Porfirio: The Mexican Jesus


In the context of the often heated debate on Immigration Reform, much of the rhetoric of the anti-legalization groups is disturbingly devoid of any concern for an important component: Humans

With that in mind, I tell you the story of a dear friend of mine: Porfirio

Fresh off the plane from a study abroad stint in Mexico in the winter of 2005, I found a job at a pizzeria, where I met Porfirio, the then dishwasher.

He is a man of short stature, perhaps not more than 5’4.  Strikingly, he never took a day off. In fact, in the approximately 3 years that Porfirio was in the U.S., he worked seven days a week, twelve hours a day, except for the major holidays of Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. And he always had a smile on his face.

His inhuman work ethic was not, as it may appear, a result of the employer’s demands; he chose not to have time off.

His life began in a small indigenous village in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, where Triqui is spoken before Spanish. He is in his late twenties and has several children, who all still live in Mexico.

Porfirio did not come here for a better life for himself; he did it for his family in Mexico. In the fall of 2007, Porfirio went home. What his exact motivation was, I cannot say, but I surmise that it was to visit his wife and children, whom he had not seen for nearly three years. Three years of sacrifice for one’s family is a noble deed. But three years wasn’t enough, apparently, because I received an alarming message from his nephew just this past summer.

Porfirio had trekked across the U.S. border, made it all the way to Pennsylvania only to be detained by ICE(Immigration and Customs Enforcement) and promptly deported back to Mexico. This past month, he attempted to cross again but was caught and deported.

Porfirio is, I believe, an embodiment of many of today’s undocumented in the United States. All that Porfirio has done is sacrifice himself for a better life for his family. He, I am sure, will eventually succeed in his quest to return to the U.S. and continue to carry out his life as a modern day Jesus: toil away, with no benefit to himself,  for the betterment of others.


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