The “Border Beat” (September 29, 2008)

What a week.  The U.S. economy is in collapse and definitely giving some fire and focus to the presidential campaign.  At the same time, it helps to frame the continuing struggles of poor folks in the U.S., in particular, a large percentage of Latinos.  Adding to the fun, the immigration issue is very much alive in the daily lives of millions and the economic downturn is fueling a seemingly endless contest to scapegoat those people as a prime cause.

Welcome to the “Border Beat”!

• “U.S. census survey finds more of California’s immigrants are joining the mainstream” (Los Angeles Times)
You may have missed this story in the economic mess last week but it is worth reading.  Figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show an assimilationist trend among foreign born and Spanish speaking.  In California, where 54% of the population are people of color and 25% are foreign-born, more than half of native Spanish speakers are identifying themselves as “English fluent.”  This is a HUGE contradiction to the notion that “real” assimilation can only take place when the immigrant is in small numbers, isolated from his/her culture and country, and in a “white” majority environment.  Or maybe not.  Maybe it is a testament to the power of “American” culture to assimlate even against the odds.

• “Immigration Slows in Face of Economic Downturn” (Wall Street Journal)
The same Census survey sourced above is also providing more data on the decrease in the immigrant population nationwide.  Historically, this is the natural trend of a depression–less economic opportunity here means less people try to come.  That the article ties this trend also to the ICE raids is a little unfounded.  They play a role, to be sure, but not a direct one as they touch but 1 or 2 percent of the total.

• “Mexicans feeling pinch as income stream from U.S. slows” (Dallas Morning News)
The same news above is portrayed here, from a different angle.  As economic opportunities dry up for immigrants and native-born alike, there is less money to send back to relatives in Latin America.  These remittances (from the U.S.) drive the GDP of more than a few nations and are, in many ways, the goal of immigration in the first place.  They are also a reminder–a sad and trangic reminder–of the scope of the U.S. economy and its downfall.

• “Now is the Time to Resist Wall Street’s Shock Doctrine” (Huffington Post)
Naomi Klein–author of the brilliant book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism–puts the current economic mess into her analytical framework.  She is so cool.

• “New Haven criticized in Mexican flag dispute” (Newsday)
And here we go…. Times are tough and people are pissed, and what better thing to turn to that good, old fashioned nationalism.


Historical Photograph of the Week

Student protestors and government forces on the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, Tlatelolco (México) on the morning of October 2, 1968.  Later that evening, government forces would open fire killing at least 300. [Source]

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