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Immigrants Work on the Weekends Too
Elvia Victorio
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I’m 21, and I’ve been living in the United States for the last 17 years, since my parents immigrated from Mexico. I’ve noticed that my family and families like ours work the hardest of everyone, but we are disrespected and shut out of the middle class. The other members of my family who live here do hard physical work, at farms and factories and on construction sites. I’m the first in my family to go to a college in the United States, and it was not easy to get there.

On weekends I work as a photographer. I shoot weddings and baptisms and other celebrations on Saturdays. On Sundays I take pictures at rodeos at rural places within driving distance of New York City. Mostly Hispanic people perform in and attend these rodeos. The bull riders, horse riders, rodeo clowns, and ranchers come from all around the country to participate.

The rodeo season starts at the end of March and runs through November. During the summer, the heat makes it tiring to set up the big tents, bleachers, the arena, portable bathrooms, an ambulance, and everything else the rodeo needs to be as safe and fun as possible. In the fall, it gets very cold and people work in big jackets or even wrapped in blankets. The owner of the rodeo I work for told me he has been working in this country for many years and runs other businesses, too, such as restaurants and flower shops. Many of his workers have not had the chance to work anywhere else because they lack documentation.

During the rodeos, whole families work at some of the stands, including young children. One very hot day I saw a boy about 10 years old walking around the rodeo, selling chips. I asked him about his sales. He told me he had only sold two bags so far, and he needed to sell two more to buy a new video game that his parents couldn’t afford.

Later that day, I found a video on Facebook of a family in a nice home getting ready for breakfast and walking their dog. I couldn’t remember the last time my family relaxed together. We are all always working or rushing to work or school. I want my pictures of these hard-working families to disprove any claims that immigrants are all “criminals” or work less than people born here.

Immigrants are building new homes and schools. They are in fields planting fruits and vegetables. They build businesses, work in hospitals, teach, and take care of other people’s children. They work hard to build this country.

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(FCYU-2018-01-16)