The “Border Beat” (December 30, 2008)

Needless to say, it’s been a full year in Latinolandia USA.  With the conclusion of the election season, there has been something of a tempering of the media’s focus on race issues, and on Latino-related ones in particular.  It is at times like these that significant stories might slip under the radar.

Here’s the final “Border Beat” of 2008:

• Mexican immigrants moving back home amid sour economy (Chicago Tribune)
For over a century now, Mexican workers have been fulfilling the seasonal labor needs of various sectors of the US economy.  This has only increased over time with the organized and formal importation of workers from Mexico, to the dismantling of union labor, to the highly orchestrated and massaged system of international capitalism linking businesses in the US and elsewhere to production and (often manipulated) labor reserves in Latin America.  With the seasonal labor has come a seasonal movement back, during the down times, an important time of family reunification and economic stimulus to regions of Mexico.  Right now, a lot of that movement seems to be “permanent.”

• City of Immigrants Fills Jail Cells With Its Own (New York Times)
This story is absolutely fascinating and tragic at the same time.  It is an in-depth exposé into the complex system of pubic-private human detention and exportation the US government and its corporate subsidiaries have developed over the past decade or so.  This is a long story but well-worth the read.

• Latin American migrants often don’t make it to U.S. (Baltimore Sun)
US Americans are often fixated on their southern border with Mexico as the ground zero in the “war on illegal immigration.”  What they don’t realize is the way human migration often takes place in segments–whether from rural town to urban center and then across the border (as it does for most Mexicans) or across multiple borders (as it does for many Central Americans from south of Mexico).  This piece provides a glimpse into that process while also centering a discussion of the dangers involved in human migration within the hemisphere.  Our ground zero has taken the lives of some four to five thousand people in the past decade or so.  But it is not the only geography of violence.

• The Army wants more recruits from L.A. (Los Angeles Times)
Back in 1966, as the US military struggled in an unpopular war, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara had the brilliant idea of of lowering the mental and physical requirements for military service as a way of lowering the number of rejected enlistees and increasing the Army’s surplus of infantry men.  The result was something called “Project 100,000,” an organized government program that literally preyed on teenage males in poor communities in the US.  Let’s hope current struggles to meet recruitment quotas don’t go the same way.

• Tensions rise with U.S.-Mexican border fence (USA Today)
Just because the US elected a Black president doesn’t mean the stupid waste of money called the “Border Fence” isn’t still stretching further along the border everyday.  Your president voted for it after all.  As it creeps into the Latino stronghold of El Paso, this article shares some of the social forces it teases.

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