Border Blues_ the Dilemma of Illegal Immigration Essay
I. Research Question:
Immigration is a rapid growing issue for the United States. For a long time people from other countries have been coming here to look for bigger and better things for themselves, as well as for their families. This article digs to the core of the issue, illegal immigration. Chideya wanted to know three things: 1) What is the reality behind the perceptions of Mexican Americans, 2) How do the residents of El Paso look upon the Mexicans, and 3) How do Mexican-Americans see themselves and their cousins across the border.
II. Theoretical Perspectives:
A. Realism is a big part for the conflict of illegal immigration. The idea behind realism is that there is an institution responsible for behavior. I found many examples of such institutions in this article. Work: illegal immigrants carry a stigma with them because they will work for less money. Right now the American dollar is worth 12.78 pesos in Mexico. So they can afford to make less money. Economy: Americans, even Mexican-Americans (legal residents), see illegal immigration as ruining the chance at prosperity in America, especially for their children. Politics: America likes to think that its laws on immigration are tough, but the penalties on businesses hiring illegal immigrants are modest. B. Phenomenology is present throughout the article. The references to immigrants as illegal “aliens” is just one way of making it known that they are not welcome in our country. The border patrol even calls the immigrants “crossers.” In the article they also discuss smugglers as “coyotes”—someone who smuggles people across the border. One girl even discussed her expierence in schools with two “cliques” the “Mexican Mexicans” and “little gangsters.”
“Mexican Mexicans” were described as hard-working immigrants, whereas “little gangsters” were Americanized teens. C. Exchange Theory is where a person makes a decision. “Is it worth it?” Immigrants make a choice to come to America, whether it is legally or illegally. They know how life is in Mexico, and, probably all too quickly, discover what “illegal” life is like in America. Yet they, again, make the decision to stay. Diana says that to her America is better because even though there are barriers between illegals and others, America is still the “Land of Opportunity.” I imagine most “illegals” feel this way. Otherwise, we would not be discussing this topic as a “problem.”
D. Idealism is a qualitative and individualistic approach to research. Chideya’s interviews with the people in the article were open-ended. She talked to people on both sides of the issue: the border patrol and the border crossers. She wanted to know how the border patrol deals with immigrants that are caught crossing the border illegally. And she wants to know how immigrants, who have successfully crossed the border, deal with life in America as an “illegal alien.”
E. Symbolic Interactionism is shown, particularly, in Chideya’s interview with Diana about school. Diana mentions how she started to feel inferior when she told her teacher she was illegal. The teacher responded “Honey, don’t say that out loud. You could get your parents in a lot of trouble.” Diana also mentions how her feelings of inferiority are due to the things she can’t do, like apply for college. So she doesn’t apply but she works menial jobs instead. She is hoping to apply for a green card to overcome these barriers.
F. Conflict Theory is evident in this article in the most literal aspect of this topic: between the immigrants and the border. First, they have to cross the border. Then, they have to get past the border patrol. Also, conflict is evident in the attitudes of Americans. Immigrants just want better for themselves. Americans don’t want people coming here and taking their jobs or disrupting their community. There is also internal conflict in this article. Not only to the illegal immigrants have their own personal conflicts (inferiority), but there is conflict within the families. Chideya’s interview with Melissa shows how hard it is to work for the border patrol when a relative (her grandmother) was an immigrant.
Chideya discovers that much of the problem with immigration is the fear of “Mexicanizing” America. The fact is that is not the case. America was built from immigrants of other countries and has benefitted for it. Allowing Mexicans to come to America “should be seen as part of a continuum.” She says that border towns should consider how they would “help foster a rich appreciation for Mexican culture as part of American-style diversity.” Americans are so hungry for styles and food and even music and arts from other countries. If we opened our borders our own culture would grow and develop into better more balanced communities.