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Thistles & Roses

Thinking about Hispanic Heritage Month


Another Hispanic Heritage Month is here. It is that observance that takes half of September and half of October. I don’t think that this month gets the attention it deserves.

Although I was born and raised in the Metroplex, I was always interested in learning Spanish and Hispanic culture. I began learning when I was 12, really almost too late, but there were no Spanish classes in the local public schools until seventh grade in what was called junior high. Eventually I earned a Spanish degree from Texas Christian University. After I became an attorney, I discovered that there were many opportunities for Spanish speaking lawyers. For many years, I had a contract with the Mexican government defending Mexican nationals facing the death penalty. I have many Hispanic friends and relatives, so I understand and embrace the culture.

 I recently discovered a new to me fact that makes me think that everyone should start paying attention to Mexico.

Why? It is a matter of dollars and sense. No, that is not a misprint. Mexico this year, 2023, became the United States’ number one trading partner, passing China and Canada. The Mexican currency is one of the strongest in the world. This is according to an Aug. 20, 2023 report by Luis Torres, a senior analyst with the U.S. Federal Reserve in Dallas. A Sept. 11, 2023 Bloomberg report confirms the data. Billions of dollars are exchanged between the U.S. and Mexico. It makes sense to treat our neighbor to the south with respect.

In previous columns, I chronicled reports by many studies just how many billions of dollars that illegal migrants contribute to the Texas economy. They contribute millions more than they receive in education and social services. Texas would face a serious recession if all of them were deported. 

According to Sonia Nazario, In her documentary book, Enrique’s Journey, Mexico detains many aliens that cross their southern border and Mexico deports them back to its southern border, before they can cross Mexico to the U.S border. Mexico has as many problems as the U.S. dealing with the flow of humanity looking for a better life. Nazario spoke at the Aledo United Methodist Church about her book that won numerous awards and was made into a documentary movie.

Many migrants get through. Many are Venezuelans and Central Americans and Colombians as well as Mexicans fleeing the chaos of their counties. If we could find the moral will to address the basic issues of poverty, oppression, hopelessness, that these migrants are suffering, we could change that. Most of them just want a job and a chance for a better life, just like our ancestors did. 

 Many migrants are and have been deported immediately by the presidents of both parties. This should not be a partisan issue.

Another real issue that is rarely addressed — we make it nearly impossible for them legally to enter. When faced with the prospects of feeding their families, they come in illegally out of desperation.

What would we do for our families if faced with such a dire situation? If it meant feeding my family, no border created by men and governments could stop me. I think virtually every one of us would do the same. How many of us could walk from Texas to Venezuela or Colombia, Guatemala, or Honduras carrying our children with only the shirts on our backs?

So maybe we should contemplate Hispanic Heritage Month in a new way. If we really want to, by the grace of God, we can find humane ways to secure our border with Mexico that benefits both countries.

It makes moral and economic sense.


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