Why Don't We Start Being a Good Neighbor?

By Jaime Monte, Vol. 21 Student Writer

The recent political climate has constantly pointed to Mexicans and Mexico as a problem for the United States of America. President Trump’s words had special resonance back in 2015. “The Donald” stated at his announcement rally that “[w]hen Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best…They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people[.]” But is this true? Has Mexico been taking advantage of the United States? Lets make a historical recount of events in which Mexico and the U.S. have been involved.

 

Do you remember the Alamo? “Yes.” That’s probably the answer most people familiar with the subject will have. Personally, I have heard the story; I have read about it; and I even watched the movie. The American historical account supports the contention that “Texans” were fighting for independence from an oppressive government. However, I was also educated in Mexico, and I can surely tell you a different account of what happened. First, it is important to understand that in the early part of the 19th century, Texas was part of Mexico. Because the land was cheap, Americans settled in Texas. There was one big problem after the Americans settled in Texas—slavery. In Mexico, slavery was illegal. Therefore, according to Mexican history books, Mexico had to intervene to stop it. However, the “Texan” troops won the war, succeeded in accomplishing their “independence,” and later joined the U.S.

 

Do you remember the Braceros program? This was a program created around the 1940s by a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. This program was created because of a shortage in agricultural workers due to the U.S. involvement in WWII. The program consisted of short-term contracts that allowed Mexican nationals to work in the U.S. Around 4.6 million Mexican-nationals took advantage of this program that lasted from 1942 to 1964 (beyond the anticipated end of the program). However, this program had overall negative effects, like “unreasonable wages, [poor] living conditions, and other abuses that amounted to human rights violations.” And even today, illegal immigrants must deal with those conditions that the “braceros” had to deal with. Yet, the only objective the Braceros ever kept in mind was the “American dream.”

 

Now, lets fast-forward to the 21st century. Do you remember Katrina? Katrina, one of the most devastating hurricanes in U.S. history, brought devastation to New Orleans. Since the Alamo, no Mexican troops had been in the U.S. However, this time was different—Mexico stepped in to support its neighbor. The Mexican military crossed the border with military vehicles bringing food, water, and medicine. In addition, they stayed in the U.S. providing aid to the people affected by Katrina until their aid was no longer necessary. A couple of weeks ago Harvey impacted Texas, and Mexico, without hesitation, offered its help. However, this time it wasn’t well received. Nevertheless, this type of event demonstrates how Mexico is a neighbor you can count on.

 

Even though my historical analysis is small in scope, it demonstrates an underlying truth about the relationship between Mexico and the U.S.; the phrase “[a]nd some are good people” was under-inclusive of the great characteristics of Mexico and its citizens. Mexico has gotten the short end of the stick in its relationship with the U.S. Maybe, we should change our approach when we talk about Mexico and its citizens, and we could start acting as a good neighbor.

 

Sources:

See generally Lorenzo A. Alvarado, A Lesson From My Grandfather, The Bracero, 22 Chicano-Latino L. Rev. 55 (2001).

See Max Bearak, Mexico saved American lives after Katrina. Will Trump accept its aid after Harvey, The Washington Post (Sep. 21, 2017), https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/08/27/mexican-troops-saved-american-lives-after-katrina-would-trump-let-them-do-it-again/?utm_term=.66785ed8e23f.

Kim LaCrapia, Mexican Troops Aided U.S. After Hurricane Katrina?, Snopes (Sep. 21, 2017), http://www.snopes.com/mexico-sent-troops-to-u-s-to-help-after-hurricane-katrina/.

Tal Kopan, What Donald Trump has said about Mexico and vice versa, CNN (Sep 21, 2017), http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/31/politics/donald-trump-mexico-statements/index.html.