Arizona recently passed a law directed at people of Mexican descent in an effort to rid the State of ‘non-Americans’. For many Americans this topic is centered on claims of how ‘illegal’ immigrants are responsible for stealing jobs, increasing crime, and threatening to destroy almost every aspect ‘American’ life. If you want to find the person who has a raw nerve about the issue of Mexican immigrants (legal or illegal) one only has to say, “Press one for English” and that person will launch into a tirade about illegal immigrants and how they have destroyed ‘our’ country.
It is easy to forget that less than 165 years ago the United States of America “obtained” 55% of Mexico’s territory at gunpoint. The Mexican-American War was not a war as much as it was a mugging. It is now recognized that most of the rationale for the declaration of war by the United States on Mexico had little to do with defending US citizens or property and a lot to do with our designs on seizing northern Mexico. We had offered to buy much of the land prior to the war and Mexico rejected it, but after the war we paid fifty cents on the dollar.
There is a reason why the northern borders of California, Nevada, and Utah fall on the same latitude of 42 degrees North. It is because that was the northern border of Mexico after they won independence from Spain. Until 1847 the sovereign country of Mexico owned the land that is currently claimed by the States of California, Nevada, Utah, southwestern Wyoming, western and southern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, the pan handle of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona. Before the US takeover, northern Mexico consisted of Alta California, Nuevo Mexico, and Tejas. Many of the names of the geographic features, such as the Colorado River, retain the Mexican name still today.
How We Took Northern Mexico
After Mexico won its independence from Spain it allowed settlers to immigrate into their country, providing they agreed to become Catholics and abide by Mexican law and policies. In what is now Texas, the Americans moved into Mexico and then objected to the laws that outlawed slavery, restrictions on what crops could be grown, and becoming Catholics. Eventually the Americans declared their independence from Mexico in 1836 and a minor war ensued.
Mexico had few resources with which to fight the white illegal immigrants and restore Mexican law. After a few minor defeats the Mexican government stopped sending their army to battle with the trespassers; however, they never relinquished the land to the Texans. The white illegal immigrants then claimed to be an independent country known as the Republic of Texas. Knowing that Mexico would eventually gather enough resources to reclaim the land, the immigrants then petitioned the United States for statehood and protection of the US Army. In 1845 the United States accepted Texas’ petition to become a State and sent troops to secure the territory.
Mexico objected to the occupation of Texas or ‘Tejas’ with U.S. troops and in 1846 attacked Fort Texas. In response the U.S. Congress, under a doctrine of ‘Manifest Destiny’ (i.e.; the United States was destined to control the land from the Pacific to the Atlantic) declared war on Mexico with the intent of not only securing the Texas territory, but California as well. Meeting little resistance the United States occupied northern Mexico, including California by January of 1847 and by September had captured Mexico City.
The United States then dictated the terms of Mexico’s surrender with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The treaty forced Mexico to ‘sell’ most it’s country to the United States for $15 million, half of what had been offered before the war.
As we consider the issue of immigration ‘reform’, it would be helpful to remember that it was the United States that aggressively took the land from Mexico in the first place and that ‘Manifest Destiny’ was a disguise for the conquest of northern Mexico.
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