Memo From Mexico | Border States Feel Strain…In Mexico!
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In January, a delegation came to Arizona from the Mexican state of Sonora, Arizona's neighbor to the south, to complain about Arizona's recently-enacted law that cracks down on illegal immigration.

There's nothing new about Mexican officials meddling in U.S. immigration policy. They've become quite accustomed to it. Needless to say, foreign officials shouldn't deter Arizona's lawmakers from doing what needs to be done.

But there's another angle to this story, which illustrates the special predicament of Mexican Border States, and the role those states might play in the future.

Mexico has six states that border the U.S. From east to west, they are: Tamaulipas , Nuevo Leon , Coahuila , Chihuahua, Sonora , and Baja California.

These six states are among Mexico's more prosperous states. They are not major sources of emigrants to the U.S.

According to a 2007 Mexican government report prepared for the Mexican House of Representatives, the 5 principal "emigrant-expelling states" are in Central Mexico. They are: Michoacan (President Calderon's home state, said to have more of its people dwelling in the U.S. than in the home state), Jalisco, Guanajuato (Vicente Fox's home state) , the state of Mexico and Veracruz.

Below is a table I have prepared, comparing each state in terms of GDP per capita, the percentage of Mexico's total poor living in each state, and its HDI—Human Development Index— a scale used by the United Nations which compares countries and states based upon life expectancy, education levels and standard of living.

Mexico's HDI is 0.829, and its HDI ranking is #52 worldwide, not too shabby. The U.S. has an HDI of 0.951 and is ranked #12. Mexico's neighbor Guatemala has an HDI of 0.689, and is ranked at #118. Mexicans, however, don't compare their country with Guatemala.



HDI Rating


GDP per Capita (in dollars)

Percentage of Mexico's Poor

Nuevo Leon



$16, 585

2.3 %




$12, 602


Baja California




















As you can see, Mexico's Border States have a higher standard of living than most other Mexican states. In contrast, here is the same information for the principal emigrant-expelling states:  



HDI Rating


GDP per Capita (in dollars)

Percentage of Mexico's Poor





5.6 %

Mexico State




4.0 %





5.1 %





8.5 %





4.3 %

Just looking at these two tables, you can see there is a significant difference between Mexico's Border States and its principal "emigrant-expelling" states, although the latter are not Mexico's poorest states either.

If you want to skip all the statistics, just click here to see this map of Mexico which makes it quite clear.

Northern Mexicans perceive Mexicans from farther south as being different. Consider this recent incident from the border state of Chihuahua.

In that state, Mexican Indians from the south of the country come to work in the fields. (Doing work Chihuahuans won't do?) Recently, it was suggested that hostels be constructed for these laborers. But a certain Adrian Jose Serrano, government functionary of the Agricultural workers program, told campesino activists that it wasn't worth it because, "they [the laborers from southern Mexico] are dirty, they don't bathe or clean their rooms", and that "these workers have another culture, they are people who come from the south of the country".[Los jornaleros agrícolas "son sucios y no se bañan", dice burócrata de Sedeso, By Matilde Pérez U, La Jornada, October 26, 2007]

What if an American official said "These Mexicans have another culture, they come from Mexico"? Can you imagine the outcry?

Another Chihuahua official, of the State Human Rights Commission, Roberto Dominguez, said that the workers are "a social problem for the state" and defended the failure of Chihuahua ranchers to pay them social security.

There are also – ahem – racial differences between northern Mexicans and their fellow citizens from farther south. Generally speaking, northerners are whiter. (When the Spaniards arrived, what is now northern Mexico was sparsely populated).

Recent work done by the Mexican Genome Project has estimated that the population of the state of Sonora is 55% European. Long-time  VDARE.COM readers may recall an article I wrote several years ago, on how Mexican immigration officials (in Sonora) tried to expel some Mexican Indians (from the eastern state of Chiapas), believing them to be Central Americans.

When a northern Mexican travels in southern Mexico as a tourist, he may be called a "Spaniard" or even a "Gringo" – that's a rich irony!

So this is what's happening: Mexicans from all over the country, especially from the principal "emigrant-expelling" states, go to northern Mexico and cross the border into the U.S.

However, when they get deported, or if they fail to cross, they often stay in the border town on the Mexican side.

The populations of Mexican border cities such as Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez and Nuevo Laredo have swollen with people from other parts of Mexico (and other countries) who often decide to stay rather than go back home. And, these cities also attract some law-breaking Americans on the lam from U.S. territory.

Because of the great influx of humanity in Tijuana, the city started staging mass weddings to marry people from other regions of Mexico who wound up staying there, some of whom didn't even have birth certificates. This last Valentine's Day, the city hitched 600 couples at one whack.

Not only do the Mexican Border States wind up with so many frustrated border crossers and deportees, their more dynamic economies and higher salaries attract internal migrants from other parts of Mexico. All six of these Border States now have significant proportions of their populations who were born elsewhere: Coahuila 14.3%, Chihuahua 18.6%, Sonora 16.8%, Tamaulipas 26%, Nuevo Leon 22.1% and a whopping 43.6% of the Baja California population. (Source: El Almanaque Mexicano 2008).

Let's imagine what might happen if our country really got serious about enforcing the law and controlling the border. Utilizing a combination of effective border fencing, employer sanctions, and a cutoff of benefits, we could actually achieve a steady out-migration of Mexican illegal aliens. Some would be deported, others would self-deport.

But where would they all go?

Answer: They would go where deportees are already going—the Mexican Border States. When the border is tightened, the Mexican Border States feel the pressure first.

Needless to say, you would hear plenty of bellyaching about U.S. "xenophobia" and "racism." But if the U.S. stands firm, Mexican border state residents and leaders would be forced to turn their gaze on their own federal government. They would ask the Mexican government why it was permitting their region to be used as the human dumping ground of the North American continent. And they would start putting pressure for change where it belongs – on the Mexican government.

If they banded together, Mexican border states could form a formidable coalition. The region accounts for about a quarter of Mexico's GDP. It is the home of some of Mexico's largest metropolitan areas: Monterrey, Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Torreon, Mexicali, Tampico and Chihuahua. The region's states and cities are led by savvy political leaders who know how the Mexican government operates. Such a regional coalition could put a lot of pressure on Mexico City.

In fact, the aforementioned Sonora situation afforded a small hint of the direction things could go. Sure, Sonora's officials carried out the requisite Gringo bashing and bellyaching over the Arizona law.  But they are also making plans to deal with the influx of deportees in ways that don't involve the United States.

At a press conference, Sonora's governor Eduardo Bours questioned Mexico's own policies when he said that 

"We must seek opportunities in our country. It's easy to blame them [Americans] and do nothing ourselves".

Exactly! Now you're talking!

If the United States really gets control of its own border and immigration policy, it will disproportionately affect Mexican Border States. And when those states' leaders realize that we aren't going to budge, they will go after the Mexican federal government and demand change.

Not only would we be getting our own house in order—indirectly, we would be helping Mexicans get their house in order too.

American citizen Allan Wall ( email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.

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