The most dreaded tragedy for an immigrant, and especially for an illegal immigrant, is to die young, far from home.
In the Sunday Globe, immigration writer, Maria Sacchetti, tells the story of the pain and hardship that followed one such death.
Sacchetti tells a powerful, vivid tale of Fredy Zepeda's determined life and his death in a hit-and-run accident in Brighton. She traveled to Guatemala for the funeral, and brings alive the final chapter of his story that would otherwise have gone untold and ignored.
The cost of getting Zepeda's body home -- $7,000 -- was more than it cost him to get a smuggler to bring him into the United States in 2000. It took three funeral homes, and massive amounts of paperwork. But it mattered that much to the family in Guatemala that he had supported for years. They will be paying off the funeral debt for a long time to come.
The anguish of bringing bodies back home is a common story for immigrants throughout the United States, particularly those from Latin America where religious traditions remain strong, and a proper burial matters deeply. For poor families, the burden can far outweigh the value of the money the immigrant might have earned and sent home over the years.
About this blog
About James F. SmithJim Smith came home to his native Boston in 2002 to become the Boston Globe's foreign editor after spending 22 years abroad. He was previously based in Buenos Aires and Mexico City for the LA Times, and in Johannesburg, Tokyo and The Hague for the AP. In 2007 he became the Globe's national political editor, coordinating presidential campaign coverage. He is a Yale graduate, and has an MBA. He is married to Maxine Hart and has two sons, Matthew and Daniel.
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