Tuesday, March 28, 2006

A Celebration of America - While Waving Mexican Flags?

A small piece from Jay Root, Knight Ridder Newspapers, that appeared in Sunday's Denver Post caught my eye in the context of the media frenzy over Latino demonstrators marching against efforts to control illegal immigration to the United States. Suffice it to say, the mobilization of the Latino community, legal and illegal--estimated to be 50,000 in Denver and 500,000 in Los Angeles--by the Catholic Church, Spanish language media and liberalistic entities with very big hearts, provided a colorful and interesting spectacle, conspicuously festooned with hundreds (thousands?) of flags of the nation-state of Mexico.

Yes, this is the United States. Yes, this is where the immingrants come. This is where the great promise of a better life thrives and pulls like a magnet for all those whose lives may be enriched by our, the United States', promise.

But, back to point.

The article that caught my eye in Sunday's Post begins with a description of the plight of an 89 year old Mexican, Pedro Avila Salamanca, in Joaquin Amaro, Mexico, who relies upon the meager financial support from his daughters who have gone north to the United States.

"Avila is a part of the immigration debate that neither Mexican political leaders nor cheap-labor advocates in the United States like to talk about: Heavy migration has all but emptied much of the Mexican countryside."

The story goes on to say that: "Money sent back to Mexico from those working in the United States reached a record high last year, $20Billion, making remittances from migrants Mexico's second-largest source of income, surpassed only by oil exports."

The flood of illegal immigration of Mexicans to the United States (estimated to be 10,000 people a day) has curiously benefited Mexico in that the exodus has taken a significant weight off the Mexican government. Indeed, if a nation--where there are basically two classes, the very rich and the very poor--can avoid political and social upheaval because the likely source of that upheaval has crossed the border into the bend-over-backward generosity of the United States, then that nation is off the hook.

Rodolfo Garcia Zamora, an economist and immigration expert at the autonomous University of Zacatecas, is quoted in the article: "For the governing class, immigrants become the solution. They leave. They reduce the political and social pressure. They even reduce the costs of public works projects. ...They can only hope that everybody leaves and sends home collective remittances."

The story goes on to tell us that in five Mexican states, 100 percent or more of the salaries generated locally come from remittances from relatives in the United States. "In 31 percent of Mexico's municipalities, population is shrinking steadily because of migration to the United Sates..."

"In Zacatecas, known for silver mines and dry, mountainous terrarin, the data are even more stark: 45 of the 58 municipalities are shrinking. The state's population of 1.5 million would double if all its emigrants and their offsrping returned home from the United States."

Having begun this post with the spectacle of hundreds of thousands of proud Latino folk marching in the streets waving Mexican flags in opposition to immigration legislation, a question occurs: "If your essential loyalties lie with Mexico, with your brethren in Mexico, then--please tell me--why you're not in Mexico working hard to remake, reform that country? Why do you spew the guaranteed promise of the United States (huddled masses) while waving the Mexican flag as you march in the streets of the United States of America? I'm sorry. I don't understand this dichotomy.

I lived in Los Angeles for three years in the '70s. Even then, if you did not speak Spanish, it was foolish to trek into downtown LA. The city, by then, had already become a Mexican enclave. Now, thirty years later, one does indeed wonder if even Topeka, for God's sake, had better concentrate more on Spanish language classes rather than the dissemination of Intelligent Design.

Beware Dubya's "...we're all Americans..." spiel. He actually believes what he says. North America. South America. Yes, we are all Americans. Dubya's perception of what that particular statement means, is, I admit, a little scary. And, it's scary because I wonder if the concept "citizen" of the United States of America means anything at all, anymore? Does it?

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