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Feeling the Pain—A Mexican Perspective

By Andrea-Teresa "Tess" Arenas - 08.06.2010

Arizona’s recent court battle with the Obama administration’s lawyers left them with some of their hands tied, but not all of them.

Regardless of court rulings, there are some officials in Arizona who continue to try to officially stop “foreign” looking Mexicans and Mexican Americans in their quest to nab the undocumented residents.

So much of what Arizona did is upsetting to constitutional lawyers and everyday people alike it is difficult to know where to start. Perhaps the most personally frightening idea was that immigrants were required to carry their “papers” with them where ever they go.

Sounds like Nazi Germany. Of all the signs and slogans slapped up on cardboard and sheets that have been created by young Chicano activists, the images of German soldiers checking the papers of Jewish residents are the most accurate comparison to Arizona’s requirements.

Despite the recent court ruling against some aspects of the new laws, several states are also looking to implement similar laws in their areas.

The national conversation about Mexicans has, not so quietly, turned ugly.  We are no longer just “lazy, greasy, sneaky and job stealers.”  We are now “drug cartel runners, bag men, and loan collectors.”

Similar to the demonizing of Muslims, Arabs and Arab looking people after 9/11, Mexicans are now OK to hate; it is part of the nomenclature and national psyche and our national past time.

It has now even pushed us to stretch the law.

One critically important example is the use of the US military on the US-Mexico Border. The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 states that it is illegal for the US military to act as a law enforcement  agency within the United States. Nonetheless, liberals and conservatives alike are now demanding that US troops be employed to protect our southern border.

In the famous case of mistaken identity, Esequiel Hernandez, a Chicano high school student and resident of Redford, Texas, was tending to his family’s goats, when he was stalked, shot and killed by the U.S. military. This type of incident will only increase as the military presence increases.

I feel sorry for the young men and women who sign up to serve their country only to be pitted along the US-Mexico border where documented and undocumented all look the same.

There is also no parity when dealing with undocumented residents from other countries. Currently 90 percent of the ICE budget is spent guarding the US-Mexico Border; the other 10 percent is spent on Canada.  The US-Mexico Border region budget is spent on humans/staff while the Canadian border budget is used for technology.

Canadians are well known for coming into the US on visas and overstaying their visit. Yet, they are able to slip into the fabric of the US because –since most of them are Anglo—they blend in better than Mexicans within the U.S. mainstream white population. Unlike Mexicans, they are also not targeted for “special treatment.”

Another anti Mexican movement is the new discussion to change the US Constitution so that any child born to undocumented residents is no longer given US citizenship. I predict that unless there is some effective blockage measure, this change will in fact be implemented within the next 10 years.

National ID cards? Not under Obama. But watch for a quick move to the idea if Obama is not reelected.   Then, we all can be asked to produce our papers to prove we belong here. Read more »