Lines On the Map: The Human Geography of the US’s Southern Border


(Map 1: US Borders Prior to the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo*)

With all the discussion, both in the current election cycle and year in and year out, about immigration to the US, as well as how to secure the US’s southern border, what often gets ignored is how the US got its southern border. Specifically the human geography of the southwestern US and their relationship to its border. After the conclusion of the Mexican War, in February 1848, the US and Mexico completed the negotiation of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo did several things, but among them it moved the US’s southern and western borders to roughly where they are now. Basically we moved the line on the map. As was, and still is, the case when borders are drawn the people living on either side of the old and/or new borders do not always pay a lot of attention to that border in their daily lives. This can be seen in kinship maps of various parts of the world where borders were drawn, often by people far from where the borders were or would be, that subdivided or bisected members of kinship groups into separate states regardless of the reality on the ground. You can see this on ethnic maps throughout Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and other parts of the world.

This is also the reality with the US’s southern border. The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo officially moved the lines on the map, but the day to day experience – the pattern of human settlement and the human geography of the region did not really change. Sure, more of what we now call non-Hispanic whites moved into New Mexico and west Texas and Arizona and Southern California, but the overall human geography – the people, places, and things that make up that pattern of human settlement didn’t change all that much. If you look at the pattern of settlement, based on 2010 Census data, you’ll see that where Hispanics and Latinos were living in the southern US hasn’t changed a lot. The highest density areas are still in the southwest.


(Map 2: Hispanic or Latino Population of the US**)

You’ll notice that on both the map prepared for the negotiations of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and the Rural Health Information’s map of Hispanic or Latino population of the US based on the 2010 Census that the area that the US would get from Mexico in 1848 is still where the largest percentage of the Hispanic or Latino population of the US live. This doesn’t count south Florida, which has a different historic pattern of Hispanic settlement. What the patterns of settlement shown on the maps show us is that the border was moved on the map, but the pattern of settlement remained largely unchanged.

And off and on for almost a hundred years that border was open. People went back and forth for familial reasons, for economic reasons, for social reasons, and for political reasons (don’t forget the Mormon exodus to Mexico in the late 19th Century and their return to the US in the early 20th Century). At different times throughout the 20th Century there have been attempts to seal the southern border for security reasons, which were sometimes/often conflated with xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiment. There were also attempts by the Mexican government to police their northern border to prevent (accused) criminals from crossing into the US illegally to escape justice. And all of these, over the course of a decade in the 1940s into the 1950s culminated with Operation Wetback – the last, named operation to deal with the issue at that point in time. These efforts to regulate the southern border also included guest worker programs, like the early 1940s Bracero Program. In the 1980s the Reagan Administration pushed the Immigration and Reform Act of 1986 that included a pathway to citizenship. Later, in the 1990s, there was Operation Gatekeeper, the Clinton Administration attempt to secure the southern border. And there was also the disastrous impact of NAFTA and the war on drugs on Mexico’s economy, driving millions north in search of work to support themselves and their relatives at home. And through it all the pattern of settlement in the southwestern US has not changed very much. Until this reality – that the border may have been moved in 1848, but not the demographics of the population – is acknowledged in the debate on what to do with the migration across the US’s southern border, then it will not be possible to formulate feasible, acceptable, and suitable policies for immigration into the US across the southern border and how to best regulate and regularize it.

* Map found here.

** Map found here.

Three Clowns

I expect we’ll get this inside scoop on Joe and Mika from Trump right after we hear back from his Hawaiian birth certificate investigation team, but damn! Will Trump get away with this because he is Trump, or will a personal attack like this create blow-back from the Beltway press, which likely takes a dim view of references to infotainment celebrity side salads?

And really, MIKA is the insecure one? Joe Scarborough sulks like a toddler if anyone contradicts him or implies that one of his many stupid and uninformed opinions are rooted in ignorance. He’s an insecure bully, like Trump, so it’s unsurprising Trump is blind to it. Morons, the lot of them.

The Emperor Has No Balls?

I’m just going to leave this here to help you get through the evening:

Naked, life-size statues of Donald Trump were unveiled in cities all over the country on Thursday, depicting the controversial candidate with a minuscule penis without testicles. The political art project was titled “The Emperor Has No Balls.”

NYC Releases statement on Naked Trump

Trump Statement1

The actual statue photo is below the fold…because some people may NEVER want to see this. Be warned, once seen, cannot be unseen.

Read more

Trump’s “Heil Mary” Pass*

I’m going to expand on a comment in an earlier thread and disagree somewhat with distinguished colleague Tim F on what the Trump-Breitbart merger means. Replacing campaign veterans like Manafort (odious, second-rate and disreputable though they may be) with an alt-right circle-jerk might look like Trump giving up on winning the presidency. But it’s just a change in tactics.

What’s happened is that the Trump scampaign has realized that they will never win by making Trump conventionally “presidential.” He can’t pull that off. Instead, they’ll seek victory by trying to drag Hillary Clinton down to Trump’s level in the public’s perception and eke out 270 electoral votes on anti-establishment sentiment alone.

We should pause here and take in the fact that a major party nominee has openly embraced white nationalism, which the Trump-Breitbart merger confirms. We knew that already, of course, but with the Breitbart affiliation, there can now be no doubt, and it will be interesting to see how the Beltway press responds to that phenomenon.

Joy Reid, subbing for Chris Hayes last night, ably grilled a Trump scampaign surrogate on the kooky Breitbart angle, confronting him with that organization’s batshit crazy extremism. Here’s a screen grab of the Breitbart headlines Reid referenced to demonstrate what a pack of pinwheel-eyed kooks they are:


But Trump’s brain trust is counting on the fact that most Americans don’t know that Breitbart is a white nationalist fever swamp, and indeed, they don’t. The Trump shill on Reid’s show ducked questions about the nature of Breitbart while telegraphing the reason Trump brought Bannon on board: to smear Clinton.

Trump may be hoping that even if he can’t attract more voters to himself, he can slime Clinton enough to drive disaffected Republicans and independents away from her and into the Johnson or Stein camps and squeak out a win that way. I don’t think it will work because Trump is an embarrassing buffoon.

But at this point, he’s pinning all his hopes on making Hillary Clinton as toxic as himself. So get ready for a tsunami of slime that may be unprecedented in our lifetimes. That’s the only play the Trump people have left, and thus the Trump-Breitbart merger is not 100% stupid or self-indulgent. It’s the vast right-wing conspiracy — retooled.

*Stolen from valued commenter GregB.

AZ Gov. Jan Brewer Gives Weapons to Terrorists in Exchange for Personal Meth Supply

Oh hey, please disregard that title; it’s just a typo. What I meant to say is that Governor Brewer blamed a “stumble of the tongue” when she mispronounced “Hillary Clinton” as “lying killer” during a radio interview this week. Simple mistake — it could happen to anyone, amirite? Open thread!

How We Got Here: A History of The Development of the Alt-Right and Trumpism

Following on several of the posts today, but to step back a bit from the campaign issues a bit, The Guardian has run a long read, long form report on the roots of Trumpism, or perhaps more accurately, what is being called the alt-right. Here’s a taste, but as a student of socio-cultural identity and its powerful effects, I highly recommend you click across and read the whole thing.

Conservatives tend to portray their cause as the child of a revolt against the liberal status quo that began in the aftermath of the second world war, gained momentum in the 1950s when a cohort of intellectuals supplied the right with its philosophical underpinning, attained political consciousness in Barry Goldwater’s 1964 presidential campaign, and won vindication with Ronald Reagan’s election to the White House. Ideas have consequences, they proclaimed. Just look at us.

But there is another way of interpreting the history of the American right, one that puts less emphasis on the power of ideas and more on power itself – a history of white voters fighting to defend their place in the social hierarchy, politicians appealing to the prejudices of their constituents so they can satisfy the wishes of their donors, and the industry that has turned conservatism into a billion-dollar business.

This is the explanation preferred by leftwing critics, who typically regard the Republican party as a coalition fuelled by white nationalism and funded by billionaires. But this line of attack also has a long history on the right, where a dissenting minority has been waging a guerrilla war against the conservative establishment for three decades. Now the unlikely figure of Donald Trump has brought in a wave of reinforcements – over 13 million in the primaries alone. Their target is the managerial elite, and their history begins in the run-up to the second world war, when a forgotten founder of modern American conservatism became a public sensation with a book that announced the dawning of a civilisation ruled by experts.

The Managerial Revolution: What Is Happening in the World was the most unlikely bestseller of 1941. The author, James Burnham, was a philosophy professor at New York University who until the previous year had been one of Leon Trotsky’s most trusted counsellors in the US. Time called Burnham’s work a grim outline of “the totalitarian world soon to come” that was “as morbidly fascinating as a textbook vivisection”…

… But Burnham quickly moved on to new territory. His true subject, he concluded, was power, and to understand power he needed a theory of politics. Marx had been his guiding influence in The Managerial Revolution; now he turned to Machiavelli, constructing the genealogy of a political theory that began with the author of The Prince and continued into the present.

For a Machiavellian, Burnham wrote, politics was an unending war for dominance: democracy was a myth, and all ideologies were thinly veiled rationalisations for self-interest. The great mass of humanity, in Burnham’s dark vision, would never have any control over their own lives. They could only hope that clashes between rival elites might weaken the power of the ruling class and open up small spaces of freedom.

Burnham’s newfound zeal for defending freedom led him, in 1955, to a conservative magazine called National Review, and to the magazine’s charismatic young founder, William F Buckley Jr. Buckley’s goal was to turn a scattered collection of reactionaries into the seeds of a movement. His journal set out to make the right intellectually respectable, stripping it of the associations with kooks and cranks that allowed liberals to depict it as a politics for cave-dwellers who had not reconciled themselves to modernity. Burnham was there at the start, one of five senior editors on the masthead of the first issue.

More On* Trump’s New Brain Trust

Trump’s new scampaign CEO Stephen Bannon…we know he’s from Breitbart’s MiniTruth, but where have we heard that name? Steve M. of No More Mister Nice Blog reminds us who this Bannon character is:

Quitting Bull’s failed hagiographer. Great choice!

Meanwhile, the other big hire, new scampaign manager Kellyanne Conway, has been handling Trump’s outreach to women for several weeks, a period in which polls steadily show Trump barreling toward the losing end of a historic gender gap. A few weeks back, Conway shared her unique strategy for steering the Tangerine Turd away from remarks that might be off-putting to the ladies:

On a recent afternoon, spooning chilled pea soup at a French restaurant near Times Square, Conway, 49, hints how she’ll tackle this challenge. You can’t just tell Trump what to do, she said. You have to give him options.

She illustrates the point with a story about her 11-year-old daughter.

When Claudia emerged from her room on Memorial Day sporting turquoise, Conway asked her to change into blue. “She goes, ‘Turquoise is blue.’ And it is. But it wasn’t a shade available to Betsy Ross when she stayed up through the night sewing the damn flag.”

She chose not to argue with the preteen, which would have delayed their morning. Instead she laid out four Betsy Ross blue choices on her bed. “Minutes later,” she says, “she came out in one of those shades.”

Conway follows the same approach with the Republican presidential nominee. Never command. That could insult him. Always make suggestions, backed with information in 10-second sound bites: Betsy Ross lacked turquoise. Female voters want compassion.

Acting tough comes naturally to Trump. Compassion … well, she says, he has it. They’re working on showing it off. She withholds the details.

The above interview was conducted prior to the Democratic National Convention, so we can conclude that the strategy inspired by seamstress Betsy Ross was insufficient to sew Trump’s trap shut about Captain Khan’s family. Can Conway can entice her candidate to select blue togs for the remaining 83 days of the campaign? Color me skeptical!

*All puns strictly intended.