Divided by Death and the Border

Published on April 24th, 2008

Re: "Divided by Death and the Border."
April 2, 2008

Letter to the Editor, Los Angeles Times

I don’t think the mentioning in your article today of a brief token comment by an immigration reductionist gets to either the heart or the complexity of the response of most Americans to your story entitled "Divided by Death and the Border."

Of course Americans are saddened by the death of a child and its mother, the pictures of tears and of grief. But are insincere and intermittent US border restrictions the reason for such tragedies or would genuine border security be a better solution?

And what is the role of the Mexican government in this tragedy? Is buying a cheap casket, immediately replaced by relatives, and paying for airfare home, so US residing Mexican nationals can attend a family funeral, the best the Mexican government can offer? The actual reason for all this suffering is directly related to Mexico’s obdurate resistance to bettering conditions for Mexicans at home.

That is the question that most Americans are asking when they read a sad story like the one published yesterday. They look at the picture of Pericotepic, the bleak, dry and forsaken-looking home town where this funeral took place. Where is the water, the roads, the trees and the parks and the jobs and the safety net for the orphaned and elderly? Where is the concern of the Mexican government about the four other young children of the deceased, who were left to be cared for by the weeping and obviously "old before her time" grandmother pictured in your story?

It seems like Americans gave Alberta Trujillo the best maternity care available and there was work and money available in the US to help provide for her family in Mexico. But why did she have to come to Los Angeles for these benefits in the first place?. Is the drug- corrupted Mexican government and its obscenely rich non-taxpaying classes completely bereft of a social conscience? If the public sector is hopelessly greedy, private sector moguls like Carlos Slim are not known for philanthropy either. An interesting story from you would be, is he "giving back" anything at all to the poor of the nation that made him a billionaire?.

But the central question intelligent readers will be asking about your story, Ms. Gorman, is how de facto open borders, that also hurt the U.S. poor, is putting off indefinitely any real structural changes in Mexico. This is a resource rich nation with one toe in modernity, but corrupt to the core and with a body politic still ensnarled in divisions based on color and class.

Mexico is also brutal with Central Americans who enter illegally, making a mockery of their criticism of any and all US attempts, no matter how half- hearted, at our border and elsewhere. How many illegal Guatemalan mothers, readers will ask, receive free prenatal care in Mexico and free hospital deliveries like Alberta Trujillo? And are post-natal care and car seats also given away to all babies from anywhere that are born in Mexico?

So, the question remains, after all of your stories of genuine struggle and hardship, what is the very best thing that the US could do for Mexico’s poor? The answer is clearly to enforce, in the most serious way and without further delay, US immigration law at the border and in the interior of our country.

Our most important imperative is to stop rescuing Mexican elites, giving them license to ignore in perpetuity their nation’s most serious social and political problems. That error and US ambivalence with regard to enforcement of our immigration law is destructive and demoralizing and makes everything worse–Mexico’s poverty and our hypocrisy. That’s the real cause of most of the tales you tell of parental desertion and death and the agony of children bereft of a mother, although most often it’s a father who leaves wives, children and community to go north. These are stories of the heartlessness of the dishonest Mexican regime, its cynicism and exploitation of its own citizens. And sadly, US non-feasance in enforcing our laws makes us complicit in perpetuating these tragedies.

Diana Hull, Ph.D., President Californians for Population Stabilization 1129 State Street, 3D Santa Barbara, CA 93101


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