January 18, 2005


Faith a factor in migrants' treks: Religion smooths rough path through the Arizona desert (Anabelle Garay, 1/18/05, Alameda Times Star)

Along a northbound dirt road, a young couple clad in jeans and T-shirts jumps out of an idling van and walks toward the path's edge, making for a white concrete box with a wrought-iron cross perched on top.

Dozens of candles are crammed inside the 5-foot-high altar along with statues of Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. Jude, patron saint of lost causes. As the couple kneels before the display, a little boy runs out of the van and kisses the ground.

The humble spot about 60 miles south of the Mexico-Arizona border serves as one of the last places migrants worship before being shuttled to spots where they will attempt to slip illegally into the United States on foot.

On a quest for economic survival, some migrants traveling through the treacherous Arizona desert also find themselves embarking on a religious journey. Many rely on faith to sustain them through the trip's perils, praying at icons or lighting votive candles to remember those who died along the way.

Before jumping aboard moving cargo trains during the trip north, 29-year-old Carlos Enrique Cano Vanega and other Central Americans he was traveling with would pray by the side of the tracks.

"We began to entrust ourselves to God and asked that he would keep us safe," said Cano, a Honduran man who had journeyed to this Mexican community recently in preparation for an attempted trip to the United States.

People everywhere will often seek spiritual comfort during troubled times. And Latin Americans identify themselves as religious, even if they don't attend services regularly, said Jacqueline Hagan, co-director for the Center for Immigration Research at the University of Houston.

In the case of poor immigrants, reliance on faith is even heavier because they have virtually no other resources, Hagan said. "The only recourse they have is to turn to religion, and that's all they really have on the road as well," she said.

Other than race, why would Republicans turn such folk away?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 18, 2005 6:56 AM

Immigration is already in the process of flipping so that the Reps are pro and the Dems anti.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 18, 2005 9:27 AM

The author by saying "they have virtually no other resources" is declaring his political agenda. What he means is they have no governmental agencies guiding them to make sure they stay in the poverty.

By making the unbelievably brave decision to come to the US, they have already demonstrated their other resources: their courage, their talent, their strength and their intelligence. The same resources all of us or our ancesters who came here before us had in abundance.

They may also have family, friends and neighbors to lend a hand and encouragement.

From these beginnings come the next generation and the next. Welcome fellow Americans.

Posted by: erp at January 18, 2005 9:28 AM


But it is the GOP House that will spike reform this year.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2005 9:38 AM

A few photo ops from President Bush with "moderate" Democrats in immigrant-heavy districts and all those GOP House members will fall in line (except the Tancredos).

Nativism is a losing hand - ask Pat Buchanan.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 18, 2005 9:47 AM

"Other than race, why would Republicans turn such folk away"

1. It's against the law.

2. While helping the economy by providing cheap labor to Businesses for purposes of producing low-value-added product and services, it is in effect a subsidy to low-value-added products and a penalty to high-value-added.

3. This particular stream of immigrants doesn't speak our language and is slow as molasses in learning it. (this is a burden on the rest of society)

4. Past history of native born and illegal mestizo immigrants is that they have not pursue higher education as much as other immigrant groups.

5. Legal immigration of more productive, better educated immigrants is being crowded out, because of reluctance of society (their politicians) to raise the quota from Korea, China, India.

6. This particular stream of immigrants, more than other immigrant groups puts greater strain on the health industry, and on the schools.

7. (non-racial reason, but certainly cognizant of presently existing laws) This group will benefit from affirmative action programs and the inclination of all our public institutions to benefit "minorities" at the expense of native born citizens. Could be true of Asians in theory, but in practice they rarely seek that extra leverage.

Posted by: h-man at January 18, 2005 11:24 AM


That's what's been said of every prior immigrant group. It's always just ethnicity that matters.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2005 11:43 AM

OJ: It's in the process of flipping. It'll still take a while to get a working majority of pro-immigration Reps -- though I wouldn't bet against the president.


1. That is is against the law is one of the frustrating arguments that is true but irrelevant. First, we're considering whether the law should be changed. Second, I've never understood what moral obligation a Mexican peasant in Mexico has to obey US law, or why it should trump doing what is best for his or her family.

2. You say "subsidy", but that's assuming the point in question. If the natural or default state of the world is relatively unhindered immigration, as I believe it should be, then restrictive immigration law is a subsidy to labor unions and high-cost domestic manufacturers.

3. As opposed to which stream of immigrants, other than the Irish, who were not welcomed with open arms either? Many Americans had grandmothers or great-grandmothers who never learned to speak the language.

4. You say that this is not about race, but a number of your arguments rely on the supposedly immutable alleged characteristics of Mexicans.

5. The whole debate is about what immigration law should be. If educated, hard-working Asians want to come into the country, let them. From your other arguments, I'm surprised that you would admit that they would face competition from uneducated, non-English speaking peasants and their uneducable children.

6. My responses to your points 3 and 4 also work here, but historically immigrants and the children have always been a net benefit to the country. Indeed, if we subtracted from GDP the value added by immigrants and the descendents of immigrants, the remainder would be, in round numbers, $0.00.

7. I'm not arguing for Affirmative Action. It does seem odd to cede that fight (which is all-but-won) while continuing to fight to hold back the tide of immigration (which is all-but-lost)

Posted by: David Cohen at January 18, 2005 11:53 AM

OJ: True. Ethnicity. However, in your post, you said "race." Hispanic (or Latino) is not a race, El Centro de la Raza's stupid heinous name notwithstanding.

You are correct. They are an ethinic group, Like Greeks. Italians. Polish. Argentinians. Or Irish. As a population, they have an significantly higher percentages of people with significantly higher percentages of mixed bloood (Indian and European), but this does not -- indeed, cannot -- make them a race.

Generally speaking, they are Catholic/Christian. Pious. They are vehemently heterosexual in orientation and unflinchingly pro-family. They are such a big part of the American future. Because they have children, they WILL assimilate. This doesn't mean that we should open the borders. Seal them tight, I say and reform the system. But let's just stop talking about race. It only helps the reactionary agenda of Marxist racists like Centro de la Raza.

h: they may be slow as molasses in learning English, but their kids are faster than snakes on ice.

Posted by: George (not "Jorge") at January 18, 2005 12:04 PM


Germans, Irish, Jews, Latinos, etc. aren't actually different races, just ethnicities, but we've all opposed their immigration because of mere racism.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2005 12:16 PM

"You say that this is not about race, but... immutable alleged characteristics of Mexicans"

OJ, thinks it is immutable that Mestizos are religious.

"affirmative action...all-but-won"


"hard-working Asians want to come into the country, let them"

They have greater obstacles than rattlesnakes. They are trying to get in legally, but have to deal with bureaucrats.


Many things have been said of immigrants in the past. Sitting Bull, Running Bear, or whoever said that the Paleface would destroy their way of life.

Posted by: h-man at January 18, 2005 12:40 PM


They were right and it needed to be destroyed. Religious immigrants will help us destroy the current secular culture too.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2005 12:52 PM

It's only against the law because we haven't changed the law--yet. We should.

Posted by: Timothy at January 18, 2005 2:48 PM

I spent a long, very, very long weekend in jail in Laredo, Tx (of all places considering the subject matter) in 1974. Timothy, I said the same thing you said.

For speeding and "alleged" drinking.

Posted by: h-man at January 18, 2005 4:58 PM

From what I saw the jail was the nicest spot in Laredo.

Posted by: oj at January 18, 2005 5:29 PM