MEXICO.- If almost a million Americans chose Mexico to spend their best years of life, why shouldn’t the man from Morelos do it? Camerino Sánchez after 30 years of work in meat companies in Illinoisday and night, between extreme cold and heat?
As soon as he retired and with the American residency in hand, he packed his things and returned to his country. He did not want to return to his Cuautla, his hometown located 90 kilometers south of the country’s capital, because insecurity was his daily bread; Mexico City, on the other hand, was very attractive to him as a great metropolis.
With high expectations it finally landed in the spring of four years ago. It was not a rash decision. On the contrary, she drew detailed numbers and compared: how much would she spend to live in the United States? How much in Mexico? Where would her retirement check go the most?
The conclusion was overwhelming: it is better to earn in pesos and spend in dollars.
He was not wrong. The market for food, which is the basics for living, yields much more than the supermarket pantry and left him with money to save, for medicines, walks with his wife and to go to Cuautla when he got homesick.
Everything seemed perfect and somehow it still is, except for the pandemic and he got sick with COVID-19.
“My pension money in the United States continues to arrive normallywithout time to my Mexican bank account, the problem is that we begin to have many more expenses and I cannot collect the aid from the government there”.
To curb the ravages of the coronavirus, the Joe Biden administration, through the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued three Economic Impact Payments during the coronavirus pandemic for eligible people.
Eligible for economic impact payments were US citizens or resident aliens who were not claimed as a dependent of any taxpayer and had a valid Social Security number for work.
The first check was for $1,200 in April 2020; the second was $600 between December and January 2021 and the third was $1,400 in the following March.
These payments were sent by direct deposit to a bank account or by mail as a paper check or debit card.
Camerino Sánchez, 73, had closed his bank accounts in the US and that is why the aid was sent to him in checks. He was happy because they would mean extra money in case of an emergency, a complicated illness or any unforeseen event, as it happened.
He had gotten rid of covid until a few weeks ago. She started with the flu and temperature and then had unstoppable diarrhea. For 20 days he survived with oxygen tanks in a hospital and that deprived him of capital.
“I have paid for all the treatments on my own because I don’t have social security in Mexico,” he details. “Every day I thought about the lack that makes me cash those checks.”
When Camerino Sánchez received the first stimulus check, he immediately went to the Bancomer branch closest to his home, in the Lindavista neighborhood. In that bank he received his US pension punctually and he did not doubt for a second that there they could help him with the collection of support from the US government.
The bank executive said in the first meeting with Camerino Sánchez that he could pay it and asked him for a few days to verify the information. When the retiree returned, the final answer was the opposite. “We do not have any agreement with the US government. and we won’t be able to pay you”.
The banker suggested that he go to other banks or exchange houses. The ex-migrant, he tried it in all the banks, in Banamex, Banorte, Santander, HSBC, Scotiabank and nothing. Also in various exchange houses and the answer was the same: impossible.
At some point he thought that the Banco del Bienestar, being a bank of the Mexican State, would be easier, but it was the same. Or worse, because it does not fulfill the promise of help for migrants and their families.
Camerino Sánchez observes: “The politicians say that they are going to help and that is just a story. From Fox (Vicente Fox, president of Mexico from 2000 to 2006) they say that we are the heroes who sustain the country with remittances but they are pure talk.
In January 2006, the president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador reported that it will look for a mechanism so that migrants send the remittances through the Welfare Bank (formerly Bansefi) without charging commission but this bank does not even have an electronic banking system.
Among those without flavors for the collection of the check, Camerino Sánchez accompanied by the Community in Return. Dolores Unzueta, founder of this civil organization, tells this newspaper that there is another person who lives in Mexicali who had the same problem, but since he is near the border, he was able to change it in the US.
Camerino Sánchez has no family in the United States. He also does not want to travel because the doctors warned him that he would not be able to resist a second covid infection due to his age and comorbidities. Despite being vaccinated with Pfizer, he got sick and still has sequelae. “I’m not going to leave the house,” he points out.
There are no official statistics on Mexicans who return of their own free will. Nor of their age, but it is speculated in academic studies, such as the University of Guadalajara, that in high migration areas at least 50% of migrants who have documents return to live in the countryeither to their communities of origin or to the nearest cities.
“The lack of resources to cash the check must be affecting many,” Unzueta calculated.
The social activist believes that the Mexican government should intervene to resolve this situation that means millions of dollars. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs could intervene.”
Last year Community in Return wanted to talk about the issue with an official from the National Commission of Financial Service Users but they canceled the interview and did not give them another date.
In the meantime, Camerino Sánchez is against the clock. He called the US IRS and was told that he only has one year to collect them. and, possibly some have already expired.
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