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Family return migration

Under the family return migration modality we include, on the one hand, those instances in which parents and children settled in Pahuatlan upon their return and who have medium-term plans to reinsert themselves after achieving a given goal, usually that of building their own house. This goal will pave the way towards adulthood as fathers and mothers capable of supporting and providing education for their children. A second modality is the “segmented” family return, which is a compensatory strategy adopted by these young returnee

Selectivity of return to Puebla 123 couples with very young children. In this modality, these parents failed to meet the goal of becoming independent from their parents and settling in Durham or Pahuatlán with their own means due to the unforeseen effects of the crisis. To an extent, their return represents for them and the community an economic failure, but also an unstable scenario. We observed that in this group of families settled in Pahuatlán in a segmented manner, one of the spouses re-emigrated to North Carolina shortly after their return or a few years after. The purpose of this re-emigration was to recover their jobs, trying to maximize their saving capacity in a few years by reducing the number of mouths to feed, rent payments, and other daily expenses. These families also believed that in Mexico the reproduction of the workforce is less expensive because costs are transferred to the extended family who receives no payment for these tasks, which compensates the low state investment in public sendees. Thus, Cravey's assertion that "the value of the peculiar commodity that is a human worker is highly contingent on historical and geographical context” is confirmed (2003, p. 618).

Unified family return

Only two interviewees and their partners resettled in Pahuatlán with their children born in the United States and remained there during the years in which we followed their trajectories. Soon after, they had additional children, consolidating family networks and ties with schools and health services that make raising children easier for these couples that already had their own house upon their return, built with savings and remittances sent to their parents.

Raúl built his house with dollars and great determination. Building a house in a plot prone to flooding and near a spring was not an easy task. Despite this, he was able to do it after his first four years in Durham, working from company to company, from subcontractor to subcontractor, building houses for others, sleeping badly and eating worse. In 2000, he had already built the first floor, thus securing a safe home for his widowed mother, Celsa. This fulfilled a dream she had for many years after the accumulated miseries of working as a laborer paid with corn or starvation wages as a domestic in Mexico City. The remittances sent by Raúl also financed his younger sister’s computer studies in the neighboring city of Tulancingo.

In 2008, after 12 years and many crossings between both countries, he returned to the town with his young wife from southern Mexico and a young son with a Viking name. His wife, Sofia, had stopped working in a restaurant when she “became” pregnant because Raúl did not want her to go back to work. Upon their return, they left behind the payment of rents and bills from a “nice” apartment in Durham to settle in Raúl’s house. By then the building had a second floor to accommodate them comfortably. Raúl crossed the border back to Mexico in a van, carrying his family, home appliances and a few cherished household items. Celsa, Raúl’s mother, had managed her absent son's savings well and continued to sell homemade sweets to cover the daily expenses, even though Raúl’s remittances “never ceased.” Mother, son, daughter-in-law andgrandson made up the new household, provisioned by Raúl, who became the sole provider of a home that continued to grow with the birth of a granddaughter in Pahuatlán. Despite longing for his income in Durham, the city’s beautiful wooded landscapes, the cleanliness of its streets and freeways and the orderly life, Raúl decided to invest his savings in a business in Pahuatlán. He tried to offer inflatable games, tables and chairs to rent for parties, but the fragile economy of most households did not allow for those luxury expenses. Instead, he bet on a short-lived small cleaning supplies store whose profits were meager due to the payment of the rent of a commercial space in the downtown area of a reconverted Pueblo Mágico, something that neither Raúl nor Sofia had foreseen upon their return. In addition, Sofia began her studies at a cosmetology school in Tulancingo. Her bus tickets and monthly payments depleted the family budget. Raúl did not give up and changed course. He bought a Suburban and in 2014 he was still driving people from a nearby town to the county seat. He did not dismiss the possibility of going back north, but he would make sure to leave his family safe in the town to avoid exposing them to extortions, kidnappings and detentions when attempting a new crossing.

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