The Return of ... Immigration Monday!!!
Volume 2.5, August 13, 2007.

The foolish distrust what they see, the wise distrust what they think. –Zen Saying



Mary Jo Johnston has died. You probably don’t know Mary Jo. Most heroes, in my opinion, are unknown. They change the world in their own quiet ways. Who could have imagined that a librarian in Kankakee, Illinois might be a saint? I don’t mean “perfect.” (Though, in her own way, she was.) But I mean it in the old way: she made miracles happen, and she lifted the poor and the lost and the refugees as well as her neighbors and friends, and she gave them comfort and direction, books and instruction. Who could have known that a librarian in Kankakee, Illinois, was a warrior in the great American immigration battle?

For anyone who has given up hope for solutions to this quagmire we call immigration, look to Kankakee. I have posted my New York Times article about the city and its amazing story, below.

It was Mary Jo who brought us into Kankakee. She asked us to come to the library and speak about THE DEVIL’S HIGHWAY to readers. She warned us, “When you get off the highway and make your way to Kankakee, watch out for deer and turkeys on the road.” Turkeys! We thought this was charming, and we thought Kankakee would have a little old library with seven retired ladies and a paper plate of cookies.

We got there, and we kept driving up and down the street, looking for this sad little brick building. But we kept ending up in the parking lot of a gleaming high tech tower. Where was the library? It took me quite a while to realize the tower was the library.

Inside, Mary Jo and her staff had managed to seat 300+ people. The mayor came and presented me with the key to the city. It was one of the most remarkable reading nights I ever had. And when I was done, a young Mexican paisano stood up and, in his tortured English, said: “I am so proud you wrote this book, because now these people can see what we suffered so they could eat salads.” There was a ripple in all the public, like wind hitting wheat.

After the talk, they flocked to him. Hey! Leave that bastard alone and come see me! But Kankakee knew what was important.

Read the piece. Thank Mary Jo Johnson. Think of Mary Jo Johnson. Say a prayer for her. She was your superhero, you just didn’t know her.
I dedicate this edition to her.

(You can read more about Mary Jo in a previous posting on this blog, entitled, “Time to Write.”)




I have written elsewhere about the ways in which you can analyze immigration data and trends for yourself—don’t rely on propaganda machines and self-serving pundits. If someone wants your vote, or your advertising dollars, you would be wise to ignore that (un)happy crappy you’re hearing and look around for yourself.

Most of us don’t have the luxury of talking to coyotes or Border Patrol agents or consuls. I do. My USBP pals on the line have been telling me numbers are DOWN. In one sector, an agent confided to me that the numbers of “illegals” had DROPPED by 16%.

A year ago, I was teaching workshops at Oregon’s wonderful Fishtrap. We noticed that the strawberry crop in Oregon and Washington was going to waste. There had been a record crop, perhaps the biggest ever. But the berries were rotting on the plants because the Mexican pickers DID NOT APPEAR. And, not to beat a clichéd horse, no Americans would show up to do the stoop-labor.

As we made our way across the country, in our traditional restless American drive, we noticed that domestic service in the motels was DOWN. Albeit my survey was informal at best, every single motel we passed had Help Wanted signs in the windows, because the maids and scut-workers, again, did not show up. Once we were back in Illinois, I noticed that the apple crop in Michigan was in danger. Guess why. The pickers NEVER SHOWED UP.

What!? No Mexicans?? Right. No Mexicans. Where did they go? They can’t all be in New Orleans, doing cheap construction.

Watch the seventh or ninth pages of your newspaper—you will see what we’ve been noticing: workers are not showing up again this year. There is a small pattern emerging that bears some study. It’s a small whisper of a story, but if you track rural papers around the country, you might get your Pulitzer for discovering this hidden news phenomenon.
You will not hear about it when people are running for president and your main anti-Beaner candidate is again suggesting we bomb Mecca. Think for yourself, baby. Nobody wants you to THINK.

What is this trend?


MONEY REMITTANCES GOING DOWN: another interesting development was reported in the New York Times (by the excellent Julia Preston, Thursday August 9, 2007; p. A7): fewer Mexican immigrants are sending money home from the US. She quotes a report from the Inter-American Development Bank that states that “500,000 homes” and families in Mexico will be affected by this slowdown, as the numbers of Mexicans sending money home drops to 64%. The reasons cited are fear, basically—insecurity about their future in the US. So they are SAVING instead of sending. Money in the bank, against the day they FLEE the US and go home. Wot??? Egad, man—they plan to GO HOME??? Lou Dobbs didn’t tell me that!

It’s interesting to ponder this. The remittance money in 2006 was around $20 billion a year. If 36% of this money is now going into American banks, how much money is that on a yearly basis? That money is splashing into the big American fiscal pool, swimming around with all the other money that helps keep the economy afloat. What I really wonder is what kind of damage that might cause our economy when the money is suddenly pulled out. I can guarantee that many American working men and women will say, “Hey, I’ll take the hit, as long as they go home.” Unfortunately, the big bosses who hire international slave labor cannot be sent anywhere. Though I’d put them in Gitmo. So pray I’m not made King.

And, of course, we ought to look at what it means to have 500,000 Mexican households in worse straights than they were in before. More undocumented? Or is the fear seeping into Mexico, and will they hold steady and wait for their explorers to return from the New-New World?

Two further trends bear your attention—one makes front pages, one does not. (The really good immigration stuff, I’m tellin’ ya, comes after page five or six). The front page story is the new drug war we are launching in Mexico. The new Mexican president has taken
the position of anti-drug warrior, and President Bush has decided to negotiate a massive new “drug assistance” program, the likes of which hasn’t been seen since we spent a fortune in Colombia to eradicate drugs. And, uh, that one went well! The last trend worth watching this week is the election in Baja California. The former mayor of Tijuana, a true conservative, has won a heated contest. Baja was the first state in Mexico to break away in a substantial way from the “revolutionary” PRI government, and here they go again. Law and order? Pro-American? Pro-business? Anti-drug? Maybe. US Territory? 51st state? Folklore…and creeping fear in Mexico City.


Prepared for IMMIGRATION MONDAY by Luis Alberto Urrea.

A Brief History of North American Immigration and the Mexican Border

Part Two: From the American Civil War to the Present.

[Note: the last edition contains part one of this timeline. This one, being more modern, is no doubt more controversial than ancient history. Though I mentioned the Bering Land Bridge in that one, I don’t really buy the theory. I think some people may have come over the bridge, but there is a deeper, more mysterious indigenous presence here. More ancient. More profound. Do I sound like an LDS historian, seeking Lamanites? At least I’m not looking for alien starship pilots doing genetic research and spawning the Nephilim. Or wait. Maybe I am.]


1861 AD The Civil War begins.

1862 AD CINCO DE MAYO. A Texan-born Chicano general of the Mexican army defeats Napoleon III’s French army in Mexico. Napoleon’s ultimate destination: the United States, where Napoleon’s troops were going to support the Rebels in the American Civil War. That’s right—you ought to eat some Mexican food on Cinco de Mayo, because if not for Mexico, you might be be named Johnny Reb.

1863 AD Emancipation Proclamation.

1865 AD The North wins the Civil War.

1866 AD Ku Klux Klan founded in Pulaski, Tennessee.

1870 AD British immigration peaks at 103,677.

1873 AD Saint of Cabora (Teresita Urrea) born in Sinaloa, Mexico. Foments Indian and religious revolt. Has no idea I’m going to write a novel about her. Or maybe she does.

Slavery abolished in Puerto Rico.

1877 AD Anti-Chinese race riots in San Francisco.

299, 087 Jews living in the United States—1 ½ % of total population.

1880 AD United States signs treaty with China to limit and control number of immigrant workers allowed entry.

250,000 Jews in Unites States—numbers will swell to 2.5 million by the early 20th century.

Indigenous messianic movements ignite in Mexico.
Saint of Cabora, Niño Fidencio, etc. Echo the messianic movements that will sweep the North American tribes.


Immigration peaks:
Chinese—39, 579;
English and German-- 350,000;
Italian-- 32,000
Russian-- 17,000;

87% from northern and western Europe.

Anti-Immigration Act bars criminals, the mentally ill, and the poor.

1885 AD Importation of contract workers banned.

1887 AD American Protective Association, anti-immigrant and anti-Catholic party is formed. 2.5 million members.

1889 AD Tomóchic Massacre. Mexican forces annihilate followers of Saint of Cabora in Tomóchic, Chihuahua. (Among the soldiers is the writer, Heriberto Frías—later known as “the Mexican Zola.” He writes the controversial novel about nthe massacre and the Saint of Cabora, Tomochic.)

CHICAGO: Jane Addams forms Hull House (on the present campus of University of Illinois at Chicago) to help immigrants.

1890 AD Japanese immigration begins. 25,000 Japanese workers immigrate.

First exposé of harsh conditions in immigrant slums is published: How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis.


1892 AD ELLIS ISLAND opens. Over 12 million immigrants will pass through in the next decades.

1893 AD U.S. and Canada sign pact to catch illegal immigrants crossing the Canadian border.

1894 AD Boston’s Immigration Restriction League forms; proposes literacy tests to stop “undesirables” from entering the country

1898 AD Hawaii annexed: .154,000 new Americans added.

1900 AD U.S, population: 75.9 million. 3.6 million are immigrants who have entered since 1890.

9,000,000 immigrants come from Europe.

Border Corridos, or ballads, become the most popular musical hits in Mexico, and the outlaw myth and romance of the border/”norte” begins.

1904 AD United States Border Patrol formed. 75 agents. Anti-Chinese patrols.

1905 AD Go, CHICAGO! The first anti-racist newspaper, The Chicago Defender, is founded.

Asiatic Exclusion League forms in San Francisco.

1906 AD The League Has Its Way: San Francisco school district announces there is a “Yellow Peril” to good Americans, orders that Japanese, Chinese and Korean students be forced to attend segregated schools.

The Saint of Cabora dies in Clifton, Arizona.

1907 AD 81% of all immigrants come from southern and eastern Europe.

Theodore Roosevelt steps in and reverses San Francisco’s race-based segregation policies regarding Asian students.

Japan agrees to stop the flow of immigrant laborers.
30, 226 Japanese enter.

1910 AD U.S. population: 91.9 million. 8.8 million are immigrants arrived since 1900; 14.7% of population is foreign-born.

1910-20 AD Mexican Revolution.
Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans flee northward.

1913 AD California: Alien Land Law forbids Japanese from owning land.

1914 AD Wars and Rumors of Wars: 1,218,480 immigrants enter the United States.
75% are from Europe.

1915 AD US Congress formalizes border patrol: Us Border Mounted Guard.
Anti-Chinese patrols.
First official Border Patrol Agent is named Jeff Milton.

1917 AD Immigration literacy acts passed requiring immigrants to pas written exams. President Wilson vetoes bills twice, but they still pass.

1919 AD 25 major race riots break out all over the U.S.

1920 AD Ku Klux Klan shifts its focus from American Blacks to immigrants and Jews.

California, up to its old racial tricks, passes a law that prohibits Japanese from even renting land.

¼ of New York City’s population is Jewish.

Immigrants form 50% of the population of American industrial cities.

1921, ’24 AD Immigration Acts (US).

IMMIGRATION EMERGENCY QUOTA ACT (The Dillingham Bill) establishes quotas as the basis of immigration policy. Only 3% of any foreign group currently living in the U.S. can enter each year.

1924 AD Labor Appropriation Act (US).

Johnson-Reed Immigration Act: quota reduced to 2%.
1925 AD US Border Patrol expands to coasts. 450 officers. Provide their own horses. Pay: $1,680 a year.

1927 AD Jewish immigrants constitute 3.6% of American population.

1928 AD First Border Patrol uniforms are created.

New Mexico’s Octaviano Larrazolo (born in Mexico) is first Hispanic senator.

1929 AD National Origin Immigration Quota goes into effect.

The Great Depression cuts Mexican population in the U.S. by one third.

1931 AD Lemon Grove, CA—Mexican-American parents sue to stop segregation of schools that won’t allow Mexican/Chicano children to attend better schools.

16,000 Mexicans working in the U.S. illegally are sent to Mexico.

1935 AD Dennis Chavez is the first American-born Latino (Mexican) elected as U.S. Senator. Yes, he was a Democrat!

1938 AD Mexico nationalizes all petroleum production in Mexico, confiscating all American operations and creating Pemex. One of the most brazen thefts in Mexico’s history, worth untold millions.

1939 AD 937 Jewish refugees denied entry to the U.S. and are returned to Germany.

Food Stamps appear.

WORLD WAR II begins in Europe.

1941 AD U.S. enters war.

LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) takes on Union Pacific Railroad, which has maintained a policy of not allowing Mexican/Chicano employees to enter into the apprenticeship program so they can advance in their careers.

1942 AD President Roosevelt signs legislation allowing the U.S. to remove Japanese Americans from their homes and land in the Pacific States.

United States/ Mexico Bracero Migrant Worker Program. Begins with sugar beets in CA; soon goes national. Railroad Bracero Program follows.
Agriculture quota: 50,000+. Agriculture program ends 1945. Railroad: 1964.

Like the Mexican migrations of the 19th century lured north to alleviate the labor shortage due to anti-Chinese legislation, Mexicans are recruited to replace the incarcerated Japanese work force.

1943 AD Chinese Exclusion Act repealed.

Over 250 race riots break out in the U.S.

Anti-Mexican race riots, known as the “Zoot Suit Riots” in Los Angeles.

1945 AD “Displaced persons” acts put in effect: 400,000 European refuges rush to the U.S.

1948 AD Organization of American States forms in Colombia, South America. 21 members, including U.S.

Texan WWII veterans form the American G.I. Forum to combat anti-Hispanic racism and to promote Mexican-American welfare.

1949 AD Fair Labor Standards Act raises minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents.

1950 AD Internal Security Act: American .Communists must register with the government.

Korean War.

1952 AD Puerto Rico become a commonwealth under the U.S. government on July 25.

Immigration and Nationality Act, called the McCarran-Walter Act. Removes the ban on Asian immigration.

1953 AD Refugee Relief Act: refugees fleeing communist countries allowed to enter; 200,000 emigrate.

OPERATION WETBACK: the U.S. deports 3.8 million Mexicans.

1954 AD U.S. sponsored coup topples government of Guatemala.

1955 AD Watch out, you bastards, I am born.

1956 AD 6,000 Japanese Americans who renounced citizenship when they were incarcerated in the camps are reinstated.

1959 AD Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution: 20,000 Cubans flee to the U.S.

1960 AD John F. Kennedy elected U.S. President: first Catholic in history to hold the office.

1961 AD Alliance for Progress forms in Uruguay; U.S. and Latin American nations sign charter assuring mutual developmental support.

1962 AD César Chávez begins union that will become UFW (United Farm Workers).

JFK signs legislation that will ban racial preference and discrimination in housing.

1963 AD Chamizal Treaty: U.S. returns a portion of El Paso, TX, to Mexico.

1964 AD First maquiladoras; Border Industrialization Program.

1965 AD The Watts riots in Los Angeles.

Immigration act ends quotas. Limit of 120,000 visas a year for Western Hemisphere countries; 170,000 for other nations.

Medicare draws 45,000 foreign doctors to U.S.

Voting Rights Act to stop racial control and oppression in American voting.

1966 AD Chicago and New York race riots.

Kwanza created.

Black Panthers formed.

Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzalez, Chicano poet and human rights activist, founds the Crusade for Justice to work toward equality for Mexican-Americans.

1967 AD “The Long Hot Summer”: race riots ignite the U.S.

1970’s More that 4 million immigrants enter the U.S.
Europe: 1.6 million;
Latin America and Asia: 1.3 million;
Mexico: 60,000.

1970 AD Maquila Decree goes into effect, establishing regulations for maquiladora development on border.

Number of “foreigners” in U.S. hits its century low: 4.8%.

1975 AD Congress broadens Voting Rights Act to protect “language minorities”—or Spanish speakers.

1977 AD United Farm workers sign a pact with Teamsters Union.

15,000 Indochinese refugees authorized to enter U.S.

Korean immigration strong: 4,500 Korean-owned small businesses in
Los Angeles.

1978 AD 47,000 “Boat People” from Indochina are allowed into the U.S.

8.2 million “illegal aliens” are in the U.S. 90% are Hispanic.

1979 AD President Carter gives up the Panama Canal.

Philippine immigration: 41,300.

1980’s 1,000,000 “illegal aliens” are sent home each year.

1980 AD For you SCARFACE fans: U.S. allows Cuban asylum seekers to enter; Castro launches the Mariel Boat Lift; 125,000 Cubans flee for the U.S.

1981 AD Civil War in El Salvador. Regan backs the Contras; U.S. opposes left wing rebels and gives aid to conservative government. Thousands flee.

1982 AD U.S. Supreme Court rules that all children in the U.S. are entitled to public education, regardless of citizenship .

Peso plummets—devaluation by Mexican government—twice in the year. Foreign debt at $82 million. Leads to huge spike in maquiladora activity with foreign investment
Both result in massive movement out of Mexico toward the border, drawn by illegal immigration, but more significantly, for work in Mexicn border cities..

1986 AD Congress approves bill that will levy fines on employers who hire undocumented workers.

Simpson-Mazzoli Immigration Control and Reform Act. Undocumented workers who can prove they have been in the U.S. since 1982 can remain legally.

1.4 million apply for illegal immigration amnesty.

U.S. apologizes to Japanese citizens for the detention camps during WWII.

U.S. awards each former Japanese inmate $20,000.

6.5 million Asian Americans in U.S.

1989 AD 12,000 U.S. soldiers invade Panama.

Miami has a Latino majority population.

1990 AD 14% of Americans speak another language (than English). 90% are Latinos.
11% of NYC is Puerto Rican (900,000).

Los Angeles is the second largest Mexican City (population) after Mexico City.

1991 AD Thousands of Haitian refugees interdicted by U.S. Coast Guard and sent back to Haiti.

1992 AD August 12—NAFTA signed.

1993 AD Cesar Chavez dies. April 23.

Ciudad Juarez women-killings begin.

1994 AD Mexican Presidential candidate Luis Colosio assassinated in Tijuana, March 23.

NAFTA goes into effect: thousands of Mexican and Central American immigrants flood the border.

Operation Gatekeeper border control strategy goes into effect—Sep. 17.

1995 AD Mexican Banking Crisis.

California’s Proposition 187—prohibits welfare, education, health assistance to undocumented immigrants. Later, struck down as unconstitutional.

1996 AD President Clinton “decriminalizes” the border—40 miles of new border fence; upgrades of law enforcement and large financial appropriations.
Crime drops in borderlands: according to FBI statistics, there is a 30% drop in San Diego, CA; 5% drop in Nogales, AZ; 14% drop in El Paso, TX.

1998 AD Clinton and Mexican president Zedillo sign a pact to fight drug trafficking.

2000 AD Presidents Bush and Fox (Mexico) begin comprehensive talks on border reform based on investment, trade, and economic development.

Coffee prices plummet—Mexican small-plot coffee farmers join the exodus to the U.S.

2001 AD The Yuma 14 catastrophe in Arizona.

September 11.

Talks between Fox and Bush collapse.

2001-04 NAFTA begins to pull factories out of Mexican borderlands. Maquiladoras relocate to India and China, seeking a cheaper workforce.

Between 2001 and 2002, 500 maquiladoras close in Mexico.

U.S. Border Patrol is absorbed by Homeland Security.

The Minuteman Project is launched—citizen patrols of border.

Tom Tancredo rides a wave of anti-immigrant rage to political power in Colorado.

12-14 million “illegal aliens” residing in the U.S.

2006 AD Hundreds of thousands of immigrants march all over the U.S. in the “Day Without and Immigrant” human rights protests.

U.S. Border patrol augmented by National Guard trrops. Illegal immigration numbers drop by 16%.

Immigrant farmworkers fail to appear—U.S. crops begin to show strain. The strawberry harvest in Washington, Oregon and Idaho states is virtually ruined; the apple crops in Michigan are in danger.

Mexican presidential election melt-down: Felipe Calderón, the conservative candidate, wins a tight election. However, cried of election fraud disrupt the process: Andrés Manuel Lopez Obrador, the liberal candidate, claims victory. In a strange echo of the Gore/Bush debacle in the U.S., votes are recounted and political chaos threatens. For a time, both men inaugurate themselves, and claim that they are each president.

2007 AD Bank of America announces proposed illegal alien credit card.

Frost annihilates U.S. orange crops—effect of immigrant workers not yet measured.

As of this date, numbers of Juarez murders in dispute—offical numbers are low; activists suggest over 500 women have been raped, tortured and killed, and 500 are missing.

CHICAGO: undocumented workers pushing the 500,000 mark in the six urban counties around the city. Form 5% of total Chicagoland population—90% of these immigrants are Latin American or Mexican.

“Tortilla crisis” in Mexico—corn, due to NAFTA agricultural policies and to the spike in prices due to ethanol demand, suddenly spirals in cost and is unavailable to the poor and working classes. Maize forms the basis of the daily diet.

Founder of Minuteman Project under investigation for misappropriating funds sent by supporters.

New Mexican governor, Bill Richardson, first Mexican-American to run for President of the United States.

Oops—President Bush’s controversial Immigration Bill (Kennedy/McCain) is defeated, and immigration reform is put on the shelf till 2008.

Archeological evidence is discovered in Chile that suggests indigenous peoples lived in the Americas thousands of years earlier than previously believed.



“”White Americans, what?
Nothing better to do?
Why don’t you kick yourself out
You’re an immigrant too.
Who’s using who?
What should we do?
Well, you can’t be a pimp
And a prostitute too.”

--The White Stripes, “Icky Thump.”


Due to the recent computer melt-downs, we’re behind schedule. But we have the USBP perspective ready for next week, and for a piquant bit of friction, we also have the Mexican Consul General’s essay, part one.

Also, I’ll post my recent Washington Post immigration essay.

Adios, Amigos!

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