Skip to comments.Our kinda ciudad - Why are so many Mexicans heading for the mid-west?
Posted on 01/11/2003 7:55:37 AM PST by sarcasm
IF you think the mid-west is too cold and white for Latino culture, take a stroll down 26th Street in Chicago's Little Village. Two miles of shops are flush with goods from Mexico: cowboy hats, snakeskin boots, and the flouncy white dresses that teenage girls wear for their quinceañera parties. An old man from Michoacán, peddling mango and papaya from his pushcart in the freezing weather, says he arrived 21 years ago and still doesn't speak English. No need, he adds, in la Villita.
Altogether the seven main mid-western states are now home to 9% of the Mexicans living in America, up from 7% in 1990 (see chart). Having overtaken San Antonio, Chicago now has the second-biggest Mexican population in America, behind only Los Angeles and well ahead of places like Houston. The number of Mexicans in the Windy City rose by 50% during the 1990s to reach 530,000 in 2000, according to the census. Twice that number live in Illinois.
This trend has been repeated in other less urban mid-western states. Mexican populations more than doubled in Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana and Wisconsin during the 1990s. In St James, an agricultural town of 4,695 people in south-west Minnesota, nearly one-quarter of the population is Latino (largely Mexican). In a string of towns running south from Minneapolis to the Iowa border, some of the country's largest meat-packing operations are kept going principally by employing Mexicans, sometimes in appalling conditions. In October, the remains of 11 undocumented Mexicans were found inside a locked box-car near Des Moines, Iowa.
The mid-west, with its cold winters, distance from home and lack of historical ties, seems an odd choice for Mexicans. Why do they come? A few have been there for a long time. In the early 20th century, Mexicans were brought in to work on railway lines, to tend sugar-beet fields or even as scab steelworkers during strikes; some stayed and founded communities like la Villita. Every year, migrant farmworkers added to the numbers during harvest time.
The recent wave of immigration is partly driven by economic opportunism: the mid-west offered more diverse and better-paid jobs than the south-west. But it has also been caused by measures to keep immigrants out. Sterner border controls in the 1990s made it harder for Mexicans to move back and forth easily, prompting many migrants to settleand bring their families. The controls also meant that there was less incentive to live near the border and more incentive to find well-paid jobs wherever they existed. September 11th has only tightened things further; it also seems to have dampened hopes of a formal guest-worker programme.
These new arrivals have an enormous economic effect. Elizabeth Handlin, an official with the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, says about $9.2 billion in remittances were sent from America to Mexico in 2001. Many of the mid-west's agribusinesses, factories, hotels and restaurants rely heavily on Mexican labour. A 2000 study by HACER, a Latino advocacy group, estimated that undocumented workers (most of them Mexican) added $1.5 billion to Minnesota's gross state product and contributed more than $1 billion in state tax revenue. The meatpacking businesses in south-east Minnesota would have to close up shop without them, claims James Kielkopf, author of the report.
The Mexican government, trying to come to terms with the fact that about a tenth of its population lives in America, is now trying to formalise its relationship with these exiles. These moves seem to have gone further in Chicago than elsewhere, partly due to an unusually energetic consul-general, Carlos Sada, a former mayor of the Mexican town of Oaxaca.
In Chicago the number of local Mexican clubs, which funnel money back to specific towns in Mexico to build schools, roads and churches, jumped from 35 in 1995 to 181 last year. Every morning hordes of Mexicans cram into the consulate seeking a matrícula consularan identity card that allow them to open bank accounts and which is recognised by the city, regardless of the holder's legal status (the consulate doesn't ask). The Chicago consulate now issues about 1,200 cards per day, triple the rate of a year ago (and, it adds proudly, well ahead of the rate in LA).
This is not just a tribute to Mr Sada's enthusiasm. Jorge Santibáñez, president of El Colegio de la Frontera Norte in Tijuana, Mexico, argues that geography also forces the mid-west's Mexicans to be more organised. Over time, he predicts, a split will open up in America's Mexican communities: those in Los Angeles and Texas will become ever more like Mexico, but the more isolated northern Mexicans around Chicago will integrate better.
That does not mean that they will do particularly wellas the wretched Mexicans in the box-car proved. Mexicans in the mid-west are typically poorer and less educated than other immigrants, and many worry they will become a permanent underclass. In Minneapolis a Latino group known as CLUES runs a distance-learning centre, set up with help from both the Mexican government and the state of Minnesota, that allows immigrants to follow a Mexican curriculum for high-school before testing for an American diploma.
Such collaborative efforts, argues Mr Santibáñez, show a change of emphasis. Rather than trying to forge great treaties with the federal government over things like guest workers, the accent now is on smaller bottom-up schemes, involving the states and communities like 26th Street.
There's the answer to the question in the headline.
The answer is simple: Mexico is a collapsing, corrupt narco-republic. The mexicans fled this society (which is of their own making) and came to the SW to find jobs and opportunity. Now that the SW has degenerated into third world status, they are moving to the mid-west.
At this rate, in 20 years, there will be american suburbs on the north pole, with mexican migrants moving into the Yukon.
After that, who knows where things will go?
My hometown has two poultry processing plants : A Honeysuckle White and a Tyson's. In HS, the student body was divided between kids who were going to go to college, and kids who planned to start there immediately upon graduation. These last considered themselves clever, because they believed they'd make more money and have better benefits than we college kids would ever get from our MBAs. In the 1980s, that was a logical conclusion.
In the early 1990s, Tyson's especially began hiring illegals. But it wasn't until the mid 1990s that it became obvious that the plant management was systematically replacing local workers (white, black, and 'other') with mainly illegal Hispanics. They did so by a variety of means, starting with draconian enforcement of minor rules with termination for any infractions, and ending with what appears to be management complicity with acts of violence against local workers on the part of the imported workers, especially against white female workers and clerical staff.
Today, Tyson's is nearly all Hispanic. The sheriff gave a front page interview to the local paper in 1998, and he described how the crime rate had jumped almost 40% over a 12 month period, most of it attributable to crimes commited by illegal immigrants. (Most of it being minor crimes, like clothesline theft and bar scuffles.) TB and other once eradicated diseases are making a comeback, housing costs are skyrocketing, and employment is much higher than the national average, this in an area where the minimum wage is the average wage. And the INS raids at the plants every few months...the rumors that plant management is sending busses to the border to pick up prospective workers...and the EPA infractions, like 6 FEET of fat floating on a manmade pond and contaminating the groundwater....and the way none of the INS or EPA charges ever seem to make it to court...and the way we have to boil our water now because the plants have strained the water tables to the breaking points....and so on, and so on...
There is a certain type of poster to FR (I won't call them freepers) who come to these threads to boast of their cleverness in firing American workers and hiring illegals at much lower rates. Well, here's the strange part-the new workers are not being paid any less than the local workers were! I cannot give a lot of details due to privacy concerns, but my husband through his job (not at one of these plants....) is in a position to know what local and "imported" workers (at least the legal ones) are being paid there. The plant does NOT save money by firing American workers and hiring recent immigrants. Nor can one claim that the American workers were to lazy or to proud to do the work they were doing right before they were fired and replaced; they were proud and happy to be working at a job where they could make a decent living without a college degree. And there was no union or talk of union, so far as I'm aware. So why fire Americans? The only (nontinfoil* conclusion I can reach (and this is pure speculation) is that American workers felt they were entitled to be considered for management jobs, based on seniority and performance, which the plant management wished to reserve for college degreed family members. The immigrants just want jobs.
By the late 1990s, people who once supported families on one decent job at the poultry plants were working 2-3 minimum wage service jobs doing fast food or retail sales. Some of these people tried to improve their lot by *somehow* attending classes at the local community college, mainly for computer skills, while working horrendous hours AND trying to raise a family. Can you guess what those associates degrees that the people who stuck with the programs are now worth? Hint : People with good degrees in Computech from 4 year universities , with years of experience, are in unemployment lines or watching the work they once did being 'outsourced' overseas.
The fired poultry plant workers tried to play by what they thought were the rules : They got decent, honest jobs and worked steadily and faithfully at them till the management threw them aside. When that happened, they acted on the words of about a milion freepers :"They should go back to school and learn a trade...Everyone can take classes at a local college and make themselves more attractive to prospective employers, while working 60-80 hours, right?" And now their computer degrees aren't worth the paper they're printed on, and some have student loans to repay on top of their other problems.
This is the reality behind the "They just work at jobs Americans are too proud and lazy to do", mantra , which some delight in parroting. And I understand that liberal democrats love describing hardworking Americans with blue collar jobs and diplomas or less as "redneck trailer trash",but it's disconcerting to me how often that attitude shows up at conservative sites, too.
*My 'tinfoil' conclusion? Slo-mo genocide. The PTB want rural southerners and midwesterners to crawl off and die because we are the people most apt to try to stand up for the US constitution and US national sovereignty against the Global Elite's preference for no borders, no national sovereignty, government by NGOs and appointed bureaucrats rather than elected officials obeying nationallaw.... A global government combining the worst features of the EU and the UN, with the ICC as the ultimate law and a huge global army in blue helmets to see that the serfs stay in line. Crazy beyond tinfoil? Maybe...but again, the plant management is not paying the imported workers less than the locals were getting. I thought it was a cost saving measure at first, but it's not. So what is the reason????
If you are right it would signify the desire on the management/owners side to further the stratification of society into two classes - the Latin American style division into upper oligarchical class and into docile peons.
Those who like to protest the "class warfare rhetoric" might be conveniently forgetting about the real conflicts of interest and about the reverse class warfare which is as ancient as post-tribal societies when the greed takes the priority before the common good.
I don't know about Mexico, but Poles tend to be proud and resent to be treated as inferiors. Imagine how the American white collar or upper class men would react if they were required to "punch in" or pee at random when ordered to test for drugs. It looks that those newcomers are not eager to take their "proper" place as lower class peons.
There are no more labor jobs, or very few left here, and Southern California is pretty expensive for low income types.
The rest of the country was warned that the invasion was coming their way years ago.
Places like Utah, Illinois (with their new Mexican Consulate), Georgia, Ohio, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Michigan, etc etc etc. Remember this?
March 21, 2002
LOS ANGELESLAX Sweep Nets Illegal Immigrants
More than 140 illegal immigrants have been arrested at LAX this week as part of a federal crackdown on smugglers using the airport as a transshipment point for illegal immigrants being funneled to destinations throughout the U.S., officials said Wednesday.
The operation will continue for several days and could result in a permanent presence of agents targeting outbound domestic passengers, said Thomas J. Schiltgen, district director in Los Angeles for the Immigration and Naturalization Service.The sweep is aimed at curbing an increase in smugglers' use of LAX, officials say. The airport has long been known as a conduit for illegal immigrants smuggled across the U.S.-Mexico border and heading to jobs and family members across the country.
The operation, which began Monday in Terminal 1, netted 147 illegal immigrants in its first two days, officials said. All but two were from Mexico. Most were headed to the East Coast.
This was just one day, at one terminal, at one airport! LOL
You folks in the Midwest, East coast, and northwest better like illegal aliens Because this government sponsored immigration invasion is coming to your town at 400 mils per hour!!!
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