The Adventures of a White Mexican (in 3D)


I received my anti-Arizona Immigration Law sticker today (from Presente.org who are sadly out of stickers now).

Now, I don’t own a car, and even if I did, I would never put a bumpersticker on it (though, if you are so inclined, may I suggest one of these).  Maybe I’ll find someone with a McCain/Palin ’08 sticker on their car and affix it to theirs.

Look, I know there is nothing I am going to say here that is going to change anyone’s mind.  This is a preaching to the choir kind of post (and what a sexy choir you are).  In fact, I don’t really want to get into the debate, certainly not with some Conservative who thinks I know nothing about real America because I’m a godless Liberal (despite me having lived all over this country).  There are far better educated people out there who can give you all the information you can need to make an informed decision (of, if you’d rather make an uninformed decision, there’s always Fox News).

And really, if you have an interest in this topic, you should be doing the research, not listening to some blowhard rant on about the topic (or any topic), whether it be me or Glenn Beck or Keith Olbermann.  We have enough people talking, not enough people researching.

The whole topic just gets me thinking about something I’ve never even brought up on this blog (of course, those that know me personally are well aware of it):  I’m Mexican.  Well, half.

There, I said it.  Such a weight off of my shoulders.

Now, I know what you may be thinking, sexy blog reader (I mean it, dead sexy).  I don’t look particularly… brown.  And it’s true, if you’ve seen the few photos of myself that I’ve posted here on 10 Cities, you’ve seen a rather white looking fellow peering back at you.  And no, it’s not just the flash.

Now, there is the possibility that I’m the milkman’s kid, but until the DNA results come in, I’m gonna keep calling my father ‘padre’ (pretty much the only Spanish I do know).

What did that mean for my upbringing?  Not much.  No racism that I ever witnessed (though I can’t say if that’s true for my browner siblings).  No, other than telling quite a few more ‘spic’ jokes than your average non-Texan family and earning a full-ride scholarship to college (yeah, I know, hate me), being half-Mexican didn’t have any major effect on my life, good or bad.  It’s just who I was, one facet of my existence that was always there, but in no way made me different (as far as I was concerned).

Were there people who didn’t want to be my friend because I was a half-breed?  Maybe, but I highly doubt it.  I assume if anyone doesn’t want to be my friend, it’s for my winning personality.

I would say it’s safe to conclude that I have never experienced any form of racism aimed directly at me.  I’ve lived a fairly charmed life in that way, especially compared to the vast number of people who have historically made up this country, from day one to right now:  Immigrants, legal or otherwise.

Is Arizona’s SB 1070 bill racist?  In legal terms, not inherently.  In intent, most likely.  In practice, most certainly.  If it wasn’t racist, I could go to Arizona and legitimately be concerned that I might be pulled over and need to have proof of citizenship.  After all, I am Mexican.  The color of my skin doesn’t change that fact, and it shouldn’t in the eyes of the law.

But something tells me that if I were in Arizona, carousing late at night with my oldest brother and we happened to end up on el policia’s radar, one of us might spend the night in jail (“until citizenship is confirmed”) and the other would get asked tips on how to keep blond hair so shiny and vibrant.

My point is, being white is great.

No, actually, my point is, whether you love or hate the Arizona law, you have to admit that it does nothing to solve the larger immigration problems in this country.  Just imagine if the law was passed for the entire nation.  We’d all be living in a police state where anyone with the “wrong” skin color, accent or cultural norms would be easy targets for discrimination.

Making ineffective immigration laws stricter and expecting that to fix the problem is like putting grease on a broken bike chain.  It’s, how they say in Spanish, “Fucking stupid-o.”


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13 thoughts on “The Adventures of a White Mexican (in 3D)

  1. To the extent the law compels illegals to pack up and move to a new location, it most definitely does begin to solve the illegal immigration problem.

    Enforcement is possible, and self-deportation is also possible. There is nothing even remotely racist about it. Illegal trespass to the tune of 12 – 20 million people is a disaster for any culture or country. It violates the social contract and rips the societal fabric that binds us all together.

    • There are already laws on the books to compel illegal immigrants to leave. This law does nothing to strengthen those laws, it merely gives police a right to use race as a tool for justified profiling. The question isn’t whether or not there should be enforcement of immigration laws, the question is whether said laws are useful while not being illegal because of racial discrimination. Again, as I conceded in the post, the law itself is written in language that isn’t inherently racist, but the practice of it absolutely will be.

      • Have you not read the news stories of illegals leaving Arizona in advance of the new law going into effect?

        The truth is that whenever Americans get serious about closing the border and deporting illegals (it has happened occasionally over the years) the methods are very effective. This is an open secret.

        The problem has been a failure of will to actually have a closed border, and this failure has been on both sides of the political spectrum: certain Republicans seem to like guaranteeing cheap labor for business while Democrats seem to like surrendering our sovereignty as a nation (a kind of suicidal compassion).

        As for asking people for documentation when they are in the middle of some other infraction, would it make you feel better if everybody in the state had to show papers at traffic stops for awhile?

      • “As for asking people for documentation when they are in the middle of some other infraction, would it make you feel better if everybody in the state had to show papers at traffic stops for awhile?”

        Actually, that is exactly what would make me “feel better”, in the sense that at least then the law wouldn’t be race-based.

        As a country, we cannot give up our ideals in order to “protect” ourselves or to preserve what we see as ‘our country’ the way it is. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying we should not enforce immigration laws. While I know there are some liberals who believe in an open-door policy, and I am sympathetic to their reasoning, I do believe there must be limitations and reasonable laws.

        This law is not reasonable. Particularly because of this: “FOR ANY LAWFUL CONTACT MADE BY A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIAL OR AGENCY OF THIS STATE OR A COUNTY, CITY, TOWN OR OTHER POLITICAL SUBDIVISION OF THIS STATE WHERE REASONABLE SUSPICION EXISTS THAT THE PERSON IS AN ALIEN WHO IS UNLAWFULLY PRESENT IN THE UNITED STATES…”
        Suspicion is a vague word allowing for an open-ended policy, and to call it reasonable just means that a cop merely has to have a good excuse.

        Don’t be naive, this opens the door for easy, untouchable racism. Remember “Separate but Equal”? The law itself wasn’t inherently racist (as long as everything was truly equal, no problem), but as the courts found, in practice, separate is never equal. Same goes here, in practice, ‘reasonable suspicion’ will translate to brown, Spanish-speaking or poor (how many European illegal immigrants do you think are forming a mass exodus out of Arizona?)

        This all ignores the fact that this law may not be legal because it steps on federal jurisdiction, making the whole discussion moot.

        You said when America gets serious about enforcing immigration laws, the methods are effective. Fine, get serious, but don’t take an easy shortcut through racism to get there. You have millions of Mexican-Americans legally here, and they don’t deserve to be harassed because of who they are (unless you want to just make it a blanket law that all people must show proof of citizenship, which I doubt you do).

        Finally, while this law may be effective for scaring away some immigrants, it will not stem the tide of those coming in. They may be illegally here, but they are people too, people in horrible living conditions unable to make money or get food. If you were starving to death, and watching your family starve around you, you would do whatever it takes to survive, invisible borders be damned. If your real concern is with protecting our country from illegal immigrants, then support international legislation that helps poorer countries get on their feet, demand that your representatives stop pushing forward policies that keep rich countries rich on the backs of poor countries. You have to think bigger, you can’t put a band-aid over a bullet-wound and think that’s going to stop the bleeding.

        But that isn’t your concern, is it? Your only concern is keeping people off your lawn and out of your America, a country built on the principle that illegal immigrants have the right to come in and steal as much land as they want, as long as they’re richer and more powerful.

        God Bless America.

      • Your last comments suggest that you view the USA as a morally bankrupt nation given its origins, which is a shame given the freedom this country has preserved for billions and billions of people.

        Not only did we save Asia from imperial Japan, and not only did we save Europe from imperial Germany, we also resisted the urge to dominate the entire Earth when we were the only power left standing in 1945 (we alone had the atomic bomb – Russia wouldn’t have it for years yet, and our armies were intact whereas all the others were exhausted). This single act of self-restraint secures our legacy as a freedom-loving and freedom-promoting nation for all time.

        But let me guess: you believe that our conquest of various warrior Indian tribes is a stain on our national soul that can never be removed, right?

        If this is so, why not just admit that you won’t be satisfied until “justice” is done and we are all made to pay for our takeover of this land mass, by for example, having it taken back by 20 million illegals? Or do you have some other penance in mind.

        As for the border, I don’t believe that you would be okay with traffic stops designed to check 100% of all drivers in Arizona or anywhere. I believe you when you say you’d consider it to be less “racist”, but I don’t believe you would be in favor of 100% doc-checks. I have no problem with it at all: that’s what law enforcement does when criminals are free and need to be found. Nothing wrong with it. If you agree, the I say Great!!

        Regarding the police being able to act on “suspicion”, that’s true for much of the work they do. It’s called “probable cause”, and it is ubiquitous in law enforcement behavior.

        In the end, Arizona is doing something that is very reasonable under the circumstances, but you and I will never agree on that. But at least we’ve had a conversation, and that is a kind of victory.

      • On the contrary, I do not believe America is morally bankrupt or that we need to go back and pay for what our predecessors did (the “American Soul” is bullshit). My point is that we should remember our history, remember how this land was taken (and it was taken, not bestowed upon us) and stop pretending that we have some God-given right to this land or to our comfortable lifestyles. (By the way, the number of illegal immigrants in the US is figured at 11 million, not 20 million; don’t exaggerate to make a point, it only waters down your message).

        My interest isn’t in ‘justice’ for past wrongdoings, my interest is in fixing the current ills of our global community. It seems to be the Conservative view that America exists in a bubble and as long as we keep everyone out and kick all the people we don’t want out of the country, we’ll be 50 states of unified utopia. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but the days of institutionalized xenophobia and isolationism are over. We can’t turn our backs on the problems of the world around us, as this immigration issue proves.

        People aren’t crossing our borders because they want pools and 500 HD channels, they’re coming over here because the risk of imprisonment is still better than the conditions they have to face in their home country. Are they breaking the law? Sure, but I think even Inspector Javert could see that the problem begins well before they cross the border.

        Is it America’s responsibility to fix the problems of other nations? No. Except for when our foreign policy decimates the economies of those nations so our fat citizens can have cheaper Mocha Lattes and Big Macs. I don’t care if America does it out of shame or just plain decency, but our economic and trade policies need to be fixed, all part of fixing the immigration problem.

        So, yes, we should enforce immigration laws, but I don’t think it’s a good use of our resources to try to capture every illegal in this country (and no, I don’t think 100% doc-checks would do any good, and they’d waste countless manpower hours). The matter at hand is far bigger than that, and thinking that more authoritarian tactics are going to magically end illegal immigration is as naive as Liberals are usually accused of being.

        I understand Probable Cause. A car that smells like marijuana. A bulge that looks like a gun. Sometimes a cop has to trust his or her instinct. But what exactly makes a person look ‘illegal?’ If you had an illegal French immigrant standing next to a legal one, what would tell you which was which? It would never come up, because a French immigrant, even in Arizona, would never be asked to prove their citizenship.

        But put a couple of brown guys in front of some cops and suddenly I bet there will be all kinds of ‘reasonable suscpicion.’

        SB 1070 is the very definition of racial discrimination.

        I don’t care if this law, belief in God or the waving American flag all make you feel safer in your home, if the law is discriminatory, it must be overturned. It is quite simple.

  2. White Mexican,

    I truly enjoyed your wrap in thought.

    To be or not to be, that is the question: Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous racism, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; in Arizona

  3. I have never said, nor do I believe, the AZ law would “fix illegal immigration”. It is only part of a solution, but a very good part. My main point is that it is in fact solvable. Illegals are not, as mr. obama says, “woven into the fabric” in such a way that they can’t be made to account for their trespass.

    As for profiling, if a burglar broke into your house and before he escaped you didn’t see his face but noticed that he was 6′ 5″ tall, you would later tell the police that he was very tall. In their search for the intruder, they would not waste time suspecting short people. That is rational and evidence of intelligence. There are not 12 – 20 million illegal immigrants from France in the USA.

    And as for the discomfort of legal immigrants from Mexico being asked to show documentation. I again don’t see the problem. If I knew that a killer was on the loose in my neighborhood and I also knew he looked very much like me, I would EXPECT law enforcement to check me out. I would not be insulted or offended, and I would thank them for DOING THEIR JOB. To expect them to look past me when I fit the profile is idiotic.

    • It’s called racial profiling, and I get it, you don’t see any problem with it. Funny how it’s always white guys saying, “I don’t see what the big deal about racial profiling is.” Maybe because it never happens to you. You might as well say, “I don’t see why women are always complaining about how painful pregnancy is, I wouldn’t mind it.” Easy to say since you’ll never have to know (on the pregnancy or the profiling).

      Your examples are plainly undercooked:

      If someone broke into my house and all I saw was that he was 6’5″, the police couldn’t just immediately arrest every 6’5″ guy they saw. They still need some sort of evidence. You can’t just harass every 6’5″ man in the city and call it reasonable suspicion.

      If a killer that looked like you was on the loose in your neighborhood, you would certainly have every reason to expect questioning. Once. And only so long as the murderer was on the loose. That is not the same as a person having to spend their entire lives dreading a police run-in (don’t tell me you would be okay living under the constant supervision of the police. If you say that, I’ll know you’re lying).

      There might not be 11 million (again with your overestimation) illegal immigrants from France in the US, but there likely are hundreds of thousand if not millions of illegal immigrants from other non-Hispanic countries here. Some of them white, some Asian, some black. By your logic, we should just check anyone at anytime because every single one of us looks like someone who is here illegally.

      Either you agree with that and you’re logically consistent but practically unrealistic (and kind of idiotic), or you have some common sense and realize that checking every person in America for citizenship is an unnecessarily and over the top reaction. If that is the case, you need to determine exactly what number of illegal immigrants constitutes racial profiling. Is it 10 million? 5 million? Just 1 million? How many illegal Mexican immigrants is too little to bother with this “effective” method.

      My guess is you don’t really care how many there are, or even where they are. You just don’t care that much about a bunch of beaners being inconvenienced.

      I notice you haven’t once responded to my repeated points about the larger issues behind illegal immigration. My guess is that it’s because your concern isn’t with the well-being of people or even really the safety of this nation. If you actually cared about those things, you’d be investing your energy into supporting legislation that gets to the root of the problems, not some law that will likely be found unconstitutional, anyway.

      The fact that you think SB 1070 is “a very good part” of the immigration solution shows just how narrow your view is. Arresting even 100,000 illegal immigrants is a mere fraction of the total. It might be scaring immigrants out of Arizona, but they aren’t going back to Mexico, they’re just moving on to new states. And has this new law put a dent in the number of incoming immigrants? Not likely.

      Your argument comes down to this: Mexicans should go back to their own country, and if they’re here legally they should just learn to put up with being second class citizens.

      And I agree. After all, this country was built on the ideal that if someone I bare a resemblance to or am genetically linked to does something wrong, I should be punished for it, forced to live under the watchful eye of the authoritarian state.

      It’s all fair game. Unless of course you’re white…

  4. Someone here illegally should definitely spend the rest of his life dreading a run-in with the police. That is as it should be. If you slipped past Customs and Immigration at LAX, you should feel like a fugitive, because you would be one.

    The beauty is, the illegal can save himself the agony of “living in the shadows” and just leave and go back where he actually is a citizen. Sometimes problems have simple solutions. Your supposedly simple solution is to be their savior and elevate them to first-class citizens (save them from “putting up with being second class citizens”), though their method of entry and their dogged clinging to their own culture makes them not deserve anything of the kind. But your solution is no solution at all, and the 1986 immigration law that granted amnesty to 3 million proves the point rather dramatically (here we are again, only now the problem is much much bigger).

    Americans bending over backwards to accommodate trespassers who refuse to embrace our culture but are happy to take out of it whatever they like are likely the same ones who would have fought for the British in the revolutionary war or the Comanche in the Indian wars: always on the wrong side and against the evil and heartless United States. You keep saying I “don’t care” about this or that. Let me be clear: I care enormously about America and its citizens, particularly those who are dealing on a daily, and nightly, invasion along the border. My compassion is with the Americans, not the illegals. Where does your compassion lie?

    As for your larger point about the causes of illegal immigration… so you would have us try to fix Mexico? Isn’t America guilty of being blind to the fact that other cultures are not fertile ground for our way of doing things? “Supporting legislation that gets to the root of the problem” you say, as if the root of the problem lies within our borders. We have a poor track record of fixing other cultures (surely you’ll agree with that) and there’s no reason to believe we can make a dent in Mexico’s way of life and government.

    But we can make a dent in solving our own problems, and the fine citizens of Arizona have done just that. If I lived in Arizona right now, I’d have my ID in the car with me, and feel the relief of having a smaller, and not larger, invasion in my midst. A small price to pay. “Thank you officer!!!”

    • I wasn’t talking about protecting the rights of illegal immigrants, I was talking about the millions of legal Mexican (and other Hispanic) immigrants who are here, by right, but who will have to fear being treated like they don’t deserve to be here because they are Mexican (I think that was pretty clearly my point). Or do you just think anyone who is Mexican is automatically an illegal. It would explain your stance.

      Also, again, another point I made a few comments back that you clearly didn’t read: I’m not saying “Fix Mexico” (I said this wasn’t our responsibility, but I guess in the fight to make sure English was the only language we teach, no emphasis was put on actually reading it). I said we need to fix the laws and policies in place that unfairly take advantage of poor nations and keep them as our footstools. This isn’t about nation building and spreading democracy (the idiotic ideals of the Republican Party), this is about Fair Trade and the end of corrupt international business.

      Since you seem unable (or unwilling) to respond to the things I say and only interested in addressing the dummy-version of a Liberal thinker, why don’t I save you time:

      All Mexicans should be allowed to come into this country whenever they want.
      We should give Mexicans all our best jobs and let them move into our houses.
      White people are evil and should pay for everything bad they have ever done.
      If you have any money at all, you must give it away to the poor, all of it.

      Any other straw man arguments you want to waste your time arguing against?

      At first you seemed like a reasonable person arguing on the opposite side of the issue, and I could respect that. But these last couple of posts from you have revealed that you aren’t engaged in this discussion, merely parroting the knee jerk reactions of the Glenn Becks and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world. So do us both a favor and just go back to your blog and rant against Obama some more. It’s always easier to focus your anger at a figurehead, whether it be the president or the haunting specter of the Mexican Immigrant, than to study the world and realize that all of these issues are complex and a one-tact solution will never be enough.

      I think we’re done here.

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