Friday, July 01, 2005

June 2005 _Smithsonian_ article on Mexican immigration

Jonathan Kandell writes "Cross Purposes" for the June 2005 issue of Smithsonian. This is the article I referred to in my previous post. It is a brief, but very well-written article on the issue of immigration. It gives the Mexican point of view in terms of how many migrants come to the United States, work, and send remittances back to Mexico. According to the article,

"The surprising reality, however, is that Mexico's immigrants--a population exemplified by the half-million or so Poblanos living in the New York area, but with another 500,000 concentrated mainly in Los Angeles, Houston, and Chicago--fuel a complex economic dynamic, both here and at home. In taking on menial work in this country, Mexicans have not only raised their standard of living and that of their families, they've also created a flow of capital back to villages across Mexico, especially towns throughout Puebla. That transfer of wealth--around $17 billion last year, double what it was only four years ago--has transformed life across the border, where new housing, medical clinics and schools are under construction. 'Many government officials both in the United States and Mexico would argue that these remittances have accomplished what foreign aid and local public investment failed to do,' says Oscar Chacon, director of Enlaces America, a Chicago-based advocacy group for Latin American immigrants" (92-93)

The result is that such conditions challenge the misconceptions and assumptions that many hold about Mexican immigrants in the United States. The article provides some background, then focuses on some specific areas in Mexico to show the effects of the immigration in the local communities. As I said, it is well written, and it includes photographs. This is another item to add to the list of reading on the topic.

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