Mexican-Americans Aren't Illegal Immigrants

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If this isn't evidence of at least a kind of residual racism among a readership who is usually fairly intelligent, I don't know what is. Tyler Cowen posts at the Volokh Conspiracy (a high quality legal blog, for those who don't read it) that Mexican-Americans tend to lower the crime rate in cities where they have a high presence. From the very beginning of the comments, almost every comment tries to respond by changing the subject to illegal immigration, as if Mexican-Americans are somehow illegal immigrants. When did we ever pass any laws that prevented Mexicans from immigrating legally? How did they get to be Americans if they were illegal. Last I knew, the Bush plan hadn't been implemented, and that would take years before anyone who entered illegally could restore themselves to good faith to be considered for citizenship anyway.

This reveals something about the gut assumptions of the primarily libertarian and libertarian-grounded conservative audience of a high-powered intellectual blog (or at least about those most motivated to comment). American law-abiding citizens are being assumed to be criminals merely because they were born in Mexico. So Mexicans are apparently criminals just because of their country of origin, even if they're legal immigrants to this country. The only thing I can think of to explain that is some sort of racism, even if it's unintentional and unconscious. I've seen this phenomenon before, but it was particulary obvious, especially given the site it was taking place at. I don't think this is something inherent to libertarianism or to intellectualism, but I wonder if there is something attractive about libertarianism and libertarian-like conservatism among those who are really irrational about things like this.


The reason why many might assume that all or most of those here who are of Mexican descent are illegal aliens is due not to what you suggest, but to the activities of "advocates" for "immigrants" and other racial demagogues. In fact, it goes to one of the pillars of "liberalism": group identity.

In fact, here's a post on the Hispanic implies "illegal alien" talking point used by those groups.

But the post in question explicitly identifies the people it's talking about as Americans.

I certainly don't think liberals are immune to the kind of racism I'm talking about anyway. It's just that those who are especially motivated by it are probably drawn to isolationism, which makes them more likely to be libertarians.

We Americans must be very diligent to maintain the distinction between Mexican-Americans and illegal immigrants. That is, illegal immigrants "cramp the style" of many Mexican-Americans who, of course, are fully American.

Mexican-Americans are born in the United States and, with the exception of a few misled advocates for illegal immigrant rights, are patriotic, law-abiding, tax-paying citizens as are most Americans. In contrast, many illegal immigrants claim Mexico as their country of origin, while others claim various Central and South American countries as their respective homelands. While illegal immigrants proudly wave their particular flags down Main Street U.S.A. in protest of U.S. immigration policies, many Mexican-Americans watch in disgust the appalling arrogance displayed by these illegal trespassers, often referred to by media commentators as invaders. But rather than label illegals "invaders," the term immigrant, yet illegal, is appropriate as illegals are invited into the U.S. by American employers (a grievous situation that has grafted illegal immigration into the American economy, forming a symbiotic union between the entities). Because Mexican-Americans share a historical connection to Mexico prior to the Guadalupe-Hidalgo Treaty of 1848, these true Americans, unfortunately, are often categorized into the illegal immigrant stereo type by fellow Americans, fellow Americans who, incidentally, trace their ancestral presence into the U.S. as recently as the dawn of the 20th century via Ellis Island. Many Mexican-Americans, on the other hand, trace their ancestral presence into the American Southwest via the Spanish colonial period of the 1500's and beyond.

Although the Spanish explorer, Francisco de Coronado, led the first Spanish expedition into the present-day American Southwest, 1540's, Juan de Onate is credited for establishing the first Spanish colony located in present-day Chamita, New Mexico, 1598. Indeed, many Mexican-Americans have traced their ancestral lineage to participants of the Onate expedition. Not only does that include Mexican-Americans of New Mexico, but also Texas and the entire Southwest, and by recent demographic shifts, extending to all states within the U.S. That is, historically, many participants of the Onate colonization remained in New Mexico while others returned to the colonial cities of Monterrey, Saltillo, Zacatecas, and other cities of New Spain. However, through the centuries, many of the descendents of the Onate pioneers moved northward from Monterrey, founding cities in Northern Mexico, then crossing to the northern side of the Rio Grande river and founding cities in South Texas, such as Rio Grande City, Roma-Los Saenz, Revilla, Laredo, San Antonio, and other cities as well as ranches near Kingsville and Victoria and other locations throughout South Texas. In addition to the Onate descendents, there were many other Spanish/Mexican pioneers that settled the Southwest before Guadalupe-Hidalgo. After Guadalupe-Hidalgo, these Mexican-Americans became American by default, endeavoring to assimilate into American society despite intense Anglo discrimination. Indeed, despite racial affliction, Mexican-Americans became patriotic Americans.

How is patriotism measured? In addition to good citizenship, perhaps patriotism is marked by proud military service, especially in time of war. Since Guadalupe-Hidalgo, Mexican-Americans have proudly served their country through military service, often sacrificing their very lives for America’s freedoms. For example, during the American Civil War, 1861-1865, many Mexican-Americans fought valiantly for both the Union and Confederacy. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, "The Federal Second Texas Cavalry, commanded by Col. John L. Haynes, a resident of Rio Grande City, was composed almost entirely of Tejanos [a Texas term for Mexican-Americans]...Company commanders included George Treviño, Clemente Zapata, Cesario Falcón, and Mónico de Abrego..." (2008). Additionally, some of the Mexican-Americans who fought for the Confederate States included Col. Santos Benavides, leader of the Benavides' Regiment, 33rd Texas Cavalry, C.S.A.; Capt. Joseph De La Garza killed in the Battle of Mansfield, Louisiana; Capt. Cristobal Benavides, 33rd Texas Cavalry, C.S.A.; Refugio Benavides, Atanacio Vidaurri, and many others (Latin American Studies Online). Additionally, old tombstones at the Los Saenz, Texas cemetery, which is indicative of most cemeteries found in South Texas, mark the graves of Mexican-Americans who fought in WW1. Of course, recent history as well as common knowledge proclaims the participation of Mexican-Americans in WW2, the Korean Conflict, Vietnam, Desert Storm, and Afghanistan/Iraq. It is said that America's freedoms are paid for by the blood of our fallen soldiers. Let us never forget that patriotic Mexican-American blood is assimilated into that purchase, enshrined in the halls of freedom, giving hope to world's oppressed peoples.

In the Mexican-American experience since Guadalupe-Hidalgo, the welcome mat into American society has not happened over night as has been the case with recent European immigrants. Indeed, Mexican-American realization of first-class citizenship may be considered a work in progress with many social gaps to bridge through efforts by both the American ruling class and the Mexican-American community. Nevertheless, it is important to note that while Mexican-Americans continue to strive for recognition as Americans, the illegal immigration debacle only serves to complicate their endeavor. Further, it is important to understand and acknowledge that Mexican-Americans are fully American, legal citizens as much as other persons born in the United States--and illegal immigrants are not! It is tough enough acquiring rightful recognition as Americans without the illegal immigration disaster complicating this endeavor. That is why illegal immigrants and a handful of misled sympathizers “cramp the style” of Mexican-Americans.

Author: Miguel A. from Texas, Onate descendent, Mexican-American


Latin American Studies Online. (2008). Mexicans in the u.s. civil war. Latin American Studies Online. Retrieved July 14, 2008.

Handbook of Texas Online. (2008). Mexican Texans in the civil war. The handbook of texas online. Retrieved July 14, 2008.

I agree completely! If you are not a lawful citizen or resident alien of the United States then you do not belong here!
They can wait their turn to come into this country like my family did, the right and legal way! Many people who have Spanish Surnames come into conflict by others who assume they are "Mexican Last Names" or are for this cause of allowing people to freely come into the United States illegally. I am tired of that public perception.
The laws of the United States may not be perfect and may seem unreasonable. But if a person looks at the entire spectrum of things they would understand that there is a much larger world out there and the United States needs to consider other people who would like to come into the United States for a new life.
But those who are living here already either legally (including some of my own personal relatives) or illegally need to understand that the United States is still the land of promise and opportunity. If they don't like it here they are free to leave. If it was my way I would easily trade one of them for somebody South of the border who wants to be here, who is willing to work hard, and have a better future.

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