What If Someone Broke into Your House of Rhetoric?

So a page out of the anti-immigration reform movement’s playbook is some form of the following:

“What is someone broke into your house and stayed there. And ate your food, and had kids in your house, etc…”

I can not and will not speak for all of Latin America.

But I will take the liberty today to speak for some of el pueblo de México.

Here are three topics that you can start to research so as to better understand why Mexicans aren’t arbitrarily, “Breaking into your house.”

I’m not going to chew them up and spit them out into small bites for you. There’s already an incredible amount of solid information out there.

I’m a big believer that if this topic means something to you, (regardless of if you’re pro-immigration reform or anti-immigration reform,) then you need to go and educate yourself. Take ownership of your personal education on this issue.

1. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) – Who signed it? When was it signed? Why was it signed? Who came down from the mountains when NAFTA was signed, and why? What has happened to small farmers in Mexico since the signing of NAFTA? Has Mexico entered the “first world” as was promised upon the signing of NAFTA?

2. Neoliberalism – What is it? Is it good for the US? Is it good for Mexico?

3.  US Citizenship and Immigration Services Spend some time on their website here. Pretend that you are applying for permanent residency to the US, or that someone you love is applying for US permanent residency.

My recommendation would be to spend no less than 30 minutes in the site.Then look up the definition for institutionalized racism. See if you can make a connection between the two.

Once you’ve done all that, then I’d love to know if you think that undocumented Mexicans are still, “breaking into houses.”


14 thoughts on “What If Someone Broke into Your House of Rhetoric?

  1. Just that image makes my blood boil. Besides all of the systemic social, political and economic reasons of why any immigrant comes to the states, I cant help but think of the pure common sense ignorance the analogy “of the breaking in to your house and eating your food, having kids in your house etc.” First of all, my experience in Mexico (and Guatemala and El Salvador) is that most people prefer to live in their own houses and eat their own food (have you tried Mexican food?–case in point!) and perhaps it may be news to some people but all Mexicans are not “coveters” of the American materialist way of life but in fact want to stay in their country and with their families-even it that means in a house that may not look “acceptable” to many people from the US.

    Second of all, that image plays into all the racist stereotypes of immigrants as criminals that they would “break into your house” and then take advantage of you. If you have ever been to Mexico, you would know about the incredible sense of hospitality (both giving and receiving) that I have experienced in Mexico. I have been welcomed with such openness and generosity in so many homes (from super rich to super poor) as well as seen the humbleness and humility of others who have come to my home. The analogy of the image above just promotes harmful, racist, untrue stereotypes of Mexicans. Instead, the sense of community, sharing and caring for the stranger is something Mexico has taught me and something which I think most people from the US could learn a lot. In fact, the individualized values of “my” house, “my” things and protecting “my” interest and materials goods is so unsustainable on so many levels and the reason we are in this situation in the first place. Thanks Giselle for reminding us about such damaging rhetoric and for encouraging me to think about all the complexity of that image.


    1. Thank for your comment, Dora. I’m cool with people disagreeing-as long as they’re informed. Saludos, TDW


  2. I do wish folks would take time to understand immigration and other big issues in a systemic way… thanks, m’dear! As always, spot on.

    Hate to undermine El Chupacabras’ argument because I think he’s right about 99.99% of undocumented immigrants, but my husband is one weird exception; he abandoned his homeland for the hell of it — literally marched several days in the desert because why the heck not? And because of it, he’ll be the first to tell you that ignorance was bliss. It’s given him an interesting perspective on what it is that you give up in the US, what you can never get back, and the value of things that don’t fit in your wallet. His experience has been a bit like Plato’s cave in that he belongs nowhere now…

    I gave an English class on the past tenses for my Brazilian students in the US with various past situations to respond to including “when you lived in Brazil.” To a man (and woman), they all said, “When I lived in Brazil, I was poor, but I was happy.”


  3. Thank you, Giselle! These are the push/pull factors the have created the debacle we currently face.

    As for those who ignorantly post, let me tell them this much: I’ve worked with immigrants on both sides of the border, and I’ve NEVER MET ONE WHO HAS ABANDONED HIS HOMELAND “FOR THE HELL OF IT!” AND YES, I SHOUTED THAT!


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