Mexico: The House the US has Set on Fire

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Mexico: The House the US has Set on Fire

By Lara Gardner

Mexico is a house the US has set on fire, then covered its doors and windows with bars, allowing the people inside to burn alive. Fueled by easy access to weapons from their neighbors to the north, drug lords have infiltrated all sectors of society, and now Mexico is arguably the most dangerous country in North America and one of the most dangerous in the world. Deregulation, privatization of government services, liberalized trade, and the “war on drugs” have made life and poverty in Mexico so unbearable that Mexican citizens risk their lives to try and escape the burning conflagration and come to the United States. The US created this mess, and, through “border reform,” seeks to keep Mexican citizens from attempting to escape.

Even more so than in the US, the rich have gotten richer on the backs of the Mexican poor. Thanks to corporate America’s demand for low wages, Mexicans confront American sweatshops, pollution, congestion, horrible living conditions, and no resources to deal with the increasing violence. As in the United States, agribusiness has destroyed the family farm. Wal-mart has put thousands of small, local businesses out of business. Free trade was sold as a means to improve the lives of Mexicans and Americans. It has led only to greater exploitation. American jobs were sent to Mexico to take advantage of cheap labor with little or no safety or environmental oversight. The “war on drugs” has made outlaws wealthy and created a dangerous and corrupt police state where no one is safe. Mexicans want to escape–how can we blame them?

Immigration reform is constantly on the US agenda, yet it isn’t really about reform; it is about racism, ignorance, and fear. Americans, suffering from decades of the same economic policies that are leading to greater poverty in Mexico, blame their woes on Mexico’s victims of those policies. The smoke and mirrors illusion that the rising level of poverty in the US is caused by liberal systems, government socialism, and immigrants is part of the same lie that keeps Americans blaming and fighting one another. As long as everyone is fighting each other, the bulk of the population won’t focus on the true causes of economic disparity taking over the planet.

While it is highly unlikely that this approach will happen, Americans need to reach out and support Mexicans and Mexico. Rather than turning immigration reform into a battle at the border, the US must eliminate trade policies that benefit only the wealthy. The US also needs to help Mexico build its infrastructure, providing access to basic services such as clean water and functional sewer systems, decent transportation, and a healthy environment. We must help it form a strong education system so its citizens can achieve their dreams. We need stronger gun regulations of our own so drug dealers on both sides of the border cannot get cheap and easy access to weapons. Finally, we must end the failed “war on drugs” that has made outlaws unimaginably wealthy and forces millions to live in fear for their lives every day.

Unless the US is willing to embrace difficult solutions to a complex problem, there will be no true immigration reform. Killing, jailing, or sending back those who seek refuge here is not any answer. Real reform is formidable and ambitious, but it is also possible. True immigration reform would make the citizens of Mexico want to stay in their homeland rather than escaping to a place where our worst is still the best they can hope for.

6 thoughts on “Mexico: The House the US has Set on Fire

  1. Like this description. Mexico on fire – burning up into the underbelly of the U.S. ……………..

    Building – in a controlled manner (which obviously needs overhauling) – an Hispanic population of immigrants hugely enriches our culture. And at a “karmic” level only returns what was stolen in the first place.

    But the flood of desperate refugees has been purposefully used against us – as has the aggressive gutting of the manufacturing base of this country by the government/corporate “conspiracy”.

    Fully 80% of the skilled construction trades in Oregon have been illegally shifted to Illegal – not “undocumented”, but illegal – immigrants. Americans – esp the kids who aren’t getting college educations – no longer have access to entry-level jobs that lead to decent paying skilled trades.

    For every “undocumented worker” approximately six levels of law have been violated – on a one-time basis. Compounded by daily re-violations and multiplied by 12 – 20 million, a massive and corrupting evasion of law has been suborned – by everyone from homeowners who “can’t afford” to pay acceptable wage levels to have their grounds maintained, to every small contractor trying to gain an unfair – and illegal – advantage over his/her competition. And the cumulative, and huge, increase in profits to the general contractors and developers – who reap lower fees from every sub who lands a contract.

    Then there are the manufacturing and processing companies that pretend they don’t know that their labor force is illegal. DelMonte, for example.

    In spite of numerous intersections in Portland where desperate and bedraggled men, thousands of miles from home, family & culture gather every morning, 7 days a week, rain, snow or shine, waiting for contractors & homeowners to come by and hire their illegal, cut-rate day labor – the INS needs lengthy “investigations” based on “tips” to raid, every 5 years or so, a name brand company that, shockingly – employs, gasp, illegal workers……….. they – the INS – of course don’t have a clue and, like Claude Rains, would be “shocked – SHOCKED” to know of the hundreds or thousands of refugees standing on the corners of major intersections every morning.

    The operating premise is that Americans are spoiled & lazy, and won’t take all these crucial jobs.

    The reality is that Americans – rightly, won’t take jobs that won’t pay enough to cover rent & food week-to-week,.

    And so, the option, with the collusion of city, county, state and federal governments and law enforcement, is for everyone who “can’t afford” to pay livable wages in a FREE MARKET system – gets to break the law by hiring Illegal Immigrants in order to avoid paying Americans what it takes to cover the cost of living (and God forbid – even a small amount of discretionary income) or treating employees fairly and respectfully.

    And then there is the reality that the drug cartels and the gangs have used the open border as a freeway into every city in the U.S.

    My heart goes out to those guys on the street – I’ve worked alongside them for 15 or 20 years, and they’re mostly good people, and good workers. But they’re being used to screw me and every other “non-professional” American worker, and to finish the destruction of the American Labor force and what’s left of the unions, and make of us all the same desperate, underpaid & underemployed, and uninsured migrant labor force within what used to be our own country.

    And the Tea Party votes repugnican. Ha ha, what a colossal joke (trick) they’ve played on us. And them. And the Hispanics, standing in the cold on MLK this morning………

  2. Dear Ms. Gardner, THANK YOU for having the brains, the knowledge, and the words to describe EXACTLY the dire situation in Mexico.
    THANK YOU also for studying, researching the CAUSES of the situation in Mexico, unlike the main-stream lazy media only cover and repeat headlines and talking points.
    Americans and the U.S. government must acknowledge its SHARED blamed on the deplorable and catastrophic situation in Mexico and the immigrants here.
    Americans and the U.S. government, regardless of political parties must act quickly on helping Mexico; because their situation soon will be our situation too.

  3. Hi Lara,

    I am a Mexican who is in terrible pain caused by seeing my beloved home country in fire. I read your article and felt so good about your intentions and feelings for our country, thank you. I am impressed about your understanding of the problem. I really love your article, God bless you.


  4. Great article, Lara. It’s a shame that the American people don’t welcome Mexicans with open arms. We should realize that not everyone wants to be an American, but everyone wants to survive. I think that if we could just discard our elitist thinking we would be more understanding of those fleeing their country to survive–not merely to “soak” what America has to offer.

    I have always thought it comical when one argues that illegal aliens are taking away our jobs. But, I would dare say that they are doing the jobs we have come to believe are beneath us. The welfare state is easy to access and does not break your back by demanding that you pick produce for hours upon hours in suffocating heat. This argument has always seemed to me to be rooted in hypocrisy.

    • Jackg – you misinformed dupe: the ILLEGAL ALIENS now process your canned fruit, your packaged poultry, work the meatpacking plants, make up your fast-food burgers, tacos, etc, staff all the kitchens in your restaurants, make up almost all of your paving crews, are hired (illegally) by your parks departments, are trained in all the construction trades to frame your houses, do your concrete work, lay on your roofs, tile your bathrooms, hang & tape your sheetrock, side your houses, paint them, put in your lawns and shrubs, work in your nurseries, man your road crews, etc, ad infinitum.

      PLEASE – stop with the bullshit arguments that they’re out harvesting produce under the burning sun because Americans are “too lazy” to do the jobs that are “beneath them”

      The former mayor of Portland spent $200K in city money to build them a hiring shelter and guaranteed them $10 an hour ($2.75 above Oregon minimum wage for AMERICANS). There’s no warm dry/ or cool-out-of-the-sun shelter for unemployed/underemployed AMERICANS to sit & wait, drinking provided coffee and reading provided newspapers, for homeowners & contractors to come by and GIVE them work.

      Stop with the goddamnable lie that they’re “not taking American jobs”.

      There are precisely the number of Americans out of work that there are ILLEGAL ALIENS in the country.

      In 1973 I was making $10.73 an hour working nights at a union job while going to college. In 2011 I’m offered $15 an hour as a master carpenter/ craftsman to work on jobsites where 80% of the skilled trades are filled by ILLEGAL ALIENS. My living expenses have increased tenfold. Gosh, do you think there might be something wrong with this picture?

      Nah – it’s just that American “workers” (not the “professional class” mind you) are lazy & spoiled and won’t do jobs that are “beneath them”. Bill Oreilly, Rush Limbaugh & the Koch brothers laugh all the way to the bank listening to you idiots parrot their lies.

  5. Terry,

    Let’s see you work in the fields. Your rant merely shows the hardness of your heart towards people. What you say means absolutely nothing to me. Have a nice day.


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