Marc Cooper Gives the Exodus Context

Marc Cooper's Exodus piece in the Atlantic Monthly is a must-read, especially for those more curious in punishing than integrating los sinpapeles. The article, other than a tease paragraph, is hidden behind a sub wall– but this is worth paying for:

With an estimated 11-to-1 manufacturing wage differential between the two countries (some experts put the agricultural wage gap at twice that), why is anyone shocked by what’s happening? “You’re looking at the biggest story of our lives,” [writer Charles] Bowden told me over dinner. “This is the largest cross-border human migration in history.” Though rarely, if ever, posed in those terms, the staggering numbers tend to bolster Bowden’s sweeping vision. Something like 15 million to 20 million migrants have crossed into the United States over the last two decades. An equal number are expected to do so in the next twenty years. “People aren’t coming here as much as they are leaving a cratered economy,” Bowden said. “The only way you’ll stop Mexicans coming to the U.S. is if you lower American wages to the same level as Vietnam. Someone worth maybe $100 a month in Mexico who comes to the U.S. becomes a human ATM machine. McCain-Kennedy, Kyl-Cornyn?” he said, referring to the hodge-podge of current immigration-reform proposals. “It’s all bullshit. What we’re seeing is something right out of the Bible. This is an exodus.

I appreciate Cooper's highlighting of some of the pernicious effects of Clinton's border policies:

Making the crossing ever more dangerous seems to be about the only tangible result of U.S. border policy in the past decade. In 1994, the Clinton administration—fearing the political repercussions after the anti-immigrant Proposition 187 passed in California—implemented a “prevention through deterrence” border program. One after another, the traditional urban crossing points, near San Diego, Nogales, and El Paso, were simply blockaded and more or less shut down. Military-sounding campaigns like Operation Gatekeeper, Operation Hold-the-Line, Operation Safeguard, and Operation Rio Grande didn’t do much to keep the migrants out of the United States. But driving them away from border cities got them—for a while, at least—out of the news. Historic and decades-old human streams were rerouted from California and Texas and funneled into the relatively unpopulated, inhospitable terrain along the Arizona border. Out of sight. Out of mind. Again, for a time.

Cooper also picks up on a theme of mine: that anti-immigrant advocates are correct: immigration is changing the U.S.:

One thing [Jon E.] Dougherty’s got right, even if he overdramatizes it, is that the historic migration we are witnessing is radically remaking American culture, producing what some call, in a new twist on an old term, a “Los Angelization” of the country.


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