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I am a self proclaimed coffee addict and Executive Director of a non profit missions agency working primarily in the Mexican cities of Oaxaca, Guadalajara, and Ensenada. I've been married for over 30 years to Chelle, and we have one grown son, Joseph, a graduate of Auburn University in Alabama.

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Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Cinco de Mayo... and Immigration

[Victory of Cinco de Mayo]

I was talking yesterday with someone about Cinco de Mayo and I asked her if she knew what was the reason for celebrating the day. Almost without thinking, she said, "Mexican Independence Day, of course. "

Well of course, her answer was wrong. Cinco de Mayo is the day the Mexican Army, under the direction of General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated the French troops in the Battle of Puebla. There is a great account of that battle and the history here.

Now in Mexico, unless you are in Puebla, the day is hardly even mentioned. It seems as if the hoopla generated by the day here in the US is more a creation of Budweiser than anything else.

Nonetheless, in honor of the day, I want to take a few minutes and share some of my personal thoughts and observations on the immigration issue as it relates to Mexico. And then I will step aside and let the more educated people and the politicians sort it all out.

I hear frequently that people have no problem with immigration, they just wish Mexicans would "play by the rules." This is a fair statement, if in fact there are rules. Or if those rules are explained.

Many may not be aware of the process to try and receive a VISA to even visit the US. After you get your Mexican passport, you must make an appointment for an interview with a case worker in one of four consulates in Mexico. They are located in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Tijuana, and Mexico City.

When you get there, you must pay your fee for the interview, approx. $125.00, just for the interview. The fee is not a fee for the VISA, it is only for the chance to get a VISA.

During your interview, you may be asked about anything. Remember, our agents are trying to protect our country. And then after a few minutes, the interview is over. Minutes later, you learn your fate. And there are no appeals.

You are seldom, if ever, given a reason. You are just told, after having paid your fees, and followed all the rules you could find, that no, you may not even visit the US. And you are not told why.

And this is part of the problem. Mexicans want to play by the rules. They understand buereaucracy, it is in their blood. Just tell them the rules. The hard and fast objective rules. Rules that our agents must also follow.

When we do that, and eliminate a subjective judgement based on some unknown criteria, then we can say "play by the rules," because it is unfair to enforce rules that only one side knows.

I am asked frequently here in the US why Mexicans cannot just stay in their country, that we cannot afford to have them taking jobs from Americans. On the surface, this is a reasonable concern. But let's look deeper.

What if you were a steel worker in Pittsburgh and the government of China decided that they would guarantee their steel producers above market price for their steel, allowing those producers to undercut the world market, yet still get their profit, courtesy of the government?

Would you support that? Of course not. Yet that is exactly what is happening in Mexico. It costs less for Maria to buy US corn than locally grown corn. That's right, Maria can save money buying corn from the US because our farmers and US agribusiness can sell our corn at below market prices and still make money.

How can this happen you ask, because our government guarantees a basement price for corn that enables US producers to undercut emerging markets like Mexico.

This in turn has idled many small corn farmers because they have been frozen out of the local market by cheap US corn. Under these conditions, is it any wonder Mexicans might want to come and work here?

I could go on like this for hours. Our history of dealings with a country whom President George W. Bush said "that the United States has no more important relationship in the world than the one we have with Mexico, " has been shameful. And this includes the current drug war where many in the US act as if we have no guilt ourselves, even though it is our insatiable desire for these drugs that is at the root of the problem.

But none of that is to say we, as a country, do not have an absolute sovereign right to secure our borders. I just wish we could do it in a way that is mutually beneficial, respectful, and takes into account the needs on both sides of the border for the other.

Comments on "Cinco de Mayo... and Immigration"


Blogger Beth said ... (12:35 PM) : 

Then why not fight for the fair treatment and for less government subsidies for the US corn? I always say get to the root of the problem rather than the after effects.


Blogger Beth said ... (12:37 PM) : 

btw, I think it is Carona and not Budweiser that started the Cinco de Mayo traditions in the US.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (1:05 PM) : 

Budweiser is, or at least was, the beer of choice for many Mexican Americans when these Cinco de Mayo celebrations started to get big a while back.

At least out west because Corona still was not being imported at that time.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (1:08 PM) : 

Beth, there is no way politically to end the subsidies.

Both parties have too much invested there to do an about face.

How do you the Iowa caucus saying that we need to rid America of corn subsidies?

Especially when the winners of that policy will not be US citizens, but outsiders we are killing with our policies.


Blogger Doug said ... (4:00 PM) : 

Not that I would ever really support it, but if (for those who want to keep illegals out) why don't we subsidize Mexican Farmers?

Please don't tell me that the govn't does not subsidize foreign groups or interests because we all know they do.

But on a more to the point of the post comment...

I definately would be interested in finding out what the rules are?

What are the checks and balances that come into play with "the process".

Just in case you could not tell, I am always interested in all sides to an arguement and don't mind stirring the pot once in a while to generate discussion.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (4:40 PM) : 

Doug, I think one of issues with rules as they relate to the Mexican side of this is that our side starts with a belief that if let people in, they will all stay.

Now this is partly true, but maybe it has to do with a fear that if you leave, you'll never get another chance to come and visit.

I think the majority of people from Mexico, would love the option to come and go as they please, as long as they follow some basic legal requirements.

Just as we do there. No one, and I mean literally no one, is denied a tourist visa to Mexico if you have a passport and are not a known criminal.

As for paying subsidies further south, I say why not? Perhaps direct aid of this sort might encourage more people there to stay.

I think it will...


Blogger Tim said ... (12:58 PM) : 

I am unfarmiliar with getting a visa. Although I go to Canada you do not need a visa if you are an American. However, you can be denied entry totally at the descretion of CBSA (Canada Border svcs. agency). You must also convince them that you have funds to support yourself while there ( a woman on welfare was denied entry) and have sufficient ties in the US that they feel you will go home at the end of your visit.
Is the criteria different for a tourist visa as opposed to a residency visa?


Blogger Doug said ... (3:36 AM) : 

Not that I want to beat a topic to death or anything but here in the DC area we've had a county which has had a similar law as Arizona in place for about 3 years.

Here is an article which provides some insight into the issues at hand and what has and has not happened.



Blogger Dave Miller said ... (9:34 AM) : 

Doug, thanks for the link. I am not that concerned with the profiling issue.

I am more worried about otherwise law abiding/legal citizens who get stopped, yet have no proof of citizenship in their car, or with them.

How will someone "prove" their right to be here, and will they have to do it from the inside of a cell?

That to me is unacceptable. Now if we ask everyone, and set a strict standard, like say your passport, or birth certificate, then perhaps we are good.

But you and I both know, a lot of white folks are gonna be up in arms about that because this is "their" country.

I do wonder how that would pass muster on the unreasonable search and seizure stuff.


Blogger Pasadena Closet Conservative said ... (5:30 PM) : 

And so instead of paying $125 plus the cost of gas to get to the consulate for the interview, many Mexicans (and others) instead choose to pay thousands of dollars to "coyotes" who get them across the U.S. border illegally, where they live under the radar, make less than minimum wage, live 10 to a room, steal the identities of legal U.S. citizens, subject their children to careers as nothing more than car washers, janitors and mow-and-blow gardeners, and never, ever get ahead in this life?

Call me crazy, but they'd be better off paying the lousy $125.


Blogger Dave Miller said ... (6:50 PM) : 

but there is the rub pcc. you pay the fee and who knows if you get a yes. because the us of a will not communicate a set standard for mexican immigration.

let's give them the rules, hard and fast, take the subjectiveness and randomness out of that process and see what happens.

to date, we haven't done that...


Blogger lisa said ... (4:33 AM) : 

This comment has been removed by the author.


Blogger Tim said ... (7:23 AM) : 

"in Mexico if you are found with official documents u will be jailed or killed"


You Teabaggers never fail to amuse me with your stupidity...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:30 PM) : 


Get an education. I have personally worn a patriotic t-shirt on 4th of July in Mexico, threw a BBQ and had my Mexican friends celebrate with me.

In addition to that, non-Mexicans can own land in Mexico with some reasonable restrictions (though like many countries, there have been problems and exceptions).

In Mexico, you can be jailed for not carrying identification, but that is not the issue raised here. Mexico is a sovereign nation that can make its own laws.

Here is the issue: as an American citizen, I do not have to carry proof of citizenship with me. If I am stopped in Arizona for suspicion of anything illegal and proven innocent, but I cannot prove my citizenship, then what happens? Answer that question, please. I have been mistaken for many nationalities including Mexican. Would I be jailed, deported, what?



Blogger Dave Miller said ... (2:11 PM) : 

Lisa, this must be your visit here, otherwise you would know better than to make wildly inaccurate statements based on your ideas, rather than facts.

I spend a significant part of life in Mexico traveling and working between the border areas, Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Oaxaca.

That experience gives me a chance to experience some interesting Mexican demographics. I have also interacted with police, and some government officials in most of those areas.

Here is what I know.

You can, and I have celebrate the 4th of July in Mexico, and even shoot off fireworks in that celebration, with no problem. And I have done this with countless groups of American students.

You can, as an American, or any other nationality, own land in Mexico. You can emigrate there, establish residency, and then even have access to the health care system, all at incredibly low prices.

Since you believe you will be killed for being without official documents, I'd like you to give me a couple of examples where this has actually happened.

It might surprise you to know that every year there are literally thousands upon thousands of Americans going to Mexico illegally [without proper documentation] and few, if any experience any problems because of this.

I can understand that illegal immigration upsets you, as it does me, but please get your facts straight and speak from rationality, not your anger.


Blogger Tim said ... (10:14 AM) : 

Dave, Teabaggers are motivated by irrational hatred, and nothing more.

Here is what I have found from interacting with them on the internet. I say right now that these are generalizations, but they are based on real individuals that I have corresponded with.
For the most part they are:

Over 40 years old, white males, who have suffered a financial/employment setback, a personal setback such as a divorce or loss of a family member (parent or sibling) and are bitter and angry for whatever reason.
They are angry that the "Socialist Government" seems to help everybody but them.
They irrationally support the "free market" even though this has allowed Economic Globalisation to ship their high paying jobs overseas by the million, and they are never coming back.
Finally, very few of them have achieved a college degree, and therefore lack the critical thinking skills to recognize that they are, in fact, being manipulated by "the man".

Just my take on them as a rule. Obviously, there are many female Teabaggers, but their ranks are overwhelmingly male.


Blogger dmarks said ... (7:05 AM) : 

Tim: Supporting free trade is quite rational. You have it backwards on the tea party movement and free trade. This is one of the areas I disagree with them strongly on.

From "CBS News":

"Blasting bank bailouts and NAFTA, the tea partyers espouse a brand of populism...."

Here also is a page that claims to be the Tea Part HQ.:

"If we the tea party dont join together to repeal nafta it;s not going away...."


Blogger Tim said ... (7:20 PM) : 

Ok DM, but what about everything else I brough up?


Blogger dmarks said ... (9:14 AM) : 

Well, we can look at other parts, such as "Finally, very few of them have achieved a college degree, and therefore lack the critical thinking:

Well... according to the famous CBS poll, thoee associated with the movement are "more well-educated than the general public"

Specifically, "Fourteen percent of Tea Party supporters have a post-graduate education, compared with 10 percent for the general public. Twenty-three percent of Tea Party supporters have a college degree, compared with 15 percent for the general public"

As for the "predominantly men", the leaders I personally know happen to be women. However, I am not sexist, so I don't get hung up on gender percentages.


Blogger dmarks said ... (9:22 AM) : 

By the way, checking the Quinnipiac University poll:

45 percent are men
55 percent are women

I'm sorry, the summary of "overwhelmingly male" is so wide of the mark.

The CBS poll happens to show 59% men vs 41% women, which is very roughly half an half. While it is true that "mostly male" would be an accurate description, I think it is iffy to apply "overwhelmingly" to this difference.

Do you honestly ever use "overwhelming" to describe such an even balance? I tend to use it for truly substantial differences such as 90% to 10% myself.

So here we have it. Instead of being "overwhelmingly male", we have two polls that both show the balance as being roughly half and half, with each poll tipping the "mostly" balance the other way.


Blogger Tim said ... (11:22 AM) : 

I didn't want you to cite poll data, I already said my opinions of them are formed on personal interactions. So why don't you tell us why you are so angry at Obama, the "socialist" government, and what your demographic is? What level of education, occupation, etc. define who Dmarks is? Why so worried about revealing a little bit about yourself?
It is also telling that your poll states that Teabaggers are only 13% of the voting population. It seems that their popularity is on the wane as of late, especially the "Drill baby drill" mantra.


Blogger dmarks said ... (7:03 AM) : 

I disagree with many/most of Obama's policies. I certainly do not disagree with his skin color.

So, what are you trying to prove anecdotally? What is the point?

Using this kind of logic, one can quickly find a black "teabagger" and say. "Well, they are all black, end of story".


Blogger Tim said ... (5:33 AM) : 

I don't think I acyually said they are against O because he is black, but if the shoe fits...


Blogger dmarks said ... (7:57 AM) : 

Another reason my answer to your "anecdote research" would not help is that I am not a tea partier, or tea bagger. I am well disposed toward them on several issues, and opposed to them on some. I have attended two events, but more as an observer. I consider the tea party movement to be "them', not "us".

As for the shoe fitting, it doesn't. At all. But there are many many repating the claim that to have any dissent for any reason against this President is racist. The laundry list of examples of racism used in this case is chock full of such laughable examples as "comparing Obama to the Joker", and calling him words Bush was called such as "arrogant".


Blogger Tim said ... (2:19 PM) : 

Or like that gun store employee who told the Traverse City Record Eagle that people are cleaning out his inventory because of the N----- in the White House?


Blogger dmarks said ... (8:53 PM) : 

What about him? I blogged in detail about that, actually.

Actual instances of racism are of course racist. Non-racial criticism is not.


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