Okay, you decide. How many actual people from Mexico do you know? Since IFO grew up in Las Cruces, NEW Mexico and Long Beach, Southern California, and has covered numerous migrant worker stories over the years, she has a fairly firm grasp on this. (above) El Chapo, Joaquin Guzman Loera
The Mexicans she knows and has known from NM, CA and OR, are unfailingly polite, kind, hard-working, family-oriented, have a great sense of humor, fabulous food, not too future-oriented, and are LEGAL residents or American-born citizens.
One of our favorite anecdotes is about a woman we covered in our reporting days. Let’s call her Mrs. G. She was active in the migrant community. Spoke fluent Spanish and heavily-accented English. In her late forties, she went back to school at the local college, got a degree in education, and worked in the local schools with children of migrant workers.
She and her husband raised about seven or eight children, most of whom became professionals of one sort or another – pharmacist, lawyer, teacher, etc.
When she retired, her adoring co-workers gave her a vacation trip to Mexico, where she picked up a vicious viral or bacterial disease, and nearly died. You see, she laughed, when she got out of the hospital, “I had never been to Mexico in my life!” So, she had not developed a natural immunity to the disease bugs from south of the US border.
She had been born in a SW Texas border town, just like her parents and grand-parents. There was no need to learn English until she and her family joined the migrant worker wave to the West Coast. She was respected by the entire local migrant population and many Anglos, as well.
When she sat on a bench in the downtown square of the county seat during a local community festival, people came up to her, politely and lovingly inquired after her health, and, as they bent their heads down to talk directly to her, it looked like a bow to royalty.
The guy in the picture above does not look Mexican or SW Texan or New Mexican. He’s El Chapo, the vicious, dangerous Sinoloa drug cartel leader known to authorities as Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman (we find some of the information in the Wikipedia-link above questionable). We’d say more related to some Eastern Europeans – Slavic, maybe? Even possibly southern Italian. Purely a guess. No doubt he was born in Mexico, but family background ? As we said, you decide.
He does not look like the many ag workers, restaurant owners, bakery operators, grocery store clerks and owners, money exchange service workers, landscapers we encounter daily where we live here in the PNW. El Chapo would not be comfortable or welcome at one of their family parties or picnics.
These workers and businessmen are formerly Mexican nationals or Central American nationals. Okay, some of them may have entered the US without proper documentation. No matter.
IFO ventures to say that he would be firmly disinvited. From her contacts among the America-dwelling mainly law-abiding and hardworking Spanish speakers, she has learned that Mexican gang members, whether legal or not, are seriously disinvited.
You’d never know from looking at them, but the older men are Alpha males and their word carries much weight. It is moral weight. They have virtually no support from the Anglo population or the law enforcement community. They are not publicly armed, but their innate dignity is a better form of armor anyway. They say “jump,” you say, “how high, sir?”
Final anecdote. Years ago, a local, major strawberry grower told a group of other Anglo ag women that an organizer from the United Farm Workers had attempted to convince her long-time pickers, migrants all, to join the union.
Their crew leader told the union recruiters to leave and never come back, or he would report them to La Migra, the federal immigration authorities now known as ICE. They left. The grower told us this with tears in her eyes. Her family and his and many of the workers had attended each others’ weddings and birthday parties and had a warm, respectful relationship.
Why the tears? Because due to union pressure and USDA regulations regarding migrant workers, she was being forced to plow under her strawberry fields. She would miss that human connection that you just don’t get with a combine.
We used to have an ag worker program that worked. We don’t any more and people on both sides of the border are poorer for it.