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Migration From Mexico and Manifest Destiny

May 26, 1996

* Frank del Olmo likens the northward migration of Mexicans to the American vision of its Manifest Destiny back in 1845 (Commentary, May 20). He invites dialogue between the two countries and cautions against confusing the issues with myths. On this I agree. In 1845 the territory in question was sparsely settled, and our adventurous predecessors were living in the final stages of the Age of Exploration--their actions should be judged in the context of that time. Overpopulation and environmental degradation, the most important issues of today, were unheard of 150 years ago--the birthrate of Mexicans now crossing the border is notoriously high.

Del Olmo argues that the next logical step is to better regulate migration--the movement of young Mexicans northward to work, while U.S. and Canadian retirees head south to prosper in warmer climes. Mexicans should prosper there, too. The country has its share of natural resources, a good culture and a fine language. However, its governmental and religious institutions are badly in need of being updated (as are ours) to the realities of the late 20th century.

Del Olmo ends by asking, "Is economically motivated migration just a continuation of the economic expansion that 19th century Americans called Manifest Destiny?" I see it as the opposite. The Americans were a sprinkling of people availing themselves of what were then vast resources. The migrants of today are vast numbers of people inflicting themselves upon populations that are already overwhelming the resources of the land they occupy. All of our institutions must adjust to this reality if we are to spare future generations from total disaster.



* Del Olmo seems determined to divide the country, polarizing its citizens into separate ethnic and cultural groups. He describes himself as a Mexican American. Does he travel overseas on a Mexican American passport? Or is he a true American, but proud of his Mexican heritage?

If we go on categorizing ourselves as Polish American, German American, Chinese American, etc., we will never coalesce once again into the nation that we once were, with a common bond. That of just being an "American."

It is not correct for Del Olmo, or any of us, to hyphenate ourselves so as to contribute to the growing ethnic grouping and division in the country.


Dana Point

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