This is a source for analysis, interviews, and commentary on security in Latin America. Herein you will find rumors, the results of off the record interviews, and information you'll not find in international or United States news media.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Immigration is history

As the immigration debate begins to gain traction again in US mainstream media and inside the Beltway, I thought it would be interesting to put a little perspective on the spin:

Below is a translation prepared by some friends at the National Association of Former Border Patrol Officers. The original information was prepared by the Center of Investigation of Economic and Community Political Action, based in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas.

Every day, at least 165 people in the state of Chiapas lose hope and leave for the United States. Fifteen years ago such emigration was unnoticeable, but now it has turned this southernmost Mexican state into one that most exemplifies this trend.

The main reasons that people leave are lack of employment and natural disasters such as the hurricane of 2005 that affected 41 cities in this region.

The history of Mexican migration to the US began in the 1880s when Southern Pacific and Santa Fe railway companies began to “import” cheap labor, the majority of which was indigenous Mexicans. Up to 1910, they recruited 20,000 Mexicans annually.

During the First World War, our countrymen played an important role in the economic development of the US, receiving in return from that government a wave of violence and persecution; war veterans physically attacked workers labeled as “aliens,” burned down their houses and stole their belongings.
No one stopped them.

But neither the hunters nor the fences have halted the emigration toward the so called “first world country.” As an example, of those from Chiapas who migrate to the US, 79% never return. Our countrymen have advanced significantly in their type of work, from agricultural workers to construction, manufacturing and services.

In the city of Frontera Comalapa, a travel agency popularly known as “tijuaneras” [alluding to trips to Tijuana] has changed to focus its business on one purpose: every week, 40 buses leave from this area with at least 40 people from Chiapas headed for Tijuana, Baja California, with the intention to “cross the line.”

Immigration goes back much farther than 2006.

When considering how we will change/improve/etc immigration legislation, I think it's important to note that immigration is a part of US history. Trying to "get rid of them" didn't work in the the 19th century (or before), so why should we think that deportation would work now?

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