Self deportation

One prominent bit of news today is the report by the Pew Research Center that more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than are entering the country.

Press coverage makes the obligatory reference to Donald Trump and the Wall that the Mexican government (in his fabulation) will pay for.   It will be an interesting construction management challenge, with Mexicans working on the Mexican side and Amirkins working on the U.S. side.

It occurs to me that Trump’s Wall might have some effect.   The Pew study shows that family reunification is the primary force that is driving the “self-deportation” of Mexicans, but economic forces are also important, so by creating good jobs on the Mexican side of the border, Trump’s wall might increase out-migration.

Seriously, I think Mexico will create a lot of good jobs in the coming decades.  Anyone who has traveled in Mexico and Central America (or paid attention to the lives of immigrants here) knows that the stereotype of the lazy latin is the self-serving propaganda of lucky Americans.  Mexicans (and Guatemalans), in my personal experience traveling there, work much, much harder than Americans.  Most Americans would collapse in tears and self-pity after an hour trying to work as hard as a Mexican, here or there.  I expect that work ethic to pay off and bring Mexico closer to parity with the Yanquis.   When that day comes, I’m pretty confident that the set-upon estate class in America will figure out some way to be able to avoid paying a decent wage for their landscaping.

He sat up and wrapped his feet and pulled the boots on and stood and started up the last stretch of canyon to the rim. Where he crested out the country lay dead flat, stretching away to the south and to the east. Red dirt and creosote. Mountains in the far and middle distance. Nothing out there.  Heatshimmer. He stuck the pistol in his belt and looked down at the river one more time and then set out east. Langtry Texas was thirty miles as the crow flies. Maybe less. Ten hours. Twelve. His feet were already hurting. His leg hurt. His chest. His arm. The river dropped away behind him. He hadnt even taken a drink.No Country for Old Men, Cormack McCarthy.

Back to Trump’s wall.  He has obviously not traveled much of the border–the topography from Lajitas to Langtry will demand that some significant parts of Texas be walled off.   Here’s what the Rio Grande Canyon looks like below La Linda.

Ray Bridge on the Rio Grande in Reagan Canyon below La Linda. 1974.

OK, I forget that the Donald will get Mexico to pay for his Wall, so, he also probably plans to force them to build it on their side of the river.

It’s true that the border has not been closed.  Here’s an undocumented alien crossing the Rio Grande in Boquillas Canyon above La Linda.


Here’s the Rio Grande crossing at La Linda in 1999 (Mexico is on the right).   The bridge served the potash mine on the Mexican side, which shows up framed by the bridge.   It was operating when I took the photo of Ray, above, in 1974, but had been abandoned by the time this photo was taken.

Approaching the La Linda bridge on the Rio Grande, November, 1999.

The structure on top of the bridge is a big fence with a super-fortified gate.  It is all stainless steel, including the razor wire–probably built to some DOD spec.   No one would try to cross there.  The river takes a left turn just past the bridge, with a gravel beach on the left and a sharp, steep bluff on the right.  There is a cut with a track through the bluff.   Here’s what it looks like below the bridge, looking upstream.


The guy who picked us up told me that he’s seen eighteen-wheelers come through there.

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