN is $1708. One-bedroom apartments in Minneapolis rent for $1528 a month on average and two bedroom apartment rents average $2063.” – Rent Jungle
La Señora Blanca moved to Northeast Minneapolis in 2014 and enrolled her two kids in St. John Paul II Catholic School. The tuition cost per child is $3,500 a year. La Señora Blanca rents a two-bedroom apartment for $1,000 a month. To pay for her children’s tuition, rent, food for her family, and the lights etc., Señora Blanca works three jobs. In the mornings she cleans office buildings for minimum wage and then takes a bus to her second job at a restaurant where she preps food for the chef and washes dishes. On the weekends, she works job number three, sewing clothing for a manufacturing company.
Despite working three jobs, she lives below the poverty line. The restaurant and the sewing jobs pay her less than minimum wage. She barely makes enough to pay her bills and must apply for student aid for her children to get help with tuition payments.
“In 2017, foreign born workers age 25 and over with less than a high school diploma earned $506 per week.” U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
The stress of living in poverty and working three jobs has caused other problems within the family. She has very little time to spend with her children and has not been available to help them with their homework and cannot afford a computer for her kids to do their homework. Her son Washington, without his mother’s supervision, has been influenced by the Latino gangs in the neighborhood. He is home with his younger sister while their mom is at work and idle hands have led him astray into the lure of the criminal element with their false promises of a better life.
As a teacher, I tried to lead Washington back into the light, and away from the dark side. I encouraged him to apply for grants and scholarships to good schools. However, after leaving St. John Paul II, he went to Edison High School. When or if he goes to class it is to be involved with the gangs I tried to steer him away from.
The last conversation that I had with his Mother, La Señora Blanca, she cried on my shoulder and said, “Quise lo mejor por mis guaguas, quise lo correcto; mi sueño era que mis niños llegan a ser educados, y tengan buenos trabajos…pero mi sueño cambio a ser una pesadilla”(I wanted the best for my children, wanted what was right; my dream was that my children become properly educated, that they will have good jobs…but my dream here has turned into a nightmare).