Dear Mexican: I am a legal, naturalized hispano in the U.S., and I just realized what the “illegal” craze is about. What immigrant-bashing citizens are trying to protect here are people like . . . me. Consider what this concerned woman said last year to John McCain during a public meeting in New Hampshire: “I just think it’s not fair to all the people who came here legally and went through the process, and now all the illegals, you’re just gonna give ’em citizenship? That’s not fair.” I have to say, I was moved. I came here legally, I went through the process, and you know what? I never cared whether the neighbor I buy my tamales from has his papers in order. Now I see why this woman wants to deport millions of people. Because not doing so would be “unfair” for me. See, Mexican (I would say Chicano), this concerns you, too. Anti-immigrant campaigns are made so people like you—rigorously legal immigrants—are treated fairly. Any words of gratitude?
Dear Coño: You honestly think “anti-immigrant campaigns” arise to protect legal immigrants? And they say it’s Mexicans who never bother to learn American civics and history! Where did you naturalize—outside a 7-Eleven? How do you account for Chinese getting lynched during California’s Gold Rush in the 1850s, Japanese internment during World War II, the constant railings by Know Nothings about foreign cultures invading our shores without care for legal status, the centuries-long obsession with who’s white and who’s not right? The Mexican can’t help but grin extra-grande when he hears people profess to love legal immigrants and hate the illegal ones. History just doesn’t support that claim. If this were truly the case, anti-immigrant loons wouldn’t get their chonis in a bunch about language, ethnic makeup and culture like they always do. They wouldn’t care about the rise of Univisión, chickens in the back yard, billions of dollars in remittances to the motherland—and yet they do. So, a challenge: Who among you can truly say you hate the illegal Mexican but not the legal one? Who among you doesn’t care about culture, but rather everything about the law? The best three responders (keep answers less than 100 words) get a Border Patrol hat or a copy of my ¡Ask a Mexican! book—their choice!
Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans think they have to warm up their cars for almost half an hour before they go to work in the morning? Modern cars clearly do not need this, and my white mom says it’s something they used to do back in the ’50s. There’s no solid mechanical reason for it.
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Yo Quiero Bailout
Dear Gabacho: You know how it is with Mexicans—we’re always at least 20 years behind the times. That’s why we like oldies music and classic cars; why wabs wear sweat shirts and camisetas emblazoned with such antiquated icons and slogans as CHICAGO BEARS SUPER BOWL XX CHAMPS or Bart Simpson masquerading as Michael Jordan; why the motherland got into the democracy game back in 2000, after 75 years of one-party rule; and some Mexican men still think whistling at 16-year-old girls isn’t creepy. Same with warming up cars. It’s advisable to warm up any car for a minute or so to get its juices flowing—longer if it’s a jalopy (a word that supposedly has its origins in the Mexican city of Jalapa, the same place that is the etymological birthplace of the jalapeño; supposedly, Jalapa—now spelled Xalapa by pretty much everybody, by the way—received a lot of cars destined for the scrap heap in the early 20th century, but such stories never seem to include the Mexican side of the cuento). But what do you care that Mexicans calientan sus cars for so long? Let them enjoy the 10 minutes of respite revving their cars; once that’s over, they get to deal with being Mexican again.