April 13, 2007


Leave Americans in Mexico Be

by Jacob G. Hornberger

There is a big immigration problem that has been growing year after year. An increasing number of American citizens are moving to Mexico, and some of them are even becoming undocumented workers. Even worse, they are refusing to assimilate and are even insisting on retaining their U.S. citizenship.

Six years ago, on February 5, 2001, in an article entitled “American Retirees Flock to a ‘Paradise’ in Mexico,” the Washington Post reported that in the small Mexican town of Anjijic, where 7,500 Americans lived, there was a banner just past the Gringo Grill that in English read, “Welcome to your new home.” Bringing their culture to Mexico, the Americans in Anjijic were organizing gardening classes and Sunday morning walking clubs. The Lake Chapala Society had a library containing 20,000 books — in English — and an English-language theater. The Super Lake market carried rye bread and every type of Betty Crocker cake mix. Restaurant menus in town were changing from enchiladas to waffles for breakfast. Most of the people at Donas Donuts were Americans, discussing U.S. political issues, presumably in English.

Since then the problem has only intensified. That 2001 article reported that the U.S. Embassy estimated that 600,000 Americans were living in Mexico. Today, Wikipedia puts the number at one million.

The assimilation problem hasn’t gotten any better either. In a recent article entitled “Illegal Gringos,” the Los Angeles Times reported that San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, has many retired baby boomers moving into town, a number of whom are performing work without a permit or license. It’s obvious that they’re not even bothering to learn Spanish because there is an expatriate newspaper oriented toward them that is written in English. Yes, you read that right — a local English-language newspaper in the heart of Mexico for Americans living there!

There are undoubtedly some people who are condemning all this as something despicable, perhaps even immoral. “I think it’s horrible that they’ve retained allegiance to the United States,” they no doubt are saying. “They should become Mexican citizens. Why aren’t they assimilating? Why aren’t they learning Spanish? They’re taking jobs away from Mexicans. They’re still flying the American flag, and they’re singing the Star Spangled Banner. They’re celebrating the Fourth of July more than the Cinco de Mayo. Worst of all, they’re actually rooting for American sports teams rather than Mexican ones. Something needs to be done about these people!”

I say, leave those Americans alone. Why shouldn’t they be free to live in Mexico any way they want? If they want to associate only with other Americans, why shouldn’t they be free to do so? Why should they be required to give up their American citizenship just because they’re living in Mexico? Sure, it might be a good idea for them to learn Spanish, but shouldn’t this be left up to them? And yes, some of them are working illegally, but who cares? Aren’t they providing services that people are willing to pay for and that are improving people’s lives? And so what if they’re still flying the American flag, singing the Star Spangled Banner, and celebrating the Fourth of July? Who are they hurting? And does it really matter that they’re rooting for American sports teams instead of Mexican ones?

Leave Americans in Mexico be. Let them pursue happiness in their own way. Isn’t that what freedom is all about?

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation (www.fff.org).

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