I once heard a Canadian describe what it is like to live near the United States: “It’s like sleeping with an elephant. Generally it is kind and has a good heart, but watch out when it starts to roll over!”
When we stay near the Mexican border it makes me think more about what it is like to have us as a neighbor from the southern point of view. Considering how many of the residents of the southwestern states have Mexican heritage, it always seems odd to me that feelings and policies tend to be so anti and negative toward immigrants in the border states. We build the wall separating us ever taller and pay for countless agents and dogs to catch Mexicans (and Central Americans) coming north for jobs. Ironically, since our economy hit the wall in 2008, the volume of these illegal crossings has lessened considerably, but the interdiction army is as populous as ever. If you could make a decent living at home, why would you want to endanger your life sneaking into a country that doesn’t want you and doesn’t speak your language? Desperate people do desperate things.
Our media is quick to inform us about the latest drug cartel murders, tortures, etc., but rarely questions why the demand for the substances they are delivering continues to be so high on our end. It’s so easy to point fingers. When we have taken our RV into Mexico, we were periodically stopped for searches. What were they looking for? - guns. From their point of view, if guns weren’t so easy to get from us, there could be far fewer innocents slaughtered for being in the wrong place at the wrong time as the drug cartels duke it out.
Shortly after we arrived here this year everyone was excited because Mexico had just raised the rate on the VAT (value added tax) on all products sold there. Tucson merchants were rubbing their hands together with glee as they considered all the Mexicans who would made the one hour drive here to go shopping. Suddenly, they were glad about all those border crossings.
Today I read in the paper about the NAFTA treaty that we hear complaints about because we lost so many manufacturing jobs to the Mexican workers and their lower wages. Our huge and efficient agricultural operations have put 60% of the small Mexican farmers out of business and under NAFTA Mexico imports 40% of its food from us, something it didn’t have to do before the treaty was signed.
Living next to us can be a challenge.