At the age of nineteen, Eli Lara Silva crossed the Mexico-U.S. border hoping to find a way to alleviate the economic strain on his family. It was the first step of a journey that would lead him back and forth between the two countries.
Mr. Lara was born in a small town in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico. Growing up, his family was very poor. Eli’s mother stayed at home to take care of his brother with cerebral palsy; his father would often leave for months at a time in pursuit of employment. When a 20-foot-fall left his father with two broken legs, Eli knew he had no choice: he had to find work in the U.S.
Accompanied by his younger cousin, Mr. Lara crossed the border, undocumented. True to his word, Eli found work. He initially found a job as a painter but moved on to work in a metal foundry. Although he struggled with a language barrier, Mr. Lara persevered and excelled in the foundry. After severn years, his employer was faced with an immigration audit and Eli was fired. Unable to collect unemployment benefits, his only option was to return to Mexico.
In Mexico City, Eli was able to find employment in a workshop to continue supporting his family. Through the magic of the internet, he met an American women looking to practice her Spanish. A few years later, they married, and Eli returned to the US with a green card. Currently, Mr. Lara is a professional artist, infusing his work with Aztec influences. He and his wife live in St. Paul, Minnesota.