I was born in Mexico City in 1974. After college at the Universidad de las Americas in Mexico, I moved to New York to become a photographer in 1995. I'd grown up in a middle-class household; my dad owned a construction business. But after my savings ran out in New York, I had to do service work to get by: I worked as a waitress and a nanny, and realized how difficult it was to be an immigrant. Initially I had a student visa. Before I got my green card, I also had to go back and forth across the border every six months. It was a very humbling experience.
Meanwhile, I worked as an English teacher and a union organizer, helping Mexican immigrants with various issues, like landlord-tenant disputes. Through this work, I got to know many Latino workers in New York. I wanted to share their experiences, but not the story we usually hear, if we hear of them at all. In a sense, Latino workers in New York are hidden -- hidden in kitchens, hidden inside houses. Most of the U.S. national news about immigration is very sad: bitter political disputes in Arizona, or images of desperate immigrants trying to cross the border. So much pain numbs you.[[SHARE]]
It is easy to overlook the practical contribution of immigrants to American society, as well as the enormous financial contribution they make in sending remittances home. A lot of Latino communities survive on that money; some say the sum of remittances even surpasses the income we get from selling oil, in the case on Mexico.
I saw a Spiderman costume in a store in November 2001, and that's when everything came together in my head. Comic-book superheroes have an alter ego, and so do immigrants in the United States. They may be insignificant or even invisible to much of society, but they are heroes in their homelands.
Many of the people I photographed for this series, between 2004 and 2009, were my students or people I worked with as a union organizer. We had a friendly relationship; they trusted me enough to give me their real names and how much money they send home. It was very important to me to include that information. My work is a tribute to them.
NOE REYES from the State of Puebla works as a delivery boy in Brooklyn New York. He sends home $500 a week.
NOE REYES originario del Estado de Puebla trabaja como repartidor de comida rápida en Brooklyn N York. Manda 500 dólares a la semana
SERGIO GARCÍA from the State of México works as a waiter in New York. He sends home $350 a week.
SERGIO GARCÍA originario del Estado de México trabaja como mesero en Nueva York. Manda 350 dólares a la semana.
MARIA LUISA ROMERO from the State of Puebla works in a Laundromat in Brooklyn New York. She sends home $150 a week.
MARIA LUISA ROMERO originaria del Estado de Puebla empleada en lavanderia en Brooklyn Nueva York. Manda 150 dólares a la semana.
LUIS HERNANDEZ from the State of Veracruz works in demolition in New York. He sends home $200 a week.
LUIS HERNANDEZ originario de Estado de Veracruz trabaja como demoledor en
MINERVA VALENCIA from Puebla works as a nanny in New York. She sends home $400 a week.
MINERVA VALENCIA originaria de Puebla trabaja como niñera en Nueva York. Manda 400 dólares a la semana.
BERNABE MENDEZ from the State of Guerrero works as a professional window cleaner in New York. He sends home $500 a month.
BERNABE MENDEZ originario de Guerrero trabaja limpiando vidrios en los rascacielos de Nueva York. Manda 500 dólares al mes.
OSCAR GONZALEZ from the State of Oaxaca works as a cook in New York. He sends home $350 a week.
OSCAR GONZÁLEZ originario del Estado de Oaxaca trabaja como cocinero en Nueva York. Manda 350 dólares a la semana.
PAULINO CARDOZO from the State of Guerrero works in a greengrocer loading trucks. He sends home $300 a week.
PAULINO CARDOZO originario del Estado de Guerrero trabaja como cargador en Nueva York. Manda 300 dólares a la semana.
JUVENTINO ROSAS from the State of Mexico works in a fish market in New York. He sends home $400 a week.
JUVENTINO ROSAS originario del Estado de México trabaja limpiando pescado en Nueva York. Manda 400 dólares a la semana.
FEDERICO MARTINEZ from the State of Puebla works as a taxi driver in New York.
He sends home $250 a week.
FEDERICO MARTINEZ originario del Estado de Puebla trabaja como taxista en Nueva York. Manda 250 dólares a la semana.
ADALBERTO LARA from the State of Mexico works as a construction worker in New York. He sends home $350 a week.
ADALBERTO LARA originario del Estado de México empleado en la construcción en Nueva York. Manda 300 dólares a la semana.
ERNESTO MENDEZ from Mexico City works as a gigolo in Times Square New York. He sends home $200 a week.
ERNESTO MENDEZ originario de México D.F trabaja como sexoservidor en times Square Nueva York. Manda 200 dólares a la semana.
ROMÁN ROMERO from Tlapa Guerrero works as a superintendent in New York. He sends home $800 a month.
ROMÁN ROMERO originario de Tlapa Guerrero trabaja como velador en Nueva York. Manda 800 dólares al mes.
ALVARO CRUZ from the State of Mexico works as a cook and runs with Los Compadres team. He sends home $300 a month.
ALVARO CRUZ originario del Estado de México trabaja como cocinero y corre con el equipo Los Compadres de Nueva York. Manda 300 dólares al mes.
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