The biggest problem for the not-very-bustling metropolis of Casa Blanca, Mexico, is, according to a recent story in the New York Times, whether it is going to exist in the near future. "The question we always ask," says one of its dwindling and aging residents, "is, ‘Will our community survive?' We are running out of people."
That, of course, doesn't mean that the Mexican birth rate is falling. What it means is that too many Mexicans are bidding adios to their homeland and heading for the greener side of the border in El Norte - the United States. And like everything else bad that happens to Mexico and other Third World utopias-that-might-have-been, it's all the fault of El Gringo.
As the New York Times explains, ("Migrant Exodus Bleeds Mexico's Heartland," 17 June) Mexicans for many years have tracked back and forth across the border to find work, welfare, and money in the United States and to fetch the swag back to the locals. But now, "Migration experts say that with a growing United States law enforcement presence on the border, illegal crossings have become so difficult - and even deadly - that many migrants and their families settle permanently in the United States, rather than risk a repeated crossing."
If only we were kind enough not to enforce our border laws and just let anyone cross who wanted to, then the depopulation of central Mexico wouldn't be happening. It never occurs to the Times, let alone the Mexicans, that if they stayed in their own country where they belong, the depopulation wouldn't be happening either.
Nor does it occur to the Mexican government, which is insistent on pushing more and more of its own people out of their own country and into ours. The Times again explains why, at least in part.
Migration is a multibillion dollar venture for Mexico. Immigrants send home an estimated $6.3 billion each year. That money - the nation's third largest source of income, behind oil and tourism - has done more than provide relatives money for food, clothing, and medicine. Migrants also pool their money and fill in for strapped or corrupt local governments by supporting public works projects that range from paving streets and installing potable water systems to refur-bishing churches and furnishing classrooms with computers.
So the truth is that for years Americans have been subsidizing whatever passes for progress in Mexico through the money they pay to illegal immigrants, as well as helping to line the pockets of the kleptocracy that runs Mexico. No wonder the Mexican government doesn't want to do much to slow down illegal immigration and gets testy when anyone in this country suggests that more be done.
The result of the virtual abolition of the border - for all the enforcement efforts on our side, the fact is that virtually anyone can cross if he wants to - is the depopulation of one and the over-population of the other. The state of Michaocan, for instance, in central Mexico, sees some 50,000 of its natives leave each year, with about half staying in the United States. There are now more Mexicans from this province in California, Texas, and Illinois than there are in Michaocan itself.
The depopulation doesn't really help Mexico, despite the loot the immigrants import, because whatever human talents and skills the country might need and be able to use tend to get out as soon as possible. Those who remain probably aren't of much use for anything. Now, if the migrants who never come back stop sending money back as well, the result could be further economic collapse in their home areas, prompting still more immigration in the future.
Meanwhile, while California's Gov. Gray Davis and President Bush bicker at each other over energy policy, the truth is that there would be no energy crisis in California at all if it were not for the massive number of immigrants who have swelled the state's population over the last thirty years. As demographer Virginia Abernethy points out in a recent column, California energy consumption declined per capita over the last twenty years, but the state's population grew by forty-three percent in the same period. The reason for ninety-five percent of the population increase in the last decade has been immigration. Had those new heads not arrived to consume more energy, there would be no energy crisis in California - and no looming crisis for the nation.
While Americans have subsidized Mexican development, Mexicans and other immigrants have helped cause our energy crisis - as well as burdens on other resources and infra-structures. So we don't really need to hear more lectures about how Mexican depopulation is all our fault. If no more of them came and if the whole mass of them went home and stayed there, both countries would be better off.