Many Mexicans Will Choose in 2008

by David Simmonds

I was scanning the wires today and was struck by two separate stories that oddly intersect, providing a glimpse into the immigration issue, not for the U.S., but for many Mexicans who will decide where they will attempt to work and live in the near future.

The first story is an International Herald Tribune piece announcing the minimum wage increase in Mexico, to take effect in 2008. Yes, the wage is increasing…about 4%, to less than $5.00 per day. That’s roughly $30.00 for a 40-plus-hour work week. The average wage for all workers comes in at about $11.50 per day. Think about that. I understand that Mexico is a cheaper place to live day-to-day than in the U.S. or Canada, but a meal at a a taco stand still costs about $3.00, as does a gallon of milk or a pound of bacon. You can easily blow through an average week’s wages just buying a few staples for the family, and forget about having anything left over for a little fun on the town or a day at the movies for the kids.

The second story, from the Associated Press, details the recently observed trend now taking place in Arizona, where employer-sanctions are about to become law for  those businesses that knowingly hire illegal workers. There are reports that many Mexicans are returning home, preferring to take their chances in their homeland rather than living in fear and uncertainty in a hostile foreign country that is increasingly shouting a shrill “go home”.

As most of us prepare for a week of traditional celebration, anticipating a reasonably comfortable year with our families and friends, many of our less fortunate neighbors will face a far heavier decision about their future. Perhaps it would be a good opportunity for us all to practice the righteous precepts that comprise the religious cultures of our time. A simple smile with direct eye contact, maybe a heartfelt “buenos dias”. It doesn’t take much to brighten a life…yours and theirs.

I don’t know who said it or where it came from, but Peace on Earth, Good Will Towards Men has a special meaning this year. I’m pretty sure that it doesn’t come with qualifiers.