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One of the most controversial issues in Sacramento this year has been what is widely referred to as the “sanctuary state” law, which will take effect Jan. 1.

It is intended to protect law-abiding immigrants from being set on a path toward deportation after interactions with local police. But in immigrant communities and elsewhere, there is confusion about how the law will work—and exactly what protection it provides.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the measure, named the California Values Act, into law after negotiations made it more palatable to law enforcers, who had protested it initially.

Why do people call it the “sanctuary state” law when the senator who wrote it says the phrase is a misnomer?

The author, state Senate leader Kevin de Léon, a Los Angeles Democrat, and others say the label is confusing, because the term “sanctuary” has become political—a flashpoint in the immigration debate.

The phrase originated with people who took sanctuary in churches. Some undocumented immigrants continue to do so, and so far, immigration officials have not gone to places of worship to arrest them. However, just being in California does not mean immigrants have blanket protection from federal authorities. The state law sets up guidelines for California law enforcement agencies’ interactions with federal immigration authorities. Undocumented immigrants may still face deportation if they have committed crimes or are swept up in raids by federal agents at workplaces, in neighborhoods or other venues, or if they are arrested individually.

The Values Act has been called a tool for public safety, put in place to ensure that immigrants continue to feel safe cooperating with local police as reporters of crimes and witnesses in court. Some police officials, including the chief of police in Los Angeles, endorsed the law for this reason.

What does the new law actually do?

The measure erects a barrier between state/local law enforcement, and federal immigration agencies. It doesn’t completely prohibit cooperation or the transfer of certain felons to federal custody; it creates a framework for when state agencies may cooperate with federal agencies. Previously, state and local authorities could use their discretion in many circumstances.

For people convicted of certain crimes—as many as 800, identified in a 2013 law called the Trust Act—there is little protection. Those infractions range from violent crimes and other serious offenses to felony drunk driving. State and local police agencies will still be allowed to let federal immigration authorities know when individuals are to be released, and to hand them over to those agents. However, individuals cannot be held beyond their release dates even if they have committed serious crimes.

The law also allows state corrections officials to continue to work with federal immigration agencies regarding those who are incarcerated and who face deportation after serving their sentences. They will continue to communicate with federal authorities about who is in prison and their expected release dates, and will hand those individuals over to federal agents upon release.

But the new law prohibits new or expanded contracts between the federal government and local facilities to be used as detention centers. Existing contracts are allowed to continue. The law also designates all courts, schools, libraries and hospitals as safe zones—immune to immigration enforcement as long as federal law does not require arrests there.

Police and sheriff’s deputies will not be allowed to act as immigration authorities; inquire about a person’s immigration status; detain someone based only on a federal hold request; participate in arrests based on immigration status; assist immigration authorities in arrests; or transfer people to federal custody without a warrant or certain other criteria.

Does the Values Act mean immigration agents can’t deport people in California?

No. No one can claim that living in California makes them exempt from deportation. Federal authorities can conduct raids, arrest suspected undocumented immigrants and do other work separately from state and local law enforcement. In addition, they can continue to communicate with local agencies about arrestees who have committed certain crimes, and they will be able to take custody of those individuals from local lockups when they are released. Agencies, however, will not honor “hold requests” from federal immigration agencies that previously could last up to 48 hours.

Does it mean undocumented immigrants won’t be deported if they commit violent crimes?

No. Immigrants—those here both legally and illegally—are not safe from deportation under the new law. Undocumented immigrants who are convicted of certain crimes will continue to be reported to federal immigration officials for deportation. The list of relevant crimes was not included when the Values Act was originally proposed. However, Gov. Jerry Brown negotiated with de León to ensure that those who commit serious crimes—including homicide, sexual assault and theft—will not be allowed to stay, while those arrested for a minor offense will not be held for deportation.  

What will happen if a county or city does not follow the new law and allows its authorities to cooperate with immigration agents?

Local agencies that do not follow the new law could face lawsuits by advocacy groups or others for failing to uphold it, or for constitutional claims such as wrongful detention. They could also face action from the state attorney general. Some law-enforcement groups that had criticized the measure dropped their opposition when the list of excluded crimes in the new law was increased from 60 to 800.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit, nonpartisan media venture explaining California policies and politics.

Published in Local Issues

Dear Mexican: I’m not a huge soccer fan, but I always get excited about the World Cup. In preparation for the event next year, I wanted your opinion on the team my wife and I should root for if the U.S. were to play Mexico.

I’m a fourth-generation Mexican American. Spanish was never spoken at home, but thanks to our amazing public school system, I rarely need a translator when I speak to Spanish-speaking parents. (I’m an administrator at an amazing public school.) My wife grew up speaking Spanish and was raised in a home that was culturally Mexican. We both feel comfortable participating in events that are very Mexican, and events that are very American. Last night, I asked my wife who she should root for if the U.S. played Mexico. She wasn’t sure. I told her I wasn’t sure, either, and that we should ask for your advice.

What do you think? Who should we root for? Who would you root for? Who do you think your grandkids will root for?

Sueño Humido del Hombre Hispánico-Americano

Dear Wet Dream of the Pocho Man: I always root for the United States when it plays in Mexico, and Mexico when it faces off against the U.S. in el Norte, but only because I want to see the home fans in agony, because I’m a cabrón like that.

You can root for either side, though, because they’re both going to flame out in the quarterfinals of el Mundial next year, anyway. About the only thing fans can look forward to on either side is seeing which player has enough huevos to kick Putin where Trump’s lips left a giant chupón.

Dear Mexican: I’m not searching for relationship advice, Mexican; I’m just wondering why there is no love between Honduras and Mexico.

La Gordita

Dear Chubby Catracha: Mexicans might despise Salvadorans and have no use for Guatemalans, but Hondurans? We play “Sopa de Caracol” at all our parties, don’t we?

Dear Mexican: My understanding, lo these many years, is that Mexicans cannot give up their Mexican citizenship. I understand that under Mexican law, a natural-born Mexican is never legally allowed to claim exclusive citizenship elsewhere, and that Mexico will not recognize U.S. embassy legal processes in Mexico on behalf of a Mexican naturalized as a U.S. citizen who is present in Mexico. Is that correct?

August in Austin

Dear Gabacho: You’re listening to too much Alex Jones. The Mexican Constitution says native-born Mexicans can never lose their nationality, which is just a fancy way for Mexico to claim more people subject to its authority—an important point we’ll use before the New World Order tribunal in a couple of years to re-establish Aztlán.

Dear Mexican: In 1990, some of my Mexican friends told me it cost $500 to come from Mexico with a coyote. Recently, a friend from Tamazunchale told me it now costs $2,500. How much of this money, paid to the coyotes, goes to Border Patrol employees?

El Pollo Loco

Dear Gabacho: It costs $2,500? Try $5,000 to start, all thanks to Trump’s immigration policies. And Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had the gall to take credit for the jacked-up prices. That’s like a big-game hunter saying that the antelope over his fireplace worked extra-hard to get there.

SPECIAL THANKS TO

Maricela and Daniel, two helpful Mexicans at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Orange who helped this Mexican find another Mexican’s grave. May the Santo Niño de Atocha bless ustedes for your good work, and may you bury this Mexican with a bottle of mezcal when it’s time for me to go to the great DESMADRE in the sky …

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’ve read that 75 percent of Americans are against giving illegal immigrants citizenship. I’m for full amnesty and citizenship for the current 12 million that are here, but I have two absolute conditions.

First, the border is locked up by both the U.S. and Mexico, and illegal entries are reduced by 90 percent, even if that takes the military of both countries. Second, citizenship would require pledging allegiance to America and denouncing Mexican citizenship.

My question is: Do you think that the Mexican portion of the 12 million would agree to this? And do you think the Mexican government would agree to help close the border if full amnesty was given to those who are now here?

Wally Wall

Dear Gabacho: You heard about how Donald Trump wants to build a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border and equip it with solar panels, right? Well, your idea is stupider.

Primeramente, locking up the border accomplishes nada. There are fewer Mexicans coming into los Estados Unidos right now, not because of Trump’s pendejadas, but because the United States is turning into Mexico—so why not just stay in Mexico? And putting both the American and Mexican military on la frontera is a waste of resources and firepower better used against the Saudis.

Segundamente, any Mexican who would become legal has to pledge allegiance to the U.S.—it’s call the “naturalization oath of allegiance,” pendejo. And who cares if they have dual citizenship? Mexicans only get that so they can own land down there instead of having to give it up to the government—unless you’d rather Mexicans give that up and bring up their 91-year-old Tía Goya to live in el Norte?

Gabachos like you need to get it into your mind that Mexicans (and other immigrants, for that matter) can simultaneously be American and have another country on their minds, and not be disloyal to the Stars and Stripes. Why do conservatives get all pissy about that, yet cheer on losers who still love the Confederacy? Oh, yeah—because gabacho.

Dear Mexican: My husband has a disability that nobody in his Mexican family accepts. (It’s a serious mental health disorder for which he receives government benefits, but they just tell him, “Be strong, primo,” and, “How did you fool the government into giving you crazy money?”) Nobody has ever helped us with things he can’t do, but they expect him to help his mom with every home repair, because she raised him by herself. She’s verbally abuse and says nasty things about both of us when she’s alone with him, but to my face, she acts like she wants us to be friends.

Do we keep putting on the big, happy ethnic family act and explain away their ignorance of psychology and abuse? I understand that a history of oppression and struggle breeds dysfunction, but where do we draw the line? And don’t Mexicans watch Oprah and Dr. Phil?

Una Frustrated Gabacha-in-Law

Dear Gabacha: Confronting mental health issues among Mexicans is a serious topic that too often gets dismissed due to machismo. Without knowing his exact condition, all I can counsel you to do is ask your marido how he feels, and act accordingly. He might hate the familial abuse, but is too afraid to say anything, and is waiting on you to say something. Or he might not feel abused at all.

If it’s the latter case, keep him away from the primos and mom with promises of sexytimes—works on a Mexican man anytime!

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

California’s Democratic legislators want to extend health benefits to undocumented young adults, the continuation of an effort that ushered children without legal status into the state’s publicly funded health care system last year.

It is unclear when the program would start or how much the state would spend if the proposal, which could cost up to $85 million a year, is approved by Gov. Jerry Brown. Lawmakers are working out details ahead of their June 15 deadline for passing a new budget.

The plan would provide full-scope coverage for 19-to-26-year-olds who qualify for Medi-Cal, the state’s name for Medicaid. Currently, the federally funded program covers only emergency visits and prenatal care for undocumented residents. Under the proposal, revenue from taxes on tobacco products would absorb expenses for all other coverage.

Democratic Sen. Ricardo Lara of Bell Gardens has been one of the strongest voices for expanded care. In 2015, he pushed for coverage for all adults. That proposal was changed to admit only undocumented children; it took effect last year. This year, he said in a recent video message to supporters, “We are going to make the final push to ensure we capture our young adults.”

Supporters’ ultimate goal is to include all undocumented adults, said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California, a health care consumer group backing the proposal.

“We believe without coverage, people are sicker, die younger and are one emergency away from financial ruin. It has consequences for their families and their communities—both health and financial consequences,” he said.

The plan would mean that undocumented children currently in the program would not age out at 19, putting low-income undocumented immigrants on par with those allowed to stay on their parents’ insurance under the Affordable Care Act (often called Obamacare) until they are 26.

Republican Sen. John Moorlach of Costa Mesa opposes an extension of benefits. One reason is financial: California doesn’t have “a balance sheet we can brag about,” he said, citing the state’s debt load, among other reasons.

Secondly, he disapproves of illegal immigration. Moorlach migrated to the U.S. legally as a child with his family from the Netherlands.

“I’m kind of offended that we feel an obligation to pay for expenses for those who did not come through the front door,” he said. “I certainly have compassion and want to help people in need, but I’m having difficulty, as a legal immigrant, because we are already in such bad fiscal shape.”

Advocates argue that undocumented immigrants help propel California’s economy with their labor and the taxes they pay, and that they cost the state money when they don’t work because of illness or when they end up in the emergency room.

“Health care is a right,” said Ronald Coleman, director of government affairs for the California Immigrant Policy Center, an advocacy organization and supporter of the proposal. “These are folks we are investing in through the California Dream Act and through other programs our state offers, and it makes sense to invest in our future, which our young adults will be.”

Estimates vary for how many people this expansion of Medi-Cal would serve and what the costs would be. Each house of the Legislature has passed its own version of the proposal, with differing figures attached.

The Assembly allocated $54 million a year to cover an unspecified number of additional enrollees, with a July 2017 start date. The Senate proposed $63.1 million in the first year, beginning in 2018, and $85 million annually thereafter, also without specific population numbers.

Coleman’s center, which is working closely with lawmakers on the issue, estimates about 80,000 new people would be eligible, and the cost would be around $54 million a year. That assumes the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program continues, because it provides access to Medi-Cal. If DACA were eliminated, the figures would increase to about 100,000 eligible people and about $84 million in annual costs, Coleman said.

The governor’s proposed budget does not include the proposed expansion or any money for it.

Kevin, a 19-year-old Angeleno who asked that only his first name be used, because he lives in California illegally, wants the proposal to succeed. He has been working for more than a year to distribute information about Medi-Cal children’s coverage to immigrant families.

He meets all but one of the requirements for DACA: He was not in the country before June 15, 2007. He arrived in the U.S. in 2011 at age 14 from Guatemala, on a visa that later expired. He graduated high school, has no criminal record and is now majoring in business administration at California State University, Los Angeles.

“There’s this misunderstanding that young people are healthy,” said Kevin, who suffers from eczema. He worries about the chronic condition flaring up. “When it gets worse, it doesn’t let me do anything with my hands.”

He is enrolled in a county health insurance program for low-income residents, but he can’t afford a dermatologist. He can barely pay for the prescription lotion he uses for the eczema, and sometimes goes without it.

“We are trying to have a better economic standard, and we are like the building blocks of this society,” he said. “Having health insurance will allow us to focus more on school and do our regular day-to-day activities. A healthier society works better for everyone.”

If lawmakers can now agree on details, a consensus proposal will go to the full Legislature for approval. The deadline for that is June 12.

CALmatters.org is a nonprofit journalism venture dedicated to exploring state policies and politics.

Published in Local Issues

Dear Mexican: I’m reading the redneck rhetoric in one of your recent columns, and I feel retarded to continually be surprised by the hate posing as nationalism that so easily flows from mouths of these degenerates. At least we don’t have to worry about that “nice” stereotype like the Canadians.

Isn’t it possible that no one wants to make taxpayers out of all the illegals, because this would entitle them to minimum wage? I agree that if you’re going to enjoy the benefits of this country, you should maintain your culture, but also become a legal American citizen—but can we afford to actually pay full price for the labor foundation that we currently enjoy at such a discount?

Dr. W

Dear Gabacho: Interesting punto! Gabachos don’t want undocumented Mexicans to become American citizens, because they’re Mexicans, and they really feel that once we become the majority, we’ll rip out their hearts, wrap them in bacon and serve them as a breakfast burrito. And they also want us to remain perpetual peons, even if making us legal brings more money to the American economy.

A 2013 paper by the Center for American Progress found that if undocumented immigrants were granted legal status and the possibility of citizenship that year, the United States’ gross domestic product “would grow by an additional $1.4 trillion cumulatively over the 10 years between 2013 and 2022.” Not only that, but analysts Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford forecast the creation of 203,000 jobs per year in that time frame with amnesty. On the other hand, if said undocumenteds only got legal status in 2013, but weren’t eligible for citizenship for a decade, the GDP would grow by a relatively modest $832 billion.

That’s more of an economic stimulus package than Trump could ever possibly conjure up—but since gabachos hate truth nowadays, the prospect of amnesty long ago went the way of the Paris climate accords.

Dear Mexican: I’ve been to a number of Mexican-sponsored events that include the typical banda, those bands with 40 members and every instrument known to man. My question is: Why do those grupos bring such enormous speakers? For a party taking place in a backyard or a room that fits no more than 50, they’ll bring speakers large enough for a stadium.

And since we’re on the subject of bandas, why do they have so many friggin’ people in them anyway?

Split Eardrums, but Happy

Dear Gabacho: The more speakers any Mexican band use, the angrier gabachos will get. This isn’t rocket science, pendejo.

Dear Mexican: Why is it that if you call anybody from Latin America who’s not from Mexico a Mexican, they get mad? But everybody from Latin America calls any white person a gringo, no matter if they are Canadian, English, German, French, etc.

It seems to me that Latin Americans want to be called by their country of origin, but don’t give a crap about a white person’s country of origin. Would this be racism or prejudice?

Gringo Greg

Dear Gabacho: Because a “gringo” is technically a white foreigner regardless of country. Besides, spare me: You gabachos call us “illegals” even if our families have lived in Aztlán since your ancestors were dying of the Black Death.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

The president and his supporters say they want to solve illegal immigration by building an immense wall along our southern border, turning local police into immigration agents, and applying “severe vetting” to immigrants from certain countries—all of which are predominantly Muslim.

Opponents say these proposals suffer from over-simplification and racism. But there’s an even bigger problem: These “fixes” fail to understand that we can’t address immigration if we continue to deny the science of climate change, because increasingly, climate change is driving global human migration.

Let’s first acknowledge that our border with Mexico is a place of hardship, violence and injustice. Let’s also recognize the wrenching reality that many of those pressed against our border are children.

In fiscal year 2016, nearly 60,000 unaccompanied children were apprehended at our southern border. Even as the president and his supporters lump them together with “murderers and rapists,” the U.S. Border Patrol reports that they’re kids 17 and under, who, by a 4-to-1 margin, are from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—not Mexico. Nearly 75,000 of the other people apprehended in 2016 were members of migrating families, mostly from the same three countries. Overall, Central Americans outnumbered Mexicans apprehended at the border in both 2014 and 2016. This reflects a trend showing fewer Mexicans and single adults illegally entering the Unaited States.

Migration from Central America is a reaction to pervasive violence and extreme poverty. Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador have some of the world’s highest murder rates, fueled by gangs and drug cartels. For children and families, conditions are terrifying. This drives desperate migration, both internally and externally to Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United States. It is a regional issue.

Increasingly, climate change worsens existing problems. The Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters shows that, in the last four decades, Central America has experienced a tenfold increase in extreme heat, drought, forest fires, storms and floods. Among the most affected countries are Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where millions today lack reliable food due to drought-related crop failures. The resulting migration to urban areas stresses already over-burdened housing, education and other services. It worsens gang violence, drug trafficking and corruption, forcing people to flee.

The changing climate threatens yet more instability for Central America. The region’s volcanic soils are prone to massive landslides from increasing storms, and millions of people live beside rising seas. Often, local economies and infrastructure are ill-prepared for disaster.

Evidence also suggests that climate change helped ignite today’s war in Syria. Extreme drought beginning in 2006 withered crops and drove people to cities already swollen with Iraqi refugees and political discontent. The root causes of the war are complex, but we cannot ignore indications that climate played a role, thus contributing to the migration crisis now straining Europe.

For more than a decade, stretching back to the George W. Bush presidency, the U.S. military has warned that climate change will increasingly contribute to unrest and drive potentially massive human migrations that threaten our national security. Similar warnings have come from the International Organization for Migration, the World Bank, the Government Accountability Office (which reports to the U.S. Congress) and the Department of Homeland Security.

Their warnings, and the reality of a refugee crisis in both Syria and at our own southern border, underscore the value of the Paris climate agreement, which Republicans are presently working to undermine. Aside from its impact on reducing carbon emissions, it also provides for climate-change adaptation in Central America and other vulnerable regions. The agreement represents an investment in social stability that can help to relieve immigration.

The last Congress under President Obama saw the value in addressing the seed causes of migration, appropriating $750 million in 2016 for Central American support and aid. Such actions were part of a smart immigration strategy that also included modernizing border security technology, disrupting criminal smuggling outfits, and clear enforcement priorities that greatly increased deportation of convicted criminals.

In contrast, the Trump administration’s broad crackdown on illegal immigrants in this country reeks of xenophobia and prejudice. These emotional reflexes that fuel cries for border walls or bans on Muslim immigrants don’t reflect ethical or realistic thinking. Denial of climate science is a similarly emotional and unhinged response to a complex issue.

As climate and immigration change our physical and cultural landscapes in entwined ways, we must demand rational, science-based responses, not walls or other bad ideas driven by fear.

Tim Lydon is a contributor to Writers on the Range, the opinion service of High Country News, where this first appeared.

Published in Community Voices

Dear Mexican: A Mexican man recently broke up with me. We had great sex but a somewhat distant relationship. Anyway, the reason he left me was his immigration status. He says he can’t “be with me mentally,” because he’s somewhere else mentally—not knowing where he might be living in the next days and months is really bothering him. There is also the fact that he can’t find work now because of E-File.

I’m trying to find closure. It’s only been a few days since he left me, but I’m struggling with finding peace in myself. My friends say things like, “You’re better off without him,” and, “Things happen for a reason.” I miss him, miss the great sex (adventurous, great oral, got very close to anal) and most of all, I miss the idea of him. He’s liberal politically, helps his family here and in Mexico, is a good person, helps others and is very organic. I forgot to mention he has beautiful long hair and is “como un tren,” which means he’s solid like a football player and made me melt when I touched his “guns.”

Please help me deal.

La Heina No More

Dear Ya No The Chick: Man, you know Trump is destroying lives when Mexicans can’t even have sex with gabachas anymore without deportation on their mind. (Quick thought, gents: Think of 45’s blobbish physique to hold out just a bit more.)

It seems like the two of you had a great relationship outside of el sexo, and he’s obviously concerned about his livelihood and those of his fellow undocumented friends and family, so don’t take it personally. The most important thing right now is for you to be there for him, even if he’s unavailable physically. Protest whenever the inevitable migra raids inflict terror on the barrios in your city. Bombard your congressman and senators, demanding they oppose Trump’s wall of shame. Donate to nonprofits designed to help out people like your hombre.

Remember: The most important body part of his to have right now is his back. Oh, and #fucktrump.

Dear Mexican: This past Thanksgiving weekend for me was a bit surreal. I was born and raised here in the beautiful city of Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles and decided to visit my mother in Arkansas, where she recently moved with her new husband. (Her husband is from the state of Guerrero!) Before my boyfriend (who is white) and I arrived, my mother told me that they (her husband’s family and friends) were going to kill a goat in honor of me and my boyfriend’s arrival, and have a huge fiesta on Saturday. I thought she was pulling my leg.

Thursday, we had the traditional turkey; come Friday evening, there was a weird stench coming from the back yard of the house. My boyfriend and I noticed that my mom’s husband and his friends were preparing the goat. Mind you, my boyfriend and I only eat three meats in our diet—chicken, beef and a little bit of pork. Someone told me that this tradition happens in many places in the world, and the type of animal they kill in your honor depends how important you are.

So, do Mexicans really do this, or am I just super-special with my family?

Turning Vegetariana Very Soon

Dear Gabacha: I have always maintained that only the world’s superior cultures go crazy for goat. That means that the GOATs of the world are Jamaicans, Vietnamese, Koreans, Pakistanis and, of course, Mexicans.

If your ’billy mom is now with a guy who’s immersing her in the art of cabrito, consider yourself blessed. That he and his compas slaughtered a goat in your name is nothing but respect.

“Weird stench”? Watch your manners—and be glad they didn’t make you a taco bowl.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I asked my dad why the Mexican illegals don’t just apply for citizenship instead of coming here illegally, and he told me that they are not able to apply for citizenship. Is this true?

Wondering in Wenatchee

Dear Gabacho: They ain’t “illegals,” son: They’re “immigrants.”

But even before Donald Trump became president, the citizenship path for any Mexican who came here without the prior approval of the American government, or overstayed a visa, was as rocky as the Republican Party’s hope of attracting any Mexican voters. Asylum and “temporary protected status” requests are impossible, since Americans think despotic governments and natural disasters only happen to whites, and the occasional Jew. Marriage to a citizen used to be easy, but Sept. 11 fucked that up forever. (Thanks, Osama!) The most surefire way to get legal was to join the military, because rich and middle-class gabachos always love poor morenos dying for the right for them to whine, but even that didn’t stop the Obama administration from deporting veterans who committed crimes but were not yet citizens.

Now, with Trump as president, the only hope for undocumented Mexicans to get amnesty is for some poblano to sneak into Trump Tower and slip some pápalo into his taco bowl; the resultant shock will allow the ghost of Zapata to take over Trump’s mind. A zacatecano can dream, ¿qué no?

Dear Mexican: Some time back, I watched a race on TV that took place in Long Beach. One of the interesting things in the race was a team of Mexican drivers (Adrian Fernández and Luís Diaz) driving an Acura race car. As a fan of worldwide racing like the American Le Mans Series, I think it’s badass when Mexicans are racing with the best of ’em. I know Mexico has a good history of racing against other drivers in America and the world, but I want readers to know, too.

How much can you tell about Mexico’s race car drivers and race tracks? Do you think this will inspire a Mexican American out here to start learning how to race?

Just Curious

Dear Gabacho: Mexicans have always had a need for speed, whether it’s quarter horse racing, the caballos of corridos and the Mexican Revolution, Grand Theft Auto V, the entire Fast and Furious franchise, or classic films like El Automovil Gris (The Grey Automobile) or La Camioneta Gris (The Gray Truck—sorry, why Mexicans love gray in their getaway cars might be the only pregunta about Mexican anything that I can’t answer).

Race car series are a trickier affair: , Mexicans like Fernández and Daniel Suárez (who won last year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series—the first foreigner to win a title in the official sport of good ol’ chicos) have competed and done well in racing worldwide—indeed, Suárez is scheduled to compete in this weekend’s Daytona 500. But the sport is only within the grasp of the wealthiest of Mexicans due to its exorbitant yet understandable costs.

Then again, Mexicans love a winner and love to spend money on their ranflas; if Suárez starts Reconquista-ing NASCAR, let’s hope he inspires Mexicans in the United States who like street racing to get their NOS-fueled Hondas off Interstate 5 and away from all the innocent people they kill.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I’m a wetback myself; actually, in the eyes of a gringo, we are all wetbacks.

I’m sick and tired of the political caca about illegal immigration. The gringo government knows and very well understands the pluses and minuses of our vatos’ economic effect to the U.S. economy. The ones who don’t get it are the blind people who don’t like our drunk culos.

It seems that a lot of people e-mail you about “Mexicans coming over here ruining our system,” or, “They’re putting a burden on our healthcare,” and a whole host of other stuff are like that. Then they follow up with some (pardon my language) stupid, dumb shit like, “The wall will keep them out.” It seems to me that they really don’t understand the real problem (or solution) here.

Peeved in Plano

Dear Pocho: Ya think? As I’ve been saying in this columna for more than a decade, the only thing that will stop Mexican immigration to this country is a fundamental economic change for both sides of la frontera: the end of the free economy in el Norte, and the end of crony socialism in Mexico.

Trump and his Trumpbros know this but don’t dare attack either system, because they’re all in the same swamp—that’s why we’re now getting the wall, which will prove as effective in stopping Mexicans in coming over as a tissue paper is in stopping the flow of the Rio Grande.

But you know what? Let Trump build his wall. It’s going to fail and embarrass him. And even if it succeeds, it’ll create a revolution in Mexico, which means millions of refugees will easily tear down that wall and settle in Aztlán once and for all.

Be careful what you wish for, Trumpbros: It just might marry your daughter.

Dear Mexican: Quisiera saber si las Americas eran gluten free before 1492. No soy foodie; solo un campesino/cocinero curioso.

Viva El Corn

Dear Paisa: You want to know whether the Americas were gluten-free before 1492, and the answer is ahuevo.

Wheat came—along with beef, pork and pestilence—with the wasichus; before that, Mexicans mostly ate fruit, vegetables and whatever game meat they caught, something that most gabachos and even Mexicans don’t realize as they scarf down a carnitas burrito washed down with Bohemia. (What: You thought that lager was named after Cuauhtémoc’s son?) That’s why I’m all for gluten-free hipsters and Mexicans alike going beyond what they consider “Mexican” food and embracing an all-raza diet of nopales, frijoles, squash, corn, purslane and so much more.

And lest the primos think anyone who wants to forsake chicharrones and chorizo in favor of a vegetarian lifestyle is a Prius-driving chavala, get yourself a copy of Decolonize Your Diet: Mexican-American Plant-Based Recipes for Health and Healing. Written by professors Luz Calvo and Catrióna Rueda Esquibel after Profe Calvo was diagnosed with breast cancer, it’s part cookbook, part history, and a magnificent toma, güey to any gabacho who thinks Mexican food’s default setting is Montezuma’s Revenge.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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Dear Mexican: I have a few questions. Why is it so wrong for Americans to expect people from other countries to follow our laws when entering this country? What reason do you have that should make Mexicans entering this country illegally OK?

Secondly, why aren’t you as concerned about the way immigrants from, let’s say, El Salvador are treated as they are making their way to America through Mexico? I was married to someone who made this trip, and I got to hear about the atrocities committed by the Mexican people against foreign immigrants just passing through. Rape, murder and incarceration are commonplace. But you complain because Americans simply want immigrants to follow our laws? There is nothing worse than hypocrisy. This country spends BILLIONS of dollars every year on people who come here illegally! Our tax dollars!

There’s a reason there is a process in place for people to enter this country. The reason is simple: If it’s not done properly, it will cause problems for people here in America! Why is this so difficult for you to understand? Donald Trump is winning for a reason: He is speaking out on what the American people are feeling inside! America isn’t in a position to be the godfather for every failing country in the world anymore! We need to focus on the condition of this country for a while and get things back to where they need to be.

Lastly, I would like to comment on the recent cover image of the OC Weekly (The Mexican’s home paper; pictured below) of a donkey fucking Donald Trump. I think it’s totally uncouth and tasteless. It shows exactly why your magazine is given out for free. How about drawing a picture of Vicente Fox violating the entire Mexican population? If the Mexican government wasn’t worthless and corrupt, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion! Then the Mexican people would stay in Mexico! But the truth of the matter is that Mexico, for the most part, sucks as a country! Instead of demeaning our political system, why don’t you go fix Mexico? That’s what I think is so hilarious about seeing Mexicans in America sporting the Mexican flag, and yelling about how proud they are to be Mexican—yet they don’t have any problem coming to America and reaping the benefits of this society that is supposedly so terrible. It’s insanity.

Anyway, I would like to say thank you for putting your paper out, for one reason only. It works great in the bottom of my cat’s litter box, and it’s free! I highly doubt my comment will be addressed or put into your trash mag, but I’m giving you permission to if you see fit.

Newt Me!

Dear Gabacho: You want to talk hypocrisies? Regarding everything you trashed Mexicans for supposedly doing, you could say the same about your (presumably) Salvadoran ex-wife and your immigrant ancestors—the border-hopping, the not staying in her country to improve it, the trashing of other immigrants. But as usual, gabachos excuse everyone except Mexicans for everything.

And forget hypocrisies: How about stupidities? Everyone knows papers like OC Weekly and the Coachella Valley Independent print version are best used as compost, because they’ll fuel your garden with truth. But, hey: Trumpbros like you seem to hate the truth, so keep wallowing in your cat’s shit.

Ask the Mexican at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!

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