"Do not cry. It will be worth it. "


Martha Aguirre, a 20-year-old psychology student, this week in her apartment in the Mexican state of Veracruz. (Raul Vera / Raul Vera)

ISLA, Mexico – The day the caravan entered her hometown, Martha Virginia Aguirre grabbed an armful of tamales advanced from the Feast of the Dead and delivered them all to the Central Americans encamped in her path.

He was thinking of his parents in Maryland, his aunts and cousins ​​in California.

For years, Aguirre was a "dreamer", an immigrant in the United States brought illegally as a child. His family moved to Maryland, but at the time the university was prohibitively expensive for students in the United States illegally. In 2011, her parents sent Aguirre and her older brother home to Mexico to finish high school and graduate.

Less than a year later, President Barack Obama created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which would allow them to stay in the United States. Since taking office in 2017, President Trump has tried unsuccessfully to end DACA.

On Thursday, a federal appeal court said that Trump can not immediately put an end to the program that protects young immigrants who have been illegally brought into the country as children from deportation.

Aguirre, who is now 20, has resumed Spanish, finished high school and enrolled in a private college in the city of the state of Veracruz. But she has not embraced her parents for seven years – if they leave the United States without papers, they may not be able to return.

In Maryland, they work long hours in a seafood restaurant and send money home to cover the studies and the rent of Aguirre. His brother, Salvador, 23, finished high school and did not go to college; is a barista in Cabo San Lucas.

When her parents miss her, her father makes her speeches on the phone.

"Do not cry," he tells her. "It will be worth it."

But in a small cottage outside Baltimore on Thursday, tears welled up in his father's eyes. He has not seen his mother since 1999. His father died in 2007.

He and his wife – who asked not to be identified, for fear of deportation – worked for two years in the United States. She is 41 years old and has arthritis. He is 47 years old and his arms are marked by scars with long burns from cooking oil.

Although the migration of Mexicans is falling, they remain the largest group of immigrants in the United States, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a research organization in Washington. Most have lived in the United States for almost two decades, and many are here illegally.

Even before Trump's election, more than 1 million returned home, and Aguirre says it's a bit of relief in being away from an increasingly hostile environment. Trump characterized the Mexicans as criminals during his campaign and promised to build a wall at the expense of Mexico.

"I know I'm in my country, I know I'm home," he said in English. "I know that if I go out, I do not have to worry about someone coming and taking me away from my family."

Trump has launched similar criticisms of Central American migrants traveling through Mexico to the United States. But the Mexicans along the way there would not be. They showered them with presents, clothes and food.

On 3 November in Isla, while hundreds of migrants gathered in a social center and poured out on the road, Aguirre's grandmother, Martha Ascanio Dominguez, ordered Aguirre and her aunts to prepare coffee and serve sweet bread and tamales left from the Day of the Dead.

He let a long line of women use his shower and shake hands when they offered to pay. He washed his clothes and dried them. They slept under his porch.

"I did it wholeheartedly," said Ascanio Dominguez, noting that he has not seen three of his eight children since moving to the United States to work from the years ". "When I felt bad, I had such a desire for my children".

The following day, Aguirre returned to his university town.

On his wall he has photos of a family trip to Lake Tahoe, since they lived in California. She and her mother used to watch "The Polar Express" together every Christmas. Now they look at him on the phone, from their homes.

"It's difficult, because sometimes you want to go home and you want to find your mom or your father," he said.

"You know," he said, starting to cry, "you never stop needing it, actually."

In Maryland, his father said he would like to travel freely between the two countries.

"I've always worked in this country," he said with a deep sigh, observing that his original recipes were included in the restaurant menu in which he works. "I am very grateful to the United States."

But he said he intends to be home for his daughter's degree in psychology, probably in 2020.

"This is, like, his dream," said his daughter.

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