Immigration as Foreign Policy in U.S.-Latin American Relations
Since the early years in their histories as independent nations, the United States and its
southern near–neighbors have been linked through their foreign policies and the
movements of their peoples. In the nineteenth century, the acquisition of the Floridas
and the conquest of northern Mexico by the United States led to substantial movements
of people. Later in the same century, the U.S. conquest of the remnants of Spain's
American empire contributed to the hispanization of the population of the United States.
In the twentieth century, U.S. immigration policy turned generally restrictionist. Foreign
policy concerns, however, led the government to permit and even, for a time, to
stimulate Mexican immigration to the United States. Consistent with its policies toward
the Soviet bloc, the U.S. government also stimulated migration from Cuba for a certain
period. These U.S. policies have been supplemented by those determined and
ingenious people who, drawn by the promise of the words inscribed on the Statue of
Liberty, have entered the United States illegally. As a result, the United States is already
the fifth largest Spanish–speaking country in the world.
Beware! America is being invaded by aliens! Not the little, green, Martian type you see in science
fiction movies, but the real thing. I'm talking about the illegal type who come in every day and
every night, by land and by sea. Estimates have shown that as many as 500,000 illegal aliens
make it across the border every year (Morganthau 67). Illegal immigration causes many problems
in the United States, including economic problems, crime, education disputes, and overcrowding.
All of these problems were already damaging our country and illegal immigration has made them
much, much worse. Let me begin to explain the problem with a story. A woman named Xiomara T.
escaped Nicaragua in 1991 to escape the violence afflicting her country (Jost, Feb. 3, 1995). She
slipped across the Mexican-American border easily one night without papers guaranteeing her
legal status which would give her all the rights she needed. She made it into California with no
problems from the border patrol, whose duty is to keep illegal aliens out of our country. In
California, Xiomara got a job working for about four dollars an hour, even though her employer