I just learned that a friend of mine who lives in Mexico was shot, multiple times, in Juarez.
Juarez. That town in Mexico that has had thousands (?) of murders in recent years (under two years, I think) as the gangbangers and drug lords try and figure out who is in charge.
It certainly isn’t the Mexican government. I can’t imagine why, or how, people can live in Juarez… it is a war zone and has been for too long. The Mexican government should have stepped in a long time ago and cleaned it up. They needed to take a chapter out of Guilani’s book and lay down the law.
Instead they have hell on earth. Literally. Well okay, maybe hell is worse, or will be worse for THEM, but for the innocent citizens of Juarez can you image a worse environment?
You can’t raise your kids there, you can’t simply go shopping, or go to a dance or anything.
My friend went to a dance… just hanging out, and a bunch of drug people (what to call these misguided killers?) went in and just opened fire on everyone. My friend has had 4 or 5 surgeries in the last month and is just getting out of critical condition.
I don’t know why he is in Juarez (he has grown up there), or why he went to a public place in Juarez. He probably won’t be doing that again. But I don’t want to think about his role in this tragedy. This made me think about something I’ve thought about off and on for a while.
You know there is a “border problem” between the US and Mexico… everyone is all excited about it and getting it resolved. From spending tons of money on Federal measures (la migra) to militia getting their own guns and doing their own patrols (minutemen) to creating a massive fence system to Arizona creating a state law authorizing police to ask for papers to prove residence… there are lots of bandaids in place to try and fix the root issue.
The real issue, I think, is illegal immigration, and all of the problems this causes. It’s not the lack of a border (there’s a border between the US and Canada, and we don’t hear of the same issues with that, do we?).
Before I go on I have to say something about dumb Mexicans, because this usually comes up when talking about illegal immigration.
I AM MEXICAN. To be more accurate, I’m Mexican American. My dad was born in northern Mexico (the state of Coahuila) but was brought to the US LEGALLY and was raised in Texas.
For many years I had heard of the dumb Mexicans. The lazy Mexicans. Maybe some were hard working, but they sure like to drink and party! Not trustworthy – quick to steal your hubcaps. Don’t give them a can of spray paint because it won’t last long… these are just a bunch of ignorant people, right?
I struggled with my own ethnicity for a while. At 19 I went to live in Mexico for 2 years as a missionary with my church and I learned about a totally different kind of Mexican. Not the stereotypical Mexican, but … how to I put this, just a regular human being, like you and me.
There are cultural differences, and many of the differences come from the vast disparity between the freedoms enjoyed in the US… you know, the ones where you tell your kids they can be anything they want, AND THEY BELIEVE YOU? In Mexico I didn’t see that kind of talk, or belief. The culture differences, much of it influenced by various factors (a government corrupt at so many levels you couldn’t even compare it to corruption in the US, the Catholic church and it’s history in Mexico, the latino lifestyle, the history of being conquered by Spain, etc.).
But these are just regular people, like you and me.
I remember an eye opening experience I had in Mexico with a missionary companion who was from Mexico. This was one of the most educated Mexicans I knew (pre-college). A very sharp, eloquent kid – never missed a beat. Extremely witty. I always considered super-smart. His mastery of Spanish was really impressive, I loved to hear him talk in Spanish.
One day this super-smart kid tried to speak English to me. He had taken a few years of English in school and he could construct sentences just fine. BUT his accent… oh his accent. IMMEDIATELY my perspective changed from “brilliant kid” to “stereotypical (dumb?) Mexican.” And this was someone I knew, and knew how brilliant he was!
It was a strong example to me that even though we don’t understand someone, or they have a thick accent (Hungarian, Spanish, deaf-speakers, etc.), they are NOT DUMB.
Back to the root problem with the US/Mexico border. I have two proposals I’ve thought about.
One solution comes from a Utah state senator, Carl Wimmer. I was talking to him a few years ago when he was campaigning and he gave me the most logical answer to resolving the illegal immigration issue. He suggested that the US tally the amount of dollars illegal immigration costs the US (for example, in emergency room visits, or welfare paid out, etc.) and charge that back to Mexico.
Mexico wouldn’t pay it, right? Probably not… but, if we give aid to Mexico on an annual basis, why doesn’t the US gov’t just take that amount OUT of the annual aid? Assume we give the Mexican gov’t $10B in federal aid. Instead of that amount we take out $3B and let them know they are only getting 70% because we took out hard costs that exist because they are not sealing their borders well enough.
There are two sides to a border, right? Right now an open border does not hurt them like it “hurts” the US, but if it hurt them to the tune of $3B/year, they might think differently.
The other solution, which I recently thought of, is quite simple. Why can’t Mexico be a place that people want to live? If Mexico would simply clean up it’s act do you think people would be flooding the border to come to the US?
Mexico is a beautiful country, rich with natural resources and very smart people. They are hard working and love life. They have been robbed by their government and people in power, and forced to live in, under or around poverty (I saw it all while there for almost 2 years). In many ways they have become a nation of hopeless people. The dreams are for other countries, like the US. That is why it’s so appealing to cross the border and live life as a criminal… because this is where dreams can have a chance of coming true. Not in Mexico.
Mexico needs to change that. I don’t know how – is it the responsibility of the Mexican government? Is it the responsibility of the entrepreneurs and business owners? Is it the responsibility of the every day citizen?
I think it’s all of the above. This should be the new Mexican Revolution. Just as the US had to have a revolution, even a civil war, to get the awesome foundation, perspective, freedom documents, etc. that we have here, Mexico and its people must fight for freedom, hope, chance and choice.
Until they do that, from the top to the bottom, it will be a country that could have been. Instead of ruling by the people it will be ruled by a government mired in corruption and afraid of the drug lords.
Just like Juarez.
I hope and pray that Mexicans can take Mexico back.
Wow! That’s very powerful and insightful stuff! Just like the Native Americans say, you never know what someone else’s life is like until you’ve walked a mile in his moccasins. Thanks for opening our eyes and taking us walking in your boots.
Excellent blog post Jason! It’s very easy for people to be an armchair quarterback and say some of the things they say about Mexicans and illegal immigration (both the ignorant and non-ignorant comments), but people often forget a few things concerning Mexican’s as well as the history of the USA when speaking about illegal immigrants trying to enter the U.S.:
1. Mexicans are like anyone else who just want the best life they can possibly have for themselves and their families.
2. The USA was founded by a group of people who came over from Europe and TOOK OVER lands that once belonged to various Native American Tribes which became the original 13 colonies.
3. From the point of view of some Mexicans (at least some that I met while living in NY and in Europe) many of the states that Mexicans are illegally going into are lands that once belonged to Mexico and were taken away forcibly by the USA during various points in history.
With all of that said, make no mistake, I love the USA as this is my country, but sometimes we forget our own history and make very ignorant statements that brands us as “Dumb Americans” to people in other parts of the world in the same way as some Mexicans are labeled as “Dumb Mexicans” in the USA.