Mexican Immigration and its Potential Impact on the Political Future of the United States

By Yeh Ling-Ling

Published in the Winter 2004 issue of The Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies, Volume 29 Number 4


The following article reinforces the position of Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington, Chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, who wrote in 2004 in "The Hispanic Challenge", published in "Foreign Policy": ".... Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence .... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway.... No other immigrant group in U.S. history has asserted or could assert a historical claim to U.S. territory. Mexicans and Mexican Americans can and do make that claim...."

The article describes the strategy and tactics the Mexican government is using -- in concert with political activists of Mexican descent in the United States, ranging from high-level elected officials to scholars, organization leaders, and students, as well as immigration lobbies -- to influence the American political process and policies. The crucial issues involved include the viability of our border.

Extensive quotes, provided to illuminate the serious problem, are cited from a broad spectrum of individuals here and in Mexico, all of Mexican descent: the political elite in Mexico, such as former and current presidents of Mexico, the former head of Mexico's National Security Council and personal strategist to President Vicente Fox, former and current Mexican officials in charge of border issues, former and current speakers of the California State Assembly, U.S. Congressmen, numerous scholars, and organization leaders. Lobbying activities by Mexican government officials and their Mexican American allies as well as data from the U.S. Census Bureau pertaining to the explosive Mexican population increase in this country are also considered.

The author hopes to encourage public debate and stimulate a more cogent evaluation of the potential long-term political and other consequences of rapidly growing, large-scale Mexican immigration and yet another amnesty for those who have come into the United States illegally.

Mexican Immigration and its Potential Impact on the Political Future of the United States

The U.S. debate on amnesty for large numbers of illegal immigrants, as with the discussion of immigration policy in general, has focused mainly on economic issues: the cost and benefits of immigration to business and consumers, its impact on American wages and how much the current policy costs the United States taxpayers. The topics that are usually avoided when discussing the effects of an amnesty include what impact large-scale immigration is having on American citizenship, the culture that binds America together as a community of citizens and the political future of the United States.

In his article, "The Hispanic Challenge",2 Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington, Chairman of the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, wrote that "[t]he persistence of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two people, two cultures, and two languages... The United States ignores this challenge at its peril... Mexican immigration differs from past immigration and most other contemporary immigration due to a combination of six factors: contiguity, scale, illegality, regional concentration [in the American Southwest], persistence, and historical presence... Demographically, socially, and culturally, the reconquista (re-conquest) of the Southwest United States by Mexican immigrants is well underway." There is a long record of statements and other activities which relate directly to the complex policy implications of his contentions.

In addition, President Bush, Senator John Kerry, and Congressional leaders of both parties, are promoting legislation to legalize millions of illegal migrants in this country without any discussion of the full signifi-cance of these efforts to garner Hispanic votes. A generalized "political correctness" in the media also tends to confine the debate over another amnesty for illegal immigrants within narrow parameters. Effective policymaking, however, requires that the discussion be broadened to include other factors with important bearing on the real world effects of any policy adopted.

In this context, it is essential to look more closely at the completely disregarded cultural and political impacts of continued high levels of Mexican immigration. This paper will examine how the national policy and actions of the Mexican government, in conjunction with the political activism of the Mexican-American elite and their use of grassroots mobilization in this country may eventually alter the cultural and political landscape of the American Southwest and, indeed, the entire United States.

I. The Vision and Actions of the Mexican Government

The Mexican government does not seem to be a passive observer in the massive Mexican emigration to the United States. Its political elite has made public statements, adopted policies and systematically engaged in lobbying activities in the United States at the federal, state and local levels. As a result, American domestic and foreign policies have been heavily influenced. The goal appears to be, in effect, to eventually erase the border between Mexico and the United States. Such an effort is unprecedented in U.S. history. Continued mass Mexican migration is seen as the key factor in achieving this objective.

On July 27, 1997, then President of Mexico Ernesto Zedillo told the National Council of La Raza in Chicago: "I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important - a very important - part of it." On the same occasion, President Zedillo informed his audience of a constitutional amendment adopted by the Mexican government to allow Mexicans who are naturalized U.S. citizens to regain Mexican citizenship so that they can vote in Mexican elections.

Many Mexican immigrants living in the United States have indeed participated in elections in Mexico, and some have run for political office in their native land. Andres Bermudez, for example, just won an election to become the mayor of Jerez after leaving his hometown to look for work in the United States over 30 years ago.4 Some U.S.-born citizens of Mexican descent have received political appointments in Mexico, such as San Diego-born Ernesto Ruffo Appel, appointed by President Vicente Fox to the recently created position of Commissioner for Northern Border Affairs. As such, Ruffo said to would-be illegal immigrants: "If the border patrol agent finds you, try again."5 Shortly thereafter, the Associated Press reported: "The Mexican government plans to distribute up to 200,000 survival kits ... to its citizens who illegally cross into the United States."6

President Zedillo also proclaimed: "We will not tolerate foreign forces dictating and enacting laws on Mexicans [living in the United States]." Zedillo reportedly pledged to "use all the diplomatic and legal force at his government's disposal to protect Mexicans living in the United States". Subsequently, as President of Mexico, Zedillo came to California after the victory of Proposition 187 to lobby then governor of California Gray Davis. This California initiative, which had since passed overwhelming by California voters, would deny public services to illegal immigrants. Zedillo told the media: "I have confidence in the governor that he will do whatever he can so that these catastrophic effects that were foreseen for Proposition 187 several years ago will not come to pass."8 Mexican American Antonio Villaraigosa, then Speaker of the California State Assembly, has publicly said that President Zedillo had a major impact in blocking implementation of Proposition 187, and thanked the president for his help.9

Adolfo Aguilar Zinser, then head of Mexico's National Security Council and personal strategist for Mexico's present President, Vicente Fox, advised in writing in 2000 that Mexican immigrants in the United States model themselves upon the Cubans of Miami and American Jews to gain political influence. The Cubans, he wrote, have "sequestered policies of the United States in regard to the island, obtaining privileged treatment for its immigrants and mobilized political power in South Florida... Cubans have obtained a privileged position because they act as United States citizens. They vote, they affiliate with social organizations, they lobby, they put up candidates for office, they form alliances with groups that agree with their positions... For forty years, they have infiltrated the fissures of the American political system and they have found a permanent ally in the Republican right. [Another example of such cohesion] is the defense of Israel among American Jews... For [Mexican] national interest, we have to find allies within the American political system..." [Translated from the Spanish].10

In 2001, the Mexican Commissioner for Northern Border Affairs, the aforementioned U.S.-born Ernesto Ruffo Appel, reportedly offered "his vision of the border" as a 'region' rather than a dividing line." Ruffo predicted that the population on the Mexican side of the border "will double in 13 years". Each year, 300,000 Mexicans slip into the United States, and Ruffo said that "ensuring their safety" was a "key part" of his job.11

It was the current President Vicente Fox who established Mexico's National Population Council (CONAPO) under the auspices of the powerful Ministry of the Interior. An article in the Arizona Daily Star reported on "the formation of a 100 member council created by Mexico's government to represent Mexicans living in the United States." The members are all U.S. residents, and "their main duty" is to give advice to the Mexican government regarding the "needs" of Mexican-born residents, legal and illegal.12

While visiting Chicago on June 16, 2004: Vicente Fox, by now Presi-dent of Mexico, said "We are Mexicans that live in our territories and we are Mexicans that live in other territories. In reality, we are 120 million people that live together and are working together to construct a nation."13 On the next day, the Chicago Tribune reported: "Mexican President Vicente Fox, making his second visit to Chicago as president, promised Wednesday to continue fighting for a comprehensive agreement with the United States that would make it easier for Mexican workers to get work visas and secure permanent legal status."14 The same article also indicated that the Mexican President vowed "to keep up the pressure on Illinois lawmakers to pass the twice-defeated [driver's] license proposals [for illegal Mexican migrants]". This June 18, CNN's Lou Dobbs remarked: "While in Chicago, President Fox blasted the U.S. for rounding up illegal aliens, and sending those illegal aliens back to Mexico. President Fox said his government will not permit what he called 'violations of the human and labor rights of Mexicans who live in the United States.'"15

Appointed in 2004, Arturo Gonzales Cruz, the "new man in charge of border relations for Mexico...has some radical ideas for change. Ultimately, Cruz says flat out, he wants to see the border disappear", according to a Fox News report.16

Such pronouncements appear to reflect a concerted effort by the Mexi-can government over the years which has not been discussed in the U.S. media or elsewhere, apart from occasional, rapidly vanishing news items reporting on major statements reflecting the policy agenda of Mexican officials. Almost completely ignored is the fact that the Mexican government has sympathetic political allies of Mexican descent in the United States who have actively engaged in activities designed to increase the size of the Mexican population and Mexican electorate in the United States.

II. Activating the Vision in the U.S.

The vision of political leaders in Mexico is shared by leaders and activ-ists from various segments of the Mexican and Mexican American population already residing in the United States, including elected officials at the local, state and national levels, scholars, teachers, students, organization leaders, and activists.

A. The Vision of Politicians and Scholars

Mario Obledo, co-founder of Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and former Secretary of Health and Welfare, publicly said in 1998: "We're going to take over all the political institutions in California. In five years the Hispanics are going to be the majority population of this state." Obledo also said that California is going to become a Hispanic state and if anyone doesn't like it, "they ought to go back to Europe."17 His statements were substantiated by a study published in 1993 by the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California in Los Angeles which showed that by 2006, the majority of children entering kindergarten in California will be Latino.18

Elena Poniatowska, prize-winning Mexican novelist, has said publicly: "Mexico is recovering the territories yielded to the United States by means of migratory tactics."19 Ms. Poniatowska has taught at many American institutions such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Cornell. Her view reflected the statement made by then Mexican Consul General Jose Angel Pescador Osuna: "We are practicing La Reconquista in California", on February 6, 1998, at the Southwestern School of Law in Los Angeles during a sympo-sium related to the 150th anniversary of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.20 Furthermore, in its August 9-15, 2001 issue, Le Nouvel Observateur, a well-respected, left-wing French news weekly, had a news report in 2001 entitled: "Californie: La Reconquista des Latinos" ["Latinos Reconquer Califor-nia"]. The New California Media also reported that Mexico continues to mourn the loss of half of its territories to the U.S. in the 19th century."22

University of California, Riverside, professor Armando Navarro has said: "A secessionist movement is not something that you can put away and say it is never going to happen in the United States. Time and history change." Novarro's view was echoed by Charles Truxillo of the University at New Mexico. Professor Truxillo publicly stated with confidence that the American Southwest's secession is an "inevitability" due to continued high Hispanic immigration. He promised to use the "electoral pressure" of the future Hispanic majority of that region to achieve that goal, and said not only that the U.S. Southwest "will secede," but also that "We may rejoin Mexico... Throughout history, nations and empires rise and fall. No nation's borders have been permanent."

At the Latino Summit Response to Proposition 187, a rally held at UC Riverside in January, 1995, many scholars and political leaders of Mexican origin expressed similar views.23 For example, Political Science Professor Jose Angel Gutierrez, former Director of the Mexican American Studies Center at the University of Texas, Arlington, and Founder of the La Raza Unida Party, noted: "We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. It's a matter of time. The explosion is in our population..." Professor Leo Chavez of UC Irvine opined: "There is no such thing as an undocumented family. It's myth. Illegal alien families don't exist..." Professor Adaljisa Sosa-Riddell, of the Chicano Research Center at the University of California at Davis, proclaimed: "I proudly wear the button that says, "nadie es ilegal" [no one is illegal].

Other professors, politicians, and judical officials participating included: Armando Navarro, UC Riverside; Rodolfo Acuna, Cal State, Northridge; Leo Chavez, UC Irvine; Juan Gomez-Quinonez, UC Davis; and Raul Ruiz, Cal State, Northridge. Numerous media people, lawyers, students and activists also participated. Additional notable attendees at the above Summit included: Gloria Romero, former trustee of the Los Angeles Community College Board and now California State Senator; the aforementioned Fabian Nunez, California Assembly Speaker; Cruz Reynoso, former California Supreme Court Justice; Antonio Villaraigosa, former California Assembly Speaker, now Los Angeles City Council member; Joe Baca, former California Assemblyman, now U.S. Congressman; and Art Torres, former California Senator, now Chair of the California Democratic Party.

Even former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros has said: "As goes the Latino population [so] will go the state of California, and as goes the state of California [so] will go the United States of America. My friends, the stakes are big. This is a fight worth making." Such a proclamation is not groundless. The 2000 Census showed a 53 percent increase nationwide from 1990 to 2000 for people who identified themselves as Mexican. Explosive increases of Mexican population are to be seen in Southern states as well: for example, in that short period the Mexican population increased by 655 percent in North Carolina, by 457 percent in Tennessee, and by 460 percent in Georgia.27

B. Direct Political Action and Lobbying Activities

In recent years, Mexico and numerous Mexican-American legislators and activists have vigorously lobbied before state legislatures and cities throughout the United States for the acceptance of Mexican government issued ID cards, an amnesty and benefits for millions of illegal Mexican migrants, driver's licenses, in-state tuition, and guest worker visas. For example, in California, bills to grant in-state tuition and driver's licenses for illegal migrants were introduced by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh and Senator Gil Cedillo, respectively. Both were signed into law by former California Governor Gray Davis, although the driver's license law was repealed after Governor Arnold Schwarzeneggar's election.

In May, 2004, the Latino Caucus in Sacramento made it known publicly that they were prepared to vote against the state budget if the newly-elected California Governor did not support the new version of Cedillo's bill.28 To date, many states have passed similar measures, which are likely to encourage higher illegal immigration.

Mexican American political activists have also put forward candidates for election to political and administrative offices, as suggested by Vicente Fox's former personal strategist Adolfo Aquilar Zinser. For example, the governor of Arizona, Janet Napolitano, is Mexican American, and New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson also has Mexican roots. The most prominent Mexican American candidate in recent California history is Democratic Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, who made an unsuccess-ful attempt to be elected governor in California after the successful recall campaign that unseated Democratic Governor Gray Davis. These political leaders are sympathetic to Mexico's immigration demands.

There is also a strong ethnic-identity political movement which supports Mexican descent against even those who have been their strong political allies. For example, in 1998, veteran California State Assemblyman Richard Katz was challenged for a state Senate seat by Mexican-American Richard Alarcon, even though Katz was a strong long-time supporter of Mexican immigrant rights. State Senator Richard Polanco funded a mailer to Katz's district in the last days of this close primary race, accusing Katz of various anti-Latino acts, which the Los Angeles Times editorial termed "irresponsibly wrong." Katz lost the primary by a slim margin.29

Redistricting is considered a critical instrument to insure properly ethnic Mexican candidates are elected even over veteran politicians who have been strongly supportive of their positions. A case in point involved a lawsuit filed in 1992 in federal court by a nationally-known political organization, the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), alleging that the new congressional and state assembly boundaries unfairly favored white incumbents. Although long-time Democratic Congressman Howard Berman has been very pro-Latino, his district in California was one of four congressional seats targeted. Berman told the Los Angeles Times that he was "very disappointed" by the suit. He also said: "For thirty years in public office, I have not merely voted for, but have led the legislative battles to enact, issues of importance to the Latino community. I guess for MALDEF, it's more about skin color and ethnicity than the philosophy and quality of representation."30

There were also allegations that voter fraud has been committed. For instance, after former Republican Congressman Bob Dornan lost his re-election bid to his Democratic challenger Loretta Sanchez by a very slim margin, there are allegations that a Mexican immigrant group helped non-citizens register to vote.31 Independent investigative reports by the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register found "a number of non-citizens who illegally voted for the Democratic ticket."32

Currently, Hispanic activists across the country have launched a major lobbying campaign to secure the right to vote for non-citizens. This effort to blur the distinction between American citizens and those who are not will increase the number of voters of Mexican descent. So far, a number of cities have passed legislation allowing foreign nationals who are here legally and illegally to vote in local elections. San Francisco asked voters to decide whether or not non-citizen parents should be allowed to vote in San Francisco School Board elections. The measure was introduced by Matt Gonzalez, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Gonzalez is of Mexican descent.33

C. Radicalism and Grassroots Mobilization

Organizations play a major role in mobilizing students of Mexican ancestry. For example, Movemiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (MEChA), a Mexican-American student organization, is very active on American college campuses throughout the United States. Its founding document called for the "liberation" of the American Southwest. A number of prominent Mexican-American political leaders, such as California's Lieutenant Governor Cruz Bustamante, former California State Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa, and California State Senator Gil Cedillo, author of three bills granting driver's licenses to illegal migrants, were also former members of MEChA. None of these elected officials have repudiated the radical founding principles of this student organization. The local chapter of MEChA at UC Riverside hosted the aforementioned Latino Summit Response to Proposition 187.

The mass participation of Latino students and teachers in the historic "uprisings" in Los Angeles protesting Proposition 187 was detailed in a Los Angeles Times article.34 Months prior to the vote on Proposition 187 in California, many Latino immigration activists stated publicly that only white Americans were illegal in California. A brochure of the Chicano Mexicano Mexica Empowerment Committee, a self-described "education and media non-profit organization for people of Mexican descent," stated clearly that: "The hidden past (23 million of our people killed by Europeans) and the future of our people are our main concern. The vast majority (over 90% of our people) are of Original Inhabitant (Indigenous) origin. We are descen-dants of the original inhabitants of this land and the rightful owners of the so-called Southwest and Mexico"

In June and July, 2004, rallies were organized by activists to protest sweeps by U.S. patrol officers which resulted in the arrest of more than 300 illegal migrants in Southern California.35 Homeland Security Undersecretary Asa Hutchinson met with the California congressional delegation at the request of Mexican-American Congressman Baca, who charged that the Border Patrol "outstepped its jurisdiction" by arresting illegal aliens on California's streets. Hutchinson indicated that the arrest had not been authorized or approved in advance by officials at headquarters in the District, and promised a personal review of the matter.36 He subsequently called off a series of further sweeps planned by the Border Patrol.37 Following reports of similar sweeps and arrests in the metro Atlanta area in late June, 2004, the Consulate General of Mexico contacted the Office of Public Relations of the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and informed Latinos that they had had received assurance that no such raids were being conducted.38

A successful initiative on the ballot in Arizona in November 2004, that required all voters and applicants for public services to show proof of citizenship, was opposed equally by U.S. Congressman Raul Grijalva, of Mexican descent, as well as by Isabel Garcia, a vocal Mexican American leader and founder of Coalicion de Derechos Humanos based in Arizona. Congressman Grijalva told a Tucson rally of Hispanic and civil rights activists that the initiative was "motivated by hate,"39 while Isabel Garcia called the measure "mean-spirited" and promised that opponents of the measure would challenge it in court and mount public awareness campaigns in an attempt to defeat it.40

D. Broad-spectrum Cooperation: The Immigration Lobby

Elected officials and diplomats from Mexico, Mexican-American politi-cians and organizational leaders, and activists here have common concerns and work in the same direction. Mexican-American activists have found "allies within the American political systems", in accordance with the advice of Adolfo Aguilar Zinzer,41 former personal strategist for Vicente Fox. Their lobbying activities have yielded significant results.

Today's immigration lobby in the United States includes, but is not limited to, labor unions, business organizations, universities, Christian coalition entities, the Catholic Church, the ACLU and human rights activists. Labor unions had generally opposed immigration in the past, supporting the major anti-immigration legislation passed in 1924, which had resulted in a quasi-moratorium on immigration between 1925 and 1965. However, today's AFL-CIO is actively supporting the amnesty for illegal immigrants as part of its effort to recruit members among illegal immigrants. Current Speaker of the California State Assembly, Fabian Nunez, was the AFL-CIO's Political Director in Los Angeles.42

A detailed political action and coalition building plan was included in El Plan de Riverside, prepared by the Ernesto Galarza Think Tank on Public Policy, University of California, Riverside. Its preamble stated: "On January 6, 7, and 8, 1994 some four hundred and fifty Latino leaders from throughout the nation met in Riverside, California at the National Summit Conference on Immigration, entitled: 'The Immigration Crisis: A Latino Public Policy Response.' After three days of intense dialogues and deliberation, we the participants, adopted 'El Plan de Riverside, a Latino call to action.'"

At the turn of the 20th Century, the United States experienced massive waves of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigration. Although there was some political pressure from Jewish organizations, the political elites of the sending countries did not actively lobby the U.S. government on issues related to immigration, and there were no territorial claims by members of these immigrant groups or statements as to how they would take over the political institutions of the U.S. In this respect, the current Mexican immigration is different, and the social and political consequences of continued high levels of Mexican immigration, from what is a contiguous country, will be much different if the new immigrant population fails to assimilate.

IV. The Non-Assimmilation of Mexican Immigrants: A challenge to the "Melting Pot" tradition.

Most Mexican immigrants are not assimilating and the traditional American ideal of the "melting pot" is being challenged. As stated in the Los Angeles Times: "Mexican nationals, by far the largest group of Latino immigrants, have traditionally been hesitant to renounce allegiance to their homeland and become U.S. citizens."43 There are many examples. Ruben Zacarias, then Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent, marched in Los Angeles during the 1995 Mexican Independence Day Parade under a Mexican banner, declaring that he was proud to be the son of illegal immigrants. Mike Hernancez, then member of the Los Angeles City Council, said in June, 1996 at the Southwest Voter Registration Projection Confer-ence: "Los Angeles is changing. Latinos are becoming empowered. We have the fastest growing population. We are Mexicans. Mexico, some of us say, is the country this land used to belong to! In Los Angeles, there are 900,000 non-citizens. Everybody in Los Angeles should be eligible to vote" [English translation].44 A "sea of Mexican flags" was seen during the 1994 march by approxi-mately 70,000 marchers protesting Proposition 187, in a demonstration that the Los Angeles Times termed "historic." Indeed, one of the coordinators of the march was none other than Fabian Nunez, currently Speaker of the California State Assembly.45 Unionvision TV Anchorman Jorge Ramos' new book, "Latino Wave: How Hispanics Will Elect the Next American President", has a chapter entitled: "Why Latinos are Different: The Melting Pot Myth." Mr. Ramos also told CNN's Lou Dobbs that America was "going through a process of Latinization..."46

It is a fact that the assimilation of large numbers of immigrants who possess a sharply different cultural tradition of their own is also obstructed by various factors. These include not only the geographic concentration of the immigrants in selected areas of the U.S., but also the great advances in telecommunications and transportation that link immigrants more closely to their home countries. There has also been an explosion of Hispanic media in the U.S., and the state provision of "bilingual" education and even multilingual ballots reduces the incentive for recent immigrants to accept English as their prime language; in the recent presidential elections, both the Bush and the Kerry campaigns ran advertisements in Spanish. Also important is the absence of some sort of "time-out" from mass immigration, such as the United States experienced between 1925 and 1965. For the first time in U.S. history, the U.S. is becoming a de facto bilingual country as an increasing number of private and public entities offer Spanish as the alternative to English.

Analyzing this trend away from the "melting pot" ideal, Professor Maria Hsia Chang, who teaches political science at the University of Nevada, Reno, wrote: "Many young Latinos in the second and third generations see themselves as locked in irremediable conflict with white society, and are quick to deride successful Chicano students as "wannabes." For them, to study hard is to "act white" and exhibit group disloyalty. That attitude is part of the Chicano culture of resistance - a culture that actively resists assimila-tion into mainstream America. That culture is created, reinforced, and maintained by radical Chicano intellectuals, politicians, and the many Chicano Studies programs in U.S. colleges and universities. As an example, according to its editor, Elizabeth Martinez, the purpose of Five Hundred Years of Chicano History, a book used in over 300 schools throughout the West, is to "celebrate our resistance to being colonized and absorbed by racist empire builders... For Rodolfo Acuna, author of Occupied America: The Chicano's Struggle Toward Liberation, probably the most widely-assigned text in U.S. Chicano Studies programs, the Anglo-America invasion of Mexico was "as vicious as that of Hitler's invasion of Poland and other Central European nations..."47

Harvard Professor Samuel P. Huntington, author of the best-seller, The Clash of Civilizations, also expressed particular concerns over the severe consequences of non-assimilation of a rapidly growing Mexican population in the U.S. in "The Hispanic Challenge": "No other immigrant group in U.S. history has asserted or could assert a historical claim to U.S. territory. Mexicans and Mexican Americans can and do make that claim. Almost all of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Nevada, and Utah were part of Mexico until Mexico lost them as a result of the Texan War of Independence in 1835-1836 and the Mexican-American War of 1846 - 1848... History shows that serious potential for conflicts exists when people in one country begin referring to territory in a neighboring country in proprietary terms and to assert special rights and claims to that territory."47

As large numbers of individuals in the Mexican community here are not assimilating, they are and will continue to be politicized by ethnically-oriented politicians and activists promoting a separatist cultural and political agenda, the most radical of which are reminiscent of the "Quebecois" of the "Quebec Libre" movement in Canada.

V. The Far-Reaching Consequencies of Amnesty for Illegal Immigrants

A. Impact on Demography

The Mexican population in the United States will continue to grow due to high birth rate, even if there were no further immigration. However, legislation such the amnesty bills pending in Congress will not only greatly increase the number of voters of Mexican descent in the United States, but also encourage further illegal immigration.

People born in Mexico represent the largest immigrant group in this country. An estimated 9.9 million, or 30 percent, of the foreign-born in the United States came from Mexico, with 4 million of these living in California and 2.1 million in Texas, according to the 2002 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.49 The aforementioned report by the Center for the Study of Latino Health and Culture at the University of California in Los Angeles estimated that by 2019 the majority of young adults living in California turning 18 years of age, and thereby becoming eligible to vote, will be Latino.50

B. The Politics of Amnesty

In their competition for Latino votes, leaders of both parties in Congress have responded to pressure from Mexico and from Mexican-American activists by introducing various bills which would grant amnesty to millions of illegal migrants and would make guest worker visas easier to obtain. For example, S.1645 (A Jobs Bill), introduced by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID) and Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) is an agricultural guestworker-amnesty bill. Of the 1.2 million illegal aliens currently working in agriculture, an estimated 860,000, plus their spouses and children, would qualify for amnesty under this bill. Another, S.1545 (DREAM ACT) introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), would grant in-state tuition rights and amnesty to all illegal aliens under the age of 21 who have been physically present in the United States for five years and are in 7th grade or above.

President Bush has already proposed legal temporary-worker status to illegal migrants currently employed in the United States and to aliens in foreign countries who have received offers of employment in the United States. Subsequently, such immigrants could apply for permanent residency in the United States. This proposal is a de-facto amnesty. Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kerry has stated that he favors instant citizenship for all illegal migrants in this country.

C. Potential Mexican Voting Block: Sharing Mexico's Agenda

A recent study by the Urban Institute, estimated the illegal immigrant population in the United States in the year 2002, at 9.3 million, based on the March 2002 Current Population Survey, and calculated that Mexicans made up 57 percent of that total.51

The potential social and political consequences of further amnesty for some 5 million illegal Mexican migrants, and therefore additional future voters, are immense. Once such immigrants become naturalized citizens, they can petition for many relatives to immigrate to the U.S., thus adding substantially to the phenomenon of "chain migration". These new immi-grants would become citizens, and voters, and be able to sponsor even more immigrants; thus, the never-ending cycle would geometrically expand as the new immigrants continued to come and to give birth to children who would automatically receive citizenship. Those new citizens would likely enhance the political base in support of Mexico's interests. On June 7, 2001, U.S.-born Juan Hernandez, head of Mexico's Office of Mexicans Living Outside Mexico, appeared on ABC News' Nightline and said: "We are betting that the Mexican American population in the United States... will think Mexico first."

President Bush won the 2000 Florida vote by a narrow margin, and on September 5, 2001, Mexican President Vicente Fox surprised his American host by stating: "We must, and we can, reach an agreement on migration before the end of this very year."52 Mexico and Mexican-American activists are able to use migration effectively to strongly influence American policies. Jorge Ramos, the afore-mentioned author of Latino Wave, told CNN's Lou Dobbs in June 2004 that: "Eight million Hispanic voters will decide who the next president of the United States is."53 That may not have been the case in the recent November elections, but the potential power of Mexicans voting as a solid ethnic block to dominate American Presidential elections is apparent.

A poll conducted by Zogby International released on June 12, 2002 showed that 58 percent of Mexicans in Mexico believed that the American Southwest rightfully belongs to them and 57 percent believed that they do not require U.S. permission to enter this country. Although most Mexican migrants come to the United States to find work and have no political agenda, many may unknowingly vote for candidates who support separatism. For example, Latinos in Los Angeles voted 4 to 1 for Antonio Villaraigosa, former Speaker of the California State Assembly, when he ran for mayor in Los Angeles. As previously noted, Villaraigosa had served as chairman of the local chapter of the radical MEChA organization when he was a student at UCLA.

Undoubtedly, many Mexican Americans are good workers and abso-lutely loyal to the United States. However, the United States took over Texas by essentially overwhelming the indigenous population with Americans of largely European descent. When asked how likely it was that a future Hispanic (mostly Mexican) majority population in the American Southwest would vote to secede from the U.S., Professor Charles Truxillo cited a number of precedents, such as the breakup of the Soviet Union and the dismantling of Yugoslavia, pointing out that those ideas would have appeared to be far-fetched some 50 years ago, but were now political realities.54

In both California, the most populous American state, and New Mexico, minorities are now in the majority. Based on the Texas State Data Center's projection, Hispanics will be the majority in Texas by 2030. Indeed, as early as July 20, 1982, Excelsior, the national newspaper of Mexico, carried a column which stated that: "The American Southwest seems to be slowly returning to the jurisdiction of Mexico without firing a single shot." [Translation from Spanish].56


Throughout U.S. history, different ethnic groups have worked to gain political influence. However, the current wave of Mexican immigration is unprecedented not only because of its size but because among the various countries of immigrant origin, Mexico is the only one contiguous to the United States. Similarly no other foreign government has lobbied the United States on issues related to immigration or so vehemently protested against the United States for attempting to enforce U.S. immigration laws, Community leaders from other immigrant groups have not claimed that parts of the United States belong to them, but California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas were once part of the Spanish Empire, and many Mexicans believe that these territories rightfully belong to them.

Adding to the significance of the continuing influx of large numbers of new Mexican migrants, both legal and illegal, the Mexican population already within the borders of the U.S.A. exhibits a high rate of natural increase. Such is the rate of expansion that America's ability, and possibly its will, to assimilate these newcomers has been overwhelmed. Any amnesty will be an accelerator in this context, and if the U.S. government yields to president Vincente Fox's request, five million amnestied Mexican migrants, could add tens of millions of new voters of Mexican descent to the United States within a few decades as a result of the mechanics of what has been dubbed "chain migration."57

To be realistic, not all Mexican Americans or Mexican immigrants already resident in the U.S. are likely to respond to support the appeals of Mexican leaders and their activist counterparts in the United States. Even so, Mexican culture and the use of the Spanish language is already rooted in the United States, and the appeals of activists promote an exclusionist sense of Mexican identity may well become increasingly significant. Mexican cultural hegemony in large, contiguous areas of the United States such as the Southwest, reinforced by the claim that these territories were once part of the Spanish Empire out of which Mexico was born, could bring about a situation reminiscent of that which faces Canada in respect of the separatist movement amongst the French-speaking population of Quebec.


Text of the Aztlan call to action by Mexicans resident in the United States

El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan

In the spirit of a new people that is conscious not only of its proud historical heritage but also of the brutal "gringo" invasion of our territories, we, the Chicano inhabitants and civilizers of the northern land of Aztlan from whence came our forefathers, reclaiming the land of their birth and consecrating the determination of our people of the sun, declare that the call of our blood is our power, our responsibility, and our inevitable destiny.

We are free and sovereign to determine those tasks which are justly called for by our house, our land, the sweat of our brows, and by our hearts. Aztlan belongs to those who plant the seeds, water the fields, and gather the crops and not to the foreign Europeans. We do not recognize capricious frontiers on the bronze continent.

Brotherhood unites us, and love for our brothers makes us a people whose time has come and who struggles against the foreigner "gabacho" who exploits our riches and destroys our culture. With our heart in our hands and our hands in the soil, we declare the independence of our mestizo nation. We are a bronze people with a bronze culture. Before the world, before all of North America, before all our brothers in the bronze continent, we are a nation, we are a union of free pueblos, we are Aztlan.

For La Raza to do. Fuera de La Raza nada.

Program El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan sets the theme that the Chicanos (La Raza de Bronze) must use their nationalism as the key or common denominator for mass mobilization and organization. Once we are committed to the idea and philosophy of El Plan de Aztlan, we can only conclude that social, economic, cultural, and political independence is the only road to total liberation from oppression, exploitation, and racism. Our struggle then must be for the control of our barrios, campos, pueblos, lands, our economy, our culture, and our political life. El Plan commits all levels of Chicano society - the barrio, the campo, the ranchero, the writer, the teacher, the worker, the professional - to La Causa.


Nationalism as the key to organization transcends all religious, political, class, and economic factions or boundaries. Nationalism is the common denominator that all members of La Raza can agree upon.

Organizational Goals

1. UNITY in the thinking of our people concerning the barrios, the pueblo, the campo, the land, the poor, the middle class, the professional-all committed to the liberation of La Raza.

2. ECONOMY: economic control of our lives and our communities can only come about by driving the exploiter out of our communities, our pueblos, and our lands and by controlling and developing our own talents, sweat, and resources. Cultural back-ground and values which ignore materialism and embrace humanism will contrib-ute to the act of cooperative buying and the distribution of resources and produc-tion to sustain an economic base for healthy growth and development Lands right-fully ours will be fought for and defended. Land and realty ownership will be ac-quired by the community for the people's welfare. Economic ties of responsibility must be secured by nationalism and the Chicano defense units.

3. EDUCATION must be relative to our people, i.e., history, culture, bilingual education, contributions, etc. Community control of our schools, our teachers, our adminis-trators, our counselors, and our programs.

4. INSTITUTIONS shall serve our people by providing the service necessary for a full life and their welfare on the basis of restitution, not handouts or beggar's crumbs. Restitution for past economic slavery, political exploitation, ethnic and cultural psychological destruction and denial of civil and human rights. Institutions in our community which do not serve the people have no place in the community. The institutions belong to the people.

5. SELF-DEFENSE of the community must rely on the combined strength of the people. The front line defense will come from the barrios, the campos, the pueblos, and the ranchitos. Their involvement as protectors of their people will be given respect and dignity. They in turn offer their responsibility and their lives for their people. Those who place themselves in the front ranks for their people do so out of love and carnalismo. Those institutions which are fattened by our brothers to provide employment and political pork barrels for the gringo will do so only as acts of lib-eration and for La Causa. For the very young there will no longer be acts of juve-nile delinquency, but revolutionary acts.

6. CULTURAL values of our people strengthen our identity and the moral backbone of the movement. Our culture unites and educates the family of La Raza towards libera-tion with one heart and one mind. We must insure that our writers, poets, musi-cians, and artists produce literature and art that is appealing to our people and re-lates to our revolutionary culture. Our cultural values of life, family, and home will serve as a powerful weapon to defeat the gringo dollar value system and en-courage the process of love and brotherhood. 7. POLITICAL LIBERATION can only come through indepen-dent action on our part, since the two-party system is the same animal with two heads that feed from the same trough. Where we are a majority, we will control; where we are a minority, we will represent a pressure group; nationally, we will represent one party: La Familia de La Raza!


1. Awareness and distribution of El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan. Presented at every meeting, demonstration, confrontation, courthouse, institution, administration, church, school, tree, building, car, and every place of human existence.

2. September 16, on the birthdate of Mexican Independence, a national walk-out by all Chicanos of all colleges and schools to be sustained until the complete revision of the educational system: its policy makers, administration, its curriculum, and its personnel to meet the needs of our community.

3. Self-Defense against the occupying forces of the oppressors at every school, every available man, woman, and child.

4. Community nationalization and organization of all Chicanos: El Plan Espiritual de Aztlan.

5. Economic program to drive the exploiter out of our community and a welding together of our people's combined resources to control their own production through coopera-tive effort.

6. Creation of an independent local, regional, and national political party. A nation autono-mous and free - culturally, socially, economically, and politically - will make its own decisions on the usage of our lands, the taxation of our goods, the utilization of our bodies for war, the determination of justice (reward and punishment), and the profit of our sweat. El Plan de Aztlan is the plan of liberation!


1 Address for correspondence:

2 Samuel P. Huntington, The Hispanic Challenge, Public Policy Magazine, April, 2004


4 Emily Bazar, Mexican town elects Yola's "Tomato King",, July 7, 2004

5 Julie Weise, Mexican border czar Ruffo: Economics is key to solving region's woes, The News, Mexico City, March 8, 2001

6 Mexico to distribute 200,000 survival kits to border crossers, Associated Press: Border Survival 26904N.shtml, May 18, 2001

7 Matthew Brayman, Immigration law controversy; Defiant Zedillo Breaks Silence, The News, Mexico City, April 4, 1997

8 Davis deal with Zedillo to get rid of Proposition 187, news report on KTLA-TV, Channel 5, Los Angeles, May 19, 1999

9 Mary Beth Sheridan, Zedillo key to end of Prop. 187, Villaraigosa says, Los Angeles Times, August 4, 1999

10 Adolfo Aquilar, La Noche de La Migra, El Siglo Del Torreon, May 5,2000

11 Weise, op.cit

12 Tom Stellar, Local lawyers on 100-member Mexico Council; They'll represent legal and illegal U.S. immigrants, Arizona Daily Star, December 25, 2002

13 Nathaniel Hernandez, Fox: Mexicans still must fight for breaks; Mexican leader begins Chicago visit, Associated Press in Daily Southtown: ... 177nd1.htm June17, 2004

14 Oscar Avila, Immigrants deserve support, respect, Mexican president says, Chicago Tribune, June 17, 2004

15 Lou Dobbs Tonight show, CNN, June 18, 2004

16 Mexican Official Wants Borders Eliminated,, June 30, 2004

17 The Tom Leykis Show, KLSX-FM based in Los Angeles, June 17, 1998

18 Leonel Sanchez, Latinos make up majority of babies born in California, San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.piqeorg/assets/Home/LatiinoBabies.htm, February 6, 2003

19 EFE, Leading Mexican Journalist: Mexico is recovering lost territories via immigration,, August 15, 2001

20 Audiotaped by Glenn Spencer, President of American Border Patrol:

21 La Reconquista des Latinos, Le Nouvel Observateur, August 9-15, 2001, page 46

22 Compiled by Andrew Reding based on article in the Mexican weekly

Proceso, Mexico Divided Over Terrorism Campaign, New California Media, October 9, 2001 23 Art Moore, Is Mexico reconquering U.S. southwest? Illegal immigration fueling aims of Hispanic radicals,, January 4, 2002

24 Frank Zoretich, Southwest's secession from U.S. an "inevitability," professor says, Rocky Mountain News, February 6, 2000

25 Hannity and Colmes Show, Fox News, June 21, 2002

26 Reconquista! The Takeover of America, by California Coalition for Immigration Reform. Audio tapes and print version available.

27 Genaro C. Armas, Rise in Mexican-American population fuels Hispanic growth, Associated Press in State News, May 10, 2001

28 Andrew LaMar, Illegal immigrant license dispute threatens budget, Los Angeles Times, May 27, 2004

29 Editorial, Katz Should Accept Apology, Los Angeles Times, July 13, 1998

30 Kenneth Reich, Latino Group Sues Over Redistricting Politics: It says the boundaries for four congressional and two state Senate seats were designed to keep white incumbents in office. New Maps are sought, Los Angeles Times, October 2,2001

31 A Finger Points to Voter Fraud, KCAL-TV News, Los Angeles, CA: ... 20611.html, February 6, 1997, 14:47

32 Al Santoli, Dornan Fights to Overturn Vote Fraud, U.S. Veteran Dispatch, Jan-Feb,1997,

33 Katia Hetter, Right to vote sought for non-citizen parents, San Francisco Chronicle, July 9, 2004

34 Amy Pyle and Simon Romero, Measure Fuels a New Latino Campus Activism, Los Angeles Times, October 25, 1994

35 Angelica Martinez, Migrants on march to protest raids, Ventura County Star, July 2,2004; David Danelski, Rally against Border Patrol sweeps is Monday, The Press-Enterprise, June 26, 2004

36 Jerry Seper, Border Patrol arrests questioned, Washington Times, July 2,2004

37 Homeland Security has been alerted, Financial Times, July 8,2004

38 About possible immigration raids, Atlanta Latino, July 1, 2004

39 C.J. Karamargin, Initiative on illegal entrants stirs heat,Arizona Daily Star, July 2, 2004

40 Eric Sagara, Activists opposing Protect Arizona initiative, Tucson Citizen, July 2, 2004

41 Aguilar Zinger, op.cit

42 Beth Shuster, Labor Gains Strength as It Flexes Political Muscle, Los Angeles Times, April 28, 1999

43 Patrick J. McDonnell and Robert J. Lopez, Some See New Activism in Huge March, Los Angeles Times, October 18, 1994

44 Reconquista!, op.cit

45 Patrick J. McDonnell and Robert J. Lopez, op.cit

46 Lou Dobbs Tonight show, CNN, June 22, 2004

47 Maria Hsia Chang, Multiculturalism, Immigration and Aztlan, Social Contract, Spring 2000

48 Huntington, op.cit

49 Elizabeth Grieco, The Foreign Born from Mexico in the United States, Migration Policy Institute, October 1, 2003

50 Sanchez, op.cit

51 Jeffrey S. Passel, Randolph Capps, Michael E. Fix, Undocumented Immigrants: Facts and Figures, Urban Institute, January 12, 2004

52 Remarks by President George Bush and President Vicente Fox of Mexico Arrival Ceremony, White House Press Release, September 5, 2001

53 Lou Dobbs Tonight, June 22, 2004, op.cit

54 Zoretich, op.cit

55 Mark Babineck, Hispanics to be Texas majority by 2030, Associated Press, ... 3985.shtml, June 23, 2004

56 Carlos Loret de Mola, The Great Invasion: Mexico Recovers Its Own, Excelsior, Mexico City

Yeh Ling-Ling is the executive director of Diversity Alliance for a Sustainable America.

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