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But you can never leave…

30 July 2014

In my 2008 “Gods, Gachupines and Gringos” I wrote:

One of the assumptions behind the NAFTA agreement was that Mexican wage earners would earn an inome more in line with those paid in the United states and would have no reason to emigrate.  Along the border, the higher salaries paid in the United States had created a regular pool of workers who “commuted” to the United States for periods as short as a day to regular career positions.  Though a high percentage of the Mexican workers on the U.S. side were not registered aliens, the practice was widely tolerated.

[... T]he assumption that industries depending on Mexican workers wold naturally move to Mexico proved untrue. [...] spousal abandonment was becoming an issue at home, and Mexican men who missed thier families, or who saw more opportunity for their families in their new home, ased for their relations to join them in the United States

While I noted that after the 11 September 2001 crisis, and a politicized “immigration crisis” in the 2000s, that cross border migration became extremely difficult making it more sensible for migrants to remain in the United States, Alex Nowrasteh of the libertarian  Cato Institute dates the change from “commuter migration” to permanent relocation from passage of the 1986 Immigration Reform and Control Act.  He makes a decent argument for this in USA Today:

illegal-immigrantsBefore 1986, when circular migration was in effect, 60% of unauthorized immigrants on their first trip here would eventually settle back in their home countries rather than in the United States, and 80% of undocumented immigrants who came back on a second trip eventually returned home.

Since 1986, the rate of return for first-time border crossers has fallen to almost zero. The return rate of second-time crossers has fallen to a mere 30%. What happened? In the mid-1980s, the government began spending massive resources to stop unauthorized immigrants from coming in the first place. By trying to keep them out, increases in border security locked them in.1986

In the United States “libertarianism” generally eshews its anarchist roots (much more evident in European and Latin American libertarianism), coming across basically as “white guys who don’t want to pay taxes and want to smoke marijuana”, or mistake Ayn Rand’s pulp romances for philosophy.  Still, once in a while, the anarchist tendency to bend the laws to fit the situation does come through, and sometimes even U.S. libertarians makes sense.  Perhaps, if I ever have a chance to write a second edition, I certainly would need to mention Nowrasteh’s persuasive argument for the 1986 date for the start of a major change in migration patterns. 


29 July 2014

I still hear  people call Mexico a “third world country” (which means it is neither in the Warsaw Pact or Nato alliance… something meaningless since the fall of the Berlin Wall) under the mistaken impression it means an “undeveloped” country.  A few more sophisticated, uninformed types call it “developing”… which I suppose means I country that hasn’t bought into rampant consumerism completely, but is getting there.

While Mexico did walk a fine line between the pro-Soviet and pro-U.S. nations (rather gingerly, being far from God, and close to the United States), it’s hardly “developing” having had an urban consumer culture for a couple of millenia now, and has been manufacturing goods for export since the 18th century.  OK, so there wasn’t a lot of heavy industry until the late 19th century, but isn’t it about time we retired those retro and misleading terms when talking about Mexico?


¡Cualli ilhuichihualli, Tenochtitlan!

29 July 2014

… or, “Happy Birthday, Mexico City” for us Nahuatl-challenged folks.

If you live in the U.S. or have money (or socks) to share

28 July 2014

Shamelessly lifted from “What you can do to help the the US’ 52,000 child migrants” Dara Lind,

Most of these organizations are based in South Texas — the place where most children and families are entering the country, and where many of them are being held temporarily in short-term facilities. But as children and families get moved through the system, they’re being dispersed throughout the country: in long-term government-provided housing for unaccompanied children, in detention centers for families, and in homes with relatives. So no matter where you live, if you’re interested in lending a hand, you can probably find an opportunity.

This list should not be construed as an endorsement of any of these organizations or their missions; it is purely intended as a resource. This list will be updated with better information and options as the situation develops.

If you have questions, or want to help, please email the organizations listed.
Donating your money

Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. Some Catholic churches in South Texas have been operating as temporary shelters for migrant children and families, and the regional Catholic Charities office is providing on-the-ground support. You can donate online here.

Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief. Southern Baptist groups have also been providing emergency support to children and families, including coordinating supply drives for children in detention. You can donate online to their general disaster relief fund here. To donate specifically to their efforts in South Texas, write a check with the designation “Border Crisis” and mail it to the address listed here.

Kids In Need of Defense. KIND is a service and advocacy organization dedicated to protecting unaccompanied immigrant children. They’re working to get children representation and support in legal proceedings. You can donate here.

RAICES. RAICES is a Texas-based organization providing legal support to immigrants. They have been providing legal services to unaccompanied immigrant children for a long time, and are handling much of the front-line work now. You can donate here.

International Education Services of Texas. IES is a long-established organization that operates emergency shelters and long-term care facilities for immigrant children, and helps place children with foster families. Learn more about IES here.

Donating supplies

The best way to help charitable organizations — especially in a crisis — is to send cash. That allows them to put the resources to where they are most needed, and it saves on the transportation and logistical challenges that come with in-kind donations. So for most people, cash is the best way to help. (In addition to the organizations listed above, you can also send cash to the organizations in this section.)

But if you happen to live close to the border, then in-kind donations can be helpful too. Here’s where to send them.

Annunciation House in El Paso. Annunciation House has had to accommodate three different waves of immigrant families over the past six weeks — sometimes with only a few days’ notice. If you’re in the El Paso area, they’re accepting donations of supplies. They’re also accepting monetary donations, so you can help them even if you’re not in El Paso. Please see here for how to set up a donation.

Any others? Add to the comments, and I’ll try adding them to the list.

Ronald Reagan’s revenge… refugees

26 July 2014

John Peeler in the L.A. Progressive:

What with all the Republican bloviation about the crisis on our Mexican border, about the hordes of brown children coming across and threatening our National Security, it is easy to lose sight of our own responsibility for this situation.

The three countries from which the vast majority of these kids come are just the three (Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador) on which Ronald Reagan spent billions in military aid during the 1980s, allegedly to block the Sandinistas of Nicaragua from imposing “Cuban-style communism” on Central America. What we got for our money was three countries with sham democracies dominated by the military establishments that we fostered.

Please note that refugees are not streaming in from either (mostly) Capitalist Costa Rica, nor from (mostly) Socialist Nicaragua, but from the countries where the U.S. has imposed its political and military “solutions” on problems of its own making.

World’s favorite protest song

16 July 2014

The 18th century Veracruz ditty about forced conscription into an anti-piracy naval militia is still a favorite in Mexico… Cuba… Argentina… Colombia… Africa… Australia… Europe…


Stop, you’re killing us…

16 July 2014

Via Salon and Regeneración:

In the years after NAFTA, the pattern of food exchanges between Mexico and the United States changed significantly, as did the diet of Mexicans. American exports of sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, snack food, dairy products, and breakfast cereals to Mexico increased dramatically. In 1994, the United States exported about 50,000 metric tons of sugar and other sweeteners to Mexico; by 2007, this had climbed to almost 950,000 metric tons, a nineteen-fold increase. U.S. exports of corn and soybeans, the foundation of industrial processed food for both American and Mexican producers, also increased significantly. In this same period, exports of livestock and other meat products more than tripled. In the decade after NAFTA passed, sales of processed food in Mexico increased by 5 to 10 percent annually.

mcduglasU.S. foreign direct investment in Mexico also spiked after NAFTA. In just five years, from 1994 to 1998, U.S. direct investment in the Mexican food and beverage industries almost quadrupled, from $2.3 billion to $8.8 billion. Between 2002 and 2007, U.S. foreign direct investment in Mexican beverage companies increased by 35 percent to almost $6 billion. In 2012, grains, oils, and meat— products associated with obesity, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases— accounted for 75 percent of the U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico.


How corporate America exports disease to the rest of the world




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