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The californian dream is like a concrete nightmare

The city of San Francisco, in California, is the most expensive in the United States of America and one of the most sophisticated. Birthplace of the hippie movement in the 60's and the current revolution in computers and the Internet, it now can pay a millenarian anachronism, as it is surrounded by a string of Mayan communities. More than 70,000 immigrants from Yucatán -5,000 kilometers (3,106 miles) away- swarm in suburbs like San Rafael or the Mission district. Attracted by what seems to be like a new gold rush, most arrive without knowing a word in English and just a few in Spanish to work as dishwashers and kitchen assistants in restaurants. However, the journey is not only through distance, but through culture, and the clash between ancestral customs and the demands of the post-industrial society, like alcoholism and drug addiction, arises.

12/7/2017 12:00:00 AM

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"When illegal migrants from Yucatán die, they die of fear," says Sara Mijares, an activist and promoter of migrant rights, based in Los Angeles, California. She is from Yucatán and refers to her countrymen, 180,000 Yucatán migrants living in the United States of America, according to estimates from the Institute for the Development of the Mayan Culture (Indemaya), an entity attached to the state government of Yucatán. It is about thousands of people who left their places of origin in the homonymous peninsula, in the southeast of Mexico, heart of the Mayan culture, and traveled almost 5,000 kilometers in search of better living conditions for them and their families. About 90% of them crossed the US border as illegal.

According to Indemaya, migrants from Yucatán are spread across 43 cities in the USA, like Portland-Oregon, Denver-Colorado, Seattle-Washington, Las Vegas-Nevada, and Dallas-Texas. But without a doubt, the state of California is their preferred destination, particularly in the San Francisco Bay: 68% of Yucatecans is the reported figure from the Migration and Remittances Yearbook 2017 of the National Population Council (CONAPO) of Mexico.

"We were always afraid to go out, but now I am terrified. When the bell rings, I do not know if it will be the Migra (immigration agents) or the police that will take us and will keep my children,"

On January 20, 2017, when Donald Trump assumed the presidency of the United States of America, the lives of many Yucatán migrants changed as well. They are very uninformed and fearful of potential deportation, says Sara Mijares.

Eyder Ávila, 31, and Carmita Hernández, 32, born in Peto, southern Yucatán, and based in San Rafael, a city 30 kilometers (18.64 mi) north of San Francisco, —home of approximately 15,000 to 20,000 Yucatecans— live with the fear that their worst nightmare will come true, that because they are illegal, the government will snatch their two children born in the USA, Eyder and Daphne, aged 11 and 7, respectively, and never see them again.