Tag Archives: mexico

Emancipation and Migration: Part 5 – History, NAFTA, and Law and Order

Over the last few posts several have raised some compelling questions.   Some have cited the need for “Law and Order” and cracking down on the illegal immigrants who bring crime with them.  They speak of how if we lose respect for “Law” the country will fall in to chaos.  I’ve tried to dig through some of the rhetoric and process it with biblical perspective. (Since most of my “Law and Order” friends cite biblical basis for locking up and deporting the “illegals!”)

To begin with, there is a unique relationship between the USA and Mexico.  As neighbors we have  at times had a shared history, some peaceful and some in war and violence.  In recent years, with NAFTA, we have increased our shared economics.  This shared history and shared economics must be take into account, they are foundational to the “push” and “pull” of migration.


Often times citizens of the USA (I say it that way, rather than “Americans” because Mexicans and Canadians are also North Americans)  believe that for some reason the USA has the corner on making a “Godly” and just nation.  I’m NOT complaining, I LOVE this country and YES, I KNOW – the USA has often been a source of hope and freedom to the world.  YET – we must not forget the impact of our “LAWS” on Mexico and other countries.

  • In the early 1819 the USA and Spain (and ratified in 1831 with Mexico) signed a treaty giving the US  Florida and the regions from present Texas to California were given to Mexico.  The Nueces River was established as the northern border of Mexico. (Where Galveston is today)
  • What is now the SW 1/4 of the US was forcibly and without legitimate reason stolen from Mexico.
    • In the 1820 and 30’s Mexico invited US citizens to settle in Texas.
    • In 1835 the Mexican Constitution outlawed slavery – it was at this time Texas declared its independence from Mexico. (Texans wanted to continue the “peculiar institution” in their new republic)
  • In 1845 President Polk declared his ambitions to expand the USA and the term “Manifest Destiny” was first invoked by a politician.
    • In the coming 3 years the US annexed Texas, and insisted the real boundary for Texas was the Rio Grande not the Nueces, which both the US and Mexico had recognized as the northern border of Mexico since the  treaty of 1819.  When Mexico refused to sell the rich territories of California and all the territory connecting it to Texas, the US created a pretense for war.
  • Mexico did, as part of the surrender, receive  payment from the USA  of  $15 million dollars at the very time when the discovery of Gold in California was becoming known across the USA

Since the early 1900 Mexicans have consistently helped meet demands for labor in the USA, during WW 2 the Bracero Program allowed Mexican workers to work while many men were serving in Europe or in the Pacific.   However after the war they were “thanked” for their service by being deported.  In 1954 “Operation Wetback” deported over 1 million mexican workers.


While most agree that NAFTA has helped the national economic picture for Mexico.  There is also great evidence that NAFTA was a key undermining the peasant farmers.  There are many reasons easily found on the web and in books.   Most agree that the flood of cheaper subsidized corn from the USA combined with the NAFTA mandated ending of subsidies to the peasant farmers launched the most recent wave of undocumented workers entering the USA, as these farmers were no longer able to sell their corn for even a meager profit.

I recently completed the book  ” The World of Mexican Migrants: The Rock and the Hard Place” by Judith Alder Hellerman.   This work looks at the lives of several migrants and lay out the impact of NAFTA and other economic realities.  It also dispels many of the myths and examines the effect migration has on the Mexican small towns as well.

One of the most common myths is that undocumented immigrants cause crime. A recent article in the LA Times shows that the crime rates in Arizona have been in decline, that undocumented immigrants have a LOWER crime rate than the general population, and that most crime committed by undocumented criminals (often drug lords) is against other undocumented persons.

Chief Harris of the Phoenix Police stated,

“proponents of cracking down on illegal immigrants vastly overstated that population’s criminality,  Saying that if you get rid of the illegal immigrants, you’ll get rid of 80% of the crime, which I’ve heard, that’s not true….  All you have to do in Arizona is come out with anything that’s anti-immigrant and you will be in good shape in the polls.”

The foundation of the “Law and Order” right is the (a) lawlessness of places like Arizona, and (b) belief that “RIGHT” is whatever is defined by the USA. But if these points are not valid, what happens?  One college friend wrote me and said,

“God has instituted governments because we are sinful and need rules for our own protection. If we continue to allow all sorts of illegal immigration then we are undermining our own foundation in this country and we’ll be far worse off in the future.”

Yes my friend I’ve read Romans 13 – but I’ve also read about Jesus allowing his disciples to break laws (re: the Sabbath) that were contrary to the basic needs of man.  This argument assumes that the laws of migration were made with consideration of God’s will.

What part of the annexation of Texas and the war for Gold rich California was made in consideration of the laws of God “for our protection”?

The USA stole the northern 1/3 of Mexico to support slave states and our thirst for expansion.

When did God give governments the right to control the movement of people?

Abram, Israel, The Exodus, Ruth and Naomi, Nehemiah, and even the child Jesus demonstrate to us how God honors people moving for the sake of economic need, security, mission, or even personal ambition.

As a country we were so offended when Soviet east Germany build a wall to keep people from leaving one country for another in oder to advance their economic condition.  The East Bloc built walls to try to protect their own economic interest.  This is the same reason we have spent billions fortifying our southern border.

What is God’s interest in a North American Trade agreement that destroys the livelihood of peasant farmers in Mexico? I could understand a trade agreement that allows a free movement of labor as well as a free movement of goods.   A friend asked me,  “What are the benefits we are getting out of not acting on issue? Is it just political??”     –  NOT acting benefits NO ONE –  but it is a hot political topic ..

A brief summary of the present situation:

There are 10 – 20 million “undocumented” or illegal immigrants in the USA.  Even if the present system was enforced the government could NEVER deport all the people here even if they wanted.  Hence the “cat and mouse approach” is costing billions with little result.

Undocumented immigrant workers provide much to the USA economy, In addition if there were some form of “FINE and DOCUMENT” process the Government could capture over 50 Billion dollars ($5,000 fines and filing fees for over 10 million persons).   Plus we could save money by not having to execute ridiculous work place raids and then pay for the incarceration of harmless moms and dads while the state is now having to pay to keep children whose parents are in holding.

This alone should convince people to see it is time to act.

The present policy fails both MORALLY and ECONOMICALLY