THOSE WHO WORRY about the integrity of our southern border rarely pay attention to the economic conditions in Mexico. They ought to. The wave of Mexican migration is a recent phenomenon, beginning only in the 1970s. Few expressed concern about the (mostly) unguarded Mexican border in the 1960s. In the 1940s and '50s we actively encouraged temporary Mexican agricultural workers to come north. The point is that something changed down there, relatively recently. What was it?
It is a drastic thing for a man to leave his wife, family, and home; to travel hundreds of miles to a strange land where he does not speak the language, there to engage in manual or menial labor; all the while running the risk that he will be arrested, imprisoned, turned back empty-handed, reduced to thumbing rides and trudging miles down dusty roads. When hundreds of thousands do it, there is something seriously amiss.