Today, there are over 12 million undocumented workers in the United States. This is more undocumented workers than any other nation on Earth. The extent of people coming from Latin America to the US has reached unprecedented levels. Though undocumented workers have been coming to the US for decades, never have the levels reached this high.
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 which was signed into law by then President Ronald Reagan was supposed to alleviate, once and for all, the entry into the US of undocumented persons from other countries. Right off the bat, this law strictly prohibits employers from hiring, as they put it, “unauthorized aliens.” They specifically require that all new hires anywhere in the US MUST provide proof of citizenship or residency, and proof of ability to work, usually in the form of what we call a Social Security Number or appropriate green card. This number is unique to each person and in the case of the green card, it identifies the person as being a foreigner with the authorization to work.
The provisions within this law demanded fines into the thousands of dollars for every undocumented worker hired by a given firm. Even mere paperwork violations were subject to incredible fines. It strictly prohibited businesses from recruiting foreigners to work in the US. This law specifically demanded that the Comptroller General give an annual report to Congress on the progress of the enactment of this law. But it also negated prosecution of anyone hired before the date this law became effective. In other words, all those who were undocumented before the date in 1986 that this law came into effect, were exempt from prosecution. Effectively, in 1986, the President Reagan cleaned the slate of all undocumented workers and gave everyone a fresh start.
This law was to put at zero the number of undocumented workers inside the US. It was to clear out the messy problem of those with no papers, and allow a fresh look at undocumented workers in the US. We were to start anew, with no undocumented workers to speak of, and with control of our borders. This was the chance for the US to start fresh with no “unauthorized aliens.” But something strange happened after that.
According to Wikipedia, as of January, 2006, there were 6.8 million undocumented Mexicans residing in the US. The rest of Latin America accounted for another three million. Asia accounted for over one million more, while the other nations of the world accounted for the rest. It also goes on to state that since 1992, undocumented workers have entered the US between 400,000 and 700,000 per year. Since 1986, more than 12 million undocumented workers have entered the US, despite the severe sanctions of the Immigration Reform and Control Act. Instead of eliminating undocumented workers entering the US, it appears that Reagan’s bill actually increased the process.
While nearly every American has an opinion about the influx of foreigners without proper documentation, few understand why.
Here is but an excerpt from one of the thousands of extremist websites that proclaim that Mexico is intent on conquering the United States:
“Our southern neighbor is not shy about expressing its intention to conquer the American Southwest, which Mexico regards as territory lost in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hildalgo in 1846. Mexican children are taught in school that the United States stole that land, which they call “Aztlan.” Absurd rantings of political extremists? Consider…
• In 1997, then-President Zedillo proclaimed that “I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders.”
• Mexico's President Fox has been unrelenting in his brazen demands on the United States, starting with open borders even before he was elected. He has called for the border to be “a joining line.” His visits to the U.S. have been filled with endless requirements for Mexican citizens illegally in this country — free healthcare, taxpayer-subsidized in-state tuition for illegals at state colleges and universities, guestworker programs and amnesty for all.”
These sites exist for the sole purpose of enflaming the hatred of Americans who do not know better. They inflame the American ignorant public into thinking that a bunch of peasants with no arms to speak of will suddenly rise up and overtake a section of the US with the rest of the US standing idly by and watching. Let’s consider the following:
300 million Americans live in the United States. The entire Mexican undocumented population is less than seven million. The United States possesses the most potent and lethal armed military in the world. They have thousands more nuclear warheads than any other nation on Earth. They have the Marines, Army, Navy, Air Force and National Guard stationed in every state in the US and by the thousands. The US possesses the highest level of technology to inflict the greatest amount of damage on anyone anywhere. Yet these yo-yos think that a few Mexicans without arms are somehow going to seize control of one third of US territory. This would be one of the greatest satires known to mankind, if it were not for the fact that millions of Americans believe it is true. The blind hatred displayed and copied by the millions of Americans who believe this crap is the fuel that Congress and the president feed on and promote to enact even more draconian measures against the immigrant.
But wait, there’s another side to this tale.
Let’s put all of this in the eyes of the immigrant. It is clear that millions of Americans are duped into believing that the undocumented worker poses a dire threat to the sanctity of the US. What does the immigrant think??
For the undocumented worker living in the US, the story is remarkably different. I have lived four years in Mexico, and I have interviewed countless Mexicans on the reasons for their exodus to the US. Here is what I’ve found. First I will start with the emigrant in the US and later, returning to Mexico.
- Primarily, only Mexicans from Northern Mexico migrate to the US. The rest of Mexico tends to migrate to Mexico City. The people that migrate to Mexico City are called “Paracaidistas” or “parachutists”, because if they land on your property and manage to build a dwelling there before you can get rid of them, they can claim permanent residence even though they don’t own the land beneath them. The swelling slums outside of Mexico City is testimony to this huge, unplanned migration that sorely lacks necessary infrastructure.
- The reason for their migration, either to Mexico City or to the US, is universally for the betterment of one’s own life, and the possibility of helping out the rest of one’s family. This fact alone is hardly ever touched on in the main stream media in the US.
- Mexicans, or better said almost any migrant person, move to the US in order to make more money, and using this new found wealth to help their family back home. Western Union has made a fortune by offering money transfer services of this kind.
- Nearly every Mexican I met either here or in Mexico has told me that their first love is the country they were born and raised in, Mexico. They see their stay in the US as merely transitory until they get enough money to retire at home in their native country.
- Believe it or not, the Mexicans living in Mexico actually resent those who have traveled to the US to live. The reason is actually quite simple. Those who move to the US are usually in their teens or early twenties. Their knowledge of the intricacies of the work place is quite limited. When these people return to Mexico, they use the same vocabulary they acquired in the US. Since these words are from the English language, Mexicans who have never visited the US assume that their brethren are deliberately using words unknown to them. There is a lot of friction in Mexico between those who have lived in the US, and those who have never seen it.
- In the US, Mexicans have a huge chip on their shoulder. Any act by any American is looked upon with the criteria that, “The gringos hate me and exploit me. If this gringo asks me to do something, he will no doubt pay me below regular wages. I am being exploited by the powers that be here.”
Clearly, the Mexican immigrant to the US feels a constant threat from the government, society and life in general. They know that the “migra,” or ICE, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, could deport them at any moment. They realize that their lack of knowledge of the English language is a great impairment for future growth and success. Their ignorance of Americans mores and customs is another great hindrance to their advancement in society. I remember in 1984, having just arrived back here from Mexico, I sent my Chilanga wife, or Mexico City-born wife, to the store to by a can of coke. She came back with a can of diet, decaffeinated coke. I immediately realized that there was much she needed to learn about the differences between Mexican life and American life.