Caravan migrants break up to take work in Tijuana

Monday, December 10, 2018
By Paul Martin

By Monica Showalter
December 10, 2018

In Tijuana, you often hear hard truths that no one would dare express here. Get a load of this bit of jarring advice from a Tijuana man to a caravan migrant who was seeking a job in Tijuana as he waited out his asylum claim to the U.S.

“Don’t come here with the mentality of Honduras,” he said. “This is a new country, a new state where you can change yourself if you want to.”

Cripes, what was that person talking about? Was the Tijuana man suggesting that Hondurans are lazy? I’ve never known any Latin American immigrants who had actual jobs who were lazy – not even Venezuelans, who are often derided as that by other Latin Americans. The Honduran immigrants we know here in the U.S. who have jobs are famously hardworking.

What it actually suggests is that maybe the first aim of the caravan migrants wasn’t about finding work, but availing themselves of U.S. benefits, which was the original objection to the project all along from the Trump administration. The big benefit banquet was pretty much all they were capable of assimilating into in the U.S., with the caravan’s advanced poverty, which meant that admitting them was to import poverty. There are signs the migrants saw it that way, too – they came in with an entitlement mentality, according to the locals in TJ, and that was what drew the local protests. The caravan organizers told them it would be so easy to get into America, and from there, the goodies would flow. Human nature being what it is, they were frustrated when it didn’t come.

Since it’s not happening, at least for large numbers (there are people slipping in illegally), now something more practical is taking place, and it’s not a bad thing: the migrants, largely military-aged young men, who are so poorly equipped to succeed in America, with no education, no skills, and no language capabilities, are taking jobs in Tijuana’s maquiladoras, which are capable of absorbing their limited skills and educations, with their language capacities no liability. It’s like up-and-coming students from bad inner-city schools getting an educational placement at a good state school instead of Harvard, where the odds are strong that they would academically drown, even with affirmative action privileges, as they come up against better educated competition. Studies show that the state school placement is a proven way for minorities and underprivileged people to actually scale the rungs to succeed. It’s likely that this is also the case for the caravan migrants, who are now beginning to fill Tijuana’s 7,000 unfilled maquiladora jobs.

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