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Memo From Mexico | Mexican "Family Values" Won't Improve America?
Old stereotypes die hard. How many times have we heard that Mexican and Hispanic immigration is good for the U.S., because Mexican and other Hispanic immigrants (including illegal aliens) have "family values"?
Our own president is particularly fond of this argument. For example, at a National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in 2006, Bush proclaimed (to applause) that
"The daily example of our Hispanic communities reminds us that strong faith and strong families can build a better future for all. We are more—we're a more hopeful society because men and women of Hispanic descent have put their faith and values into action."
Some go so far as to say that Hispanics are just better people than Americans and are going to improve the moral fiber of our country.
In fact, as long ago as 1993, Francis "End of History" Fukuyama said that
"But it would also seem a priori likely that third-world immigrants should have stronger family values than white, middle-class, suburban Americans, while their work ethic and willingness to defer to traditional sources of authority should be greater as well." [Immigrants and Family Values, Commentary, May 1993]
In 2003, former Mexican political operative Fredo Arias-King described interviewing pro-immigration social conservative U.S. congressmen on behalf of the PAN Party and Vicente Fox. Here's his impression of why they supported immigration:
"Congressmen in this group mentioned that the immigrants 'bring family values' that compensate for the perceived deterioration in the morality of Americans. Their preoccupation seemed to be a return to an America they feel is slipping away."
That argument is downright un-patriotic, I don't care who makes it.
If you believe that the moral fiber of American society has declined, and I do, then the solution is to work to improve it, not to replace Americans with foreigners.
Any social conservative who wants to replace Americans with foreigners is an unpatriotic social conservative.
But, as it turns out, the argument is bogus even on its own terms. Mass immigration is definitely not improving the moral fiber of American society.
Nevertheless, some clueless pro-lifers support mass immigration, despite the fact that mass immigration increases the American abortion rate! Figure that out!
Another argument: Mexicans have wonderful family values, but immigrants to the U.S. who have these social problems are being corrupted by American society.
"The problem, as Alejandro Portes, [Email] a professor of sociology and immigration studies at Princeton, has pointed out, is not that Mexican and other Latino immigrants come with the wrong values, but rather that they are corrupted by American practices."
And "Crunchy Con" Rod Dreher echoed the argument in a Beliefnet blog entry entitled "Leaving Mexico—and Strong Family Values":
"I heard from a Catholic friend today …(who) said that in his charity work, they're seeing lots of Mexican immigrant families shattered by the experience of living in America. Mostly men leaving their wives and children, but a startling number of women leaving their husbands and children. His theory is that the strength of the Mexican family is true... but only in Mexico. When they immigrate here, to a vastly different culture and lose their cultural reference points, many immigrants can't handle the freedom. He said they're seeing so many become unmoored from the kinds of traditions and restraints that probably kept them sound in Mexico, but which many of them cast aside once they get to America."
But, on the other hand, Fukuyama and Dreher don't seem to realize that illegitimacy rates in Mexico are in fact higher than rates in the U.S. overall. (More on that later).
The problem with the "Immigrants Corrupted by America" argument is that it goes too far in implying that Mexico is some sort of Family Values Moral Arcadia. As I've tried to tell people since my very first VDARE.COM article in 2001, there are all sorts of home-grown social problems in Mexico. Mexican society is not immune to the vast social changes occurring in other countries. Today social and moral values are under dispute in Mexico, as in other countries.
On balance, there's simply no reason to suppose that the current mass immigration of Mexicans and other Hispanics is going to improve the moral fiber of our own country.
And hey, I'm not the only one who is pointing out the social problems of Mexico—the Catholic Church is concerned about them as well. A recent article in El Universal, Mexico's paper of record, was entitled Preocupa a Iglesia descomposición social en México ("Social decomposition worries the Church", April 2nd, 2008). It started out by reporting that
"The bishop Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel stated that the greatest concern of the [Catholic] church is not the decline in the numbers of Catholics, 'but the lifestyle of many of them, the situation of violence and social decomposition.' He [Bishop Arizmendi] said that the young people grow up disoriented, without a well-defined paternal figure, without personal identity and without hope, taking refuge in drugs, sex, videos, music and fashion."
The Mexican youth the bishop is discussing, remember, are young Mexicans who live in Mexico—not those who have migrated to the U.S.
As a high school teacher and college professor, I'm well aware that American pop culture is very popular with young Mexicans. They listen to American music and watch American TV shows and movies. My students are much more familiar with contemporary American pop music than I am (but I don't think I'm missing much).
I freely admit that commercial American pop culture contains many bad influences for Mexican youth. But, if you know anything about Mexican pop culture and its celebrities, you know it's just as decadent.
It was recently announced, incidentally, that Mexico is now #2 in the world in the quantity of Internet child pornography published. [Ocupa México segundo lugar en producción de pornografía infantil, El Universal, June 2, 2008]
As far as divorce rates, Mexico still lags behind the U.S., which has one of the world's highest (36 for every 100 marriages as of 2005).
Nevertheless, Mexico's divorce rate is increasing, and quite substantially. Just having lived here since 1991, I've seen the marriages of couples I know fall apart. And looking at it percentage-wise, in 1970 there were 3.2 divorces for every 100 marriages, in 1980 there were 4.4, in 1990 there were 7.2, in 2000 there were 7.4, by 2003 there were 11.0, in 2004 there were 11.8 and by 2006, for every 100 marriages there were 12.3 divorces.
In other words, the Mexican divorce rate has quadrupled since 1970. The U.S. is still far ahead, but Mexico is working to close the gap.
During the same time period, illegitimate births have increased in Mexico.
They've increased in the United States too. According to UN statistics, in 1970 out-of -wedlock births accounted for 10.7% of U.S. births; by 1999 they had climbed to 33.0%, and by 2006 had reached an all-time high of 37%. Which is sad and disturbing.
But even back in 1970, the Mexican out-of-wedlock percentage of all births, 27.3%, was already higher than that of the U.S. And by 1993 the percentage of illegitimate births out of total births was 37.8%.
There's even a curious Spanish euphemism for a bastard child—the baby is called an "hijo natural" (natural child), as if to imply that legitimate offspring are somehow unnatural! (A term also used by pre-Victorian English aristocrats, but no longer much used in English.)
There was a recent publicized case of a "natural" child who was born to two very famous white Mexicans.
Santiago Creel (see photo here) is a prominent politician of the right-wing (by Mexican standards) PAN (National Action Party). Creel was former president Vicente Fox's handpicked successor, but was defeated in the party selection process by Felipe Calderon, who went on to win. Now Creel is president of the Senate, the Mexican equivalent of Harry Reid (but Creel is whiter).
In 2004, Mexican actress Edith Gonzalez (photo here) gave birth to a daughter. As sometimes occurs with single Mexican female celebrities who get pregnant, she refused to reveal who the baby's father was.
Well, Creel just got around to admitting that he is the father of the child, conceived when Creel was Secretary of the Interior and married to another woman. The reason it was discovered: Edith and Santiago (who are no longer in a relationship, Creel is divorced and has a new girlfriend) finally got around to registering Constanza, their blue-eyed child, in 2008, though she was born in 2004. Now those are some real family values for you! (Mother and daughter photo here ).
Despite some attention in the celebrity press, it wasn't even considered much of a scandal. I think it would've been a bigger scandal in the United States.
In recent years, the number of out-of-wedlock births and female-headed households has increased in Mexico. But most Mexican single moms are not as well-heeled as Edith Gonzalez.
As of 2003, in the U.S. 8% of households with children were female-headed. This year, CONAPO (Mexican Population Council) reported that as of 2000, 20.6% of Mexican homes were female-headed. That was up from 13.5% at the end of the 70s.
And in 2007 CONAPO announced that 23% of Mexican households were female-headed.
In 2006, CONAPO (Mexican Population Council) reported that 20% of Mexican mothers are (for whatever reason) single mothers. Among younger women (under 30), one out of five got pregnant when they were single. [Madres solteras desafían estereotipos, ("Single Mothers Defy Stereotypes"—itself a very stereotypical headline.)By Cristina Pérez-Stadelmann, El Universal, August 30 2006]
Some other telling statistics [PDF] from CONAPO: Of the nearly 2 million births in Mexico in 2008, 15.5% were to females between the ages of 15-19, and around 7,000 girls from 12-14 years of age had had at least one child.
So how about abortion? On paper, Mexican abortion law is stricter than U.S. law. But Mexican abortion law is hardly enforced.
Estimates of how many illegal abortions are performed vary wildly. But some activists on both sides agree that there are somewhere between 500,000 to 1.5 million abortions performed annually in Mexico. If true, that would be comparable to the number of annual legal abortions in the United States—which has three times Mexico's population.
And just last year the Mexico City municipal government legalized abortion on demand for the first trimester.
Regarding the spread of HIV, a recent study carried out in rural Mexico cast the local men in a very unflattering light. The purpose of the study was "to investigate the factors that outline HIV risk among married women in…one of Mexico's rural communities." Marital infidelity by the husbands was the principal factor in HIV infection among the wives.
And it was related to migration both within Mexico and in the U.S.:
"A major aspect in the study was that married men in the community left their homes to travel to the United States or large Mexican cities for jobs. While away for long periods, they engaged in extra-marital and unsafe sex, which can lead to HIV infection. When men return home, they infect their wives with the deadly virus during sexual intercourse."
This leads once again to the emigration factor—how mass emigration of Mexican men worsens family disintegration in Mexico. Besides HIV infections, it encourages some men to abandon their families, as I reported in my 2004 article "Deadbeat Dads Don't Stop at the Rio Grande".
Allowing mass emigration from Mexico exacerbates family disintegration and causes all sorts of problems for family members left behind.
To provide just on example, in one of the schools in which I worked, I had a divorced co-worker whose ex-husband never sent her any sort of alimony or child support for her or for their daughter.
Why? Because he was living in the U.S. and nobody could (or would) track him down.
How many other Mexican women and children are in similar situations—or worse? These are the victims that the Open Borders lobby doesn't give a hoot about. That's why they try to change the subject and smear immigration reform patriots, lobbing accusations of "racism" and other such red herrings.
Certainly, contemporary American society has many social problems, and it's not fair to blame them all on immigration.
Nevertheless, there is not one of our social problems that is improved by immigration. Instead, immigration is making existing problems worse.
Don't be deceived. Today's mass Mexican immigration—the "Mexodus"—is not improving the moral fiber of the U.S.A.
Nor of Mexico either.
American citizen Allan Wall ( email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.