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Meet “Americanos,” U.S. Citizens Who Choose To Live In Mexico

In a photo series titled “Americanos,” Mexican photographer Alejandro Cartagena explores the lives of those with U.S. citizenship, either through birth or naturalization, that choose to live in Mexico. Cartagena’s photos capture a population of “Americanos” who don’t fit in neatly to the U.S.-Mexico immigration narrative. Mitú talked with Cartagena to learn a little more about the people in the photographs and his inspiration for the project.

Alejandro Cartagena says he wants to give people a new perspective on the American Dream.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“I would only photograph those who are living in Mexico and somehow think of their American citizenship as a dormant option,” Cartagena told mitú in an email. “I wanted to show how being American is a dream to many, but not always as the media shows it.”

According to Cartagena, there are a number of people in Mexico who are U.S.-born or U.S. citizens through birthright who see their American citizenship as a backup option.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“My wife is a U.S. citizen born here in Mexico, but because she has not lived more than five years in U.S. territories she cannot pass along her citizenship to her children,” Cartagena told mitú, explaining how the photo project came about. “This got me asking friends about this idea and found many had friends who had done this and some were actually U.S. citizens, but I did not even know it!” According to Cartagena, there is a sizable population of Mexicans with U.S. citizenship through birth or naturalization that take advantage of their citizenship to give their children a backup plan in the U.S.

But not all of the “Americanos” want to live in the U.S. In fact, some of them even obtain fake documents to make themselves legal Mexicans in the eyes of the law.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“Most of them have actually never lived in the U.S. They were born there, but have lived their whole life in Mexico,” Cartagena told mitú. “The older people I photographed were even illegal in Mexico for a time. Back when Mexico did not permit [people] to have two citizenships, their parents registered them illegally as Mexican citizens in order for them to go to school and get medical care in Mexico.”

“The interesting part of this is that it was all systemized,” Cartagena told mitú. “They knew where and who to go to to get their fake Mexican birth certificates and what lawyers could make them be legal.”

Cartagena further explains that some of the “Americanos” that he photographed have received harassment from neighbors and classmates.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“They get the question of why they don’t take advantage of being American and just move across the border. Some also get sh*t from border officers as to why they are living in Mexico if they are American,” Cartagena told mitú. “The parents of the children I photographed have to travel with hospital paperwork where they can prove to border patrol that they paid their hospital bills.”

“Their American citizenship was a burden, and for some of them, it still is,” Cartagena said.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

According to Cartagena, their U.S. citizenship makes moving around difficult. Many times, people with U.S. citizenship are interrogated as they try to cross the border since they are U.S. citizens living in Mexico as a Mexican national. Some have even had to obtain falsified documents so they can go to school and receive medical services.

One important fact to know is that “Americanos” live in Mexico as Mexican citizens and don’t use U.S. programs.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“None use medical services in the U.S. or take advantage of any freebies they could have access to,” Cartagena explained to mitú. “They just want their child to have the option.”

Many of the older “Americanos” have spent time living in the U.S. and simply chose to move back to Mexico for the comfort.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“Some moved there to study in high school, but just ‘didn’t like it,'” Cartagena said. “Some go back and forth everyday to work or study. Some just use their citizenship to go shopping for cheap stuff. I photographed someone who is, as she put it, kind of addicted to shopping cheap in the U.S., and she would do a trip just to get dish washing soup at Walmart.”

Cartagena says that “Americanos” live invisibly in Mexico, but the chance for dual citizenship with the U.S. is so alluring that they are willing to deal with the hassles.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

As far as those who have to travel with their hospital paperwork, Cartagena explains that it “seems to be a hassle, but they take it as part of being bi-nationals.”

For the photographer, it was important to make sure that his photos showed the multifaceted side to immigration and border issues that many never think about.

Courtesy of Alejandro Cartagena

“I want the pictures to show that border issues, the “American dream,” citizenship is not black and white and simple,” Cartagena told mitú. “A border is an imposed thing, but human necessities and family break down these borders all the time.”

You can see the full photo project here.


READ: Meet The Genius Behind These Playfully Creative Photos

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Even Though He Couldn’t Cross The Border, This Abuelo Sang ‘Las Mañanitas’ To His Grandson From Across The Rio Grande

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Even Though He Couldn’t Cross The Border, This Abuelo Sang ‘Las Mañanitas’ To His Grandson From Across The Rio Grande

Since the very beginning of the pandemic, we’ve been overwhelmed with stories about people being kept apart by the virus. But despite the challenges that so many of us have faced during this pandemic, we find a way to make things work. And that’s exactly what this grandfather (who lives near the U.S-Mexico border) did to make sure that we was able to spend time with his grandson as he celebrated his 4th birthday.

Thanks to travel restrictions they couldn’t be together but they found a way to celebrate.

A heartwarming video is trending on Mexican social media showing a grandfather making his way to the U.S.-Mexico border to wish his four-year-old grandson a happy birthday. Although they couldn’t be together because of travel restrictions thanks to COVID-19, the grandfather managed to sing the traditional Mexican birthday song Las Mañanitas to his grandson, who listened from the other side of the Rio Grande in Piedras Negras, Coahuila.

The user who uploaded the video to YouTube identified the man as Isidro González and his grandson as Santiago.

With microphone, keyboard and speakers in Eagle Pass, Texas, Grandpa asks about his grandson. “Santiago, where are you? He raises his hand” and the video shows Santi. “I love you. I love you very much ”, you can hear the grandfather shouting and the grandson replies that he does too.

“Congratulations, Santiago. He is turning 4 years old ”, says the grandfather and the singing begins.

For many families residing in Eagle Pass and Piedras Negras, the pandemic restrictions imposed by the United States have meant they cannot cross the border to see family. González did not let that stop him from wishing his grandson a very happy birthday.

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Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

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Mexicans Travel To U.S. For ‘Vaccine Tourism’ Say It’s A Matter Of Survival

The United States is one of the world’s most successful countries when it comes to rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine program. So far, more than 200 million vaccines have been administered across the U.S. and as of this week anyone over the age of 16 is now eligible.

Meanwhile, in many countries around the world – including Mexico – the vaccine roll out is still highly restricted. For many, who can afford to travel, they see the best option at a shot in the arm to take a trip to the U.S. where many locations are reporting a surplus in vaccines.

Wealthy Latin Americans travel to U.S. to get COVID vaccines.

People of means from Latin America are chartering planes, booking commercial flights, buying bus tickets and renting cars to get the vaccine in the United States due to lack of supply back in their home countries. Some of those making the trip include politicians, TV personalities, business executives and a soccer team.

There is an old Mexican joke: God tells a Mexican he has only a week left to live but can ask for one final wish, no matter how outrageous. So the Mexican asks for a ticket to Houston—for a second opinion.

Virginia Gónzalez and her husband flew from Mexico to Texas and then boarded a bus to a vaccination site. They made the trip again for a second dose. The couple from Monterrey, Mexico, acted on the advice of the doctor treating the husband for prostate cancer. In all, they logged 1,400 miles for two round trips.

“It’s a matter of survival,” Gónzalez told NBC News, of getting a COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. “In Mexico, officials didn’t buy enough vaccines. It’s like they don’t care about their citizens.”

Mexico has a vaccine rollout plan but it’s been too slow in many people’s opinions.

With a population of nearly 130 million people, Mexico has secured more vaccines than many Latin American nations — about 18 million doses as of Monday from the U.S., China, Russia and India. Most of those have been given to health care workers, people over 60 and some teachers, who so far are the only ones eligible. Most other Latin American countries, except for Chile, are in the same situation or worse.

So vaccine seekers who can afford to travel are coming to the United States to avoid the long wait, including people from as far as Paraguay. Those who make the trip must obtain a tourist visa and have enough money to pay for required coronavirus tests, plane tickets, hotel rooms, rental cars and other expenses.

There is little that is fair about the global race for the COVID-19 vaccine, despite international attempts to avoid the current disparities. In Israel, a country of 9 million people, half of the population has received at least one dose, while plenty of countries have yet to receive any. While the U.S. could vaccinate 70 percent of its population by September 2021 at the current rollout rate, it could take Mexico until approximately the year 2024 to achieve the same results.

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