La Profesora Abstraída

Weblog of Michelle Dion, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, at McMaster University. My blog has moved to Visit my other website.

Monday, April 04, 2005

The return of the Minutemen....

Earlier, I posted about the Minutemen patrolling the border in Arizona. It was also mentioned by prominent bloggers and other interesting blogs. Since I first posted, Morning Edition has run a second story on the Minutemen. I can understand how some people concerned about immigration might be frustrated by the porousness of the border, but I'm almost certain that allowing volunteers to patrol the border is not a good band-aid.

If you're interested in reducing demand, increase penalties for employers that hire illegals. If you're interested in reducing supply, do more to boost the rural Mexican economy. Offer special tax incentives for firms willing to invest in the states that send the largest proportion of immigrants. Mexican states like San Luis Potosi, Aguascalientes. Driving south from Texas to Mexico City, I can understand why many Mexicans migrate to the States. There are long streches punctuated by tiny towns with no apparent means of economic development.

Last fall, when the Fox administration released a booklet for migrants, it made a big splash in the U.S., at least on Fox News Channel. Brian sent me the link to the online version, so I thought I'd tell you what the booklet really says.

Image from

The booklet tells migrants to take lots of water, not use coyotes (smugglers), not carry weapons or firearms, and not to lie to immigration officials if they are stopped. They also tell men not to beat their wives or children because the police can arrest you and take your children away. They also explain that all searches of your home require a search warrant, and that if you are arrested, you have a right to request a lawyer. All very sensible advice.

The booklet itself was written in the format of a small comic book, which are very popular among working-class men here. Often, the Spanish is filled with slang references or spellings, and always the women are scantily clad. To give you a sense, there is a series called "Luchas Calientes y las gordas del ring" [Hot wrestling, and the fat chicks of the ring] in which Mexican wrestlers, complete with spandex and masks, seduce or take various women.

For the most part, the government booklet gives factual information about the dangers of crossing the border and certainly does not glorify the process. The most damning evidence that the booklets are really going to encourage migration is the way that they depict women. The Mexican women in the booklet are modest, pretty, but not too curvy. The American women, however, look just like a character out of Luchas Calientes. You can see for yourself below.

Mexican woman

Image from

U.S. woman

Image from

I personally perfer the Mexican woman's style to that of the U.S. woman, but I fear that Mexican men do not have such good taste.

The entire booklet is online, and you can listed to radio announcements, too.

posted by Michelle @ 11:23 AM,


At 4/05/2005 2:27 PM, Blogger Gindy said...

"If you're interested in reducing demand, increase penalties for employers that hire illegals."

True. That never works because our government refuses to enforce laws like that (like most immigrations laws). The best way to shut down illegal immigrants from tresspassing across our border it to put the national guard down there. In fact, Mexico moved 1000 troops to the border. Why will the American government not do the same? As well, the Mexican government is taking on the role as an enemy to America by forcing there problem on to us. The government is responsible for that. What would happen if the situation were reversed? Are you telling me that the Mexican government wouldn't mind at all? No. Because in fact they patrol their sounthern border unlike America. Any illegals that Mexico finds get sent back to the country of origin.

I am not against immigration. I am against illegal immigration. Lets greatly (And I mean greatly) increase the number of legal immigrants allowed into the U.S. and let's shut off illegal immigration all together. American citizens don't deserve this abuse from our government or Mexico's. We deserve to know who is coming into our country. Don't you agree?

At 4/13/2005 11:57 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Sorry for the delay. But.... Respectfully, I disagree. No, I don't agree that putting the national guard on the boarder will help. It will only make smugglers become more crafty and more would-be migrants would die. We will never be able to completely seal the border, and anything we do to make crossing more difficult, will only lead to more death.

I do think it makes more sense to target employers and hit them hard with large fines that would erase any savings they earn by hiring illegals. I think it would be easier to fine restaurants, builders, and other would be employers of illegals than finding all the illegals or stopping them from crossing the border. For one, these business are ususally located in one place, unlike the migrants. They usually are incorporated into the formal sector and pay taxes, unlike (many) migrants.

If employers stopped hiring, the jobs would dry up. The demand for workers would be reduced. Migrants would stopping trying to cross. Migrants have information about the availability of jobs, but seldom do they have information about which smugglers will leave them trapped in a trailer in the desert in July. And in that light, we should understand that by educating Mexicans about the dangers of crossing (as the government pamphlet mentioned in my post does), the government is actually trying to depress the numbers of people trying to cross the border.

At 7/28/2007 9:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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