Leading Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump just visited my hometown of Laredo, Texas!
Not surprisingly, Trump entered Laredo filled with fear. I say “not surprisingly” because Republicans live their lives filled with fear. Communists! Terrorists! Muslims! Illegal aliens! Drug dealers! Bin Laden! Saddam! Ho Chi Minh! Republicans are convinced that they’re all coming to get us. Knees are always a’knockin’ among Republicans.
Hey, that’s how we got the Cold War, isn’t it? The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! And so the United States was “compelled” to graft the totalitarian-like apparatus known as the “national-security establishment” to our original, constitutional governmental system.
It was fear that brought us federal programs like torture, assassination, secret surveillance schemes, secret prisons, Gitmo, federal partnerships with the Mafia and with totalitarian regimes, regime-change operations, coups, support of dictatorial regimes, hiring of Nazi officials, medical experimentation on unsuspecting Americans, kidnapping, indefinite incarceration, invasions, occupations, wars of aggression, perpetual crises, and other programs that are characteristic of communist, fascist, and similar type regimes.
At first, it wasn’t clear to me why Trump was so scared as he entered my hometown. My initial thought was that since Laredo is about 95 percent Hispanic and he is a gringo, he was scared that all those Hispanics would do something bad to him. If that was his fear, he didn’t need to worry. Gringos have always gotten along well in Laredo.
And then I thought — maybe he’s scared that he doesn’t speak Spanish, especially since a large portion of the population in Laredo speaks Spanish as either a primary language or only language. But I knew he didn’t need to worry about that either because Laredo has a long history of tolerance, especially in accommodating the multitudes of tourists who used to come down to Laredo to visit Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, which is just across the Rio Grande.
Well, as it turns out, what Trump was really scared about were all those scary illegal aliens who are supposedly flooding into Laredo. You know, all those rapists, murderers, robbers, and other criminal types that characterize the Mexican people. If only we could build that wall, Trump was undoubtedly thinking as he entered Laredo, so that American cities could be free of murderers, rapists, robbers, and muggers, just like Trump’s New York City.
Yet, according to the New York Times, Laredo is one of the safest cities in the United States. Imagine that!
Does that mean that there aren’t Mexican immigrants illegally crossing into Laredo? Are you kidding? Do you honestly believe that Laredo housewives are going to do without maids, nannies, and gardeners? Not on your life!
When I was growing up in Laredo, illegal maids, nannies, and gardeners were a way of life. They would somehow sneak into town from Nuevo Laredo and go to work for Laredo families. Everybody knew it, including the Border Patrol. But only in rare instances would the Border Patrol tamper with the system. No Border Patrol agent wanted to incur the wrath of a Laredo housewife by driving up to her house and seizing and carting away her maid or nanny.
I say “rarely” because there were instances where the Border Patrol would go to a private residence and make a seizure. That was when a maid or nanny would leave one housewife, usually because she was being abused, and go to another one. Sometimes, the first housewife would pick up the telephone and call the Border Patrol to snitch on her former maid or nanny. It was a classic example of how immigration controls lead not only to exploitation of immigrants but also to their mistreatment.
I grew up on a farm on the Rio Grande. We hired illegal aliens all the time since at that time it wasn’t illegal to hire them. They were the hardest working people I have ever seen. They were also my buddies. At the end of the work day, my brothers and I would sometimes play football with them, eat dinner with them, or just hang out with them.
The Border Patrol had the legal authority to enter onto our farm without a search warrant. We once placed a lock on the front gate that adjoined the state road. It wasn’t long before my father received a demand from the Border Patrol for a key. You see, since they had the authority to “control the border,” that meant that they could enter onto our property without a search warrant. Needless to say, they sometimes would bust our workers and deport them to Mexico, thereby, in their minds, keeping America “safe.”
After I returned to Laredo to practice law, I entered an immigration detention center for the first time to interview a client. It was located outside town and immediately reminded me of a Nazi concentration camp, especially with the high guard towers and barracks. It was filled with Mexican illegal immigrants. Their crime? No, not rape, murder, or robbery but rather “illegal entry” — i.e., coming to the United States just to work, to sustain their lives and the lives of their family, and to improve their economic well-being through voluntary, mutual exchanges with employers who wanted to hire them. It was during one of those visits when it dawned on me that the much-vaunted welfare-state “love for the poor” expressed by Democrats (most everyone in Laredo was a Democrat) was nothing but a fraud.
Maybe Trump was scared because he was confusing Laredo with Nuevo Laredo. When I was growing up, Nuevo Laredo was just as safe as Laredo was. In fact, it was a fun city to visit. In high school, we’d take our dates over there, given that there was no drinking age. In fact, Laredo was a huge tourist destination. People from all over the country would come down to get a taste of old Mexico. The downtown market in Nuevo Laredo was always packed.
Not anymore. My friends in Laredo tell me that no one in his right mind goes over there anymore. Tourism dried up a long time ago. Today, Nuevo Laredo is characterized by drug gangs, drug cartels, murders, gang wars, militarism, kidnapping, and assassination.
That’s because of the drug war, another longtime favorite program of Republicans. It is the drug war that has destroyed the fabric of Mexican society, including Nuevo Laredo.
I would estimate that about 25 percent of Laredo’s population cannot speak English. At least, that was the way it was in jury pools when I practiced law there some 40 years ago. It was no problem. There was always an official court interpreter who interpreted what the judge was saying. No one was insulted and the judge would always treat people courteously before excusing them from jury service.
No doubt Trump and many of his fellow Republican presidential candidates would be outraged to discover that there are still people who haven’t properly assimilated by learning English. It’s really no big deal. Those people live out their lives, just as the million Americans who have retired in Mexico and refuse to learn Spanish live out their lives.
Laredo is the only city in the United States that celebrates George Washington’s birthday. There are cocktail parties, a grand ball with debutants, a big parade led by Pocahontas on a horse, and even a jalapeno festival. When I was a kid, officials would open the international bridge to everyone in Nuevo Laredo who wanted to come and participate in the fun. In other words, open borders for a few days. No, the city didn’t collapse into the Rio Grande. Everything always came out fine. People just enjoyed themselves by exercising their fundamental right to pursue happiness.
Oh, one final thing about Laredo. It could be that Trump is one of those Republicans who live in fear that the Hispanics are taking over America. Well, given that Laredo is about 95 percent Hispanic, they did that there a long time ago. Many years ago, I wrote a longtime family friend, a really nice Mexican-American woman who was married to an Anglo, and said to her, “Hey, I keep getting letters from people expressing concern that Hispanics are taking over America.” She responded, “You tell them you darned right we are and it will be the best thing that ever happened to this country!” In any event, Laredo is still standing despite centuries of Hispanic rule, culture, language, and tradition. In fact, I’ll bet that Trump found Laredo to be a very friendly city, notwithstanding the police-state environment brought on by hordes of DEA, Border Patrol, and Customs officials.
If only Republicans and others could conquer their fears, we could be well on the road toward restoring a free and prosperous society to our land. In the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”