Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Palabra Final > Immigration > Today’s undocumented migration is the 21st century version of Manifest Destiny

Today’s undocumented migration is the 21st century version of Manifest Destiny

LatinaLista — If people were meant to live in one place all their lives, they wouldn’t be endowed with the abilities to dream and aspire nor have the courage to make their dreams come true.

Concepts like Manifest Destiny, which historians credit for creating the nation we have today, would not have taken place had those early settlers not migrated from the east to the west, or from across the Atlantic to the US.
The qualities shared by migrants who have voluntarily left their homes, and all they know, to travel to another country in search of fulfilling their dreams for personal and professional success is not a phenomena of just one era, it’s an innate human quality that spans the creation of man.
Migration, documented and undocumented, is happening at record levels around the world — and for good reasons. If the reasons were not of life and death consequences to the mass majority of migrants, but just merely a curiosity of what life is like in another country, governments wouldn’t be contending with the number of people who appear on their shores/at their borders on an hourly basis.
Yet migrants are seen as a destabilizing threat to industrialized economies and that shouldn’t be the case.
As the Director General of the International Organization of Migration, William Lacy Swing, reminds people:

“Although the economic crisis is still unfolding and its full impact remains unclear, it would be counter-productive for governments in developed countries to close their doors to migrants. Many of them are still needed in jobs that citizens in industrialized countries are unable or unwilling to take.
“This structural need for migrants, who represent the human face of globalization, is underlined by demographic projections showing that by 2050, these countries will experience even greater labour shortages due to falling birth rates and aging working populations, leaving twice as many people over 60 years of age than children. Indeed, migration has become a linchpin of globalization.
“Closing doors will undoubtedly encourage migrants to use the exploitative, abusive and often life-threatening back entrance into destination countries offered by human smugglers and traffickers. Just as importantly, such a reaction risks contributing to greater social division and xenophobia towards migrants already in these countries by perpetuating the myth that migrants are job-takers.”

In response to these feelings that already exist, crackdowns on throwing migrants out of their destination countries have accelerated without regard to respecting the global human rights of individuals.
Undocumented migrants are the ones without a voice in these times and so it’s not surprising that organizations have stepped up to speak on their behalf.

Officials with the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights released their findings of an analysis of how the US treats immigrants. Due to the findings, the decision was made to make more people aware that the U.S. track record for humanely treating immigrants falls short of the stature of this country on the global stage.

(Oakland,CA) Immigrant rights groups urged today, International Migrants Day (December 18), that the U.S. government should adopt humanitarian policies and practices in the treatment of immigrants.
The National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (NNIRR) asserted that although well-publicized raids at work-sites have dominated immigration news this past year, a majority of persons have been deported through other means – and at the expense of their rights and physical well-being.
Following another year of monitoring enforcement operations and gathering information from immigrant workers and communities, NNIRR has concluded that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) routinely violates and ignores the due process rights of persons they question for immigration status.
Information from 100 reports and 115 reviews of raids showed that DHS has continued to use overwhelming force, including physical and mental abuse, in coercing immigrants to sign away their rights for almost instant deportation or detention.
“We need an end to these immigration raids,” declared Arnoldo Garcia, director of NNIRR’s Immigrant Justice and Rights program. “It will be up to the new Administration and Congress to ensure that humanitarian polices and practices are put into place. Until that can be done, detentions and deportations should also be suspended to bring some relief to immigrant families and communities from this shameful human rights crisis.”
DHS’ Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported almost 350,000 persons from the United States in fiscal year 2008; over two-thirds had no prior criminal record or convictions. Persons deported through worksite raids accounted for less than 2 percent of all ICE deportations, and from fugitive operations, 10 percent.
Meanwhile persons identified for deportation in local, county, and federal detention made up 63 percent or all deportations.
In one deportation case, Marvin Ventura, a Honduran immigrant detained at Steward Federal Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia was deported after ICE physically forced him to sign a form waiving his right to a hearing before an immigration judge and any opportunity to adjust status. An active member of his local church, Ventura is now separated from his wife and community in Little Robbins, Georgia.
Another immigrant who had lived and worked in the U.S. for 20 years, Rodrigo Caltenco, was arrested in Walden, NY, processed and transferred to a detention facility in Texas. There he was verbally threatened and intimidated into signing a form he did not understand. Two days later he was deported, leaving behind his wife, children, and grandchildren.
“Each person deported represents families that are torn apart, communities that are traumatized and economies that are disrupted,” continued Garcia. “These patterns have seriously deepened under the Bush Administration and since 9/11, and we see grave repercussions in the current period.”
Many of the immigration enforcement operations included the collaboration of local, county and state police and other public agencies.
A full report of the 2008 human rights monitoring effort will be published early next year. Last year’s NNIRR report, “Over-Raided, Under Siege”, found that DHS was subjecting immigrant and refugee communities to a form of “collective punishment,” resulting in widespread violations of constitutional and human rights…

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  • Maria
    December 18, 2008 at 6:40 pm

    Hey. My name is Maria and I’m part of a group of student activists working towards the passage of the DREAM Act ( I wanted to make you aware of an idea being discussed and voted on over at regarding this important issue. The link is
    We currently have over 1300 votes and are one of the top 3 ideas on the whole website. However, the second round of voting begins in January 5th and the top 10 ideas will be presented to the Obama administration and will have a lot of publicity, something we desperately need. I urge you to register (it only takes a couple of minutes) and vote for this idea and put a widget of it on your blog to make others aware of this important cause. Also, please vote for the other immigration ideas on the top 3 list to make sure they make it to the second round.
    Thank you so much for your help!

  • Sandra
    December 19, 2008 at 1:43 pm

    So in your opinion, no country should be allowed immigration laws, quotas on immigration that would put the best interests of the citizens of said country first and no borders? Isn’t that what defines a country, is their borders?

    December 19, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Migrate all you want as long as you have permission from the U.S. government prior to coming across the border of our country. Have all your paperwork in order and pass through the proper points of entry. Also, don’t forget to brush up on your English before arriving to ensure you fully understand all the laws and regulations of being in the U.S. Once here find employment as soon as possible so you won’t be a burden on our social system, our hospitals and our schools. Got it?
    You might want to consider Canada, instead of the U.S., as your new destiny.

  • Michaela
    December 19, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    This is truly tragic. It is a very tragic lesson regarding what the consequences of breaking the laws of our country are. Everyone pays and especially the children. It is sad that the parents who broke our immigration laws did not stop to think what the consequences would be for their children.

  • Horace
    December 22, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Lest we forget that migration has always been fraught with tragedy. If peoples of the world lived in nations that provided for all their needs, they would not be inclined to move. Migration usually means starting over and sacrificing part of the good that cannot be transported. Migration means family separtation, because it usually isn’t practical for a whole extended family to move, regardless of immigration laws. Migration is a very ineficient process which, pragmatically speaking, should be avoided at all costs, not something to be romanticized. Migration is a symptom of world instability, not something that should be celebrated. I find it really sad to see that Marisa makes migration almost sound wonderful, but she is so, so very wrong. Hers is an elitist point of view, from a girl who has probably known no hardship.

  • Matthew
    December 23, 2008 at 3:47 am

    are you sure you want to be equating the deeply imperialist conception of manifest destiny (which went hand in hand with the genocide of the First peoples) with a mass migration that is a direct result of the US destruction of the Mexican economy through NAFTA?
    I see the two as being completely different, and its quite disturbing that you equate Chicano immigrants (who are the descendents of the native peoples of the southwest, where they are moving back) with perpetrators of genocide.
    and Michaela, you need an education. seriously. Robert Cox’s approaches to world order could be very helpful to you.

  • Marisa Treviño
    December 23, 2008 at 9:58 am

    Matthew, You make extremely good points. I admit my usage of manifest destiny was meant to exemplify, on a superficial level, only the migration of people without taking into consideration the historical ramifications of that journey. Thank you for your insight.

  • Sandra
    December 23, 2008 at 7:23 pm

    Didn’t Mexico also sign the NAFTA agreement? It takes two to tango. Besides, American citizens get no say so in these matters so why should American citizens have to tolerate an illegal invasion of their country because of a failed policy that they had no say so in?
    Why isn’t Mexico seeking to re-negotiate NAFTA rather then sitting by watching millions of their citizens come to our country illegally. The blame is on Mexico also for not creating jobs and an economy for their own citizens. They like it this way because they can dump their poor on us and rake in the remittances.
    The ancestors of the Mestizos of Mexico and even further south were not native to what is now the U.S. They are the ancestors of the Aztecs, Mayans, etc. Hundreds of miles south of our border. We take care of those tribes who were native to our own country. We have treaties with them, they have their soveirgn lands and they have all the rights of any other U.S. citizen. No, the Mestizos are not coming home to the U.S. This was never their home.

  • Horace
    December 24, 2008 at 12:17 pm

    Sandra and Michaela, thank you for your contributions to this debate. Note that your opposition rarely addresses your points. They typically run off in tangential directions and spout irrelevencies.
    In the end, the poor economy will drive the average American to compel his Congressmen to remove these people from jobs that Americans shall once again want to do. The end is near for illegal immigration, with illegal immigrants returning to their homelands at a faster rate than they came into this country. The quest for Hispanic hegemony of North America is at an end.

  • Michaela
    December 24, 2008 at 6:57 pm

    Horace, I pray to God you are right. America is full to the brim with illegal aliens, pure and simple. We can no longer accomodate them or tolerate their destruction of our economy.

  • Marisa Treviño
    December 24, 2008 at 9:35 pm

    Michaela and Horace, you’re both wrong. This country has always been able to absorb and “accommodate” aliens of all status and if you take the time, you’ll see that far from destroying our economy, they’re working to preserve it where other societies will be diminished in their workforce and economy in the years to come.

  • Michaela
    December 25, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    You have blinded yourself Marisa. Allowing massive numbers of illegal aliens into our country has destroyed our economy. I wish, just for one moment, you would take the time to research this. There is plenty of info on the internet to support this, you just choose to ignore it and, of course, think everyone is just a big fat ole racist, xenophobe, nativist, blah, blah, blah, for wanting our borders secure and to know who these people are who are in our country.

  • Sandra
    December 25, 2008 at 9:19 pm

    Marisa, you are the one who is wrong. It has only been in the last decade or so that we have had millions of illegal aliens pouring across our border and it has taken its toll on our country in many ways. Some illegal immigration we could have absorbed but not 20 plus million as we have today. Our economy is failing, our schools are overcrowded, our healthcare is in shambles, many states are going bankrupt and if you think that illegal immigration didn’t play a big role in it you are sadly mistaken. There are no positives when we become a nation of corrupt and greedy employers who hire illegal aliens above American citizens and our borders are so porous that Bin Laden could cross one of them and not be detected.
    Our economy would survive just fine with citizen and legal immigrant labor as needed. We need to secure our borders, enforce our immigration laws and only tolerate legal immigration.

  • Horace
    December 26, 2008 at 11:40 am

    “This country has always been able to absorb and “accommodate” aliens of all status..”
    No, this is an experiment that we can’t afford. We’ve never had a time in this nation’s history where there was such an proliferation of illiterate peoples in this country. Illegal aliens just exacerbate this problem. 12 million illegal aliens without hopes of pensions or possibility of paying their way into our health care system cannot ultimately be but a huge burden on the middle class taxpayer.
    Social Security is a Ponzi scheme, where you need to take from everymore entrants to pay for those retiring. The fact that those new entrants take more out than they put in will undoubtedly bankrupt it. And there’s a finite number of people who can be accepted into our nation before ruining our national standard or living, environment and quality of live, so eventually the whole scheme will collapse from overpopulation. The result will be a nation of poverty and a high tax burden on the middle class, or no middle class at all.
    This is not the same country that you refer to historically. That nation disappeared with the advent of welfare and dependency, the loss of self reliance and dependency on big government. To state otherwise is to ignore the truth. Your romantic perception that this is the same situation as the pioneer days is just hogwash. Return to your senses and abandon your reverie to pragmatism and concern for your fellow citizens. You own fare more to them than you do to prospective citizens.

  • Texano78704
    December 27, 2008 at 8:44 am

    How ironic. Sandra incorrectly asserts that “illegal aliens” are to blame for all our nations ills and then fingers the true culprits without even realizing it. And as far as our economy, it is clear that she is dire need of an Econ 101 course. The fact that we had in the not so distant past, according to our government, record low unemployment and the presence of 12 million undocumented workers contradicts her statements about not needing foreign labor.

  • Sandra
    December 27, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    And what a liar you are, Texano. No where in this blog did I ever claim that illegal aliens were to blame for ALL of country’s ills.
    I never said we don’t need ANY foreign immigrant labor either! I said we should allow legal immigrant labor in based on our needs. Are you going to resort to debating with lies about what I have or haven’t said now that you can’t refute any of the facts and use any common sense arguments?

  • Texano78704
    December 28, 2008 at 8:23 am

    Our economy is failing, our schools are overcrowded, our healthcare is in shambles, many states are going bankrupt and if you think that illegal immigration didn’t play a big role in it you are sadly mistaken.
    No, not all, but pretty much the same as… By the way, it is 12 million, not 20. Pick up a copy of any newspaper of record and read an article in it. That’s the number they use.
    As far as immigrant labor, if there were a working system in place, there would not be 12 million undocumented workers in this country. How about that for a fact?
    Horace, it’s tough to take seriously anyone who calls Social Security a Ponzi Scheme. Either you do not know what a Ponzi Scheme is or how Social Security was designed.

  • Sandra
    December 29, 2008 at 7:51 am

    No, it is much more than 12 million. The Border Patrol and other reliable sources have stated that our government doesn’t want us to know just how many there actually are. It is more like 20-30 million. That 12 million figure was brought out years ago and never updated in recent years.
    There is a working system in place. We don’t need most of these illegals. It is there desire to be here not our need for them to be here.

  • Texano78704
    December 30, 2008 at 2:21 pm

    Well, if the government does not want us to know, then why should we know how many there are? Your whole statement about the Border Patrol, assertion really, sounds like one big conspiracy theory. Time to break out the tinfoil hats and ask for proof of this one.
    Regarding labor, there is a system in place that is not working, otherwise there would not be 12 million undocumented workers in this country. Just because you say we do not need them does not make it so. A lot of employers out there know that the red tape to get foreign workers is incredibly difficult and prefer to work around the system. They know that they can get away with it. And if they do get caught, the employer rarely gets punished.
    It was an economist, speaking about immigrant labor, who said, “the law must be compatible with how people actually arrange their lives.”

  • Sandra
    December 30, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    As I said, it is based on what the Border Patrol numbers are. They would know more than anyone how many that are being aprehended and who are getting through sucessfully.
    The reason that illegal aliens are getting through is because we haven’t secured our borders and gone after the employers till lately. That it the reason “the system” isn’t working.
    Securing our borders, going after the employers who circumvent our laws for cheap labor (and that is the real reason they hire illegal vs legal) and continuing with internal enforcement will make “the syatem” work.
    Our immigration labor needs should be based on our needs without creating a bloated economy that puts stress on our natural resources and social infrastructures, population growth, small enough numbers to aid in assimilation and fair quotas for ALL immigrant groups rather than just one in particular.

  • Horace
    December 31, 2008 at 10:29 am

    “Michaela and Horace, you’re both wrong. This country has always been able to absorb and “accommodate” aliens of all status and if you take the time, you’ll see that far from destroying our economy, they’re working to preserve it where other societies will be diminished in their workforce and economy in the years to come.”
    Pardon me if I don’t thank them for being so thoughtful about this country’s well being, but I’ve always thought that it would be the American citizen’s prerogative to make the determination as to how our nation would develop. Funny how just about every other nation on the planet, even Mexico believes the same way I do. Leave it Hispanics to be so perspecacious as to figure this out and be so kind as to save us from a horrible future. But wait a minute, if they’re so smart, hardy, industrious and pioneering, then why can’t they be successful on the continent of South America, or Central America, where they hold exclusive dominion? Nevertheless, a hearty thanks anyway, Latinos.

  • Texano78704
    December 31, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    So if it is purportedly based on the “Border Patrol numbers,” prove it.
    And then please explain how the Border Patrol would know how many people are overstaying their visas, as the people who overstay their visas make up almost half of undocumented workers.

  • Michaela
    January 1, 2009 at 3:16 pm

    Mexico has declared a defacto war on America. We are at war with Mexico people and I do not intend to be the loser. Aiding and abetting illegals into a country is considered an act of treason to the U.S. government and the people behind this invasion will someday pay a price and spend a long time in prison. Enough is enough, and yes, Americans have had enough.

  • Sandra
    January 2, 2009 at 8:22 am

    I never said that the BP would know how many are overstaying their visas. The subject is those who are crossing our borders illegally and never had papers to begin with.

  • Texano78704
    January 2, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    I’m waiting for you to show proof of the “Border Patrol numbers.”

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