Wednesday, July 06, 2011
Take This Job And Shove It
Funny: the less Mexican illegal immigrants there actually are (numbers are falling precipitously), the more draconian the measures being passed in certain xenophobic states. Some people will argue that the main reason Mexicans have virtually stopped crossing the border illegally is because they don't want to deal with those terrible anti-immigration laws. I'm sure they have given people pause. But it is important to point out that they are not the sole reason why Mexicans are choosing to stay home. According to this article in the New York Times, there are many more substantial reasons why Mexicans are not crossing over, namely, that life has gotten better in Mexico.
This is hard to believe when all we hear is about thousands of deaths due to the "war on drugs" and the anti-immigrant hysteria here in the States. It's hard to believe even for Mexicans, who, used to ages of corruption and inefficiency, are constitutionally incapable of believing that things are going well in their own country, or that their government is doing something right. But birthrates have fallen from seven children per woman in the 1970's to two today (thanks to an enduring family planning campaign by the government. I still remember the slogan "la familia pequeña vive mejor" -- "a small family lives better"), and despite the best destructive efforts by the Catholic Church.
As families' economic pressures are eased, more children are studying, more are going to college. Many former migrants are coming back. Certainly, life must also have gotten better because they were, if I am not mistaken, the second source of income for Mexico after oil. They sent a lot of money back to their hometowns, and they are coming back with money to spend. And many Mexicans are applying for legal work visas, because they are doing the math. Why pay $3000 to risk death at the hands of the merciless desert heat, murderous gangs or rapacious smugglers? Get in line and ask for a Visa. The United States cannot live without this labor force.
Even with the solidity of the numbers quoted in the article, I'm a little skeptical. The article focuses on the state of Jalisco, which is a pretty prosperous state. It says that a lot of the work there comes from the boom of fancy tequila marketing (as I've always maintained, tequila is not only the Nectar of the Gods, but good for all that ails you, including apparently curbing illegal immigration). Yet I wonder if really poor states like Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero are seeing the benefits of this economic upswing.
Still, I'm so happy that circumstances prove that Mexico is not only not a failed state, nor should it be annexed by the US, nor is a dark hole of underdevelopment, but a great, dynamic country which has always teetered between extraordinary progress and stagnation.
I hope that economic, social and political progress will continue. I love the college kid in the article who says that he wants to come to the US but as a tourist. Now that is change.