Our neighbors deserve better


It was pleasant to see County Supervisor Dianne Jacob line up for a picture with my homeschooled nine-year old son, Lorenzo, after he read his winning essay at the recent inauguration of the new Descanso Library.

Grasping the opportunity, I addressed Dianne with some concerns. Her response was rewarding.


I urged our charmingly ambitious County Supervisor to be softer on our Mexican neighbors whom she often portrays in a criminal light, accusing them of starting wild fires, shooting at the border patrol, smuggling drugs, etc. Actually, I pointed out, most Mexican migrant workers are poor, down-trodden people risking their lives to feed their families.

She nodded.

She also nodded when I suggested that the United States ought to act as a civilized power instead of erecting an iron curtain on American soil.

She nodded when I pointed out that a concentration camp mentality is one symptom of what thousands of Americans died to fight against in Europe and the Pacific during the first half of this century.

She seemed to agree that an intelligent “bracero” program, as we once had, would save lives, save billions of tax dollars, defuse the hatred rising between Americans and Mexicans, make environmental collaboration possible, increase prosperity on both sides of the border, and make travel to Mexico pleasant once again.

With a fair migrant worker program, Mexicans could earn enough to go home to their families without fear of being unable to return for work the following year. Our economy would benefit as it always has from Mexican labor and we could develop good neighbor relations. Dianne assented with a smile.

Today thousands of poor people risk their lives to elude capture. Those who succeed hide and stay in the U.S. for fear of not being able to re-enter the following season. Our present policy makes it possible for the worst exploiters to secretly abuse Mexican workers after threatening them with criminal deportation if they ask for more than slave wages.

Even Governor Wilson was caught using “illegal” Mexican labor to care for his kids. In spite of that, this paragon of integrity felt no qualms in using Mexicans as scapegoats for political gain, just like the Jews were used in 1933. A bit hypocritical, don’t you think, Ms. Jacob? I asked. At this point in the conversation, Dianne cleared her throat as if she were swallowing a very hot Mexican jalape–o.

To be perfectly fair, Ms. Jacob deserves praise for agreeing that a “bracero” program would be good and for admitting that drug smugglers are only a tiny minority and not all are Mexicans.

I hope Dianne will in time reflect that voters will eventually resent the enormous cost of our para-military operation and iron curtain erection against our Southern NAFTA partners. It is self evident how much cleaner, harmonious and safer our border can be with an equitable “bracero” and good neighbor program. The only loss will be that politicians will have to look for a new whipping boy. How about corrupt foreign dictators? That will get lots of good voters excited behind a new brand of American statesperson.

The world looks in astonishment at our Mexican border truculence while we preach good democratic behavior to others. Ms. Jacob agreed this is embarrassing — perhaps she will soon whisper the great political advantages of cross border cooperation to Mr. Wilson, suggest positive programs toward our neighbors, and convince him and Duncan Hunter to renounce their anti-Mexican programs and go chase Beijing tyrants.

Thank you, Ms. Jacob. Your positive democratic response was gratifying.

Aldo Vidali lives in Descanso and sent this to the Good News, Etc. web page (http://www.goodnewsetc.com/).

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