Brazilians Leaving BostonNOVEMBER 22, 2008
- Sal e Brasa Delivery Van
- (Courtesy Sal e Brasa)
- Enlarge This Image
- Brazilian Immigrant Center
- Brazilians in the U.S. and Massachusetts: A Demographic and Economic Profile
- Sal e Brasa Restaurant
- Brazilian Ministers Network
- Josimar Salum
- International Optical
- Pew Hispanic Center report on Income for Non-Citizen Immigrant Households 2006-2007
- Alan P. Marcus, Ph.D.
- Joseph Ferrie, Ph.D.
- The Immigration Debate: Studies on the Economic, Demographic, and Fiscal Effects of Immigration
- Foreclosure Double Punch
- The End of Weekend America
- Conversations with America: Concluding the Conversation
- Good News, Bad News, No News
More From Kara Oehler
- This Weekend in 1968: Miss America
- Advising Obama from Your Living Room
- This Weekend in 1968: Political Ads
More From Ann Heppermann
The tough economy hits everyone in America in different ways. But a Pew Hispanic Center report shows that immigrant incomes are falling faster than others. For some, that's tipped the scale, and they're leaving. There is no reliable snapshot of how many immigrants are going home. But in the Boston area, Weekend America's Kara Oehler talked to one immigrant group that's shrinking fast.
Kara Oehler: The Boston area is spotted with Little Brazils. But they're getting littler every day.
Julie Gonzales: How you know that I'm going back to Brazil?
Oehler: That's 22-year old Julie Gonazales. And last week, she worked at a Brazilian-run Optical store. But this week, she's going back to Brazil. For good.
Gonzales: When I came I want to stay here for two years. But I just stay here nine months and I want to go, quick back to Brazil.
Oehler: Julie's ambitious. She graduated from college and came to the US with expectations of higher paychecks and maybe a little excitement. Julie says she would have stayed if it weren't for one thing.
Gonzales: Money is money, so if I'm making money here, why go back? The economy here is not good, the things is really expensive and in Brazil it's better now and so that's why, "Bye, United States!"
Oehler: Some estimate nearly 200,000 Brazilians live in Massachussetts. But for Julie and many others, the sacrifices made to be here aren't making as much sense these days.
Fautsto de Rocha: Hi everybody. This is Fausto de Rocha. Good morning. The theme of our show today is going back to Brazil.
Oehler: Fausto de Rocha sits in a cramped studio in the basement of a strip mall church in Quincy, Mass.
de Rocha: Are you returning to Brazil? Or are you going to stay?
Oehler: Fausto runs the Brazilian Immigrant Center, and hosts this show every week. Today's topic is tying up the phone lines.
Norton: Hey. Hi Fausto! This is Norton. Man. Many of my friends, they already left. And many of my friends they already left. One of them is Marcillo.
de Rocha: Marcillo?
Norton: Yeah. Marcillo. He already bought his ticket. He's counting the hours.
Oehler: Fausto estimates nearly 10,000 Brazilians are leaving Massachusetts this year. Brazil's economy has improved - but people are also scared to live here without a visa. Fausto says Brazilians endured oppressive military rule for 24 years, but in his opinion, what they're starting to face here is worse.
de Rocha: The immigration start arrest more and more people. And that make people start to have a nightmare. Because sometime you wake in the morning, have someone knock on your door and immigration, come and arrest everybody.
Oehler: Day to day life for undocumented immigrants involves a lot of risk. Take Louis. He's been here four years and delivers pizza. Just two weeks ago, a cop pulled him over. He got lucky, and the cop let him go. Working here, he can pay for his family to live in San Paolo in a house with a swimming pool. He says he has only has $3,000 dollars to go and he'll own the place. But last week, his wife called. They had a deal. Four years. That's it.
Louis: My wife ask, she says, "Hey Louis, I need you to be here Februario." You stay in America four years. Your children cry everyday, asking when you come back. I have no choice. I have to go.
Oehler: He doesn't want to. And he's worried.
Louis: I talk to God. I say, please help me. Because if I go to Brazil. I can't pay for everything. Because In Brazil, I older man. 44. Companies say, hey, you older man. You no have a job. The first time in America, I saw an older man working. I cry because in Brazil. Never.
Oehler: Louis is scared that without the money he makes in Boston, he'll have to move his family to a dangerous part of San Paulo. What he'd like is to bring them here. But for now, he's heading back. A deal is a deal.
Oehler: Across town, in Everett, Mass, there's a restaurant called Sal y Brasa. That's Portuguese for Salt and Charcoal. There, I meet Joe Joe. He says things used to be good here, really good.
Joe Joe: Two years ago, used to get here at seven o'clock you wait outside for at least, 50 minutes in order to get a table. That many Brazilians were here. In this place!
Oehler: It's kind of hard to believe that this place used to be so packed. It's totally empty. The buffet island in the middle of the restaurant is full of food and the same three guys have been rotating on the Karaoke machine for the last five songs. Joe Joe's been here for 24 years. He's a citizen and drives limos. But this whole economic mess has him thinking.
Joe Joe: American is never going to go down, but for the moment it's scary. For the last three months, I been seeing the end for me. I'm going to sell my little business. Because you know the American dream is really not real.
Oehler: There are still a few Brazilians left in the restaurant. And they belt out the song "Massachusetts." Joe Joe says he tries to be an optimist, but he understands why thousands of Brazilians are packing up and going home.
Joe Joe: 'Cause right now I'm just a slave for what I'm doing, just a slave, so for the moment, I'm sorry, America is not a dream for anyone.
Oehler: In Everett, Massachusetts, I'm Kara Oehler for Weekend America with co-producer, Ann Heppermann.
- Music Bridge:
- Artist: Alejandro Franov
- CD: Khali (Staubgold)