Journalist and Berkeley lecturer Tyche Hendricks discusses the complexity of the U.S.–Mexico borderlands.
The hostility and frustration embodied in the new Arizona law empowering police to detain suspected undocumented immigrants bubbled up from a potent brew that includes a tough economy, border enforcement strategies that shifted illegal migration routes from California over to Arizona, and the failure of Congress to act on immigration reform. In addition, during Arizona’s boom years, the state attracted both American retirees and younger immigrant workers, leading to a generational culture clash between older voters unaccustomed to Arizona’s historical ties to Mexico and newly arrived Mexicans. The law’s passage triggered a renewed push for an overhaul of federal immigration policy, but it also led to predictable calls for more police and fencing to “seal” the 2,000-mile border. Indeed the “secure the border” stance has long been a popular — and easy — position for Democrats and Republicans alike. Federal outlays for border enforcement has grown five-fold over the past decade, with $11.4 billion budgeted for 2010.