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This is a short word about an article I just read in the French version of Slate magazine.

The article itself is about how mezcal production is taking off in Mexico, and it's somewhat interesting in and of itself. But the interesting thing to me came near the end, describing a new mezcal producer's association founded by a young man with deep familial mezcalero roots. He managed to get himself a master's degree, which is of course a very good thing, but what's interesting is how he paid for his degree.

Here's the passage, roughly translated:

Today, Rolando Cortes belongs to a new generation of mezcaleros that, unlike their predecessors, have had the fortune to be able to get an education. And in that regard, it's thanks to the devotion of his three brothers and his nephew who went to the US to finance his masters degree.
Yes, that's right, four probably “illegal” Mexican immigrants who came to the US and did back-breaking work in our fields, in order to put their brother/uncle through school so he could modernize their ancient family business. (I'm just speculating about their status and what work they did, but it's not such a big stretch to imagine it.)

I find that that puts a very different color on what it means to be an “undocumented worker” from Mexico in the United States. I'm sure that there are thousands upon thousands of similar stories: people who come here just to get a little cash so they can contribute to the advancement of there family in some specific way.

“Why did you come here illegally to pick those strawberries, Miguel?”
“I came to help my uncle get a masters degree so he could found a mezcal producer's association and help our ancestral business prosper into the 21st Century, señor.”

I don't know, there's just something a bit unexpected about that given the current “debate” we're having about the issue.

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