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UNITED STATES: Mexican Immigration

In a sense, Mexico is the biggest US foreign relations problam, and more particular Mexican immigration, legal and illegal. In many states, primarily California, there is a large Mexican population, much of it illegal. The US Immigration and Naturalization Service, as well as the Border Patrol, are unable to stop the flood. Political developments in Mexico and the United States aggravate the problem. President Fox seeks am open border so that Mexicans could enter the US freely, thus solving one of his major problems. US industrial classes, which President George W. Bush represents, claim there is a labor shortage. US labor unions, which hitherto had opposed immigration, now support it, thinking it will swell their diminishing ranks. There is thus a clamor for an amnesty for illegal immigrants. Pat Buchanan, who talked of putting US troops along the border to stop the invasion which was threatening US labor, is forgotten.

Little is said about what this will do to the American body politic. In the pronouncements of Mexican American leaders there is no talk of that problem. It is all about gaining more clout for Mexican-American pressure groups. the worst offender being the organization known ominously as La Raza. One organization which is doing important work by illuminating this problem is the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, of which Mark Krikorian is executive director. Its free news bulletins are available at its web-site () or by e.mail (). Among its publications are monthly "Backgrounders". Particularly relevant for this posting is one by WAIS Fellow Samuel P. Huntington, " Reconsidering immigration. Is Mexico a Special Case?" He stresses that "Mexican immigration poses issues that are quite unique in American history... No other first-world country has a land border with a third-world country at all--much less one of 2,000 miles". Sam Huntington is known for his theory that "culture matters", ie culture is the glue which holds a country together.

Each month the Census Bureau conducts the Current Population Survey, the primary purpose of which is to collect employment data. These survey are dull, and few people read them or can make sense of them. Steven A. Camarota does important work in making the implication of these surveys comprehensible to us. His most recent publications (1999) are Importing Poverty, and a Backgrounder, " Immigrants to the United States--1998". Clear tables explain the significance of various statistics. NAFTA has introduced a new element into the problem. It is studied by Robert Manning in Five Years After NAFTA. Rhetoric and reality of Mexican immigration in the 21st century.

In brief, we should stop of thinking of Mexican immigration in terms of political clout or cheap labor. There are bigger issues. However much one likes Mexico and Mexicans, as I do, this is a matter which should be of deep concern to all Americans.

Ronald Hilton - 1/14/01