“Alien World” Essay
Zaitchik is a freelance journalist who is affiliated with Poverty Law, a U.S. organization that supports ethnic and racial tolerance. Zaitchik’s article attempts to convey the idea that Mexico’s economy is forcing people to take desperate measures in order to survive. He uses his experience with a border crossing simulation as a way to lure the reader into the article. Zaitchik then proceeds to use statistical evidence to enlighten the reader about Mexico’s economic dependency on migrant workers. Zaitchik travelled to Mexico to learn about and participate in the border crossing simulation. He effectively uses his experience with the border crossing simulation, its participants, the Otomi people and his knowledge of the Mexican economy to effectively present his argument.
Zaitchik’s personal experience and knowledge of the Otomi’s plight supplement his argument. He provides a series of facts and anecdotal evidence to show the emergence of a border crossing simulation in Mezquital Valley as a prelude to a bigger problem, Mexico’s economic dependency on migrant workers. Zaitchik states that the Otomi, the indigenous people of Mezquital Valley, lost 90% of their working class to migrant workers (258). Many of the Otomi migrant workers make the trip north to work seasonally, but many are unable or unwilling to return (259). The author’s use of these facts establishes that the Otomi were left with a population that would not be able to sustain their local culture or the community’s economy.
This forced the remaining population to tap into a new form of ecotourism by starting the border crossing simulation. Zaitchik’s simulation shows how illegal immigrants face a great number of challenges as they attempt to enter through a foreign country’s borders. Each participant has paid $125 for two days camping and a midnight “border crossing” experience in central Mexico. The staged run, 700 miles from the actual U.S. border, covers a bruising adventure course that winds through the valley of Alberto Eco Park. Zaitchik says, “It all adds up to the world’s most elaborating simulation of the Mexican migrant experience” (259). His knowledge of the border crossing simulation reinforces how the Otomi were forced to adapt or face extinction.
One of those who left and returned is Laura Basuado a fresh faced- 27- year- old park employee who crossed the border when she was 17. She states, “The night walk is not even 1 percent of what it’s really like.” Her own journey to the U.S. involved a four-day walk through the sonoran desert. This comparison serves to further clarify that there is a gap between the middle class and the poor, emphasizing that the participants do not see this experience as an act of unifying the Mexican people. After luring the reader with the Otomi’s plight and experience on the simulation, Zaitchik’s asserts that the Mexican government tolerates and even encourages the trip up north. He gives the following as the reason, “Mexicans living in the U.S. send more than $25 billion dollars in annual remittances to their relatives south of the border” (262).
$25 billion dollars is a substation amount of money for any government to give up willingly without having a means of replacing the income. The cotton industry in West Texas fears that there will be a struggle in finding field workers if the border is closed. Other regions of the country that depend on agricultural workers to pick their product in time for the market would also be affected. (O’Donnell 26). It has been proven that it is extremely important for the agriculture business to have enough migrant workers to work the fields and in turn provide an economic impact to the region. Agriculture’s need for Mexican workers is very large, but it is also a seasonal job which sometimes will cause the migrant worker to move from the West Coast to Texas, or other agricultural states. This kind of migration is seen less and less since some states have been enforcing or enacting their own immigration laws which prevent most illegal immigrants from going and providing an economic impact to the region.
Ask any struggling Mexican if U.S. plans for a high-tech border fence will stop the flow, and he will tell you the idea is fanciful, that you cannot deter the desperate. “If you build a wall, they will build taller ladders and dig deeper tunnels,” says Del Plan. “If the entire border becomes clogged with armed guards, they will take boats, as the Cubans and Haitians do.” Indeed, this shift is already happening (262). As you can see O’Donnell and Zaitchik agree that the agriculture businesses require the migrant workers, and that increased border security will not deter illegal immigration. According to the Pew Research Hispanic Center, (Young) there is no net zero migration from Mexico to the U.S. for the first time in decades. Increased border patrol, stricter laws in the U.S., rising smuggling fees, violence in the desert and the struggling U.S. economy are keeping more Mexicans at home and even have some people returning to Mexico from the U.S. Therefore, “The media sees we are trying to build understanding and create jobs, and they support us says, Eduardo Del Plan, a park employee who scripts much of the simulation based on his own multiple trips across the border”.
Therefore, Zaitchik states “that we have become an example of an indigenous community standing on its own feet, trying to stop the bleeding to the north” (262). (Maribel Garcia from HERE AND NOW) says it’s difficult to show how effective the night walks are for our visitors, but as the parks tourist offerings are expanding, and the number of visitors slowly growing, she says that the walks will generate enough income to encourage more of the community’s residents to stay put. However,” Bausado eventually found her way to Minnesota, where she stayed four months before deciding she’d rather be poor and jobless in Mexico than poor and marginally employed in the U.S., living in constant dread of arrest or deportation” (260). Zaitchik’s article attempts to convey the idea that Mexico’s economy is forcing people to take desperate measures in order to survive. He uses his experience with a border crossing simulation as a way to draw the reader into the article. Zaitchik then proceeds to use statistical evidence to enlighten the reader about Mexico’s economic dependency on migrant workers. Overall Zaitchik experienced a memorable border crossing adventure. Work Cited
Hanson,H.G. and Council on Foreign Affairs. “The economic logic of illegal immigration.” USA: Council on Foreign Relations, 2007.
From http;//hereandnow.wbur.org fake-border-crossing
Here & Now with Robin Young and Irina Zhorov