|« production week||A message from a concerned forensics student »|
Probably every U.S. citizen has heard a lot about Mexico, about immigration and about issues caused by illegal Mexican workers in the U.S. A lot of people in the U.S. are of the opinion that there “is a problem” with illegal Mexican workers and with Mexicans who immigrate into the U.S. But only few people know about the problems Mexicans have to face when they want to enter the U.S., either as legal or illegal immigrants. The book “Crossing Over” by Ruben Martinez gives the reader a first idea about how difficult it is to cross the border. Furthermore, the book describes a family tragedy, because it tells the story of a poor Mexican family who lost three family members who tried to travel into the U.S. as illegal workers.
During Interterm I went to Mexico for three weeks and I learned a lot about Mexico’s culture and history. A huge part of Mexico’s population is really poor and lives below what we think of as adequate living standards. Often parents even cannot pay for their children’s education, so the children stay at home and help their parents with the housework and sometimes even with their job. However, some Mexicans can afford going to university. While I was in Mexico, I visited a university with the social work class I was traveling with. We were able to talk to one of the teachers at this university. Only after a few minutes the teacher changed the topic from education to politics. Fortunately, we had already talked to other people about political issues, so we already had background information.
He, as many others, is of the opinion that the U.S. (among other countries) is corrupting Mexico. As an example, he used the import-export policy of wheat between the U.S. and Mexico. He differentiated between Mexico’s poverty and the prosperity of the U.S. The topic of conversation changed after a short time to the theme of “crossing the border” between the U.S. and Mexico. He emphasized the dangers Mexicans who want to cross the border have to consider before they start their journey and the ways U.S. Americans try to prevent them from entering the country. To picture the difficulty of crossing the border he used the metaphor of a wall that could be built up between the U.S. border and Mexico. He said, if Mexicans want to get to the other side of the wall, they probably have to build a tunnel underneath the wall. However, he came to the conclusion that this might not work. He spoke about the wall in an ironic, rather sarcastic way, every now and then with a reference to Germany.
For me, being a German citizen, the reference to the wall is not a thing anyone should make fun of. Although I do not remember much of the time when Germany was separated by a wall, my life is still strongly influenced by this part of German history. This is not only true because everybody in the U.S. asks me about what I actually do remember of the wall, but especially because my own life is sometimes influenced by that part of German history. My grandmother, who is 87 years old, talks a lot about those days during and after WW II and you can hear how painful it is for her, if she talks about her own story and about the family members she had to leave behind when she and her two sisters tried to come to the West at the end of the war.
In 1962, 57 people living in East Berlin tried to escape to the West through a tunnel built in an old bakery building. The tunnel was twelve meters under earth, 145 meters long and only 70 centimeters high. But after three days, the tunnel was found and destroyed by the police.
The fact that Germany was once separated still influences daily life in Germany. There are many issues concerning the reunion and the consequences for people living in Germany. Although most people are glad that there is no wall anymore, the topic of the wall cannot really be called “history”, because many people lost family members who tried to escape to the West and who were shot by the police. It still has impact on people’s lives. Therefore, I do not agree with people making fun about walls separating countries.
Due to the fact that it is already difficult to cross the border between Mexico and the USA, which causes the death of a lot of people, I do not think that the metaphor of the wall which is used by that Mexican teacher is a good way to explain the relationship between the U.S. and Mexico. Living in a country where this metaphor once was reality, I am of the opinion that this is no topic people should make fun of. From my point of view, we should rather try to learn from mistakes of the past rather than repeat them.
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