Rafael D. Canul, Ph.D. Mexican Illegal Aliens: A Mexican American Perspective. ISBN: 0-915745-62-3. $22.95.
Professor Canul, in this substantial, well-documented and impressive socio-political and economic analysis, focuses on the difficult and challenging motives and experiences of Mexicans illegals who have settled in the U.S. since 1920’s. He illustrates how, despite racial conflicts, the controversial influx of Mexicans have adapted and contributed to American society. His rich layers of personalized data yield portraits ranging from those who cross the borders through the desert or not infrequently hidden in cars. He describes a rail-road like protection often extended to the border-crossers by the established Mexican American community, who witnesses with pain, empathy, and disgust their mistreatment and exploitation. He provides a unique Mexican American perspective on this controversial issue of illegal immigration. Furthermore, he concludes with a forceful argument that, despite rising nativism ignited by illegal migrants, they are indispensable for many sectors of the U.S. economy. The lack of American political will to address in orderly manner the issue of foreign workers has victimized the weakest link of a dynamic and highly profitable economic process: the Mexican illegal aliens.
Dr. Canul provides an ample historical background of how the federal government has attempted to deal with, and how it has failed to stem the tide of illegal migration. He also addresses within a historical context the reactions of Americans to the various waves of immigration from the rise of the anti-foreign Nativists, the restrictive immigration laws and quotas of the 1920s; through the World War II era, the Bracero Program, the Amnesty declared by Republican President Ronald Reagan to the present concerns with the War on Terror. This excellent work is an effective tool for increasing multicultural awareness and should be an effective teaching guide for social sciences and humanities. This book provides the first comprehensive, Mexican American historical perspective of the Mexican illegal immigration to the United States during the last 50 years and how this history and current situation impact on current Mexican Americans political articulation and discourse.