Theater of Cruelty

With happiness in your eyes

Before, illegal immigrants went back and forth across the border. Today they are getting stuck in the US.


[immigration] «There is no 'Americano dream'. There is only the American dream created by an Anglo-Protestant society. »

The words belong to Samuel P. Huntington. His big thesis, reproduced in an article in Foreign Policy, was that the United States was in danger of losing its Anglo-Protestant identity. With graphs and columns, combined with unbeatable logic and undeniable arguments, Huntington showed how Hispanic immigration stands out from all previous immigration by its size, regional concentration and persistence, combined with the fact that the belt from California via Utah to Texas was Mexican until the United States conquered it in the mid-1800s.

In short: Where heterogeneous immigrant groups had previously been formed and modeled on local culture, this language group was both too large and too homogeneous to succumb to assimilation pressures. Conclusion: Immigration of Hispanics threatened for the first time to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures and two languages.

The article was printed in March 2004, and it was hardly coincidental. Just two months before, President George W. Bush had pledged to legalize millions of so-called undocumented (illegal) workers. The president's optimism was in stark contrast to the cultural pessimism in Huntington's article. "America is a stronger and better nation because of the hard work, the faith of the future and the immigrant settler spirit," Bush said as he presented the proposal to open citizenship and guest worker status to anyone who could document that they had jobs in the United States.

Extends the wall

Unfortunately for Bush, it turned out that the majority in his own party leaned toward Huntington and the thesis of a regional, small-scale civilization conflict. The proposal was left dead between two wings of the party: a nationalist and restrictive one that would build walls against Mexico and make it a crime to sneak across the border, and a liberal and economic one that would capitulate to a fait accompli who, among other things, does nine of ten fruit pickers in California to Mexican immigrants – illegal or not.

The case lasted until December last year. Then the House of Representatives, where the Republicans have a majority, made a decision that was in direct conflict with the president's desire for more liberal legislation. For the first time, it was a crime to stay illegally in the United States. It also became illegal both to help and to employ illegal immigrants. The wall that already closes the border at San Diego in California and El Paso in Texas was approved extended to 1200 kilometers – about a third of the entire border stretch between the United States and Mexico.

A few months later, the matter came up in the Senate. There was a compromise between the wings, but the discussion broke down, and the law was put on hold.

Why has the United States suddenly become embroiled in a historical phenomenon that is not only well-known to Americans, but that in many ways has defined national identity? A country where immigration has not only shaped the nation, but simply created it?

The question presupposes a mythology that does not exist. The United States has always been steeped in new and unknown immigration, and waves of immigration have historically been followed by external walls and internal consolidation.

Culturally and religiously, it was the Catholics who posed the first threat to the common identity, and the confrontation between Catholicism and Protestantism was fierce and protracted in the 1800th century. Later, it was the Jews who were tried to be shut out, until someone came up with the brilliant idea of ​​defining the nation as a Judeo-Christian community with room for both hated Papists and poor Shtetl Jews.

Today, only Samuel Huntington talks about the threat to culture, language and identity. Others have a more prosaic approach. What everyone seems to agree on is that something must be done. Romantic ideas about settler spirit and settler tradition are difficult to reconcile with a reality in which eleven million people live illegally in the United States, one million sneak across the border each year and thousands of corpses lie rotting in the Arizona desert or washed ashore along the Rio Grande.

Found far

From 1925 to 1975, a few hundred thousand people came to the United States each year. That is far below the number that comes today. But the price of sneaking in has skyrocketed.

The wall is the biggest problem. It was built under President Bill Clinton to keep the masses out. But it only hurt worse. In fact, the United States does not have as big a problem with immigration as many people think.

The migration of people is no longer circular. Where immigrants previously roamed freely across the border, and thus were able to travel home after finishing their work, today they have to get stuck. No one dares to go back because they do not know if they will get another chance in the rich neighboring country. Physical barriers, border patrols, infrared cameras and barbed wire have led to nothing but pressure on federal and state budgets, as well as a rapidly growing group of illegal immigrants.

By closing the big cities along the border, immigration has also become more visible. Both San Diego and El Paso have a high proportion of Hispanics, which made it easy to absorb and invisible new immigrants. Rotting corpses in the Arizona desert is a completely different matter, and contributes to the notion of hordes of poor Latinos pushing the borders. Both New Mexico and Arizona now operate under formal and permanent state of emergency.

The conservative think tank Cato Institute believes the solution is as simple as it is ingenious: By opening up for immigration from the south, it will both legalize millions of illegal workers and reduce the number who are illegally in the country.

As in other cases, it was almost a revolutionary vision that formed the basis for the president's desire for radical reforms. But from the outset, Bush was locked in by his own party. Therefore, he has taken a line that combines closed borders with promises of political and civil rights under certain conditions.

This is in line with what Ronald Reagan did in 1986, when three million illegal immigrants were granted amnesty. Like Bush, Reagan also had the economy and business in mind. Today, however, the president has an additional motive for giving immigrants more rights: They almost all have a "cousin" in the United States, and these citizens with civil rights can vote in elections.

Votes on Republicans

Hispanics contribute to the US economy, give life to dying cities, maintain growth and demographic sustainability – and increasingly vote for Republicans.

In 1996, 21 percent voted on the right. In 2004, 40 percent voted for George W. Bush. This is in line with the high social mobility of this group. In the United States, there are more Hispanics than blacks who own their own homes. Hispanic households have almost as high an average income as white Americans, albeit for the reason that they also have the highest number of working family members.

Deporting the illegal part of this community will require 200.000 buses traveling in a caravan from Alaska to San Diego. Forget it. The border between the United States and Mexico is the only place where the first world meets the third with only a barbed wire to block. If the standard of living in the south does not improve significantly in the next few years, even more people will knock.

It will change the United States, but not destroy it.


  • Hispanics: Immigrants with Spanish as their mother tongue.
  • Latinos: Used about the people who live in Latin America, and about the immigrants who come from all over this area.
  • In 1995, there were four million illegal immigrants in the United States. Today the number is eleven million. 70 percent are Mexicans.
  • Around five million new Latin American immigrants will arrive in the United States by 2015, whether Congress approves austerity measures or not. It shows a new study conducted by American Manpower (Source: NTB).

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