Changeseeker: February 2008 Archives
I am officially too busy to breathe any more. The effects of this remain to be seen. However, I'm assuming, given what I've been taught about breathing, they will be dire. Nevertheless, I was tipped to a blog post this morning that won't let me go to bed until I link to it here. The post is by Joe DeRaymond at Dissident Voice and is entitled The Reality of Migration: the View From El Salvador. It's one of the most elegant, concise and convincing discussions of immigration and U.S. public policy I've ever read. If you have any confidence left whatsoever in the reasoning of a person who has allowed themselves to become too busy to breathe, I strongly urge that you read DeRaymond's post as soon as you can. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to read it from a soap box, put it on the radio, and print out copies to paste side by side like posters on downtown fences. I wish everybody in the United States could hear it from loudspeakers over and over until this madness ends.
I learn by talking with friends and watching films. And occasionally, I run across a book that brings it all together. Last week, I finally picked up Across a Hundred Mountains, a book I bought a year ago when I met the author, Reyna Grande, at a writers' conference. As unfortunate as it was that I let it sit on the shelf for a year, the path I've been on recently, receiving much more input from and about the struggles of brown people, prepared me better to be open to this novel about being Mexican on both sides of the border.
When I came out of the sweat lodge in Tlxacalancingo last year and got hosed down, someone thrust an orange into my hands and before I knew it, I had eaten at least two, maybe three. I was ravenous for the sweet juicy pulp.
My mind reacted to Grande's book much like my body reacted to those oranges. I woke up to it and went to bed with it at night until it was finished, thinking about it during the day while I craved to see what the next chapter would bring.
Publishers Weekly calls it, "A topical and heartbreaking border story...Two stories cross and re-cross in unexpected ways, driving toward a powerful conclusion."
Thanks to This Week In History, I learned that there was a mass deporting of Mexicans nearly eighty years ago, implementing many of the same techniques and for many of the same reasons as the current rash of anti-immigrant governmental practices.
"A national program of deportation began in 1928 and peaked in 1931. Secretary of Labor William N. Doak instigated a scare campaign against Mexicans with immigration officers, local police and newspapers publicizing deportation “raids” as a way to frighten Mexicans into leaving voluntarily. Dr. Jorge Chinea writes that one problem with the mass departure lay in the fact that it included legal and illegal immigrants, temporary workers and permanent residents, U. S. citizens and aliens."
Sound familiar? Find out more at the El Paso Community College Local History Project.