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WHO'S IN CHARGE HERE?
Magpie is a former journalist, attempted historian [No, you can't ask how her thesis is going], and full-time corvid of the lesbian persuasion. She keeps herself in birdseed by writing those bad computer manuals that you toss out without bothering to read them. She also blogs too much when she's not on deadline, both here and at Pacific Views.

Magpie roosts in Portland, Oregon, where she annoys her housemates (as well as her cats Medea, Whiskers, and Jane Doe) by attempting to play Irish music on the fiddle and concertina.

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Friday, April 7, 2006

The view from south of the border.

While we in the US are having another of our national debates on immigration, we are — as usual — spending so much time talking to each other that we're paying little or no attention to how the issue looks from outside the country. And, given that the focus of the debate, and especially the more racist and xenophobic portion of that debate, is on immigration from Mexico, it probably wouldn't be a bad idea to see what Mexicans think about the US immigration debate.


Mexico in 1846

Map of the United States of Mexico.
[Henry S. Tanner, 1846]


That problem was noticed by the producers of the NPR program On The Media, too. And, on the lastest program, co-host Bob Garfield took up immigration with Hector Tobar, one of the LA Times' Mexico reporters. Here's part of the interview transcript:

BOB GARFIELD: In the United States, there are essentially two poles of thought about illegal immigration. One is that it's a net boon to the United States because it provides low-priced labor and all of the advantages of the great melting pot. The other side says that it's a vast drain on resources and that the illegal immigrants steal jobs from citizens. I'm curious. In Mexico, is there anything like a consensus on this issue? Is there a school of thought there that says illegal immigration to the States is actually not so great for Mexico?

HECTOR TOBAR: I think the focus here tends to be on the treatment that Mexicans receive in the United States and how each Mexican who goes to the States represents national pride. And every time that there is an incident on the border in which a border crosser is killed or a group of border crossers die, it reinforces the image of Mexicans as victimized when they go to the North. When a legislation is put forward in the United States that would criminalize them even further, that really is the focus of what the coverage is. There are only really a minority of voices who say that, in fact, immigration to the United States is a greater threat to Mexican national identity than it is to American national identity, and that the safety valve that currently exists here, whereby the poorest of the poor and the most desperate can leave and thereby liberate Mexican society of the need to feed them and to educate them, that can't remain open forever. We are going to have to deal with the root social and economic causes of migration eventually. And we better start doing it sooner rather than later.

BOB GARFIELD: As we've discussed, you're in the middle of an election season there, three major parties vying for the presidency and other spoils. To what extent have the candidates tried to exploit the immigration issue in their media campaigns? Is there any symbolism or imagery that's being invoked by the candidates to take best advantage of the public sentiment in support of the paisanos?

HECTOR TOBAR: The image that comes up again and again in the rhetoric is the image of the wall. You know, the idea, even though, of course, the wall might never be built, it's just a proposal - the idea that the United States could build another 700 miles of fencing and try to seal itself off, as the argument goes here, is something that really hits home. It's a very visceral issue for Mexicans. It's been referred to as a kind of Berlin Wall. It's been compared to the Great Wall of China. And so, that metaphor has worked its way into a lot of campaign speeches. You know, what are we going to do as a country in the face of this power next to us, the United States?

You can read the rest of the transcript here, or listen to the interview here.

| | Posted by Magpie at 12:10 AM | Get permalink




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