KJZZ trains and mentors college-student interns throughout the year. Students further their skills in reporting or production. They produce stories for school or the station and many are worth sharing. This story was reported by KJZZ intern Adrienne St. Clair during the spring 2017 semester.
I met Guadalupe Alvarez on a trip to central Mexico in March. She’s is a Mexican native living in the heart of her country, and she learned to love Americans from an early age.
“I grew up in San Miguel with my parents, both dead now, but having a lot of American friends. My dad loved golf, so he had a lot of golf buddies that were American, so when I was 13, my parents met this couple from Atlanta at a random cocktail party, and then by Saturday, I was shipped to Atlanta to learn English,” said Alvarez.
“I am very partial to Americans because from that experience, I learned English and now my life changed,” she said.
Now Alvarez stays busy as an upscale wedding planner in San Miguel de Allende, a popular tourist town almost four hours northwest of Mexico City.
“I like to get up at 6 a.m. and get my computer and check my emails because brides are intense, so I need to make sure they’re happy,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez works with all kinds of international clients — especially Americans. She’s a product of the complex relationship between the United States and Mexico. And now, with so much uncertainty in America, she’s worried about this relationship.
“So it’s all this very entangled relationships between the States, and since Trump came to office I’ve been thinking a lot about that, no?” Alvarez sai. “What is going to happen with Mexico and the States, but more important, what is happening with Mexicans and U.S. citizens?”
But she’s not the only one.
There’s a timeline on the Council of Foreign Relations website that I learned about back in September, back in the heat of the 2016 election.
The timeline describes moments in U.S. and Mexico history that I’ll admit I knew nothing about. Maybe I learned about some of the events years ago in school, but back then I was probably more worried about surviving my teenage years than understanding international relations.
The timeline begins in 1810 with the Hidalgo Rebellion — which started Mexico’s fight for Independence — and ends in 2010 with Arizona’s controversial immigration law SB 1070.
At the time, SB 1070 was an indicator of the anti-immigrant sentiments throughout the country.
Karla Agullon felt these feelings firsthand. She works with her husband at her family’s taco stand in Querétaro, Mexico, which is just 40 minutes away from San Miguel where Alvarez lives. Agullon had an experience with illegal immigration to America years ago. She made it over the border.
“Yes, yes, I was able to, but afterwards I only lasted three days and they turned me back,” said Agullon in Spanish.
She never tried again after that. She made a life for herself in Mexico. And like the dozens of Mexicans I talked to, Agullon loves her country even though at one point she dreamed of a life in America.
The 200 years between 1810 and 2010 contain the push and pull for cheap labor and the fight over trade, the clash of dependence and independence and the results of misunderstanding and miscommunication.
And again, before six months ago — like many Americans — I had no idea about any of it. No man is an island, but sometimes it seems like the United States is its own galaxy.
So now I get it, the complex issues between the United States and Mexico are nothing new, but Donald Trump made conversations about U.S.-Mexico relations unavoidable with three simple words: “build that wall.”
Trump’s promises to secure the southern border and crack down on illegal immigration increased tension, as his bold and blunt speeches brought out the fears of Mexicans and Americans living in both countries. But those speeches also addressed concerns many have had for years.
Deano, who didn’t want to use his last name, is a Trump supporter and a member of the American Legion Riders motorcycle club. I talked to him back in August 2016 right before then-candidate Trump gave his key immigration speech at a rally in Phoenix.
“You can’t just have people willy nilly crossing the border. They’re taking over. They’re taking our money, they’re taking our money, they’re taking our healthcare,” he said.
Then, after one of the most controversial elections in U.S. history, the world watched as millionaire Donald Trump became the 45th President of the United States.