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

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(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.

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(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.



It’s a Societal Addiction Problem When It is White People

And a crime spree when they are black. The front page of my local tv station’s website has this taking up valuable real estate:

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From the comments section below, this piece:

Thirty years later, America is again seeing an epidemic of drug addiction, particularly heroin. The surge is so great that for the first time in generations, mortality among young white adults has risen. But the national attitude toward drug addiction is utterly different. Even Republican presidential candidates are eschewing the perennial tough-on-drugs speeches and opening up about struggles within their own families.

More important, police chiefs in the cities most affected by heroin are responding not by invoking military metaphors, weapons and tactics but by ensuring that police officers save lives and get people into rehab. As one former narcotics officer described his change of heart on addiction, “These are people and they have a purpose in life and we can’t as law enforcement look at them any other way.” In his inability to name the change that allowed this epiphany, his words also capture our cringe-worthy self-denial. Suddenly, police officers understand crime as a sign of underlying addiction requiring coordinated assistance, rather than a scourge to be eradicated.

It is hard to describe the bittersweet sting that many African-Americans feel witnessing this national embrace of addicts. It is heartening to see the eclipse of the generations-long failed war on drugs. But black Americans are also knowingly weary and embittered by the absence of such enlightened thinking when those in our own families were similarly wounded. When the face of addiction had dark skin, this nation’s police did not see sons and daughters, sister and brothers. They saw “brothas,” young thugs to be locked up, rather than “people with a purpose in life.”

To be clear, no one laments the violence that the “crack bomb” set off in inner cities more than African-Americans. But while shootings, beatings and robberies cannot be tolerated anywhere, the heroin epidemic shows that how we respond to the crimes accompanying addiction depends on how much we care about the victims of crime and those in the grip of addiction. White heroin addicts get overdose treatment, rehabilitation and reincorporation, a system that will be there for them again and again and again. Black drug users got jail cells and “Just Say No.”

Truth.

One of the most eye-opening things for me was about 20 years ago when it was pointed out to me in a class how in every crime tv show or movie from my youth, the villains were almost always black. The days of Charles Bronson and Dirty Harry and Hill Street Blues and Bernie Goetz. Today of course, we have progressed. They’re mainly Muslim.



Clown Shoes Open Thread: Maine Gov. LePetomane LePage Lets Out Dog Whistle Siren

Via commentor LAMH. Report from Maine’s Portland Press Herald:

About 30 minutes into the meeting, which was rebroadcast Thursday night,[Gov. Paul] LePage responded to a question about how he was tackling substance abuse in Maine. He began talking about how much of the heroin is coming into Maine from out-of-state drug dealers.

“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty … these types of guys … they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home,” LePage told the crowd. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

Peter Steele, the governor’s communication director, said in a written statement Thursday night that LePage’s remarks were not about race, but about the emotional toll drugs have on children.

“The governor is not making comments about race. Race is irrelevant,” Steele said. “What is relevant is the cost to state taxpayers for welfare and the emotional costs for these kids who are born as a result of involvement with drug traffickers. His heart goes out to these kids because he had a difficult childhood, too. We need to stop the drug traffickers from coming into our state.”

Steele, who rarely answers telephone calls from reporters and insists on email communications, did not respond to an email requesting an interview with LePage; nor did he respond to an email follow-up question to his statement.

Phil Bartlett, chairman of the Maine Democratic Party, said in an interview that the comments “at best were coded racism,” designed to divide Maine people. He said the comment fits into a national narrative being expounded by Republicans, who are increasingly using “pretty overt racist language and imagery rather than talking about the merits of public policy.”

“It’s outrageous,” Bartlett said. “Everybody should be denouncing his comments and what they’re intended to provoke. I would call upon all Republicans to stand up and say this is wrong and it’s not acceptable in our public discourse. It’s simply indefensible.”

Lance Dutson, a Republican operative who runs the Get Right Maine website, which seeks to restore a more moderate brand of Republicanism in Maine, described the remark in a blog post as “one of the most offensive statements yet from this Governor.”

Jason Savage, executive director of the Maine Republican Party, refused to comment on the governor’s remarks, instead he took aim at Dutson. “We don’t respond to attacks from disgruntled former staffers,” Savage said…

Additional Repubs in Disarray! details at the link. With all due respect, Mr. Dutson — if I were you, I’d switch my registration before these guys devolve to actual cannibalism.



Open Thread: Failing to Respect the “Norms” of the Internet

You may threaten random women in cyberspace without fear of retribution. You may even, usually, threaten women celebrities in cyberspace. But it’s a bad idea to threaten women who happen to be Federal attorneys in cyberspace, because the Feds have no sense of humor. Buzzfeed reports:

The Justice Department has issued a federal grand jury subpoena to Reason, a prominent libertarian publication, to unmask the identity of commenters who made alleged threats against a federal judge.

In the June 2 subpoena, first published by the blog Popehat on Monday, the Justice Department orders Reason to provide a federal grand jury with “any and all identifying information” on the identities of commenters who mused about shooting federal judges and/or feeding them through a wood chipper.

A May 31 article on Reason’s blog about the prosecution of Silk Road founder Ross “Dread Pirate Roberts” Ulbricht spurred the anonymous commenters’ vitriol. Ulbricht pleaded for leniency, but a federal judge sentenced Ulbricht to life in prison without parole for setting up the illicit online drug market.

“It’s judges like these that should be taken out back and shot,” one Reason commenter wrote.

“It’s judges like these that will be taken out back and shot,” another responded.

“Why waste ammunition? Wood chippers get the message across clearly,” a third wrote. “Especially if you feed them in feet first.”

Another comment suggested shooting such judges on courthouse steps instead.

Other comments flagged by the Justice Department were less violent, such as one that wished for “a special place in hell reserved for that horrible woman.”

In the subpoena, the Justice Department says it is seeking evidence regarding possible violations of federal laws against interstate threats…

Kimberly Chow, an attorney for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, said the comments on Reason clearly fall within the internet’s regular, if outrageous and often vile, discourse.

“In terms of the comments, everybody knows the internet is a forum where exaggeration and hyperbole take place,” Chow told BuzzFeed News. “These comments are in that category. Nobody believes that these people are going to go and put this judge in a wood chipper.”…

I just hope the Reasonoids aren’t depending on their old pal Rand Paul to speak up in their favor, because I misdoubt that Rand will risk getting crosswise with anybody possessing actual power.



Ruining the Family Name

I’m watching this show on medical marijuana on CNN while waiting on Game of Thrones, and guess who figures prominently as anti-marijuana:

As a hard-partying teenager, Patrick Kennedy met President Reagan at a fundraiser for the JFK Library, a meeting captured in a photograph that the former Rhode Island congressman now hangs in his home office. He used to think of it as a funny episode, a collision of Camelot’s cocaine kid and America’s foremost opponent of illegal drug use. But Kennedy took his last hit of anything in 2009, and he’s since honed an anti-drug message that sounds a bit like Reagan with a Boston brogue.

Kennedy believes there is “an epidemic in this country of epic dimensions when it comes to alcohol and drugs.” He’d like to treat it all, but he’s convinced that the single biggest threat to America’s mental health is free-market marijuana. So even as Democrats favor the legalization of pot—by a 34-point margin, according to the latest WSJ/NBC News poll—the scion of America’s most famous Democratic family has broken ranks, criticized the White House, and aligned with the likes of Newt Gingrich to warn voters against trying to tax and regulate today’s psychoactive chlorophyll.

“I don’t think the American public has any clue about this stuff,” says Kennedy, after welcoming guests with a choice of Gatorade or bottled water.

The “stuff” in question is modern marijuana, of course, which gets pumped into snack foods and candies, and carries more THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical that gets you high) than the ditch weed used by the hippie generation. Kennedy calls legalization “a public health nightmare” because he believes it will warm more people to a dangerous drug, and lead inevitably to “Big Marijuana,” a blood-sucking vice industry dependent on converting kids and selling to heavy users—same as the tobacco and alcohol industries.

It’s a real shame Teddy Kennedy isn’t alive to kick his son and his nephew’s (RFK, JR.), anti-vaxxer extraordinaire, asses. Although Ted’s hands aren’t completely clean, because he helped shepherd the 1986 drug law that enacted mandatory minimums and created the ridiculous sentencing disparities for crack v. powder cocaine that ruined lives for a quarter century before it was changed in 2010. That 1986 bill went a long way to making the god damned mess of a drug war we have today.

And why would Kennedy have done that? Google Len Bias and see what team drafted him.



Grand Marshal of the Fail Parade (Open Thread)

Looks like Chris Christie, who will never, ever be president, is trying to stake out a position as the biggest dick in the GOP primary: 

 

Maybe it’ll distract people from the abuse of power thing. Or not. 

We’re watching the Marvel “Daredevil” series on Netflix. It’s pretty interesting so far.

What are you up to tonight? 



President Obama on “The Wire” and the “War on Drugs”

President Obama talks TV and the human devastation caused by the misguided war on drugs with “The Wire” creator David Simon.

He really gets it. And he and AG for Life Eric Holder have actually done something about it, though much more remains to be done.

I know some of y’all will call me a fan girl (or worse) for saying this, but damn, I’m going to miss Barack Obama when his term is up. I don’t agree with every single thing he does, but he’s an intelligent man who sees the world from the perspective of an actual human being who has lived in it, a quality that is vanishingly rare in the upper ranks of national — or hell, even local and state — government in our creeping plutocracy.

I pine for many a progressive pony that the Obama administration failed to deliver to my satisfaction. But the discussion above reminds me of why I was so enthusiastic about Obama in 2008 and why I was proud to work my ass off to help elect him twice. I will miss that.

[H/T: Booman]