Leonel J. Castillo, Jimmy Carter’s INS commissioner, and I tangled on a number of issues, but he was absolutely right on one thing — the outflow of illegals from Mexico assured the continuation in power of Mexico’s despots.
His notion was that if the poverty-stricken in that country did not have the option of immigration to the United States, legally or illegally, they would form a critical mass that would force change — perhaps violently — on the Mexican government.
Mexico, after all, has an even more lop-sided distribution of income than we do. As long as the migrants were in the United States they would not disturb the Mexican establishment, but they would send back remittances to family members, providing a social safety net to their relatives that the state did not offer. The whole thing was a win-win situation for Mexico’s rulers.
He also noted that it was the strongest and the most assertive of the Mexican poor who made the trip north — just the kinds of folks you would want on your side come the revolution.