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In a town called 'Thank God,' Central Americans' pursuit of the promised land fades

Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

Hernandez, 39, said he had been an undocumented worker in South Carolina and Virginia, spending five years as a cook before deciding to return to his hometown in 2011 with savings of about $60,000.

He used the money to build a house, open his restaurant and start a family.

"I had my American dream, I'm happy here now, but I understand that others are looking for the same thing," he said. "Here, you work all day, in the fields or in construction, and you earn maybe $3 a day. Imagine that! Of course people want to leave."

He predicts that U.S. pressure on Mexico to reduce migration will subside and that Mexican troops will withdraw from their checkpoints by the end of the year, opening the way to those who hope to move north.

"In six months, it will all begin again," he said. "Gracias a Dios will be back to normal."


(Special correspondents Liliana Nieto del Rio in Gracias a Dios and Cecilia Sanchez in Mexico City contributed to this report.)

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