On the Rim of Mexico: Encounters of the Rich and Poor

By Ramón Eduardo Ruiz | Go to book overview

7
Unwelcome Strangers

Migrants from other parts of the republic, as has been noted before, settled Mexican towns along the border and then built the cities, becoming a goodly part of the countryside and creating urban cores across the region. That was the experience of my parents, who, driven out by tumultuous times in Mexico, traveled north and settled on the California side of the Mexican border. My father, when my mother died, returned home to Mexico, but the blood of my mother darkens the soil of California where she lies buried. In this part of the world, to quote Eleanor Roosevelt, we are all "fellow immigrants"—aside from the Indians, quickly displaced by Spaniards, Mexicans, and Americans alike. To talk of borderlands, no matter which side, without including Mexican migrants is nonsense; they are integral to the history and development of the region.

Today, on both sides of the international boundary, Mexican migrants dwell among us, too, because of developments that transformed the contours of the American Southwest, changing it from a place of idle lands and lonely cowboys, as yet untouched by the progress of the twentieth century, to one of commercial farms, factories, and big cities. The lure of dollar-paying jobs drew people to the Southwest and, similarly, to the Mexican border, where dependent growth took root, first because of American dry laws that transferred liquor and gambling south, followed by raucous years of drunken soldiers, sailors, and tourists bent on seeing "Old Mexico" and, finally, the arrival of assembly plants. Mexican urbanization, essentially a migrant phenomenon, occurred in response to changes north of the border during World War II, which transformed cities such as San Diego and El Paso, pulled into the vortex of the national economy, into dynamic metropolises. The coming of age of the American Southwest summoned an influx of job-hungry migrants to states such as

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On the Rim of Mexico: Encounters of the Rich and Poor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Part One - Mexicans and Their Neighbors *
  • 1 - The Shifty Peso 3
  • 2 - Asymmetry 19
  • 3 - Black Legend 42
  • 4 - The Global Economy 61
  • 5 - The Disparate Society 83
  • 6 - Identity 100
  • Part Two - Binational Dimensions *
  • 7 - Unwelcome Strangers 127
  • 8 - La Migra 148
  • 9 - La MaldicióN 169
  • 10 - Man against Nature 194
  • 11 - Dependency 217
  • Sources 235
  • Index 247
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