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Researching my family’s history has helped me gain newfound knowledge and a sense of unityб which has had a strong impact on my identity. For my family heritage project, I will be focusing on the Mexican side of my family. My ethnic background on my mother’s side of my family is Latino, which are people of Mexican descent. In this paper, I will be tracing back my family tree by identifying the population, migration, language, religion, and ethnicity of my family heritage.

My family is from Mexico, a small town called Loreto in the state of Zacatecas, located in the north-central part of Mexico. While Mexico’s Human Development Index results do not indicate that it is a more developed country, some people claim it is. Mexico has an HDI score of 0.767. (Developed Countries List, n.d.) Despite poverty, a lack of medical coverage, and restricted access to clean water, the country is considered one of the most progressed developing countries in the world.

Unfortunately, Zacatecas is considered a pretty poor area. It is said to be the 9th poorest state in Mexico. As of 2020, approximately 54.2% of the population in Zacatecas is living in poverty. Fortunately for my family in Zacatecas, they have a pretty sustainable life, and with the help of my mom, my older sister, and me, we are able to provide them with extra help in whatever they might need.

The immigration locations of my family are within Zacatecas and Mexico in general. My family has lived in Loreto, Zacatecas, for many generations, besides my mom who migrated to the United States in 1996. Marin County is the emigration location in which my mom moved from Loreto. The type of migration that my mom was involved in was voluntary migration. It was her own decision to take place in international migration.

The pull factors that led my mom to migrate were financial, career, and overall living circumstances, which were big motivators for her to migrate. For many Mexicans, being in the United States means more opportunities and a better life overall. Since my mom always had a goal of becoming a house cleaner, she packed up her life and migrated to the United States in search of the so-called ‘American Dream’. The latest data on people moving from Mexico to the US describes apprehensions of unauthorized Mexican immigrants, a statistic that is often used as a proxy for measuring illegal immigration, which increased considerably after the pandemic started in 2020, even as apprehensions of non-Mexicans dropped sharply. In addition, the number of encounters or apprehensions of Mexican adults at the U.S.-Mexican border reached levels not seen since 2013. There were 253,118 such encounters, up 52% from 166,458 the year before.

In the case of my ancestor Maria Bugarin, she had to leave Spain because of the push factor that was involved in the migration. My ancestor left Spain in 1850, and during the period spanning from 1850 to 1950, there were 3.5 million Spaniards that left for the Americas. Mexico was one of the chief destinations, especially its northern region where President Porfirio Diaz encouraged European immigration in order to supply labor. Thus, Maria Bugarin must have been relatively forced by the president and had no other choice. Upon her arrival, she may have been received with a certain degree of Hispanophobia. Hispanophobia was prevalent during the 19th century. This anti-Spanish sentiment consisted of fear, distrust, hatred, or discrimination against the Spanish language, people, or culture.

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The language from Spain to Mexico didn’t change drastically. Although there are differences between Spain Spanish and Mexican Spanish. My ancestor was Spaniard and she spoke Spanish from Spain, which is called ‘Castellano’, then she moved to Mexico a place that also speaks Spanish, but it is called ‘Espanol Mexicano’. The main differences between the two types of Spanish are the pronunciation, vocabulary, and other nuances of the two languages. That being said, the official language that is Spanish in Mexico is practically the same as in Spain and the rest of the world. Additionally, since the Spaniards left and my ancestor stayed in Mexico, she got married to a Mexican, and that is when Mexican Spanish became the language that my family in Mexico speak, as well as my mom, my siblings, and me. Now that my mom moved to the United States, she now speaks a bit of English, which is a direct correlation to how her language has changed from location to location.

The language families that were involved were the Ibero-Romance language group of the Indo-European language family, as my ancestors spoke Spanish and I currently speak Spanish as well. The language branch of Spanish is Romance, Italo-Western, Gallo-Iberian, West Iberian, and Spanish. I went as far back as I could in my family tree by calling my grandmother in Mexico, but unfortunately, I have no other relatives that speak another language besides Spanish. Currently, I also speak English. English is an Indo-European language and belongs to the West Germanic group of Germanic languages (the branch is Germanic, West Germanic, Ingvaeonic, Anglo-Frisian, and Anglic.

In terms of religion in my family, it was very influential and was the social glue that held a colony together, and it played a significant role in my ancestors’ migration and customs. My ancestor’s religion was Roman Catholic, which was a huge contributor to the migration and customs of the Spaniards when they were governing and spreading their language. Currently, my family in Mexico and here in the U.S. still adhere to the Catholic religion today, which has not changed for many generations.

Religion remained unchanged from Spain to Mexico. Since its introduction during Spanish colonization in the 16th century, Catholicism has survived and grown to become the dominant religion in Mexico. Mexicans have been technically Catholic with native traditions since before the Spanish conquest. Here in California, it is also a popular religion, since a lot of the immigration occurs from Mexico to the U.S. Catholicism is popular in Mexico, and it has remained and is practiced very often here in California. The vast majority of new immigrants in the United States are predominantly Catholics from Latin America, which has helped the Catholic religion to remain unchanged in the immigrant’s religion.

The Roman Catholic religion is a universalizing religion that welcomes new members and those who seek to accept its belief system. Members of this faith come from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds. Roman Catholicism is predominant in Southwest Europe and Latin America. However, the Roman Catholic religion is one of the three main branches of Christianity. The other two branches of Christianity are the Protestants in Northwest Europe and North America, and Orthodox in Eastern Europe. This depiction of the many locations where this religion is practiced demonstrates how widely accepted and practiced it is.

Moreover, my ethnicity is Latino. However, my ancestors would have said that they are European because they are from Spain. For instance, Maria Bugarin must have acculturated and assimilated into the Mexican culture well because she ended up marrying a Mexican man. As a result, she had Mexican children that grew up in Mexico. This assimilation and acculturation must have occurred throughout her life and until her death.

Currently, my mother is still in the process of assimilating into American culture as she doesn’t speak much English. She has the privilege of living in San Rafael, a city that has a large Spanish-speaking population, which has allowed her to continue communicating with others in her native tongue. However, what is interesting to note is that my sisters and I are completely assimilated into American culture since we grew up and went to school here. Since my girlfriend is white American, my future children will perhaps not identify much with their Mexican side. This illustrates the bittersweet aspect of family heritage and migration. Once a family moves from their home country, they lose part of their deep-rooted cultures, and their descendants become more identified with the country they are born in. This is why it is important to keep track of our family trees in order to stay connected to those roots that we may have forgotten otherwise.

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