What Mexican Texas Teaches Us about Unbridled Immigration

The history of Texas is unique among western states.  First claimed by France, it quickly became part of the Spanish colonies in America, so Mexico included Texas in its successful bid for independence.  Shortly after, Texas seceded from Mexico and asked to be annexed by the United States.  During the Civil War, Texas was one of the states that seceded under the Confederate flag.  All these led to the expression "Six Flags over Texas."

The post-Columbian history of Texas, and particularly the period between Mexican Texas and its annexation by the United States, is full of lessons for any student of political science.  It is also a window into what may happen in the United States if unbridled illegal immigration is allowed to continue.

Newly independent Mexico, wisely knowing that it could not properly defend its new borders in the northwest, made the decision to liberalize its immigration policies, thereby successfully encouraging many new immigrants from the United States to settle in Texas.

At first, the trickle of United States immigrants was small and manageable.  Over the years, however, more and more United States citizens, in the true American spirit, moved into Mexico with the purpose of settling down.  Many of these new immigrants refused to assimilate into their new country of adoption -- they owned slaves, for example, and tried to circumvent the anti-slavery law by "converting" their slaves into indentured servants.  Very soon, Mexican citizens were outnumbered by American citizens in their own land.

Taking over another land is not merely a matter of winning a war and stationing one's troops there.  The winning country's citizens have to settle down and remain for generations in order to secure and legitimize their hold on the new territory.  That is why Israeli settlers were encouraged in the West Bank and Han Chinese settlers in Tibet.

President Anastasio Bustamante of Mexico understood this fact more than 170 years ago.  He banned immigration by United States citizens to Texas in 1830 and tried to tighten and enforce immigration and customs practices.  Since Texas was so huge and sparsely populated, Bustamente was not very successful.  In 1832, there was a revolt against customs enforcement.  Texans drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas, and the unrest finally culminated in the Texas Revolution, in which Texas became an independent republic.

Meanwhile, prominent Texans lobbied for the United States to annex Texas.  The United States Congress were very reluctant to do so, but they finally approved the annexation of Texas in 1845, following which there was a brief and victorious war with Mexico.

When the number of immigrants grows rapidly and beyond control in a territory, ethnic neighborhoods are likely to sprout up, and assimilation into the adopted land's culture and practices will not happen as it should.  Original inhabitants soon become second-class citizens in their own land as businesses and even the government start accommodating and pandering to the alien demographic.

The problem is usually not as serious when large numbers of immigrants come from diverse geographical locations and cultural backgrounds (such as those in New York City).  However, when the immigrants are united in language, culture, or citizenship, they will find unity in subverting their adopted land's laws, and they will eventually get involved in its politics and start demanding rights previously accorded only to citizens.  Very soon -- de jure or de facto -- the adopted land turns into an extended part of the immigrants' home country, and it becomes impossible to reverse course.

With the recent demands by Latino illegal immigrants for the passage of the DREAM Act and amnesty, the United States is in a position where Mexico was in 1830 with regard to Texas.  The United States had better learn from its annexation of Texas more than 160 years ago and act decisively about this problem.

Nicholas Cheong is a recent immigrant to the United States.  He blogs at comopolis.blogspot.com.
The history of Texas is unique among western states.  First claimed by France, it quickly became part of the Spanish colonies in America, so Mexico included Texas in its successful bid for independence.  Shortly after, Texas seceded from Mexico and asked to be annexed by the United States.  During the Civil War, Texas was one of the states that seceded under the Confederate flag.  All these led to the expression "Six Flags over Texas."

The post-Columbian history of Texas, and particularly the period between Mexican Texas and its annexation by the United States, is full of lessons for any student of political science.  It is also a window into what may happen in the United States if unbridled illegal immigration is allowed to continue.

Newly independent Mexico, wisely knowing that it could not properly defend its new borders in the northwest, made the decision to liberalize its immigration policies, thereby successfully encouraging many new immigrants from the United States to settle in Texas.

At first, the trickle of United States immigrants was small and manageable.  Over the years, however, more and more United States citizens, in the true American spirit, moved into Mexico with the purpose of settling down.  Many of these new immigrants refused to assimilate into their new country of adoption -- they owned slaves, for example, and tried to circumvent the anti-slavery law by "converting" their slaves into indentured servants.  Very soon, Mexican citizens were outnumbered by American citizens in their own land.

Taking over another land is not merely a matter of winning a war and stationing one's troops there.  The winning country's citizens have to settle down and remain for generations in order to secure and legitimize their hold on the new territory.  That is why Israeli settlers were encouraged in the West Bank and Han Chinese settlers in Tibet.

President Anastasio Bustamante of Mexico understood this fact more than 170 years ago.  He banned immigration by United States citizens to Texas in 1830 and tried to tighten and enforce immigration and customs practices.  Since Texas was so huge and sparsely populated, Bustamente was not very successful.  In 1832, there was a revolt against customs enforcement.  Texans drove all Mexican soldiers out of East Texas, and the unrest finally culminated in the Texas Revolution, in which Texas became an independent republic.

Meanwhile, prominent Texans lobbied for the United States to annex Texas.  The United States Congress were very reluctant to do so, but they finally approved the annexation of Texas in 1845, following which there was a brief and victorious war with Mexico.

When the number of immigrants grows rapidly and beyond control in a territory, ethnic neighborhoods are likely to sprout up, and assimilation into the adopted land's culture and practices will not happen as it should.  Original inhabitants soon become second-class citizens in their own land as businesses and even the government start accommodating and pandering to the alien demographic.

The problem is usually not as serious when large numbers of immigrants come from diverse geographical locations and cultural backgrounds (such as those in New York City).  However, when the immigrants are united in language, culture, or citizenship, they will find unity in subverting their adopted land's laws, and they will eventually get involved in its politics and start demanding rights previously accorded only to citizens.  Very soon -- de jure or de facto -- the adopted land turns into an extended part of the immigrants' home country, and it becomes impossible to reverse course.

With the recent demands by Latino illegal immigrants for the passage of the DREAM Act and amnesty, the United States is in a position where Mexico was in 1830 with regard to Texas.  The United States had better learn from its annexation of Texas more than 160 years ago and act decisively about this problem.

Nicholas Cheong is a recent immigrant to the United States.  He blogs at comopolis.blogspot.com.

RECENT VIDEOS