Minimum-wage debate roils Mexico

August 27, 2014

08/26/14 McClatchy DC

piggy bank with coinsMexico has the 14th largest economy in the world, a humming manufacturing sector, a newly opened energy sector that’s drawing worldwide interest and, at $144 a month, likely the lowest minimum wage in Latin America.

“It’s ridiculously low,” said Jonathan Heath, an independent economist.

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How a Game of Tag Turned a Texas Campus Into Immigration’s Ground Zer

November 21, 2013

texasThe Daily Beast, 11/21/2013

A provocative game called ‘Catch an Illegal Immigrant’ turned the University of Texas at Austin into a hotbed of debate this week. Even Ugly Betty joined the fray. The game was canceled, but the protest went on anyway.

By early afternoon on Wednesday, some 500 students had gathered on the steps of the main building of The University of Texas at Austin—chanting, holding signs, and wearing t-shirts with a single word stamped across them: undocumented. As Ugly Betty actress America Ferrera took the stage at 12:30, even the Frisbee-playing students on a nearby lawn joined in. “I am the daughter of immigrants,” Ferrera shouted into a megaphone, and the crowd, some holding fluorescent signs reading “Aliens Live in Space,” erupted into applause.

The rally—the culmination of days of heated campus-wide debate—came in response to a controversial event planned by the college chapter of The Young Conservatives of Texas, or YCT, which describes itself as a non-partisan, conservative youth organization.

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Mexico’s middle class: Too bourgeois to bus tables

June 24, 2013

woman with shopping bags and credit cardThe Economist, 6/24/2013

OUR report this week from the Mexican-American border points out that Mexicans are becoming too bourgeois to cross illegally into the United States. These days they’d rather stay in high school than risk deserts, rattlesnakes, murderous bandidos and La Migra (as the gringo migration authorities are known) just to bus tables north of the border. In fact, according to an exhaustive report in May by North American experts, known as the Regional Migration Study Group, Mexicans are much more likely to have a degree before going north than they were seven years ago, and the number of years of schooling of 15-19-year-olds is now pretty similar to that in United States. If more educated workers emigrate, it raises their earning capacity, which gives them and their families even more chance of rising up the ranks of the middle class when they and the money flow back to Mexico. In which case, even fewer will need to go to el Norte. That is real progress.

In Mexico, however, many are reluctant to admit that the country has become a middle-class nation. This is partly because so much of Mexico’s historical narrative is about poverty; half a century ago, 80% of Mexicans were poor. It is also because, for armchair socialists, the ways of defining the middle class includes access to things that are often considered abhorrently American, such as those sold through chains like Walmart.  To them, it is almost as if those who cannot afford such trappings of middle-class life are somehow more authentically Mexican.

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Op-ed: Cities of God

June 14, 2013

Monterrey-Nathaniel C. SheetzBy Carlos Puig, The New York Times, 6/13/2013

Saturday was a beautiful day in Monterrey, northeastern Mexico, and in the Plaza Zaragoza, just a few meters from City Hall, it was a cheerful one, too. Standing at a clear plexiglass podium, a woman of about 40 is making a speech. Human participation alone, she says, “does not have the ability to reverse the darkness”; only the light from faith in God can. “Which is why we are gathered here today, and I, Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, give Monterrey, Nuevo León, to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that his kingdom of peace and blessings may be established.”

“I open the doors of this municipality to God as the ultimate authority,” she adds. “Lord Jesus Christ, welcome to Monterrey, the house that we have built. This is your home Lord Jesus, Lord of Monterrey.” The people in the square say amen, applaud and cheer. There is just one problem: Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes may be the mayor of Monterrey, but clearly the city — Mexico’s third-largest  and its wealthiest per capita — isn’t hers to give away.

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Senate Digs In for Long Battle on Immigrants

June 10, 2013

Border fence by couchlearnerThe New York Times, 6/9/2013

After seven months of steadily building momentum, the push for a comprehensive overhaul of the immigration system enters its most crucial phase this week in the Senate, where Republicans remain divided over how much to cooperate with President Obama as they try to repair their party’s standing among Hispanic voters. Republican leaders are betting that passage of an 867-page bipartisan overhaul will halt the embarrassing erosion of support among Latinos last year that helped return Mr. Obama to the Oval Office. But the party’s conservative activists are vowing opposition, dead set against anything linked to Mr. Obama and convinced that the immigration bill is nothing more than amnesty for lawbreakers.

That intraparty clash will play out for the next three weeks on the Senate floor, as Republican supporters of the bill — aided behind the scenes by the Obama administration — seek modest changes that they hope will secure broad support among both parties. Senator Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, announced on Sunday that she would support the immigration bill, calling it a “thoughtful bipartisan solution to a tough problem.”

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Senate begins floor debate on comprehensive immigration reform bill

June 10, 2013

capitolThe Washington Post, 6/7/2013

The Senate opened floor debate Friday on a bipartisan proposal to overhaul immigration laws, kicking off a process that chamber leaders hoped would result in a vote on the comprehensive legislation before July 4. “The vast majority of American people want us to move forward on this,” Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said as he made a motion to proceed with the bill.

Referring to opponents of the bill, who have sought to delay deliberations with dozens of amendments, Reid added, “Sometimes in the process we have here, people throw monkey wrenches in, and we can’t move forward as fast as we want.” Leading critics took to the floor to begin making their case against the proposal, which features a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally, new visas for high-tech and low-skilled workers, increased border security investments and the elimination of some categories of visas for extended family members.

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Immigration Overhaul Proposal Is Likely to Ignite Fierce Debate

April 16, 2013

barbed wire fenceThe New York Times, 4/16/13

The introduction of sweeping immigration legislation on Tuesday is likely to ignite a months-long battle between those who want citizenship for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants and opponents who view such an approach as amnesty.

A bipartisan group of eight senators plans to unveil legislation, drafted largely in secret, that would provide a 13-year path to American citizenship for illegal immigrants who arrived in the country before Dec. 31, 2011, but would demand that tougher border controls be in place first. The legislation is certain to unleash a torrent of attacks from Republican opponents on the immigration overhaul, similar to the kind of criticism that killed an effort supported by President George W. Bush in 2007.

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