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Sergio Garcia, from the State of Mexico, works as a waiter in New York system, and rehabbed churchall paid for by native sons and daughters in New York. Almost two-thirds of Ticuani households depend on remittances from relatives in the United States. Countless other towns in Mexico survive the same way: Today, dollars sent by kin living outside of the country are one of Mexico’s biggest sources of foreign earnings. But as Smith explains, a remittance economy “dollarizes” Mexican communities, inflating prices that residents pay for goods. The dollars create a “remittance bourgeoisie” who live comfortably, and a “transnational underclass, who receive no remittances.” As a result, the poor in places like Ticuani can’t afford to take on the fainathe centuries-old, traditional obligation of contributing to projects like building a well. The task is assumed by people north of the border, removing an important piece of local . civitas from the very people who remain in the locale.’And poor young men who have stayed in the pueblos become especially vulnerable to the lure of north-of-the-border cultureincluding the transnational gangs that now make even Ticuani’s streets risky. It all sounds depressing, but for Smith it’s not the whole story. Ticuenses’ ties to their pueblo create some problems, but help tremendously with others. Hector Tobar found people like Rev. Bob and the gringo DJ welcoming Mexican newcomers, but everyone knows that such hospitality is exceptional. Most undocumented immigrants live in constant worry of being chased down by the authorities and deported. More and more, the state tells them no: no medical care, no drivers’ licenses, no college for the kids. And most important, no ballotseven for noncitizens who are documented. Without a sense of franchise, Mexicans have little motivation to assimilate, integrate, or whatever they’re supposed to do now that the melting pot is pass. Ties to places like Ticuani at least give them a sense of belonging, a sense of being in Tocqueville’s “free and strong community… which deserves the care spent in managing.” This country is eager to administer newcomers’ labor. But until the newcomers are allowed to help administer the U.S., running bits of Mexico from a world away will somehow have to do. The situation is depressing, yet so everyday during these strange, imperial days as to seem quite commonplace. Still, ordinary unhappiness is always uniquely interesting. And Smith does a great job with the details, not just counting the beans of immigration, but spilling them as well. Contributing writer Debbie Nathan is the author of Women and Other Aliens: Essays from the U.S.-Mexico Border. She lives in New York City. Photographer Dulce Pinzon was born in Mexico and now lives -in Brooklyn. The photographs in this article are from a series called “Superheroes.” 36 THE TEXAS OBSERVER AUGUST 11, 2006