Last week, the New York Times aggressively splashed a reportorial by Damien Cave (message him on Twitter), Better Lives for Mexicans Cut Allure of Going North (July 6, 2011). Its propaganda purpose was crudely apparent, as VDARE.com’s Brenda Walker has pointed out: See! There’s no need to worry about illegal immigration!! So let’s give amnesty to all those Undocumented Democrats Immigrants!!!
Note that, while trumpeting an alleged decline in the flow of Mexican illegal immigrants, Cave admits in a throwaway line that the stock of Mexican illegals in the U.S. has not diminished (or, as he characteristically puts it, there has been "no overall increase in the illegal Mexican population"). This of course is the key point—economically, because of the stock’s impact on American wages and employment; politically, because this stock will tend steadily to Mexicanize America, even without an amnesty, unless it is systematically countered through Birthright Citizenship reform and attrition through enforcement and deportation.
Cave begins his flow flimflam:
"The extraordinary Mexican migration that delivered millions of illegal immigrants to the United States over the past 30 years has sputtered to a trickle, and research points to a surprising cause: unheralded changes in Mexico that have made staying home more attractive."
Well, that may be surprising to the NYT, which (funny thing) has walled itself into an intellectual ghetto, demonizing immigration reform patriots with particular virulence, since it was bailed out in 2009 by Mexican oligarch Carlos Slim, the world’s richest man. (He makes billions by monopolizing telephone calls from America back home to Mexico).
But it’s not surprising to me or to VDARE.com readers.
It turns out that—what do you know? Mexico is not on the verge of starvation—as politicians and the press always imply when rationalizing illegal immigration. (In fact, although Cave doesn’t mention this, Mexico might be the second-most obese country in the world, trailing only the U.S.)
So the "humanitarian" rationale for illegal immigration from Mexico simply makes no sense. For example, while Americans enjoyed 12.7 more years of life expectancy than Mexicans in 1960, that gap had closed to merely 3.4 years by 1995
Indeed, Mexico has never been terribly poor by global standards. As I pointed out on VDARE.com exactly six years ago (July 10, 2005):
"In reality, almost five billion people (4,976 million to be precise) live in countries where the average per capita gross domestic product is lower than Mexico’s mean …"
Even in a typical MSM echo-chamber response to Cave’s article, Time Magazine blogger Tim Padgett had to concede:
"A few years ago, while I was visiting Mexico City, a Mexican colleague surprisingly told me, ‘When you go back to the U.S., tell them to build the damn wall.’ His point: Mexicans like him were tired of watching their political and business leaders use illegal immigration as a social safety valve against their corruption and negligence. Taking it away would force them to make Mexico a fairer country …"
Again, this will not be at all surprising to VDARE.com’s Allan Wall, who has made this point many times (see Does Emigration Really Help Mexico? and Memo From Mexico: Stop Death In The Desert—Build The Border Wall! )
Maybe Padgett should read VDARE.com! (Email him).
Nor, as we find out by reading between the lines of Cave’s NYT article, have Mexicans been sneaking across the border because of their deep admiration for the propositions of Thomas Jefferson and their hunger to be true Americans. Affection for the United States is simply not on display in the quotes Cave that relays.
Mexicans don’t really like America. They’ve just been coming here for the money. They are happier, all else being equal, in Mexico with their families. And as Mexico becomes slightly richer (and America becomes a lot poorer), they’d be pleased to say "Adios, Americanos."
One key question: has illegal immigration from Mexico indeed fallen since the cliffhanger rejections by patriots of the elites’ amnesty drives in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2007 and the popping of the Housing Bubble?
I can’t imagine that it hasn’t. But, unfortunately, we don’t have terribly strong evidence either way. For example, Cave writes:
"The Mexican census recently discovered four million more people in Mexico than had been projected, which officials attributed to a sharp decline in emigration."
This is fascinating. Taken at face value, this would suggest that a net of four million illegal aliens may have, in effect, self-deported—"attrited" is the technical term—without the oft-predicted humanitarian catastrophe…or without anybody even much noticing. In fact, according to Cave, life is better in Mexico today than before the missing four million turned up.
However, we just can’t take that four million number at face value. The corresponding 2010 Census in America certainly didn’t notice four million missing Hispanics. Instead, the Hispanic population broke the 50 million barrier, up 43 percent from 2000. Most demographers thought the number of Mexicans found in the U.S. came in at the high end of their expectations.
So what other explanation could there be?
Well, maybe the fertility rate in Mexico hasn’t really dropped as low as the Mexican government reports. Or maybe the Mexican government has an agenda (shocking as this may be to imagine) and its statistics aren’t wholly unbiased.
Or maybe, much like the American government, the Mexican government really just doesn’t have a clue what’s going on.
We especially don’t have conclusive proof of how to allocate credit for this presumed reduction in illegal immigration, even though Cave tries to sound confident:
"A growing body of evidence suggests that a mix of developments—expanding economic and educational opportunities, rising border crime and shrinking families—are suppressing illegal traffic as much as economic slowdowns or immigrant crackdowns in the United States."
This matters, because how to divvy up cause and effect is no mere an academic exercise. For example, the Mexican economy is now being stimulated by drug smuggling into the U.S —a reality Cave doesn’t consider, although an amazing 40,000 Mexicans have murdered each other for the drug money in the last four and a half years. Mexican cartels have in recent years displaced Colombian cartels as the chief profiteers from smuggling. That pays for a lot of pointy boots.
But it also means that defeating the narco-cartels someday could cause another rush to the border by Mexico’s newly-unemployed, when America’s economy finally turns around.
Another example: did much of Obama’s vaunted stimulus flow to Mexico? In the comment thread on Cave’s article (now often the best part of MSM stories), a North Carolina bricklayer pointed out:
"It’s insanely ironic—the stimulus money that has been directed toward highway improvement in my area is going toward companies that hire mainly illegals—the road crews are almost all Latino—and the money is going straight to their country of origin."
Overall, Cave’s evidence that Mexicans are staying home because life in Mexico has gotten better is hardly overwhelming. As another commenter, Martin Vega of Brooklyn, told Cave:
"You over-extended your story on the traditional, high exit migration zones while failing to note a countervailing increase in immigration from the largely indigenous states from southern Mexico (i.e. the Mixteca in Puebla, Guerrero, Oaxaca and Chiapas). … This trend towards increasing out-migration is also true for the other Mesoamerican states known as the ‘northern triangle’ (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador)."
Cave’s reporting is confined to upbeat anecdotes from the state of Jalisco, economically a relatively sophisticated region in the west-central part of the country. Jalisco has been sending people into the U.S. for 90 years. It is shielded from the narco-violence of the north and the ancient indigenous poverty of the south.
It’s a beautiful place that should have become prosperous long ago. I visited Jalisco’s capital Guadalajara and its American expatriate community along Lake Chapala 44 years ago because my parents had heard, way back in 1967, that it was a nice place for gringos to retire. (At 5,000 feet, Lake Chapala is a classic example of those altitude-induced moderate temperatures).
In theory, it makes a lot of economic sense for the demographic tides to be flowing in the opposite direction. American Baby Boomers should be flooding into sunny Mexico for their retirements, where they could find cheap domestic help. That’s what my parents were anticipating way back in 1967.
The essential concept that evades the mental grasp of Cave and the NYT’s editors: convergence.
Mexico has indeed been—very slowly—becoming more like the U.S.
For example, Walmart, a firm that clawed its way out of the Ozarks by being ruthlessly efficient, now operates 1,773 stores in Mexico and Central America. Walmart bans even the normal American corporate etiquette of salesmen taking buyers out to lunch. So its stern morality is likely teaching Mexico’s traditional culture of corruption some much-needed lessons.
But, just as the temperature inside your house in July or January will eventually converge with the unpleasant temperature outside if you leave your doors open (unless you spend ever more on air conditioning or heating), decades of mass immigration from Mexico mean that America is also converging on Mexico: poorly-paid, underemployed, economically unequal, educationally unmotivated, and oligarchical.
Not surprisingly, the more America becomes like Mexico economically, the less attractive of a destination it is to Mexicans.
Another lesson to be learned from the theory of convergence: while you could, at vast expense, air condition a few feet of your porch by keeping your windows open, you can’t cool off the whole world.
The global population will hit seven billion next spring. The U.N. predicts ten billion by 2100. It forecasts that Mexico’s southern neighbor, Guatemala, will grow from five million in 1970 to 46 million in 89 years.
These billions of people are going to have to solve their own problems. We can’t do it for them by letting them into America.
The gradual Mexicanization of America was covered up for much of the last decade by the subprime bubble centered in the Mexodus-ground zero Sand States of California, Arizona, Nevada, and Florida. When that popped, however, the damage was revealed.
You can see the impact of the Bush Era boom and bust cycle on Mexican attitudes about emigrating to America in three surveys conducted in Mexico by the Pew Hispanic Center. Cave glosses over this data, because it reveals the horrifying impact that Open Borders would have.
When Mexicans were asked, at the peak of Bush’s drive for increasing minority homeownership through lax lending, if they would be inclined to go to work legally in the U.S. in a temporary worker program, 52 percent in February 2005 and 54 percent in May 2005 said "Yes". This translates to 56 million people (assuming they bring their underage dependents, which the 2004 Bush plan would have allowed).
And 21 percent of Mexican adults were prepared to enter America illegally if they had to.
By 2009, after the Minority Mortgage Meltdown had set off the current recession and American patriots had defeated multiple amnesty drives, only 33 percent of Mexicans admitted that they wanted move to America legally.
But that’s still over 35 million Mexicans! And 18 percent (down from 21 percent—big deal) would still come to America illegally.
"This decline may be tied in part to the economic downturn in the U.S., which has resulted in fewer jobs for immigrants. Four-in-ten Mexicans say they know someone who left for the U.S. but returned because they could not find a job, although even more (47%) report knowing someone who returned because they were turned back by the Border Patrol." (My emphasis).
Cave does admit that Americans finally growing a backbone has had a deterrent effect:
"Laws restricting illegal immigrants’ rights or making it tougher for employers to hire them have passed in more than a dozen states since 2006. The same word-of-mouth networks that used to draw people north are now advising against the journey. ‘Without papers all you’re thinking about is, when are the police going to stop you or what other risks are you going to face,’ said Andrés Orozco."
But, correctly in my view, Cave attributes much of the credit for improvements in life in Mexico to declining fertility. "In simple terms, Mexican families are smaller than they had once been." Per capita income has risen in Mexico in large part because the growth in the number of capitas has slowed.
But while fertility has fallen to about the replacement rate in Mexico, that country has long unloaded its surplus population upon the U.S. And here, immigrants from Mexico give birth at far higher rates than Mexicans in Mexico.
In turn, this imposition by foreigners depresses the fertility of Americans by making family formation less affordable. Thus, in California in 2005, during the Housing Bubble and the Bush Push for amnesty/ unlimited guest workers, the total fertility rate for foreign-born Hispanic women was 3.7 babies per lifetime, compared to 1.6 for American-born white women.
In effect, Americans are having fewer grandchildren so that Mexican illegal aliens can have more.
That doesn’t seem like a very good deal to me.
However, Mexican-American fertility in the United States appears highly sensitive to the political climate. As I pointed out in VDARE in 2002, the amnesty passed in 1986 caused a massive baby boom among formerly illegal aliens in California. The total fertility rates for foreign-born Hispanics soared from 3.2 in 1987 to 4.4 in 1991. Which means another amnesty would likely cause another demographic pig in a python.
The real revelation (possibly inadvertent) in Cave’s NYT article, however: any decline in illegal immigration has been at least partly offset by an expansion in quasi-legal immigration.
Cave, who seems to think this is just fine, blithely details a shocking dereliction of duty by a State Department official named Edward McKeon ("One man, Mr. McKeon, the minister counselor who oversees all consular affairs in Mexico, has played a significant role in that expansion") who has been turning illegal immigrants into legal ones through legerdemain.
The results are devastating:
"A significant expansion of legal immigration—aided by American consular officials—is also under way. … State Department figures show that Mexicans who have become American citizens have legally brought in 64 percent more immediate relatives, 220,500 from 2006 through 2010, compared with the figures for the previous five years. Tourist visas are also being granted at higher rates of around 89 percent, up from 67 percent, while American farmers have legally hired 75 percent more temporary workers since 2006."
Chief villain McKeon, no surprise, is a Bush State Department appointee (in Mexico since "the summer of 2007."):
"Edward McKeon, the top American official for consular affairs in Mexico, said he had focused on making legal passage to the United States easier in an effort to prevent people from giving up and going illegally. He has even helped those who were previously illegal overcome bans on entering the United States."
McKeon unilaterally decided to
"de-emphasize the affordability standard that held that visas were to be denied to those who could not prove an income large enough to support travel to the United States. … This led to an almost immediate decrease in the rejection rate for tourist visas. Before he arrived, around 32 percent were turned down. Since 2008, the rate has been around 11 percent."
Lots of those low-income, low-skill foreigners stay in our country.
But that’s not the end of McKeon’s war on American workers:
"Mr. McKeon … was also instrumental in expanding the temporary visa program for agricultural workers. … Mr. McKeon began hosting conferences with all the stakeholders …"
You and I, as citizens of the United States, are "stakeholders" in America’s immigration policy.
But I wasn’t invited to Mr. McKeon’s conferences.
Were you? [Email the US Embassy in Mexico and ask why not].
It’s the Mexicanization of America.
Carlos Slim (and his New York Times employees) approve.
[Steve Sailer (email him) is movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog. His new book, AMERICA’S HALF-BLOOD PRINCE: BARACK OBAMA’S "STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE", is available here.]