This year's August festivals were dedicated to those Salvadorans living abroad. And so here are two stories, from different perspectives, about Salvadorans succeeding in the US. From the Los Angeles Times:
Sometimes called the "Germans of Latin America" for their strong work ethic, Salvadoran immigrants in California had higher rates of employment, citizenship, voter registration, high school graduation and college attendance than their Mexican counterparts, according to a 2001 UCLA study. More Salvadoran immigrants than Mexicans also have computers at home, the study found.
In addition, a U.S. Census study of Latinos in America, released this year, found that Salvadorans had lower poverty rates than Mexicans and other Central Americans, and 41% of them owned their own homes with a median value of $221,000. Among Mexicans, 49% owned their own homes with a median value of $130,500.
In Southern California, Salvadoran immigrants have been civically and economically active. In less than three decades, they've managed to establish educational, medical and community organizations, build a small-business base, gain access to elected officials, lobby for the nation's first Central American studies program, housed at Cal State Los Angeles, and are seeking to designate the MacArthur Park-Pico Union area as "Little Central America."
From a newspaper in south Florida one illegal immigrant's story:
All day Miguel changes oil filters and checks the brakes of tractor-trailers at a garage wedged in an industrial section of Fort Lauderdale.
In the evening he heads upstairs to his apartment, showers away the day's grease and grit, then calls his family in El Salvador. A $2 phone card buys 55 minutes of time with his wife Norma and their four kids.
For a moment, he forgets it's been more than three years since he kissed his children goodbye and boarded a northbound bus out of the capital, San Salvador, determined to sneak into the United States....
He dreams of reuniting his family, buying a home and building a trucking business here. The way he sees it, crossing the U.S. border illegally is an economic necessity for many immigrants — not a crime. Busboys, gardeners, nannies and other undocumented workers should not be targeted like criminals for trying to scrape together money for their families, he says.
"I'm not a saint, but I'm not causing problems for anyone," he says. "What I'm doing is making the most of my time here."
Miguel sends $1,000 home every month, more money than he could make in six months in El Salvador. Twice a year he sends a large package stuffed with clothes, shoes and household appliances.