Living In The Shadows

Better wages, schools keep illegal immigrants in Payson

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Better schools and much better pay are two of the reasons people leave Mexico for the United States.

As the Payson Town Council examines ways to prevent undocumented workers from coming to the community, a few families who have been working and living here do not understand some of the hatred that is being directed toward them.

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"We are not doing anyone any harm," said a Mexican national who has lived and worked in Payson for the past seven years.

Her four children have attended public schools in Payson during that time.

The mother, who works as a housekeeper in town, asked that her name not be used.

Her husband works construction, and she does not know if his employers know that he is here illegally.

She asked that her husband's employer remain confidential as well as the ages of her children, because she is afraid of what some people in the community may try to do.

The mother of four said she and her husband want to stay in the United States and Payson for the well-being of their children.

Better schools will help their children advance and have better opportunities than they would have had if they had stayed in Mexico.

One of the big difficulties of living in the U.S. illegally is not having the paperwork to obtain a driver's license.

Another drawback, she said, is when one of her kids gets sick and needs a physician's care, she is forced to take them to the Valley.

She said if an emergency were to arise, she would have to take them to the emergency room of Payson Regional Medical Center.

She said her children know they are benefiting by not living in Mexico.

"They do not want to go back," their mother said. "They know life is better here."

She said her husband and many others in the same situation work very hard at their jobs with only one goal in mind.

"We want to work and make a good living and it's impossible to do that (in Mexico)," she said.

In Mexico, the wages are low, and that was one big reason why the family left their native country more than 10 years ago, before eventually finding and settling in the Rim Country.

Another 34-year-old Mexican woman who has two children, ages 5 and 1, said her husband was able to find work more easily here.

Her husband works in construction, and his employers know he is an undocumented worker who is living in the U.S. illegally.

Her husband came from a small town in Mexico and had to walk a long way to find any type of work, she said.

The schools in Mexico do not compare to the educational system in the U.S. This year, her 5-year-old began attending a Payson school for the first time.

She said in Mexico, her husband would make about $4 for a full day of work.

She is afraid to take her children to the doctor because she is here illegally.

Instead, she approaches a pharmacist she knows and describes the symptoms when her child is sick. The pharmacist will usually recommend medication.

For a serious illness, she will go to the emergency room at the hospital, because they cannot be turned away.

Hospitals are required to treat Mexican nationals even if they are not able to pay the bill.

Even with the difficulties, the 34-year-old mother, whose two children were born in the U.S., knows the advantages they now have.

"It's better here than there," she said.

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