Marisol and The American Dream

Janet Jarman made her first photograph of Marisol in 1996. The young girl when the Mexican girl was eight years old, scavengning through waste with her mother and siblings, in the fading afternoon light at the Matamoros municipal garbage site. Almost two decades later, Jarman is still photographing Marisol.

During those years, Marisol and her family moved from Mexico to Florida and onwards to Texas. Marisol allowed Jarman to closely document her immigrant experience as she coped with new customs, discrimination and fear. Over time, the American Dream her family sought seemed to slip away, as they lost their home, and the parents divorced.

Through following the life of an individual over time, Jarman has tried to convey the numerous challenges experienced by thousands of Latino immigrants. She hopes that by bringing Marisol’s story to the attention of the general public, she can put a human face on the topic of immigration and contribute in a small way to making the debate a less contentious one, driven more by recognition of our common humanity than by hostility.

Marisol
Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1996 – Marisol daydreams at dusk while anticipating the arrival of more garbage trucks at the municipal garbage site where she and siblings search for recyclable items to support their family’s income.
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Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1996 – Marisol (R) and her mother, Eloisa, 39, search through mounds of waste at the municipal garbage site. One day, Marisol found a human corpse there. This incident made Eloisa determined to take her children across the border to the United States to join her husband, Vinicio, who gained residency through the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA).
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Tamaulipas, Mexico, 1996- Marisol and her sister Cristina protect their shoes while walking through mud to their local school. The dirt road was paved with 'caliche,' a by-product from a local chemical plant. Plant owners donated the waste product to the local government who sold it to 'colonias' by the ton in order to cover dirt roads.
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Balm, Florida, U.S.A. - 1996 - Immigrant children observe their new classmate as Marisol takes the bus on her first day of school in the United States. Upon arriving in the U.S., she and her younger siblings had the opportunity to attend school where they began to learn English. Their older siblings had to accompany their parents in the fields.
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Florida, U.S.A. 2000 – Marisol sits alone in her room, listening to the chaos of screaming parents and family members. After her family moved to Florida in late 1996, they soon relocated to Texas. Tension mounted between her parents and ended in a bitter divorce.
Crossings: The Immigration of a Mexican Family into the US
08/01/2000, TEXAS, UNITED STATES --- Through the fence, which divides their families, eight-year-olds Kristina (L) and Mary become friends even though Maryís parents prohibited her from entering the yard of her Mexican neighbors.
GEO ASSIGNMENT
Texas, U.S.A. 2003- Marisol (R) accompanies her best friend, Mayra, in the celebration of her Quinceañera, a Hispanic tradition marking the rite of passage into womanhood at age 15. Marisol and her sisters dreamed of having their own Quinceañeras; however, their parents never could afford the elaborate party. For these events, families often spend as much or more than one might on a wedding ceremony.
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Texas, U.S.A. 2007 – Marisol and Carlos interact inside their living room, days before she gave birth to her second child, a daughter named Anahi. Marisol had only wanted one child, since she had plans to finish high school and become a lawyer, a computer teacher or an artist.
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Hidalgo, Mexico, 2008 - Marisol and Andrés participate in a two-hour baptism service for multiple families in Andrés hometown in Mexico. Returning to Mexico to baptize his children was a priority for Andrés. Following the ceremony, he threw a huge party for his family and over 200 people from his village. The event gave him great pride.
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Hidalgo, Mexico, 2008 – Andrés and Marisol stroll around a village fair. December is an important month for parties and reunions across Mexico. Like Andrés, many immigrants return for the month to enjoy their families and the traditions they miss. The financial sacrifice is high, since they must pay up to $4,000 (USD) to a middleman (coyote) to usher them back into the U.S. illegally.
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Hidalgo, Mexico, 2008 - Disgusted by Andrés’ behavior in Mexico, Marisol threatens to break up with him. He reacts by begging her to stay in Mexico with him instead of returning to the U.S. Eventually, a month later, they returned to the U.S., since they needed more money. Marisol also preferred U.S. healthcare and the U.S. school system for her children, both U.S. citizens. She also discovered that she was pregnant with their third child.
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Texas, U.S.A. 2009 – Andrés comforts Marisol, hours after she gave birth to their third and final child, a boy they named Luis.
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Texas, U.S.A. 2011 – Standing on top of their neighbor’s home, Andrés lifts a piñata full of candy, a tradition at Mexican birthday parties. Mexican parents typically put a lot of emphasis on children’s birthday parties. This year, Marisol was excited that they could afford a jumping castle and a live singer.
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Texas, U.S.A. 2011 – Marisol and Andrés take their children to watch CARS 2 in 3D at a local cinema. Going out as a family is a rare occasion, due to their financial limits. Normally, they either visit Marisol’s sisters at their home or go to the mall for ice cream or possibly to their favorite Chinese buffet.
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Hidalgo, Mexico, 2011 – Bored and counting the hours until she can return to the U.S., Marisol watches CARS 2 for the fifteenth time with her children, in the bedroom that will become hers, should she and Andrés ever return to Mexico to live permanently.
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Querétaro, Mexico, 2011 - Marisol and her children endure a 28-hour bus ride from Mexico City to Dallas, Texas at the end of her three-week stay at her in-laws. Traveling by bus has become increasingly dangerous, and she vowed never to travel this way again. During a previous bus ride, gunmen came onboard. They robbed everyone but her. She believes they skipped her out of empathy that she was a young mother traveling alone with children.
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Texas, U.S.A. 2012 - Andrés is forlorn after handing the children back to Marisol following their divorce settlement. He felt like his life had fallen to pieces, and he hoped he and Marisol will be able to reconcile. His dreams of moving the family back to Mexico faded.
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Texas, U.S.A. 2012 – Marisol continues to wash large industrial trucks with Andrés, despite their divorce proceedings. As the couple had more children, Marisol needed to start working. Although the acids used for cleaning burned her skin from time to time, she felt proud to make her own money. Her boss, a retired truck driver, trusted her and gave her the flexibility she needed to balance work with raising three children.
Marisol and The American Dream
Texas, U.S.A. - 14 July, 2015 Marisol and her family enjoy a day at the Six Flags amusement park. Carlos was recently given a voucher by his teacher as an award for his reading ability, and the whole family decided to celebrate his achievement with him. Marisol hopes that she will be able to keep her children in the U.S. school system since they are thriving there. Being able to stay in school could make a big difference in how their life story develops.