OUTLAWS IN THE PROMISED LAND: Mexican Immigrant Workers and America Future by James D. Coekcroft

OUTLAWS IN THE PROMISED LAND: Mexican Immigrant Workers and America Future

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A sympathetic but unfocused survey of the many hardships endured by Mexicans who (with or without legal standing) work in the US, which reaches out-of-left-field conclusions about the presumed threat to America's democratic institutions by measures designed to achieve some kind of immigration reform. Sociologist Cockcroft argues that Mexicans (who account for an estimated 60% of the country's undocumented aliens) do not take a significant amount of work away from Americans, most of whom refuse the jobs at issue. Nor, he contends, do the illegals tarry long here. None-the-less, he asserts, there's broad-based public support for ""regaining control of our borders."" In a sketchy history of US/Mexican relations, Cockcroft emphasizes the often exploitive, typically turbulent, and increasingly interdependent aspects of the socioeconomic ties that bind these ""good neighbors."" Owing to bracero programs of the past, the present's frontier assembly plants (maquiladoras), and related factors, the author suggests the border has become a legal fiction. American employers who ""call the tune"" on Mexican labor have a vested interest in ensuring an ""easily importable and deportable"" corps of workers, he says. That the status quo affords scant justice for tax-paying migrants who do much of America's menial labor, frequently for substandard wages, seems beyond question. Unfortunately, Cockcroft undermines any case he might have made on these wrongs with a speculative assault on pending legislation (like the remarkably resilient Simpson-Mazzoli bill) and INS policies. To illustrate, the author insinuates that a worker ID-card system (which he equates with South Africa's infamous pass laws) is at hand. Nor do his offhandedly pejorative comments on ""nativism,"" the growing opposition to bilingual education, and construction of detention centers provide convincing evidence that the constitutional rights of US citizens are at risk.

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 1986
Publisher: Grove