El Norte

The topic of immigration, particularly from Mexico, has been highly controversial in the United States for years. Lately, it has been grabbing news headlines because President Obama presented as new plan for immigration reform. America’s neighbor to the south, Mexico, continues to have working and living problems that drive many Mexicans to chance crossing the border into the U.S. without legal documentation. Over the years, stricter border patrol and brutal drug wars have made it more difficult and dangerous for Mexicans to cross the border safely and successfully. However, illegal immigration persists.

According to R. Conrad Stein, author of The Story of Mexico: Modern Mexico, published by Morgan Reynolds, for the Mexican poor there has long been an understandable attraction for el norte, the United States.

Inflation has ravaged the Mexican peso in the past few decades. Although it has recovered some, the cost of living keeps going up at a rapid pace. “To most Mexicans it was a matter of simple arithmetic. A man pushing a wheel barrel at a construction site in Mexico earned six or seven dollars a day, whereas the same work north of the border paid that much an hour. It was a matter of survival.”

For years, Stein writes, even after there were efforts made to beef up border patrol, the migrants still came. “They waded across the Rio Grand and climbed barbed wire fences. They crawled through sewer pipes. They endured freezing nights in the windswept Arizona deserts. They hid in shipping crates, car trunks, and railroad boxcars to make the crossing.”

Gangs fighting over the highly lucrative drug trade have added yet another dangerous obstacle to migrants. Immigrants who are found in a gang’s territory are often made to be drug mules—to carry the narcotics across the border. Or they are shot on sight.

Stein writes that Americans are the # 1 reason narcotics have become so lucrative in Mexico. “Mexican narcotics gangs smuggled illegal drugs—cocaine, heroin, and marijuana—over the border to their contacts in the United States. Americans consume more illegal drugs than the citizens of any other nation in the world. The business of drug smuggling was [and is] fantastically lucrative, bringing Mexican narco gangs an estimated $14 billion a year . . . .”

Despite all the obstacles, illegal immigration continues. To develop a fuller understanding of the forces that drive Mexican immigration one needs to be informed of history of Mexico and its relationship with the United States. The Story of Mexico, a series of eight books written by Stein, provides an excellent introduction to the subject.

Adrianne Loggins
Associate Editor


The Story of Mexico: The Mexican Revolution  

(ISBN: 9781599350516)

The Story of Mexico: Benito Juarez and the French Intervention

(ISBN: 9781599350523)

The Story of Mexico: Cortes and the Spanish Conquest

(ISBN: 9781599350530)

The Story of Mexico: The Mexican War of Independence

(ISBN: 9781599350547)

The Story of Mexico: Modern Mexico

(ISBN: 9781599351629)

The Story of Mexico: The Mexican-American War 

(ISBN: 9781599351605)

The Story of Mexico: Emiliano Zapata and the Mexican Revolution

(ISBN: 9781599351636)

The Story of Mexico: Ancient Mexico

(ISBN: 9781599351612)

Published in: on May 20, 2011 at 4:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,