Tag: Florida


Bracing for Impact

Florida’s new law targeting undocumented immigrants has raised concerns in sectors of the local economy, with Arizona’s past experience serving as a possible precursor of both economic repercussions and unforeseen political consequences.

"A Better Life?"AudioStories

Introducing “Call Your Elders” – A New Feature of Our “A Better Life?” Podcast Series

Monique and Eric Barrau talk to their daughter about quarantine and their lives since leaving Haiti in the 1960s.


Torn Between Caring for an Ailing Mother and Completing College

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Photo courtesy of Christopher Morales

Christopher Morales, a twenty-year old engineering student at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico sits down in a small and intimate restaurant in San Juan. Quiet and reserved, he lowers his head as he reflects on how his life changed in the blink of an eye.

When Hurricane Maria hit, suddenly he was confronted with a difficult decision.

As an only child who doesn’t have a relationship with his father, he is one of the main care-givers for his mother, Carmen, who is fighting colon cancer. Without electricity, running water and cell phone service he felt that staying on the island was not an option for them.

In the wake of the storm, Morales frantically looked for information and was finally able to get a flight to Orlando, Florida, where his mother could get the medical treatment she needed.

In Orlando, his aunt, Ana, offered them housing and took take care of his mother. She soon adjusted to her new life and her condition was being treated. But he could not stay with her because very soon his classes would start again and he is close to finishing his studies.

It was difficult for him to leave but he’s committed to staying close to her whatever way he can.

“There is not a moment when I do not think about her.  All the time I write to her and tell her everything that is happening. When they are giving her treatment, I send her funny videos and we see each other on FaceTime. I’m always thinking about her,” he said with a smile.

Morales lives in an small apartment close to the university with a childhood friend. He juggles a few part-time jobs, fixing computers, working as a tutor, and from time to time as an Uber driver to make a little extra cash.

As he enters his last academic year, he’s thinking about whether he should look for a job in the United States and possibly expand his career opportunities.

His mom wants to stay in Florida, and he wants to have her close.

“No matter what I do, I will do it with my mother in mind, she has given everything to me and I want her to see me graduate, to be healthy and to move forward…my mother gives me the motivation to continue forward and prosper,” Morales said.

Desgarrado entre el cuidado de su madre enferma y sus estudios

En un restaurante, pequeño e íntimo, perfecto para charlar, Christopher Morales, estudiante de 20 años de edad de Ingeniería en la Universidad Politécnica de Puerto Rico (UPPR), cuenta cómo su vida cambió en un abrir y cerrar de ojos.

Después de que el huracán María impactará la Isla, se vio enfrentado con una decisión díficil.

Morales es hijo único y su madre, Carmen, sufre de cáncer de colon. Al no tener relación con su padre, él es el único a cargo de su madre. En octubre, al ver la salud de su madre empeorar estando sin energía eléctrica ni agua corriente, decidió llevársela a Florida.

“Busqué información y pude conseguir un vuelo hacia Orlando, Florida, donde mi madre obtuvo servicio médico”, dijo Morales, bajando la cabeza.

En Orlando, su tía, Ana, les ofreció techo y cuidó de su madre. Carmen se adaptó rápido a su nueva vida y su condición estaba siendo atendida. Pero él podría quedarse con ella. Muy pronto comenzarían sus clases y se encontraba cerca para terminar sus estudios.

Para él fue díficil dejar a su madre, pero está en constante contacto con ella desde Puerto Rico.

“Mi madre me da la motivación para seguir hacia delante y prosperar”, dijo Morales con voz ronca. “No hay momento en el que no piense en ella. Todo el tiempo le escribo y le cuento todo lo que está sucediendo. Cuando le están dando su tratamiento, le mando videos graciosos y nos vemos por FaceTime”.

Morales vive en un pequeño despartamento cerca de su universidad con un amigo de infancia. Hace malabarismos entre un par de trabajos temporales, arreglando computadores, trabajando como tutor, y a veces como conductor de Uber para hacer algo de dinero extra.

Al emepezar su último año académico, Morales piensa en buscar un trabajo en Estados Unidos y en expandir su carrera. Su madre quiere quedarse en Florida, y el quiere tenerla cerca.

“No importa lo que haga, lo haré con mi madre en mente. Ella lo ha dado todo por mí y yo quiero que ella me vea graduándome, que esté saludable y echar hacia delante”, dijo Morales.

Written by Barbara Beccerra Marcano.

This story was part of a collaboration between Feet in 2 Worlds and journalism students at  Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.


“Now is the Time to Rise” – A Student’s Optimism About Puerto Rico’s “Renaissance”

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Photo courtesy of Jacnier Ríos Lorenzo

What can force a person to abandon their home? For Jacnier Ríos Lorenzo it was not being able to continue his studies in communications due to the lack of Internet service after Hurricane Maria. Ríos Lorenzo moved to Florida to finish his bachelor’s degree at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (USC) in San Juan, PR.

Although space in Florida was tight, living in the same house with eight other family members, the 20 year-old student from the town of Aguada, decided to continue his bachelor’s degree by taking his classes online.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

In addition to the lack of Internet, what other reasons motivated you to leave the country?

It was economic instability and the lack of security in my apartment building due to the lack of power. The area where I lived was a little unsafe at night, and not having power in San Juan is dangerous.

Additionally, I had extra expenses.  Because I didn’t have a refrigerator I always had to go out and buy food and fill up the gas tank more than usual to leave and come back to Aguada.

What arrangements did you have to make so you didn’t lose the semester?

I had multiple online courses, and even though there was Internet service in San Juan, there wasn’t in my town. So, once classes started again in USC I went up to the university to talk with the professors to ask what my options were. They recommended that I do what other students had done, leave for two or three months for the United States [mainland] and finish the semester online. I thought about it and said: ‘Let’s do this.’ Currently, I continue to take my classes from USC through their digital platform, but away from the island.

Will you go back to the island?

In my case, my plan is to go back. I don’t know when specifically, but I am certain I want to go back. Puerto Rico is my home. I know that I have a lot to give to my island, and I want to be a part of its growth. I want to become one of those young people that, after Hurricane Maria, will boost the country’s economy. Additionally, I know there are friends and family that await my return.

I think that what is happening in my little island is a renaissance. I have always believed that when something good is going to happen in somebody’s life, that person must face the hardship that presents itself on the way first. That is how I compare the current situation in Puerto Rico”.

How has the adaptation process been?

Taking 15 credits online isn’t easy, but I can’t complain about the professors. They have all been so pro-student and that has helped a lot in the process. The aid that they have given me, and their empathy with the situation has helped a lot with my development as a student, and it’s made the process a smoother one.

What is your perspective about what is happening in Puerto Rico?

I think that what is happening in my little island is a renaissance. I have always believed that when something good is going to happen in somebody’s life, that person must first face the hardship that presents itself on the way. That is how I compare the current situation in Puerto Rico. The country hit rock bottom, and now it is time to rise. Puerto Ricans, because of Hurricane Maria, have the responsibility of improving the status of our country.  The atmospheric event shook us and said: “Now is the time to rise”.

How does it feel to live outside the island?

When you have to live in a place for more than five months and really be with the people from that culture, it’s completely different. Something that I have experienced a lot is the racism that exists here, in the United States, it’s so intense.

“Es hora de levantarse” – El optimismo de un estudiante sobre el renacimiento de Puerto Rico

¿Qué puede forzar a una persona a abandonar su hogar?  Para Jacnier Ríos Lorenzo, quien tiene 20 años, fue la falta de Internet luego del paso del huracán María, ya que no podía continuar sus estudios en comunicaciones. Así que Ríos Lorenzo se trasladó a Florida, para poder culminar su bachillerato en la Universidad del Sagrado Corazón (USC), en San Juan.

A pesar de tener que convivir con ocho familiares en una misma casa en Florida, el oriundo del municipio de Aguada, decidió continuar su bachillerato multidisciplinario tomando las clases en línea.

Además de la falta de Internet, ¿qué otras razones te impulsaron a abandonar el país?

Fue la inestabilidad económica y la falta de seguridad en mi apartamento debido a la ausencia de energía eléctrica. La zona donde vivía era un poco insegura en las noches y no tener luz en San Juan es peligroso… Adicionalmente,  incurriría en gastos extras porque al no tener sistema de refrigeración, tendría que salir a comprar comida siempre e invertir más gasolina de la habitual para subir y bajar del pueblo de Aguada.

¿Qué arreglos académicos tuviste que hacer para no perder el semestre?

Yo tenía varios cursos que eran en línea y, a pesar de que en San Juan había servicio de Internet, en mi pueblo no. Así que, una vez comenzaron las clases en Sagrado subí a la universidad para dialogar con los profesores para saber qué opciones tenía. Me recomendaron que hiciera como habían hecho otros estudiantes que se habían ido dos o tres meses para los Estados Unidos y terminarían el semestre en línea. Lo pensé y dije: “vamos a hacer esto”. Actualmente, continúo tomando mis clases de bachillerato de la USC a través de su plataforma digital, pero fuera del país.

¿Volverás a la Isla?

En mi caso, tengo como plan regresar. No sé específicamente en qué momento, pero lo tengo muy claro que quiero volver, ya que Puerto Rico es mi hogar. Sé que me falta mucho por ofrecerle a mi isla y quiero ser parte de su crecimiento. Deseo convertirme en uno de esos jóvenes que, luego del huracán María, impulsará la economía del país. Además, sé que hay amigos y familiares que anhelan verme de regreso.

¿Cómo ha sido el proceso de adaptación?

Tomar quince créditos en línea no es fácil, pero no me puedo quejar de los profesores. Todos han sido tan pro estudiantes que eso es lo que ha ayudado mucho en el proceso. La ayuda que han brindado y su empatía con la situación han ayudado muchísimo al desempeño de uno como estudiante y a que el proceso sea uno mucho más fácil.

¿Cuál es tu perspectiva acerca de lo que está pasando en Puerto Rico?

Pienso que lo que está pasando en mi islita es un renacimiento. Siempre he creído que cuando algo bueno va a ocurrir en la vida de una persona, primero debe enfrentarse a pruebas que se le cruzan en el camino. Así lo comparo con la situación actual de Puerto Rico. Ya el país tocó al fondo, ahora le toca subir; nos toca subir. Los puertorriqueños, debido al huracán María, tenemos la responsabilidad de mejorar el estatus de nuestra patria. El evento atmosférico nos sacudió y nos dijo: “es hora de levantarse”

¿Cómo se siente vivir fuera de tu país?

Cuando te toca vivir en un lugar por más de cinco meses y realmente estar con las personas de esa cultura, es completamente diferente. Algo que me ha tocado vivir mucho es el racismo que hay aquí, en los Estados Unidos, tan fuerte.

Written by Cecilia Ortiz.

This story is part of a collaboration between Feet in 2 Worlds and the journalism program at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Translated from the original Spanish by John Pink.

Fi2W is supported by the David and Katherine Moore Family Foundation, the Ralph E. Odgen Foundation, the J.M. Kaplan Fund, an anonymous donor and readers like you.


In a (Barely) Blue County in a Red State, Anxiety and Disbelief

Tampa is one of the few places in Florida that Hillary Clinton won. Immigrants there worry about the future.


Welcome to the 2016 Election Issue of Fi2W’s Online Magazine

A message from Fi2W’s Executive Producer


Central Florida Votes Puerto Rican: The Future of a Swing State and the Island in One Vote

Grooming a growing community to have long-term political impact.

Fi2W Immigration News Picks 09/05/12: DNC Edition

The Democractic Party platform calls for undocumented migrants to “come out of the shadows” and a federal judge strikes down a Florida rule that discriminates against dependents of undocumented migrants.

Federal Government Opens Citizenship Database to Florida Authorities, Making Immigrant Leaders Wary

Immigrant leaders in Florida and New York expressed concern about the sharing of private information among different levels of government.