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Walls and Mirrors: Mexican Americans, Mexican Immigrants, and the Politics of Ethnicity
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This book, then, is a political history that examines the importance of both legal and cultural citizenship in Texas and California communities. It looks at the impact of the Cold War, agribusiness labor needs, and civil rights struggles on debates over immigration at both the local and national level.
At the same time as the book was being written a backlash in California against immigrants erupted with the reelection campaign of governor Pete Wilson and Proposi-tion 187 which would prohibit “illegal aliens” from using heath care, education and other social services provided by the state of California. The proposition passed in November of 1994 but was later found unconstitutional by a federal court. It was in this environment that Gutierrez began to look at Mexican Americans and their complicated relation-ship with Mexicans. As his research would show, the former had always been deeply divided over the immigration issue. As the author notes, the debate has historically fall-en along polar positions, with one group viewing Mexican immigrants as a threat because they increased economic competition and helped to reinforce the negative stereo-types held by white Americans. At the other end of the spectrum there is the group which has more sympathy for Mexican immigrants based on ties of culture and kinship, believing that these ties are much more important than any differences which might lie between the two groups.
It is this argument which makes Walls and Mirrors stand out from the previous works analyzed. First of all his focus is on the tensions which exist not only between Mexican Americans and white Americans, but those between Mexican Americans and Mexican immigrants recently arrived.Read more ›