The author examines the effects of large-scale Mexican immigration on the ethnic composition of American citizenship, on the culture that binds America together as a community of citizens and on the political future of the United States. She also reports on political agitation by specific Mexican immigrant organizations aimed at the Reconquista (reconquest) of Southwest United States and their proposals to eliminate the U.S. border with Mexico, as well as on statements by various prominent officials in the Mexican government.
Keywords: Mexico; California, Southwest United States; Mexican immigration; chain migration; Reconquista; Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund; Movemiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan; Mexico's National Population Council.
The U.S. debate on amnesty for large numbers of illegal immigrants, as with the discussion of immigration policy in general, has focused mainly on economic issues: the cost and benefits of immigration to business and consumers, its impact on American wages and how much the current policy costs the United States taxpayers. The topics that are usually avoided when discussing the effects of an amnesty include what impact large-scale immigration is having on American citizenship, the culture that binds America together as a community of citizens and the political future of the United States.
In his article, "The Hispanic Challenge",2 Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington, Chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, wrote that "[t]he persistence of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two people, two cultures, and two languages... The United States ignores this challenge at its peril... Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway." There is a long record of statements and other activities which relate directly to the complex policy implications of his contentions.
In addition, President Bush, Senator John Kerry, and Congressional leaders of both parties, are promoting legislation to legalize millions of illegal migrants in this country without any discussion of the full significance of these efforts to garner Hispanic votes. A generalized "political correctness" in the media also tends to confine the debate over another amnesty for illegal immigrants within narrow parameters. Effective policymaking, however, requires that the discussion be broadened to include other factors with important bearing on the real world effects of any policy adopted.
In this context, it is essential to look more closely at the completely disregarded cultural and political impacts of continued high levels of Mexican immigration. This paper will examine how the national policy and actions of the Mexican government, in conjunction with the political activism of the Mexican-American elite and their use of grassroots mobilization in this country may eventually alter the cultural and political landscape of the American Southwest and, indeed, the entire United States.
I. The Vision and Actions of the Mexican Government
The Mexican government does not seem to be a passive observer in the massive Mexican emigration to the United States. Its political elite has made public statements, adopted policies and systematically engaged in lobbying activities in the United States at the federal, state and local levels. As a result, American domestic and foreign policies have been heavily influenced. The goal appears to be, in effect, to eventually erase the border between Mexico and the United States. Such an effort is unprecedented in U.S. history. Continued mass Mexican migration is seen as the key factor in achieving this objective. …