Immigration skeptics like Victor Davis Hanson, author of Mexifornia, warn that Mexican culture is supplanting our own. My knee-jerk reaction is to say “Mildly. What’s the big deal?” But a fine essay by Douglas Massey has shown me the error of my ways. In reality, it’s American culture that’s supplanting Mexican culture, and not the other way around:
We influence Mexican culture and society far more than they affect U.S. culture and society. Within Mexico, Wal-Mart, McDonald’s, Toys ‘R Us, and 7-11 are increasingly displacing Mexican outlets. Even Taco Bell is making inroads, and American cultural traditions such as Halloween and Santa Claus now compete with Mexican celebrations such as Day of the Dead and Three Kings Day.
Linguistically, English-speakers certainly have nothing to fear. English is increasingly spoken in Mexico and is viewed as essential for social and economic advancement. Even the smallest towns and cities in Mexico have bustling English language academies, and English has become a core part of the Spanish spoken by most Mexicans. Within the United States, in contrast, few Anglo-Americans speak Spanish and although it may be widely spoken among new immigrants, there is a rapid shift to English over time. Few of children of immigrants use Spanish rather than English and virtually none of their grandchildren can speak it at all.
Looks like there’s little reason to fear that California will become Mexifornia. But Mexico is well on its way to becoming the nation of Yanquico.
Aug 22 2006 at 1:40pm
Mexico is assimilating American culture voluntarily. The U.S. is becoming Mexified against the wishes of a majority of Americans, and illegally too.
Aug 22 2006 at 1:47pm
What was legal about *STEALING* the land from the native Americans, killing some of them and putting the survivors into concentration camps, AKA reservations?
Somehow I feel that allowing the surviving descendants of the victims of the conquistadors to come here and mow our lawns is the least we can do. . .
Aug 22 2006 at 2:26pm
For sheer non sequitoriness your comment is hard to beat.
Aug 22 2006 at 2:47pm
Indeed, just last week I was taken hostage and forced to eat yummy Pollo Campero against my will. Villains!
Evidently we have already lost the culture war against Chinese food, despite the 1870 Naturalization Act (which excluded Chinese from citizenship), the 1917 Asiatic Barred Zone Act, and the 1924 Asian Exclusion Act. Dang!
Aug 22 2006 at 7:37pm
Mexican immigrant women, for example, have an illegitimacy rate of 41%, according to the NCHS, while American-born Mexican-American women have an illegitimacy rate of 48%. So, clearly, Mexican immigrants over the generations are assimilating toward American norms … African-American norms, in this case (the black illegitimacy rate is 68%).
Aug 22 2006 at 9:16pm
If Mexico and the United States both gravitate toward being more like each other before reaching some kind of equilibrium, I’d view that as unfortunate. I don’t live in Mexico and I don’t want to. I don’t quite share Solzhenitsyn’s mourning of the homogenization of the world though, because I don’t really appreciate anything “exotic”. I guess I’m just a philistine.
I am always confused by the people who bring up how the land was stolen. Do you expect me to feel guilty about what happened before my ancestors immigrated or (if I was the descendant of the more original settlers) what my great-great…grandad did? Do you think it makes the arrival of foreigners seem more benign? I’m all for getting rid of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and whatnot, but there’s no way I’m going to try to reduce some sort of deficit in collective cosmic historical karma.
Aug 23 2006 at 1:52am
‘What’s the big deal’?
That question might be better answered by someone who’s lost a loved one to an illegal Mexican drunk-driver.
Aug 23 2006 at 3:13am
That question might be better answered by someone who’s lost a loved one to an illegal Mexican drunk-driver.
Or shot by a black man in a hold up perhaps?
Aug 23 2006 at 7:00am
If the black man’s a native, no.
If the black man’s a foreigner then yes, whether they are naturalised or not.
Aug 23 2006 at 3:22pm
Oh no. I wouldn’t dare imply that you’re being the least bit racist in your xenophobia.
Aug 23 2006 at 5:55pm
[…The U.S. is becoming Mexified against the wishes of a majority of Americans, and illegally too…]
Ha! Ha! Except when they consume the products of Mexican labor or patronize the products of todays elite Californians that are largely based on Mexican labor! For shame: Not only is the U.S *not* becoming Mexified (any more than it was becoming Judaized, Celticized, Germanized, or Asianized a while back); a majority of Americans are voting with their wallets to support the *ahem* barbarian invasion.
If you guys are so hott – why not start a boycott? A majority boycott of Walmart, of the movies and music of artistes that patronize illegal mexican labor, a boycott of vineyards and wineries would have amazing results. Put your money where your mouth is.
[…If the black mans a foreigner then yes, whether they are naturalised or not…]
Priceless. Apparently, its not only where you go to after you die that matters – it also matters the citizenship of that which dispatched you to the other side. Apparently, being killed by a Jamaican is more grievous! Pesky Jamaican DNA! Pesky Jamaican passport!
Massey is right on track – unfortunately, the venomous blood and soil right wingers bring little of the empirical astuteness of Massey to this debate. Not only is Buchanan back on his screed circuit yelling State of Emergency – his message hasnt changed one bit: We are being invaded! Blah! YET – the likes of Buchanan fail to do the reasonable: Vote with their wallets, just as Mexicans supposedly vote with their feet.
On a side note: I think all those who complain about H1-B Indian IT workers should do the same. Boycott. Put your money where your mouth is.
Aug 23 2006 at 8:05pm
What a poisonous brew of comments this post has elicited! Yuck, those people are Americans too???
Go visit Mexico, or Guatemala, or Honduras. Or the Bahamas or Belize, for that matter. I’ve been to all of them in the past two years. They all bear the deep imprint of American culture. It’s something the people there seem happy to have.
I just hope they don’t adopt our racism and xenophobia in their embrace of our values.
Aug 24 2006 at 12:24am
The issue isn’t cultural it’s…economic (ignoring any possible difficulties in separating the cultural from the economic.) This is an Economics blog, right?
Do the benefits of cheap labor exceed the costs of extra public assistance…to name the most obvious economic issue? And, to what extent are poor or near poor Americans hurt by this influx? This certainly seems to be a major problem in NC, where I live. Construction sites are manned almost entirely by Mexicans.
Over the long run, we need massive immigration to solve our demographic problem (Soc. Security, etc.) Over the short run, I’d be wildly surprised if the costs don’t exceed the benefits.
Aug 24 2006 at 2:05am
“Over the short run, I’d be wildly surprised if the costs don’t exceed the benefits.”
I’d be wildly surprised if they did. Undocumented immigrants arent eligable for most of the huge entitlement programs such as medicare and social security, yet still often pay taxes. And lets not forget how markets actually work, as immigrants are new consumption markets as well as labor.
But still theres this focus on dirty brown people exploiting the subsidized schools and emergency rooms, yet amazingly little on old people and farmers exploiting vast entitlement programs.
Aug 24 2006 at 6:50am
It was you who mentiond race first, not me. You’re the one with the race problem. As far as being accused of xenophobia’s concerned, well xenophobia’s not a crime – although I think it’s as morally abhorrent as xenophilia.
I’m not an American, and where you go on vacation is your business. Tell me, have you given any thought to settling in Mexico? And if it bears the imprint of American culture so deeply, why do so may of its citizens want to leave it?
Aug 24 2006 at 2:39pm
why do so may of its citizens want to leave it?
And be subjected to american foreign policy?
Aug 24 2006 at 4:19pm
“Over the long run, we need massive immigration to solve our demographic problem ”
Good grief, what nonsense.
Because some North American squirrels are dying off, they need to be replaced by Central American squirrels so that the walnuts are still harvested. Misses the point. If we squirrels are dying off then why do we need so many walnuts?
Other than a more temperate climate what do we have? Perhaps we are so efficient at walnut manufacture that all squirrels should be up here that they can be used more efficiently than in their native lands. If that is so, then the Americanization of Central America makes more sense than the other way around. If Central American squirrels migrate up here because walnut distribution and manufacture is more efficient, then it makes more sense to transfer the walnut technology down there.
But, there is an alternative argument. Global warming has basically destroyed the future value of Central America and the squirrels are simply coming up here in anticipation that we are the only geography that will support the walnut industry.
Aug 24 2006 at 4:45pm
[…If we squirrels are dying off then why do we need so many walnuts…]
I see some folks are really aiming for absurdity here…
We may need more walnuts because some squirrels eat more walnuts and will eat more walnuts if other squirrels die. This is exactly why this is an absurd analogy: assuming a fixity of human demand.
[…If Central American squirrels migrate up here because walnut distribution and manufacture is more efficient, then it makes more sense to transfer the walnut technology down there…]
Yes, yes – on the back of storks! But storks are expensive! I know! We’ll just used the underpants gnomes!
[…the squirrels are simply coming up here in anticipation that we are the only geography that will support the walnut industry…]
Because, as everybody knows, squirrels only eat walnuts! And our geography – well, it only supports walnuts!
Aug 25 2006 at 5:20pm
Matt-I don’t see the relevance.
Our birth rate isn’t sufficient to provide enough workers to support the old people who will be on programs we show no signs of reforming. An influx of younger workers will most assuredly help. What that influx will do for Mexico seems largely beside the point.
Aug 25 2006 at 5:26pm
Dezakin-Illegals are disproportinately likely to be on public assistance. They also depress wages for low-skilled workers. These are real costs. How much consuming they do (in the US) is an open question, since so much of what they earn is sent back to Mexico and elsewhere. The fact that illegals often have a certain skin shade is your obsession, not mine.
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