In 1998, Noe Ramirez crossed into the United States from Mexico, hoping to earn enough to buy a new taxi to replace the sputtering cab he drove in Mexico City. The part-time musician found construction work in Houston, playing guitar on the weekends.
One morning as he rode his bike to work, he was hit by a drunk driver. The driver fled, leaving him bleeding on the street, his spinal cord crushed. After being hospitalized, he was taken in by a local shelter for undocumented migrants, receiving medical care through a county program for low-income residents.
Ramirez knows he might not be as lucky were something to happen to him again. While he and his wife these days live on their own, Ramirez, 53, who uses a wheelchair, wonders how the couple will grapple with getting older without the retirement and health benefits enjoyed by U.S. citizens.