My mother was born under a tree in Mexicali, Mexico in 1958. The homes in Mexicali back then and even today are hotter than a California oven in the dead of summer. Which is why my grandmother delivered her third child, my mother, under the shade of a tree.
My mother never told me that story growing up. She never told anyone the circumstances surrounding her birth, after being teased and laughed at by her “American” peers. I don’t blame her. Who really likes to be laughed at? Especially when it comes to something as uncontrollable as your place of birth. All in all, none of us have control over when, how or where we come into this world.
Xenophobes carry a great deal of disdain for people born outside of geopolitical borders. In the Southwestern region of the U.S., it is the people of Latin American Countries that receive the majority of ethnic discrimination, both socially and systemically.
Democrats met ICE officials earlier this year revealing the agency’s plans to continue targeting immigrants with criminal convictions, but also, that agents will freely be able under the Trump administration, to arrest anyone else they encounter who is in the U.S. illegally, doing away with the Obama administration priorities that sheltered millions of immigrants without criminal records from deportation.
In Los Angeles County, Mexicans are undoubtedly the primary target of Police/ICE agents. Even people of Mexican descent, who are U.S. citizens have been turned over to ICE. And the Latin American/Immigrant community is afraid. Understandably so, not just for themselves, but for their children and loved ones. How else should they respond when high profile raids and a great deal of uncertainty reigns with regards to an evolving bigotry-based immigration policy?
Unfortunately, deporting people of Hispanic descent isn’t anything new. The U.S. has a long history of chastising and exploiting Mexicans from demonizing them for using Cannabis in its smoke-able form to today deporting U.S. veterans of foreign wars.
But this time, there’s something unique about the immigration policy posed by the current administration. News reports showed that a draft plan was written by the Department of Homeland Security which suggested deploying as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to investigate, apprehend and detain aliens. Why?
Well, immigrants are scapegoats for “American” workers struggling to recover from the recession. There’s also the notion of “white genocide” or the idea that white people (whatever that means) are going to become the minority and that their country will be taken away from them by immigrants. Of course the reactions to these ideas are anger coupled with fear… and hate is the outcome. The recent changes in immigration policy has the immigrant communities fearful and xenophobes feeling empowered by Trump-ism. It is not identical, but unfortunately reminiscent of Germany in the early 1900’s during a time when a man named Adolf Hitler and the Nazi’s came into power.
I can’t say that the anxiety and hate surrounding immigrants is at all justified. Especially when the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine reports that America is composed of 40 million people born of foreign nations. That's the same number of people living in California, the most populous state in the US. The Economic and Fiscal Consequences of Immigration finds that the long-term impact of immigration on the wages and employment of native-born workers is overall very small. Further findings indicate immigration enlarges the economy while leaving the native population slightly better off on average.
Many young people who are third-plus generation Americans will be joining the working-age population, but they will be outnumbered by the Baby Boomers departing the work force. These Baby Boomer departures are expected to create employment opportunities that will benefit all ethnoracial groups. For example, Richard Alba (2009) argued that, similar to the World War II era, this coming period may create ideal conditions for reducing competitive frictions between groups and reducing inequality among minority groups and immigrants. Sounds to me like immigrants will play a large role in serving the labor needs of economic growth in the near future.
L.A. cities like Alhambra, San Gabriel and Monterey Park, which are Asian communities full of immigrants are not fussing about ICE agents arresting and deporting members of their community. Why not? Prominent intellectuals and academics sometimes claim that the newcomers from Asia and Latin America cannot be assimilated (Brimelow, 1995). Singling out Latin Americans (and Mexicans in particular), Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington (2004, p. 256) warned that the continued influx would eventually “change America into a country of two languages, two cultures, and two peoples.”
Isn’t that California and the U.S. these days? California is culturally speaking far more progressive than that of the U.S. Not to say that we don’t share many of the same values as Americans, but we have a distinct set of values that supercede the values associated with the American identity. California is far more immigrant friendly and widely more diverse culturally than many other states. And in Cali, Spanglish is a very prominent lingo in the Mexican/Hispanic communities. Spanish fluency is ever more a desired skill and requirement in acquiring many job opportunities these days. Sanctuary Cities are growing all over California and they’re not going to stop. People like me will see to that, because I am the #Resistance and we’re just getting warmed up.
Cali is distinct, powerful, welcoming and resourceful. It is a place where creativity and innovation can create a better economy utilizing human capital in conjunction with technology, a segway to a brighter future not just for California, but for the world. Upon gaining our freedom from the economically and culturally oppressive rule of the U.S. government, we will not only live in a nation without hate-based immigration policies, we will also live in a nation where immigrants are no longer exploited for their labor and left out .
California is my home. I grew up in this wonderful place. I grew up in between two cultures and two worlds, the American and the Californian, and I was never truly aware of it until recently. My mother was born in Mexicali. A tree served as midwife during her birth. If a tree can indiscriminately aid a human being and provide some measure of shade and comfort to a human in a time of need, why can’t we? Why must we proceed with fear and hate?
I got news for you……..we don’t!
¡Viva California Libre!