Living the American dream | 06/18/2006 | Living the American dream
BOYE, Mexico – Clementina Arellano grew up with her six brothers in a shack in this dusty Mexican hamlet. Now 42, she’s raising her sons in a spacious, 10-room mansion with Roman-style pillars at the doorway and a garden full of flowers and singing birds.

How did she transform her fortunes so dramatically? By waiting tables and sweating in a furniture factory for 10 years in Hickory, N.C., sending home up to $500 a month

Last year, Mexican migrants sent home a record $20 billion, making them Mexico’s biggest foreign earner after oil. In the first four months of this year, the amount was $7 billion, a 25 percent increase over the same period last year.

Half of it flows into poor villages like Boye, a corn-growing community of 900 people founded by Otomi Indians long before Europeans came to the Americas.

The men and women of Boye began heading north around 1990, after farm prices slumped. The U.S. economy was soon to enter its longest peacetime boom, and over the next 15 years, Boye sent more than 300 people over the border, mainly to North Carolina.

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