Migrants to the United States are not always seeking the stereotypical silver bullet to happiness: permanent residency.
When asked, many migrants say they are hopeful to return to their homeland sooner rather than later, and wish to continue living the life that was dear to them.
The happiness derived from financial stability may be seen as the achievement of that dream, but the American dream is not solely material. It also includes less tangible things like security and comfort, passion and levity.
To keep the fiscal dream alive many migrant parents, documented or not, must work multiple jobs and are often away from their families for great lengths of time.
This burdensome existence is what some migrants attribute to the disintegration of the American Dream.
The story of Rosario Uicab, or Dona Chari as she is more respectfully referred to, resonates with many migrants' experiences. As a young mother Chari made the difficult decision to follow her husband to the United States for work with her six children in tow. After giving birth to a seventh child in Los Angeles where they lived for a short time, Chari and her family moved to Texas where she continued
Raymundo Leal has seen families torn apart by migration. He wants his son to grow up without the struggle that so many face here in Tunkas, Mexico, where 75% of the town migrate for work.
When Leal was two years old, his father left for the U.S. to find work. His mother followed and had two more children there while Leal, a young teen, was left behind to care for the family inheritance.
Leal's parents sent him everything he needed indulge his passion in soccer, compensating for their absence. He grew up watching the fatherless, kids like him, running after drugs, and imagined he might become one of them. Leal ran on the soccer field instead. As his confidence grew, so did his love of his hometown.
Leal embraced Tunkas and began building a strong life for himself on his father’s ranch. An active member of the community, he coaches kids in soccer and mentors adults in professional beekeeping. Leal is now a public servant in the municipal government, a perch he uses to actively encourage and build up his community, motivating others to do their part.
Once left behind, Leal is now building a home for his family and for his community. In a region where so many families are torn apart by migration, and so many people lose their bearings, Leal found his strong center and forged a personal story of stability and survival.