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Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Recommended reading: immigration

Knowledge of history is always helpful to understanding the present. In this regard, I'd like to recommend two articles I've come across recently. The first is an article in the latest issue of Socialism and Liberation magazine, written by Professor Ron Wilkins of California State Univeristy. The article explores the Mexican-American war (which resulted in half of Mexico being annexed by the United States), slavery, and, in those contexts, the relationship between Blacks and Mexicans. You'll learn things like this:
From 1825 until the end of the Civil War in 1865, Mexican authorities continuously thwarted attempts by slave-holding Texas settlers to conclude fugitive slave extradition treaties between the two parties. During this period of extremely tense relations between the two governments, Mexico consistently repudiated and forbade the institution of slavery in its territory, while U.S. officials and Texas slave owners continuously sought ways to circumvent Mexican law.
You'll learn about "Mexican General José Urrea and the land titles that he and his men granted to former Texas slaves following the defeat of the Alamo." And you'll learn about the history of slaves escaping to freedom in Mexico, and the earliest attempts of the U.S. government to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border:
By the year 1855, the estimates were that as many as 4,000 to 5,000 formerly enslaved Africans had escaped to Mexico. Slaveholders became so alarmed at this trend, that they requested and received, approximately one-fifth of the standing U.S. army, which was deployed along the Texas-Mexico border in a vain effort to stem the flow of runaways.
Fascinating article.

The second article, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times, was written by Professor Mae N. Ngai of the University of Chicago. This article is focused on the history of U.S. immigration policy. In it, you'll learn things like:

There were so few restrictions on immigration in the 19th and early 20th centuries that there was no such thing as "illegal immigration." The government excluded a mere 1 percent of the 25 million immigrants who landed at New York's Ellis Island before World War I, mostly for health reasons.
Or how hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants -- mostly Europeans -- became legal:It never hurts to start with the facts. These were just some excerpted from two highly-recommended articles.

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