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In Mexico, there’s no place like home: Most don’t want to head north for work anymore

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: March 13, 2019

For generations dating back to the 1930s, throughout Mexico, including in this region in the central state of Guanajuato known as El Bajio, the towns have emptied themselves out of their youths during what’s called the ‘winter blues.’ The young would head north to seek out their own version of the American Dream: Jobs.

In North Texas and other places they worked in everything from gardening, to restaurant service, to roofing and to constructing some of the area’s most iconic buildings. They helped build D/FW International Airport, Texas Stadium and just about every high-rise in Dallas.

No more.

“Dallas was the dream of my father – it’s not my dream,” said Jairo Villalon, 21. With his friends, brothers Carlos Padilla, 21 and Rigoberto Padilla, 18, he runs a fruit stand between San Miguel de Allende and Queretaro on the weekends to help supplement a weekly income at one of the growing automotive plants in the region. “I’d rather stay here and work in Mexico. I think things are going to get even better.”

Traveling through a half dozen towns to ask the locals whether they wanted to work in Texas, the answer was sometimes evasive, but more often emphatic: No.

Their choices will have far reaching consequences for the U.S., particularly in North Texas, experts and economists say.

“For many families, the idea is for their young sons and daughters not to follow in the footpaths of their elder tios, primos, abuelos who have become permanent manual laborers,” said Neil Foley, historian, co-director of the Clements Center for Southwest Studies at SMU and author of Mexicans in the Making of America. “In short, the implications for industries like construction are obviously not good. Cheap labor on demand from Mexico is never going to happen again, like the numbers that came over before 2000.” READ MORE