Immigration and the border wall are topics that the US and Mexico very publicly disagree on. But what about the people that feel a personal connection to these issues? These Latino and expat bloggers share their interesting views on these sensitive subjects.
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Immigration and the Border Wall
There’s no doubt legal and illegal immigrants are shaping the face of the USA. Through decades and generations, these immigrants and their families have become a part of the fabric of American society.
Nowadays, immigration is the subject of debate and controversy. In fact, there is a very real possibility the US and Mexico will soon be divided by great border wall in an attempt to stop illegal immigrants from entering American territory. There is also renewed hostility and resentment towards immigrants.
These remarkable bloggers all have ties to either immigration or Mexico or both, and they have kindly agreed to express their very personal opinion on this complicated issue.
Take the time to read through all these bloggers have to say, and then share your own point of view in the comments. Let’s get the conversation going!
Bloggers Speak Out on Immigration and the Border Wall
This is Lisa Amaya. She’s a Latina writer and blogger at Life of an El Paso Woman
America continues to thrive as a huge melting pot of several different cultures and religions. This has been the case for hundreds of years now.
Fortunately, immigrants have brought their foods, music, art, inventions and many other things to the U.S. Although some lawmakers wouldn’t like for this to continue, it always will.
Building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico is the worst idea I’ve heard in awhile. The two main reasons I’m against the wall is because it costs billions of dollars and it won’t work. Immigrants will eventually find other ways to get here, whether it’s through tunnels or bridges.
My tax dollars shouldn’t go towards something I’m against. I’d rather see my tax dollars go to worthy causes like schools, the homeless and veterans. Mexico doesn’t want the wall either so I don’t think they should have to pay for it. Although there’s already some thin walls here in El Paso, building a larger one isn’t going to help.
Immigrants typically come to America to make better lives for themselves. Everyone’s family has a story on how or why their roots ended up here. Both sides of my great grandparents immigrated from Mexico to make better lives for themselves. My family worked to build the railroad and as migrant farm workers.
Yes, I know some say immigrants should get papers and do things the “right way”. In theory, that’s correct but it’s not always feasible. Illegal or not, immigrants always pay their dues in some way or another. The following poem was recently shared with me and I’d like to share it with you. Feel free to interpret it any way you’d like.
As a preacher (as a “populist” preacher)
he has just delivered the best sermon of life,
reassuring all the farmers (all the rich
republican farmers) all the “good news”
they ever wanted to hear – how he’s going
to build a wall, how he’s going to bring jobs
back, and how he’s going to make the military
the strongest the world has ever seen, leaving
the podium without even leaving a tip.
Meet CTdeF. She lives with her husband of 15 years and teenage son in rural, central Mexico. She does the best she can with what she has every single day, and blogs at Surviving Mexico
For all intents and purposes, there is already a series of fences and walls between the US and Mexico. Its existence has failed to curb illegal immigration. The underlying reasons for the continued mass migration of Central and South Americans to the US are not addressed in the expansion of the wall. Poverty, corruption, and violence are the main driving forces of the exoduses. US interventions in Central and South American countries over the decades have caused much of the current problem. Until their homes are safe places to raise their families, until there is a redistribution of wealth eliminating the extreme poverty and corruption, until there is no demand for low-paid workers north of the border, illegal immigration will continue, wall or no wall.
This is Kristin Busse. She’s a community manager, travel writer, and expat blogger at What Am I Still Doing in Cancun
I think that there should be a legal path to citizenship for illegals who have already been in the U.S. for a certain amount of time (Maybe 1 year, 5 years?) who have no criminal record. There should also be more legal ways for Mexicans to work in the U.S. temporarily or permanently. A wall is a waste of time and money because people (and drugs) will still enter the U.S by going over or under the wall.
Meet Tina Ernspiker. She’s a photographer, writer, missionary, and expat blogger at Los Gringos Locos
For us it’s simple. We are Jehovah’s Witnesses, a worldwide organization of over 8 million from 240 lands. The unique thing about us is that in ALL these lands if you visit our places of worship you will find we have the same beliefs. We are a united brotherhood.
When we moved to Mexico we only knew one person but because we have this “brotherhood” we had an immediate “family” of friends. Our nationality “no es importante”.
With the above in mind, God loves us based on our hearts, not our nationality. We try to imitate that despite being imperfect. The Bible says one day God will unite those doing his will on Earth under his rulership. I have faith when God makes these changes we will ALL be family.
This is Lydia Carey. She’s a writer, editor, translator, and expat blogger at Mexico City Streets
As an immigrant to Mexico for the last 10 years I get why it’s so important to have secure, legal status, and also why people leave their own countries and go in search of better lives in other places, whatever that means for them. I am disappointed in the number of regular people and government officials in the United States that don’t truly understand the diversity, economic benefits, and added value that immigrants bring into the country. That, and the fact that so many are escaping horrendous conditions in their home countries, makes me ashamed that we don’t do more to help them instead of vilifying them.
It took me 10 years to finally get my permanent status in Mexico. It cost money, it was a pain in the ass, and it was complicated, but I was allowed to stay and live where I want to live. I think everyone should have the chance to do that. Companies have the freedom to ship jobs, products, and money across international borders, shouldn’t people be allowed to cross them as well?
Meet Danay Escanaverino. She’s a latina Entrepreneur, mom, traveler, coffee lover, techie, ADHD poster child, and blogger at danay.net
I’m very torn by the immigration issues that are so much at the forefront of everything we discuss right now. As an immigrant myself who came here for political asylum with my parents in 1979, one of whom had been a political prisoner in Cuba, I am very aware of why we need to be a country that accepts immigrants with open arms. My generation and those before me came here with broken hearts and a will to move forward and build our American Dream. Unfortunately, the current state of immigration is different. When we came, we worked our butts off with ZERO assistance and that was a source of pride for us. Today, it is believed that many immigrants receive benefits that place a drain on state and federal resources, and that is what makes people angry.
When enough people become angry, it creates an opportunity for politicians to create a platform that manipulates and fuels that anger. This is where I believe we are right now.
I don’t think a wall is the answer. It is against everything that the US represents to all of us. I do think that there are issues that need to be dealt with, as it does seem unfair that someone can come to the US and expect benefits that many hard working Americans cannot access because they make just enough to be considered able to pay for them, like healthcare, childcare, and other essentials.
And when I speak of unfairness, I am also including all nations of origin. For example, many Cubans come to the US and also create a drain on the economy by playing the system, getting aid and then going back to live in Cuba as kings or sending the aid money back home.
Likewise, with Mexicans, Guatemalans, Venezuelans and every other Latino who comes to the US, there are those who come expecting to work hard and earn their way with no handouts. And then there are the ones for whom we are all judged who play the system and make the majority of Latino Immigrants look bad. It’s a huge image problem that is being manipulated.
I think it’s up to us as Latinos to break down those misconceptions by voting with our dollars, by becoming leaders and supporting each other in businesses, as communities, and in politics. When we band together and show the positive impact and power we are capable of, the narrative will change.
This is Jill Douglas. She’s an expat mom and blogger at Loving The Land Of The Flour Tortilla
Stance on immigration: The United States of America is a country that was built on immigration. 150 years ago when my ancestors were arriving, the only question they had to answer correctly to enter the United States was, “do you have tuberculosis”? (Clearly, my ancestors weren´t Chinese, as Chinese immigrants faced a much harder time, and at other times were simply not allowed to immigrate to the US.)
But, since we´re all immigrants*, I believe that it´s important that we keep immigration open to all who would like to live in the US. I fully believe in the words printed on the Statue of Liberty, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Throughout US history, there has always been a significant segment of the population that was anti-immigration. Clearly, there still is today. But plenty of us realize that philosophically, we can´t succeed as a nation without immigration. Our country was founded on immigration, and immigration is still what makes our country great.
*OK, “we´re all immigrants” is a bit of an overstatement, as Native Americans clearly never immigrated to the US. Most black Americans can not count immigrants as their ancestors, as most black Americans´ ancestors did not come to the US by choice. And plenty of Mexican-Americans ancestors never immigrated to the US, because the land from Texas to California to Colorado was taken from Mexico in the 1840s, thanks to the Mexican-American war. So when I say “we´re all immigrants” I realize the glaring omission of those whose ancestors never immigrated to this country and those groups are often those most discriminated against.
My opinion on the proposed border wall with Mexico?
If the general population would ever travel to the border, they´d realize that there already is a wall. OK, sometimes it´s a fence. But it´s equally effective and much less expensive. There´s also miles and miles of desert in that region, which effectively creates another barrier. Every year far too many people die in that desert, trying to cross to the US.
Furthermore, the visa process is already pretty rigorous. My 65-year-old mother-in-law had to go through a second round of fingerprinting to get a visitor visa in order to attend my wedding. Apparently, a 65-year-old, five-foot tall Mexican woman posed some kind of potential threat to the security of the US? Right. (Please hear the sarcasm there.)
If the US wants to get a better grip on immigration, they need to go after those who are hiring those without work visas. If there are no jobs available, people will not try getting a job without a visa. The US could also do a much better job of checking that visitors are not overstaying their visas. However, when I overstayed my Mexican visa, I simply had to pay a fine (it was a fairly steep fine) and then I was issued a new visa. This would make much more sense than incarcerating entire families for undefined lengths of time in the for-profit detention centers–not to mention it would be much more humane.
In a nutshell, those who want to build a wall have no idea what they´re talking about.
Meet Susannah Rigg. She’s a travel writer and blogger at Mexico Retold
A friend of mine from the States in her late 60s was walking down the street earlier this week and a Mexican man stopped by her and in carefully pronounced English said,”Thank you for coming to my country.” To me, it spoke of the incredible graciousness of many Mexican people, who can keep their hearts open despite so much that may make them want to close them down. My friend’s only hope is that the same is happening North of the border.
This is Ted Campbell He’s a freelance writer, Spanish-English translator, and university teacher living in Mexico. He’s a Canadian and U.S. citizen who has visited more than 35 countries. Ted blogs at No Hay Bronca Blog.
There are a few different questions here. I am totally in favor of immigration. I would be a hypocrite otherwise, because I’ve lived outside of the U.S. (where I was born) for more than half my life, including the previous seven years in Mexico.
Illegal immigration is another issue, however, and it’s a serious problem that needs a practical solution. I can’t say exactly what the solution is—it’s a complicated policy issue that would require insight from many sources, such as border patrol officers and farmers who hire illegals—but I can say two things: a wall isn’t the solution, and neither is punishing Mexicans who illegally cross the border to work hard and then send money back home to support their families.
They take an enormous risk crossing the border illegally, and most of them aren’t doing it to commit crimes or get free government services, but to work. The difference in job opportunities and pay between Mexico and the U.S. offsets the risks, large as they are. This is especially true in agriculture and construction, which pay relatively well in the U.S. but very little in Mexico.
So, for these people (and yes there are exceptions—criminals and moochers do exist), crossing the border is an economic decision, and they will never stop doing it as long as there is an economic incentive.
A wall is the opposite of incentive—it’s a physical barrier they must get around, an extension of other barriers like a big hot desert, border patrols, and dangerous coyotes and polleros. The wall would probably have an effect on illegal crossings, but at what expense? To Americans and Mexicans?
Of course, not all illegal immigrants enter the U.S. by walking across the desert. (And of course not all illegal immigrants are Latin Americans.) I met one who told me that after paying the drug gang coyotes, he looked through their shoebox full of American passports for a picture that looked like him. He crossed this way more than ten times. Apparently, it’s also common for the drug gangs to bribe or threaten the border guards.
I suspect that the wall was a campaign promise made by someone who may not have imagined he would actually become president. Now that he’s president, he’s under pressure to keep that promise, and the sources of that pressure either don’t understand or don’t care about the impracticalities of building and maintaining a wall that big. The idea that Mexico will pay for the wall is ludicrous, and taking it out of remittances would basically amount to theft. Documented or not, those people work hard for their money, and the shady agencies they use to send the money home already take a huge percentage.
The truth is that there is a culture of disrespect for the law on both sides of the border. Combine this with the vast economic differences between the two countries, and building a wall is like putting a band-aid on a gunshot wound.
Whatever the solution is, it must provide an incentive for these people to either stay in Mexico or apply for legal permission to be a migrant worker in the U.S., which would have to be relatively simple to get and involve paying taxes.
Meet Stanley Winborne. He’s an author, traveler, and expat blogger at A Southern View.
John F. Kennedy’s book, A Nation of Immigrants(1964), politicized the need for revision of modern US immigration laws. His carefully thought-out proposals for modern immigration reform stand in contrast to current US President Donald Trump’s rants and 140-character Tweets on the subject. No one as yet knows the details of how Trump’s plan might work, but there is clearly much apprehension.
The complicated system of US immigration laws is now, in fact, in need of careful review and revision. Here’s a link to a rundown on the subject by the non-partisan American Immigration Council.
Mexico’s immigration system is also in need of review and revision—although it is clearly more liberal than that of the US.
The idea of “The Wall” is another matter. Costs alone should give everyone pause.
Cost estimates of a US/Mexico border fence and wall by U.S. Department of Homeland Security run 21.6 billion US dollars.
And Trump says Mexico will pay for it.
Mexico says, “Ha!”
(What good uses could that money be put to?)
I had begun to believe that the era of the “distant neighbors” concept popularized in Alan Riding’s 1984 book about Mexican-US relations was in our rearview mirror. It seemed the two countries were drawing closer together through immigration, tourism, and trade. But then this particularly ill-informed US President began his hostile and aggressive rhetoric—aimed south. It has negatively polarized both countries.
It is important to remember that the US government system of separate executive, legislative, and judicial branches, provides checks and balances to each other—plus the strong free press. Together they can and will resist Trump’s attacks on reasonable relations between our countries.
He cannot accomplish his nationalist/populist goals without the complicity of the US government’s legislative and judicial branches. There exists too great an investment from both of our countries in recognizing our mutual cultural and economic interests.
I believe it will be very difficult for Trump to push his agenda against the majority of US citizens who do not share his alarmist vision of the sky falling.
This is Alexandra Tabar. Media producer and content creator at Yucalab.
I believe in bridges, not walls! We live in a globalized world, and that is the result of immigration. Globalization provides access to new cultures and a more diverse society. This wall between US and Mexico, I see it as a symbol of disunity, as a barrier to collaboration between two nations, which, despite their differences, have contributed much to each other. Laws needs to be instituted and reinforced because nothing works without laws. But there are ways to implement them, without extreme and meaningless measures, like a concrete wall.
I’m Fabiola Rodríguez. I’m a Mexican writer, teacher, translator, and blogger at My Heart of Mexico.
I believe that if there’s currently a problem with illegal immigration in the US, it’s not because they need to enforce the laws. It’s because the laws aren’t working.
For example, many industries rely on the labor of migrant workers. These workers cross the border illegally because they can’t do it any other way. They are often poor, with little education, and they can’t afford to pay for a visa, nor is it likely they will ever qualify for one.
Therefore, there should be a program to allow migrant workers legally into the US, on a temporary basis, so they could fill the humble job openings apparently no one else is willing to do.
Contrary to what many Americans believe, immigrants aren’t looking for a free ride. They don’t want handouts. They simply want a fair pay for a hard day’s work.
On the other hand, I believe the border wall is a truly useless idea. The US-Mexico border is already one of the most watched-over borders in the world. The perception that it’s wide open is completely wrong.
If people and drugs are getting through the US-Mexico border, it’s because there’s such a huge demand for both of them. Thousands of businesses depend on the labor of illegal workers, and millions of Americans spend billions of dollars on illegal drugs.
A border wall is a simplistic solution to a very complex problem. It’s obvious people and drugs will keep pouring into the US, wall or not. The only way to stop this is to work on the issues that are driving illegal immigrants and drug cartels, but that doesn’t make for a catchy campaign promise.