Mexican Immigrants Need Assimilation, Not Separation
by George Rodriguez
The current immigration debate reminds me of some lessons lost in history. My father organized a printers’ union in Laredo, Texas in the 1940s to keep Mexican illegal aliens from taking Americans’ jobs. Amazingly, 70 years later, liberals are claiming Mexican Americans and illegal aliens have mutual social, political and economic goals. I disagree with them totally.
For example, when my father was young the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) pursued a very different goal than it does today. Author Benjamin Marquez verifies this in his book “Constructing Identities in Mexican-American Political Organizations: Choosing Issues, Taking Sides”. LULAC’s original goal in 1929 was to promote the full assimilation of its members into U.S. Anglo-Saxon culture. They believed assimilation, the same pathway as every other immigrant group, was the best strategy to combat discrimination in south Texas. They even asserted that it was not the economic or political intuitions that were flawed but discrimination was the result of racism alone.
LULAC promoted capitalism and individualism, and believed that through hard work and assimilation Mexican Americans could improve themselves. They emphasized American patriotism, and asserted that Mexican Americans should disavow any allegiance to Mexico, remain permanently in the United States, and commit fully to the democratic ideals of the U.S. Their patriotism was evident by the group’s official song “America”, and claiming its official language as English, and even used its official prayer as the “George Washington Prayer”.
However, since the 1970s, liberals claim “the system” is the problem, and claim Mexican Americans and Mexican aliens are victims of the same “class struggle” against capitalism and racism. Groups like National Council of La Raza and the AFL-CIO have partnered to promote cultural separatism. Saul Alinsky groups like Valley InterFaith and COPS/Metro have organized local groups to further their economic and political agenda.
Still other groups like Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) have fought legal battles for voting rights and representation that only segregate Mexican Americans instead of integrating and assimilating them. New leaders such as San Antonio’s Mayor Julian Castro and his twin, U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro, like to speak about “Hispanic” and “Latino” issues, as if Cuban Americans, Puerto Ricans, Central, and South Americans all have the same history, national identity, and socio-economic status.
Texans of Mexican decent have been displaced socially, economically, and politically by Mexican aliens since the U.S.-Mexican border was created. Mexican Americans moved north to places like Chicago and Kansas City because the standard of living was depressed in south Texas by Mexican aliens. Poor and undereducated Mexican Americans have suffered the most from this competition, but liberals want to lump them together for their own political gain.
Billions of public dollars have been spent on south Texas since the “War on Poverty” began in the 1960s, and it is still poor because of the uncontrolled Mexican influx into the region. To help poor Mexican Americans in south Texas, we need a secure border, no amnesty for illegal aliens, and an assimilation policy for all immigrants. I am proud of my Mexican (not Hispanic or Latino) heritage but I am an American first, thanks to my parents.