In the recently published, Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans, and Vagabonds, Gregory Rodriguez takes an in-depth look at the largest immigrant group in American history. Rodriguez examines the complexities of the heritage and the racial and cultural synthesis–mestizaje–that has defined the Mexican people since the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century. Vis-a-vis the present era of Mexican American confidence, Rodriguez argues that the rapidly expanding Mexican American integration in to the mainstream is changing not only how Americans think about race but how we envision our nation.
Gregory Rodriguez is an Irvine Senior Fellow and Director of the California Fellows Program at the New America Foundation. Rodriguez has written widely on issues of national identity, social cohesion, assimilation, race relations, religion, immigration, ethnicity, demographics, and social and political trends in such leading publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, where he is an op-ed columnist.
I just put the finishing touches on this video overview of Mexican Immigration through New Mexico and the Southwest and uploaded it to YouTube at http://twurl.nl/gmqs07 . This was about a month in the making, what with the researching, scripting, recording, editing and all, but it holds together pretty well. It’s a nine-minute summary or overview “from 30,000 feet,” so it covers quite a lot of ground in a short time.
It follows the 600-year period from 1400 to 2009 covered by the Albuquerque, New Mexico Historical Timeline, and correlates historical events in Mexico, New Mexico and the Southwest. It begins with the thousand years of native populations trading from New Mexico into Mexico and over to the coastal areas that would become California. It covers the northward pull of silver mining from Mexico City to Zacatecas and Chihuaha in the 1500s, and Oñate’s extension of El Camino Real an additional 700 miles northward, establishing the first permanent settlement in Nuevo Mexìco in 1598. Other events affecting Mexican immigration in this period include:
• The 1803 Louisiana Purchase
• 1821 Independence from Spain and the Mexican Republic period
• Creation of the Lone Star Republic of Texas in 1835
• The 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo’s massive land transfer
• Railroads arriving in the 1880s
• The Mexican Revolutionary period from 1910 to 1930
• The Great Depression and the Mexican Repatriation Program
• The Bracero “guest worker” program from 1942 to 1964
• Operation Wetback in 1954
• The Maquiladora Program from 1964 to now
• 1994 NAFTA
• Corporate globalization
• The 2005 California Apology Act for the 1930s Mexican Repatriation Program
• The effects of the current economic downturn
In these events, you can see a “we want you – we don’t want you” pendulum swinging for over 150 years, and some acknowledged racial profiling of U.S. citizens of Mexican descent in the Mexican Repatriation Program of the ‘30s and Operation Wetback in 1954.
The intent of the video is to bring some hopefully neutral historical information and perspective to the current discussion of immigration. If you have comments or observations, I would appreciate your sharing them with me on this blog post so interested individuals may see and appreciate them.