Immigration: A Legacy of Mexican Self-Destruction and the Only Way to Stop It

Mexico has for decades been fraught with civil war and unrest. With a few exceptions, such as the American Civil War and the struggles of the Civil Rights Era, the United States has experienced far less civil disturbance than her neighbor to the south. As a result, the American economy is much more vibrant than its Mexican counterpart. This  helps to explain why, while millions of Mexicans have immigrated northward to the United States, the converse is not true. It also indicates how damaging it would be for the United States to stanch immigration from Mexico.

Because America may be Mexico's only hope for recovering from a century of self-destruction.

In his short but informational book Uncle Sam's War of 1898, Thomas Schoonover explains how years and years of civil disruption have had a violently disruptive effect on Mexican society:

Mexican society suffered for generations from the long, bloody, bitter, and costly war of independence... After more than two decades of fighting, the war sputtered to a pause in the 1930's more from exhaustion than from resolution of differences. The fractured and impoverished Mexican society had experienced the destruction of its agricultural and commercial capital. Mexico's farmlands had returned to wilderness, its tools and equipment were destroyed, its planting seeds were consumed, its animals had been neglected, its workforce had suffered death, injury, and disruption, and its buildings, bridges, and roads had deteriorated. The chaotic decades had allowed many leaders to exercise greed, self-serving conduct, and to pursue personal rather than social objectives.

The Mexican revolution perhaps created more problems than it solved. As Jenny Barchfield reports,

"The legacy of the revolution is a really mixed bag," said Jose Antonio Ibanez, coordinator of the human rights program at the Iberoamericana University in Mexico City. "It undoubtedly changed the face of Mexican society, but it fell far short of its objectives. … The poor people, the farmers who fought in the revolution, those whose blood built this country, they're still completely marginalized."

And it's entirely possible that the legacy left by the revolution is the same spirit that motivates Mexican drug cartels today.

Pundits compared the revolution's worst excesses to the cartel executions that dominate contemporary news broadcasts.
"Were the pitiless revolutionaries of yesteryear the ancestors of the current killers?" a column in Thursday's El Universal newspaper asked. "Or is it simply that ... the history of Mexico is a history of treason and violence that are as Mexican as the tortilla?"
"While a million people died between 1910 and 1920, the time of the revolution, 10,000 have died from drug violence in 2010 alone — a time of 'peace' — 231 in Morelos," Zapata's home state, the newspaper said.

It seems that Mexicans are not much different than Americans, except in one regard--their country has been splintered by nearly constant internecine conflict. If I had been born in Mexico, I would probably have migrated to the United States as well.

So, what is the solution? The long-term solution is to build a healthy Mexican economy upon the ashes of civil war and depredation. Unfortunately, in many cases, those best equipped to build that healthy economy are immigrating to the United States. One of the long-term benefits of Mexican migration to America--although it removes the flower of Mexican society temporarily from Mexican soil--is that American  provides wholesome economic incubation for Mexicans who can later return to build up their homeland.

From this perspective, then, one of the worst things America can do is to severely curtail Mexican immigration. Doing so would likely condemn the country of Mexico to additional decades of civil unrest and stagnation.


  1. Please support the principles of the Utah Compact.

  2. I agree with you completely here. In addition, one of Mexico's most difficult problems is the violence and systemic corruption caused by the illegal drug trade. That trade exists because America has both prohibited the import, sale and use of those drugs while at the same time providing the largest and most affluent market. If we dropped our prohibition on cocaine and marijuana and put the considerable resources now devoted to arresting and imprisoning users and dealers into treatment and prevention, we could no doubt help both ourselves and the Mexican people.


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