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Searching for the “American Dream”and falling victim to the “American Nightmare”

He was not successful in making it to the U.S. But his determination to give his children a better future would not allow him to quit. He made the journey two more times, in spite of the perils and difficulties of the journey north to Nicaragua. He would not be as lucky on his fourth attempt, receiving irreversible damage to his feet while trying to board a fast moving train.

“Sometimes the American dream is an American nightmare,” he admits. “And that dream will kill you.”

Heartrending stories such as Pedro’s reveal that there is a crucial element missing from the immigration debate: the fact that U.S. economic policies force many of Latin America’s poorest to try their luck on the journey to the U.S., even when the odds are so heavily stacked against them. Unfortunately, very little has been said about how U.S. foreign policy encourages or perpetuates the economic weaknesses that prevented Pedro from being able to find work in his community. Through international education and grassroots advocacy, Witness for Peace calls for Congress to consider these economic realities as representatives prepare to craft legislation for immigration reform. We must ask our legislators this question: Does it truly make sense to create laws addressing symptoms of migration without addressing the root causes?

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