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Immigration in The U.S. Essay Sample

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Immigration in The U.S. Essay Sample

The U.S. – Mexican Border, as we know the border of Mexico and the United States is the most popular, demanding, and problematic in the world. We can define the border as a 960,000-mile-wide strip of land centered on the international boundary line, which stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean. The one side of the nearly 2,000-mile-long border lies the United States with California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as neighbors. On the other side we have Mexico with Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahuas, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, and Tamaulipas as neighbors. Both countries share a large diversity of flora and fauna, also what is very important the combination or fusion of cultures between this two countries. The international boundary line was established in the mid-nineteenth century. Where before it had been just a river along which towns had naturally settled, the Rio Grande now became a dividing line; however, we still have does nonriver towns that shear the border line (University ix).

To know a little more about this international border we want to go back in time. After Mexico won independence from Spain in 1821, people started to migrate to north part of Mexico; Mexico began to encourage trade. The inauguration of the Santa Fe Trail in 1821 linked Independence, in western Missouri, to Santa Fe and extended the Missouri trade into Chihuahua, a city in north central Mexico.

This growing trade led the northern Mexican provinces to seek manufactured goods from the United States rather than areas in southern Mexico. People that were living in the north part of Mexico became independent from the rest of the country (Encarta 2002).

By the 1830s the population of Mexican Texas included many immigrants from the United States. These Anglo-American colonists were angry over Mexican attempts to deny autonomy to Texas and were unhappy with a law that prevented immigration from the United States into Texas. They were also wary of Catholic laws and customs. In 1835 they revolted and established Texas as an independent republic. When hostilities ceased, Mexican General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna (el gran pendejo) agreed to withdraw his troops across the Rio Grande and recognize the independence of Texas. The Mexican congress rejected the agreement, and many Mexicans assumed the nation would regain Texas. However, Mexico was in no position to retake Texas by force. The Lone Star Republic, as it was known, remained independent from 1836 to 1845, when the United States Congress approved a joint resolution annexing Texas. Mexico considered this annexation an act of aggression, and the Mexican diplomat in Washington, D.C., broke off negotiations and went home (Casta�edo 48, 49).

With diplomatic relations broken, President Polk (1845 – 1849) sent John Slidell as a special envoy to Mexico to negotiate a dispute over the boundary between Texas and Mexico. Throughout the colonial era the western boundary of Spanish “Tejas” had been the Nueces River. During the Mexican period of Texas history, from 1821 to 1845, Spanish and Mexican maps and documents reaffirmed the Nueces River as the boundary. But the Anglos in Texas, and their backers in the United States, insisted that the western boundary was the Rio Grande. At stake were not merely the 150 miles that separated the Nueces from the Rio Grande in southern Texas, but the thousands of square miles of territory to the northwest that also fell within the claim (including half of New Mexico, several hundred miles west of the headwaters of the Nueces River) (Raat 55,56).

But when Jose Joaquin de Herrera President of Mexico discovered that Slidell also had secret instructions to negotiate for the purchase of California and New Mexico, he quickly informed Polk that he had nothing to discuss with Slidell. Herrera was then overthrown by General Mariano Paredes, and Mexico prepared to assert its authority over Texas by mobilizing an army of 5200 troops near the mouth of the Rio Grande under the command of General Mariano Arista. After the border dispute the Mexican – U.S. War of 1846 started, and we know that in this point of history is when Mexico lost almost half of its territory (California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas). Even thought the United States won the war in 1848, they still intervened in Mexican relationships, both economically and militarily. This point was the end of a new beginning for the border (Schmitt 71, 72).

In the same year that the war was over gold was discovered in the northern regions of California, initiating the goal rush. This leaded an immense migration from Mexico to the U.S.; however, not everyone could take part in the region’ prosperity. Since many migrants did not make it to California, the population near the boarder region increased in a significant way. In 1858, the Mexican president established free zones, where goods could be transferred from the U.S. to Mexico or vise versus with out paying tariff. Tamaulipas and Chihuahuas were the first states with free zone continuing with Nuevo Leon, and on 1885 the Mexican president implemented free zone to the entire border region (Lorey 32, 33).

Political instability prevented significant economic growth for much of the 19th century. It was until the last quarter of the nineteenth century when Mexico’s economy had taken off for the first time. With Porfirio Diaz at the presidency in 1876, the international border for the first time was sustained political stable. Diaz imposed law and order with a focus on promoting the Mexican economy to grow at a greater level. But he needed capital to start his project; here is where the United States tock place. With capital from U.S. investors Porfirio Diaz started building railroads, mining operations, export agriculture, and commercial endeavors throughout the border region. Three major innovations happened in the border while Diaz was at the presidency.

First, transportation by railroads revolutionized the relationship between border production and markets. Second, distant markets for border commodities had developed. Silver, copper, salt, lead and other mineral production; lumber; commercial agricultural products such as wheat and cotton; and livestock were all in great demand as both Mexico and U.S economies grew. Third, labor and capital for extractive activities, both of which originated outside the region and created a distinctly dependent border economy, increased in quantity and flexibility. Also the railroad increased the value of the border region’s natural resources by connecting them to distant processing plants, distribution centers, and markets. During the final year of the Diaz administration, U.S. citizens owned 17 of 31 major mining companies operating in Mexico, controlling 81 percent of the industry’s total capital, and British investors held 14.5 percent (Lorey 35-38).

In the Mexican Border States, the period from 1910 to 1917 was dominated by the convulsive political disturbance of the Revolution of 1910, which had great impacts for Mexico and border regions. However, the revolution did not destroy the Mexican economy. The commercial exchange increased significantly: the value of imports from the United States trebled between 1911 to 1920. From this point and on we can see major changes that affected both countries like World War II where the U.S. border states emerged as international leaders in aircraft, defense-related, and high-tech innovations or the Spanish-Speaking Congress movement that secured the basic right for Mexican and Spanish-speaking people, but for now we will make a jump to where we are now (Lorey 82-83).

In recent year the U.S.-Mexico border regions has experienced a rapid increase in population. At the middle of the 19th century only 70,000 people lived along the border. In 1990 almost ten million people lived along the border. This affects the population that lives in the interior of Mexico because the high employment wages are the ones next to the border. From the U.S. side, we see relatively a low wage scale which attracted new business to the area causing the growth of population. It is not for our convenience that people migrated to these regions because cost of living goes up and salaries goes down. The more people we are, the more competition we have. It is nice though to learn different cultures, different languages, and habits.

It is important to note that Mexico’s leading source of revenue is the maquiladoras which it started in 1960s. The maquiladoras, or in-bond manufacturing, program allows foreign companies to set up plants in Mexico to which they can ship raw material and components duty-free for assembly or futher processing and subsequent exportation. These assembly plants, called maquiladoras, traditionally have produce electronic components, automotive parts, or clothing, but are expanding to other areas. The number of maquiladoras has increased greatly during the 1980s, and they are perceived by some economic development analysts as the salvation of the border economy. But for my point of view I think the maquiladoras are going down. For example in Ensenada a just to see 7 maquiladoras opened on my way to my uncle’s house, and now a just see one open, and I have been going regularly. I talk with people and most of them tell me that maquiladoras are not operating anymore. (Lorey 2, 3).

Another important event happened in 1993, the U.S. Congress gave President Bush authority to negotiate a free-trade agreement with Mexico while Carlos Salinas was at the presidency. This trade is The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) however it was Implementation on January 1, 1994. There is perhaps no better place to visualize the impact of NAFTA on trade than at our borders. Increasingly long lines of tractor trailers on both sides of the line make it clear that trade between NAFTA partners is significant, and it is growing. Thanks to this trade, the U.S.-Mexican border area is actually the fastest growing economic region in North America, where many cities on both sides of the border are experiencing economic growth. We have seen a number of factors that have contributed to this growth, but NAFTA plays a major role in this unique prosperity. In 1997, approximately $137 billion worth of U.S.-Mexican trade passed through Mexican-U.S. border ports. Texas has, by far, the most important border crossing points (border ports) for all Mexican-U.S and Mexico-Canadian trade, including the majority of agricultural trade. Arizona and California ports are very important for agricultural, fish and forestry products (Castaeda 65 – 68).

In 1996, approximately 65 percent of Mexican-U.S. agricultural trade was transported over land. On average, the United States exports approximately 55 percent of all agricultural products to Mexico over land, while Mexico exports about 85 percent of its agricultural exports that way. Ocean freight is also an important mode of transportation for U.S. grains. There are approximately 29 commercial border crossing points along the U.S./Mexico border of which nine ports handle the mass of the trade. There are also six ports that service rail transport through the border. Although U.S. imports have grown under NAFTA, so have U.S. exports. Without NAFTA, the United States would have lost these expanded export opportunities. So we can say that the U.S. depends in some way on Mexico, as well as, Mexico depends on almost 90% on U.S. (Garza 40, 41).

Whereas in 1975 Mexican petroleum and Mexico’s newfound wealth were the main topics of conversation in the borderlands, today the words heard most often are maquiladoras, free trade and drugs; however, I think that narcos (drug dealers) make more money than investors on free trade. Another suspicion that I have is that the U.S. government knows who the narcos are, but if the U.S. government locks them up this will affect U.S. economy, as well as, Mexico’s economy. Another illegal act that takes place in the Mexico-U.S. border is the crossing of o mojados (immigrants). The people that crossed immigrants are known as “polleros” (Casta�eda 14). Although what they are doing is wrong, we can not blame the polleros for trying to survive in this world; like us they want to have a good life. Personally I feel bad when border patrols killed a person that is trying to give a better life to his /her family. They forget that we are humans that we are equal, and we should not kill each other. We have to stop this!

Work Cited

Castaeda, Jorge G. and Pastor Robert A. Limites en la Amistad Mexico y Estados Unidos. Ed. Joaquin Mortiz. Mexico D.F.: 1989.

Castaeda, Jorge G. The Mexican Shock its Meaning for the U.S. The New Press. New York, NY: 1995.

Encarta(r) Encyclopedia 2002, Mexican War. Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

Garcia, Rodolfo and Velasco, Jesus. Bringing the Border. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc. Boston: 1997.

Lorey, David E. The U.S.-Mexican Border in the Twentieth Century. Wilmington, DE: Scholarly Resources, 1999.

Martinez Oscar J. Mexican – Origin People in the United Stades. The University of Arizona Press. Tucson AR: 2001.

Raat Dirk W. Mexican & The United States. University of Georgia Press: 1992.

Schmitt, Karl M. Mexico y Estados Unidos 1821 – 1973. Editor Limusa 1978.

University Press of America. The Challenge of Interdependence: Mexico and the United States. Lanham, MD: 1989.

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