Thursday, April 27, 2006

A Taboo Thought for a Pro-Immmigration Liberal to Have

From Po:

I believe we are all immigrants, in the United States. I believe the United States benefits dramatically from letting in people who really want to be here.

But I have started to think it is getting out of hand, and perhaps we should moderate the flow of new immigrants to a sustainable pace. Our research into America's schools has made me aware of how our educational system is breaking down where it is serving enormous immigrant student populations. If we're not giving these children a decent education, we are not helping them.

This is a taboo thought for me. I have never felt this way previously. My most long-standing friends in San Francisco are all immigrants - many of them who arrived illegally. I never thought I would be saying this.

It would be easy to miss the shift that has happened over the last few years. The difference is a matter of scale and degree. The steady trickle of new Americans has become a massive repopulation program, primarily from Mexico. During the 1970s, 120,000 Mexicans came to the U.S. every year. During the 1980s, it was about 200,000 a year. During the 1990s, it was 350,000 a year. Today, it's 485,000 - every year. One out of every eight Mexican adults -- those born in Mexico -- are now living in the U.S.

Mexican migration to the U.S. is the largest sustained migration movement in the world. Think about that. Due to war and famine, millions are fleeing back and forth across borders in Africa and Asia, and they have been for years. But Mexico-US migration dwarfs them all.

Over the last week, Ashley has convinced me that the Mexican government has used this repopulation program for its gain. Rather than having its own social support network, it has encouraged its poorer citizens to leave - and send money back. So the Mexican government officially states that it is fully cooperating with the United States to quell this mass-migration, but they are doing the opposite.

I have asked Ashley to post on this topic in depth. It's a very sensitive issue. Never before in this blog have we attacked a foreign government. But we've taken on the New York Times, Diane Sawyer, and our own government - and we haven't made too many enemies yet. So here goes.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to make several points here.

You are not alone, Po. I have been thinking along the same lines and I am considered as a very liberal person. That is true that immigrant children are going to public schools in the USA. I feel that one of our problems, as Americans, is that most of us speak only English.

Suppose Americans, like people in Europe, had a tradition of speaking more than one language? I met exchange students from Europe and they were surprised that Americans only spoke English. I was always excited about learning new languages, perhaps because I learned sign language as a child. They were very happy that I wanted to practice speaking French or Spanish with them.

But I realize something else. I do not know if it is true, but I've heard that many migrant children are taken out of school often to work in the fields or to go back to Mexico instead of staying to complete the school year.

Now I want to ask about NAFTA - the northern american fair trade act.

There is something that puzzles me. Where is the NAFTA in this?

When I was in college, there was ongoing discussion about NAFTA. It was my understanding that if the NAFTA passed, it would equalize the economies of the three countries: Canada, the USA and Mexico. That was what one of my professors said. It is possible that he and I both misinterpreted what the Northern American Fair Trade Act really meant for Mexico.

I seem to remember there were environmental concerns about the implications of NAFTA.

Despite the passage of NAFTA, I realized that we continue to see a big surge of immigrants from Mexico. But are they really immigrants or staying in the USA temporarily, for example, if I was working as a nanny in London, England for six months then I went back to the USA. So I would still be an American, right?

So, is there a difference between immigrants who will stay here forever and people who are here for a certain amount of time?

I apologize for going off tangents here.

So what was the purpose of NAFTA???? Was the actual interpretations of NAFTA different from the intent of NAFTA?

I am having a very hard time understanding why, despite the increase of American companies in Mexico, people continue to emigrate from Mexico to the USA.

Perhaps I should do my homework before I ask these questions. But I do not know where to look!

Now my last point is a family story about one of the recent immigrant ancestors.

I see all of the points in your post. My grandmother emigrated to the US with her family. I have no idea what the percentage of emigrants to the USA in 1912 had a strong command of the English language. My great grandparents not only spoke fluent English, but they also knew French, German, Hebrew, Yiddish and Spanish in addition to the Russian language.

Still thinking about this post.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Andreia said...

Your post reminds me of a conversation I had with a woman that worked for me when I lived in El Paso.

When she arrived at my home one morning she had a small Mexican flag hanging out of her purse. I asked her if it was a holiday of some type. She told me that she always carried the small flag to remind her that her heart would always be in Mexico. I am a Brasilian by birth and I understood this sentiment. It was the next thing that she said that bothered me most.

She went on to tell me all that she disliked about the United States while acknowledging that her children were being educated here and she was working at a rate that she could not get at home. I was shocked at her disdain for the country that gave her so much.

I was naturalized as a US Citizen and sat by people that cried tears of joy at the ceremony. They had worked hard to get in that ceremony. They were grateful and loyal. It was humbling to me as a teenager who had grown numb to all that we as Americans enjoy.

I am afraid that the day of the grateful immigrant is over. The recent protests were disturbing to me. In the evening new interviews here in Houston, I saw kids asserting their right to citizenship and the right to their education. Never once did I see any of the spirit I did that day in the US District Court.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Tim Binh said...

Did you ever stop to consider this massive migration by Mexicans/Central Americas is racist? All these latino immigrants crowd out non-latino immigrants from the rest of the world. It is discrimination based on national origin, and the US government support it.

For more info, go to

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all of this people are right becuase for my experince it been bad.I think they come here for a grate life.I thik this also started when the terriost began crashing planes,but there not terriost.Mexicans,they just come here for a better life.I been raised for helping people and thats what I am doing thinking for other not just only me.I think if they do not want mexicans here they are just being recist.

3:34 PM  

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