Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 30 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
Life Arts    H4'ed 1/13/21

When The ICE Man Cometh: Don't Open the Door

By       (Page 1 of 5 pages)   1 comment, 2 series
Become a Premium Member Would you like to know how many people have read this article? Or how reputable the author is? Simply sign up for a Advocate premium membership and you'll automatically see this data on every article. Plus a lot more, too.
Follow Me on Twitter     Message John Hawkins
Become a Fan
  (7 fans)

desert landscape
desert landscape
(Image by Amelia Hawkins)
  Details   DMCA

When The ICE Man Cometh: Don't Open the Door

by John Kendall Hawkins

"Every history is put out of date, almost daily, by the discovery of some scrap of paper or some clay tablet from under the ashes of Babylon,"

- Charles F. Lummis, Foreword, Sixty Years in Southern California (1916)

So true, Lummis's sentiment above, and nothing was more surprising in this new year than discovering Sixty Years in Southern California by Harris Newmark. Ending just before WWI begins, Newmark's contemporaneous reminiscences detail the early days, not just of Southern California, but the entire state, its early social and political concerns, and the rise of technology -- the steam wagon, the iron horse, the telegraph, the Gold Rush. Reading about early California, I was astonished to find that Russians, Chinese, and Pennsylvania Dutchmen had set up posts here at some point, that the northern (alta)/southern (baja) divide has been a longstanding problem, that its history includes massacres of Chinamen ("Coolies") and of indigenous tribes ("Injuns"), and that its settlers didn't know what to make of the Civil War, so they largely stayed out of it.

I turned over more "clay" factlets and discovered the name itself has some strange and twisted interest. In a cartographic flub for the ages, California was originally conceived of as an island, and that island was named after Spanish author Garcia Rodríguez de Montalvo's 1500 tale, The Adventures of Esplandia'n, that described a realm of Black Islamic-supporting women (no men) ruled over by Queen Califia, a name thought to derive from Caliphate. I pictured a space-time continuum populated by Amazonian warrior women, all looking like Angela Davis -- in her prime -- preaching an ultra-feminist version of Elijah Muhammad's screeds. How did the blaxploitation era miss this one? Sweet Jesus, it sounded like a hemped-up episode from Calfornication.

But the main scrap of paper turned over was that California used to belong to the Mexicans. I guess I always knew that, in the back of my mind, being a California native, but I only just recently learned just how true that was. Apparently, it was very true. Damn. And after the Mexican-American war, we told 'em to load up and Stay Thirstythat way, meaning way South, after which, having kicked them out of Texas and California, we put up a barbed wire border fence and told Mey-hico they'd be paying for it, and only let 'em back in to pick lettuce, grapes, oranges, cantaloupes, and, now, marijuana, and producing Che T-shirts in Fresno sweatshops for agro wages (cotton). Mexicans have pretty much been seasonal undocumented desaparecidos in their own land ever since. Like a Che lookalike said.

Some wags believe the US military and political interventions in South and Central America, from the 1980s on, have driven the catastrophic migration problem we have today at the Mexican border. Robert Parry at Consortium News succinctly places the crisis in the context of the rise of the neocon project that began in 1980s under Reagan:

The poor Central Americans ... faced U.S. neocon ideologues who unleashed death squads and even genocide against peasants, students and workers. The result... was a flood of refugees, especially from El Salvador and Guatemala, northward to the United States. The neocon "success" in the 1980s, crushing progressive social movements and reinforcing the oligarchic controls, left most countries of Central America in the grip of corrupt regimes and crime syndicates, periodically driving more waves of what Reagan called "feet people" through Mexico to the southern U.S. border.

Call it blowback. Or the chickens of our chicanery coming home to roost or roast -- all across L'America.

In The Undocumented Americans, Karla Cornejo Villavicencio follows the vectors of migration across the country, avoiding in this telling the more well-told story of California's Chicanos and the struggles of Cesar Chavez for economic justice in the 70s, and shows how, instead, the pressure of migration from the Central and the South has driven migrants up and Eastward, Ho! California's problems have come to the Right Coast, and places in between, and in this telling we get Villavicencio's firsthand accounts in New York City, Miami, New Haven, Flint, and Cleveland. These memoir-ies are meant to present microcosmic snapshots of the larger everyday confrontations undocumented migrants face in America as a whole.

Villavicencio's account is a fresh, vibrant and sassy account that uses engaging, informative and lively language. The undocumented, freelance writer from Ecuador describes her work as "creative non-fiction," renaming people and specific places (for obvious reasons), and choosing to eschew (gesundheit) the sad but hopeful tales of the more familiar DREAM ers to give the reader a taste of other untold tales. The Undocumented Americans was shortlisted for the National Book Award in 2020.

Villavicencio writes that after having an anonymous account of her plight published in The Daily Beast when she was a senior at Harvard (one of the first undocumented migrants admitted there), which decried the fact "that I was leaving Harvard without any plans, without even the promise of a career," because of her immigration status. Shortly after Trump won the election in 2016, she said that she was contacted by a publisher to produce a book of her experiences:

"I was angry. A memoir? I was twenty-one," she writes in her introduction, and she adds, "I didn't want my first book to be a rueful tale about being a sickly Victorian orphan with tuberculosis who didn't have a Social Security number, which is what the agents all wanted."

Next Page  1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).


Rate It | View Ratings

John Hawkins Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter Page       Linked In Page       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Australia. His poetry, commentary, and reviews have appeared in publications in Oceania, Europe and the USA, such as Cordite, Morning Star, Hanging (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Follow Me on Twitter     Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Chicago 7: Counter Cultural Learnings of America for Make Money Glorious Nation of Post-Truthvaluestan

Sonnet: Man-Machine: The Grudge Match

Outing the Appendix: The Climate Change Wars

Finding the Mother Tree: An Interview with Suzanne Simard

Sonnet: Mother's Day Poem

A Cosmology I Can Live With

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: