Migrant quest for Mexican dream cut short in quake

The women working at ABC Toys on the second floor of a nondescript office building in Mexico City’s working-class Obrera neighborhood drew so little attention to themselves that when the building collapsed in last week’s powerful quake few living nearby could recall them.

In death, they remained nearly as anonymous: Government officials identified them in a list of foreigners killed during the 7.1-magnitude quake as simply “four Taiwanese women.”

But Helen Chin, Amy Huang, Carolina Wang and Gina Lai did have names — and stories that came to a sudden end under the rubble of the building at 168 Bolivar Street.

The glass-and-concrete building housing an assortment of Taiwanese toy and technology businesses, along with a clothing company run by an Argentine-born Jewish immigrant, is where nearly all the foreigners killed in the quake died. Aside from the four Taiwanese women, they include Jaime Askenazi, whose friends affectionately called “Che,” and Pepe Lin, a Taiwanese-born father of two who made his way to Mexico after first moving as a young boy from Paraguay.

“He came here, like many people,” Margarita Cohen, a distant relative said of Askenazi’s arrival from Argentina. “To search for more luck.”

Their numbers were small but collectively their lives provide a snapshot into recent migration to Mexico. As trade ties between China, Taiwan and Mexico have tightened a new wave of immigrants has arrived to invest in factories and open import-export businesses. Larger numbers arrive from other Latin American nations, either hoping to make their way to the United…

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