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In the midst of the raucous and polarized presidential election, a quieter story has been at play as well: the growing political clout of Latino voters.

Nationwide, about 12 percent of the country’s eligible voting population is Hispanic—and the West is home to nearly 40 percent of those voters, far surpassing other regions. This November, Hispanic voters are projected to turn out in greater numbers than they did in 2012, with a nearly 10 percent increase forecast by the the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Educational Fund.

At the same time, the Latino voting bloc is in transition: Latino populations are getting younger, larger and more politically engaged. In the process, they promise to change Western presidential politics.

Now, not only are there more Hispanic younger voters, but an increasing percentage of them are born in the United States. That naturalized population is beginning to dominate the Latino population of voters. (Noncitizens can’t vote.) Young Hispanics make up a larger proportion of the voting block than in other groups: 44 percent of Hispanic voters are between the ages of 18 and 35 this year, compared to 27 percent among white voters.

“Every election cycle, there is a tsunami of young Latino voters that is reaching voting age,” says Joseph Garcia, director of the Morrison Institute Latino Public Policy Center at Arizona State University. “This very well could be the last year that you could even think you could win an election without the Latino vote.”

While Latino influence on the outcome of elections is increasing, voter turnout among Hispanic voters remains generally low. In 2012, only 48 percent of Latinos who could vote actually did—compared to 64 percent of eligible white voters that made it out to polling places in the general election. But as the Latino population grows, the rate of voter turnout is increasing, too.

While participation is on the rise, significant barriers still prevent some from voting; historic trends take time to reverse. “More Latinos are eligible to vote, but you still face this millennial challenge: Young people, regardless of race, by and large, don’t vote,” Garcia says. Also, “If your parents don’t vote, you’re less likely to.” Often, Hispanic youth and their families work long hours or hold multiple jobs, which makes it harder to get to polling places on Election Day. Garcia says that was the case for his late father, a roofer from New Mexico, whose long commute and working hours made voting in person unrealistic. “The voting hours (6 a.m. until 7 p.m.) weren’t set up to make voting easy for him,” he says.

Immigration has been the defining issue for many Latino voters, 66 perecent of whom say they want to see comprehensive immigration reform. That issue has influenced a majority of Hispanic voters’ political leanings. While many Hispanic citizens hold more conservative values on social issues like gay marriage and abortion, the Republican Party’s views on immigration and environmental protection have led many voters to lean Democratic in presidential elections, says Jens Manuel Krogstad, an expert on immigration and social trends at the Pew Research Center. In 2012, more than 70 percent of the Latino community voted for President Barack Obama, and Latino voters are still expected to lean left come November. “(Republicans) are being interpreted by a lot of potential voters as anti-Latino—and that could impact the ballot this election,” Garcia says.

As more young voters come of age, the left-leaning tendency could strengthen. The younger and increasingly engaged Hispanic electorate in the West could be more of a deciding factor in upcoming elections, particularly in battlegrounds states like Colorado, Nevada and increasingly competitive Arizona.

In Colorado, a competitive state in the presidential election, a greater proportion of the Hispanic population has been born in the country. This is a recent shift from older generations where a greater proportion migrated to the United States. This November, more than 277,500 Latinos are expected to cast ballots—a more than 7 percent increase, according to projections by the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials.

The growing Latino population in Arizona could prove disruptive to the state’s notoriously conservative politics. According to the Arizona State University Morrison Institute and the Pew Research Center, if Latino voter turnout continues to rise at its current rate, Arizona would become a battleground state by 2030. This November, more than 433,000 Latinos are expected to cast ballots—an 8 percent increase from 2012, according to projections by the NALEO.

In Nevada, Hispanic groups are becoming more vocal on the immigration debate and about their opposition to Trump, whose campaign has taken an anti-immigration stance. But their influence is complicated by the fact that the state has the largest percentage of undocumented immigrants in the country (nearly 8 percent; California comes second with just more than 6 percent), according to the Pew Research Center. Organizations including NALEO and United We Dream, a group that represents immigrant youth, have begun to urge their peers to register and vote. Perhaps the most vocal group is the “dreamers,” a growing coalition of young, undocumented Latinos who’ve lived most of their lives in the U.S. While they can’t vote because they are not recognized as legal citizens, a group of them have started to go door-to-door to urge Hispanics across the West to register. “There is a force to gather the troops, so if Trump is the GOP nominee come November, they will be ready to vote against him,” Garcia says. In Nevada, more than 194,000 Latinos are expected to cast ballots in November, a more than 7 percent increase in turnout.

Until results from November’s presidential election are in, it’s hard to know for sure when the potential political clout of the Hispanic demographic could be realized. “Every election cycle, there is a new wave of Latino voters that mature into voting age, and everyone is watching that group more and more closely,” Garcia says. “But the monumental political shifts haven’t quite played out.”

Paige Blankenbuehler is an editorial fellow at High Country News, where this story originally appeared.

Published in Politics

Dear Mexican: What’s up with the bull stickers on truck doors? Is this a secret business, something earned at some unmentionable contest south of the border, or is it a brotherhood of sorts? I thought about taking Spanish lessons so I could politely ask one of these guys.

Native Californian Whitey

Dear Gabacho: The bull sticker is no cloak-and-dagger marker. Toros on trucks are just cultural archetypes, a manifestation of Jung’s theory that recurring characters, festivals and monuments in society represent a shared memory from its collective unconscious. Americans decorate their lives with such motifs: lawns (reminder of—take your pick—the savannas of our African roots, English manors or the open prairie from the frontier days), Thanksgiving (ceremony honoring our Puritan forefathers) and the continued popularity of Mickey Mouse (signifies our fascination with the trickster). Likewise, Mexicans consider the bull a reminder of the rancho they left behind, of the life that will never return.

Besides, as cultural archetypes go, a bull sticker is one of the best. Consider the attributes of the animal on display: Ferocity. Virility. Protection. Horns. It’s everything a culture wishes its members could be—and so much better than a fruity shamrock decal on your Scion, no?

I’ve often wondered how Mexicans would react if 25 million piss-poor Chinamen snuck into Mexico and took up residence. Would they be greeted with open arms? Or would they be greeted by armed men? I’d bet a sack of pesos they wouldn’t be given free health care, free schooling and Mexican driver’s licenses, either.

Bicoastal Curious

Dear Gabacha: Damn straight we’d kick those chinos down to Guatemala. In fact, Mexican-on-Chinese violence is one of Mexico’s darkest legacies, on par with the Conquest and the donkey show.

Mexican government officials used the pandemonium of the Mexican Revolution to discriminate against, evict and sometimes even massacre entire Chinese communities in a strategy known as el movimiento anti-chino. “Leaders of the anti-Chinese movement promulgated a wide array of invidious legislation, including discriminatory labor laws and public health circulars, anti-miscegenation laws and residential segregation laws,” writes UCLA’s Robert Chao Romero, a Yorba Linda-based attorney and the country’s leading authority on the Chinese in Mexico.

The Mexican Anti-Chinese movement was understandable—Chinese immigrants worked hard, built successful businesses, established themselves in civic life and made the natives in their adopted country look like the lazy pendejos they were.

So what I’m trying to say, Bi-Coastal Curious, is that I get why you and so many gabachos hate Mexicans.

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

I’m a white, college-educated, liberal, Democrat, socialist U.S. citizen. I don’t have any problem with Mexicans coming here to get a good job. In fact, I don’t see the “problem.”

From your perspective, why are Republicans and redneck dickheads so into building that big fence on the border? What I mean is: If there are so many “illegal” Mexican immigrants in the U.S., what is stopping them from becoming “legal?” Is it really a question of attaining citizenship, or is it just plain ol’ ignorant racism?

Taco Lover in Houston

Dear Gabacho: Gracias for writing in, Bernie Sanders! Love ya, but I don’t think you stand a chance against that pendeja Hillary—but good for you for pushing her into Aztlanista territory.

As for the preguntas: Republican dickheads want to build a wall because it’s the simplest “solution” to the immigration “problem” and is symptomatic of how out of touch they are with America’s raza reality. They obviously don’t know that if we do build a 100-foot tall wall tomorrow on the U.S.-Mexico frontera, some chilango from Tepito will build a 101-foot ladder the following day—and the slide that goes with it—while a culichi will construct a tunnel underneath it that would rival the Lincoln Túnel. And it’s those same Republican cagaleches who are stopping undocumented folks from becoming legal by failing to work with Democrats on a good amnesty program.

Hey, I get it: The GOP knows that once we get the vote—and I know I said this last week, but it bears worth repeating—we’ll make them as irrelevant as the payphone.

Let me start out by saying that I’m a HUGE fan of your newspaper columns. I’m writing you because at a recent family dinner, one of my cousins was telling the family his opinion of the word “Mexican.” He proceeded to say that the word is racist and degrading, and everyone should refer to people from Mexico as “Cinnamon People” or “Cinnamons.” He said this because, in his opinion, most people from Mexico have a light tint or shade of red to their skin. So with this thought in mind, I asked my Mexican friends at school if “Mexican” is racist and degrading; all but two just laughed at me. A few people have agreed with my cousin but still: I’m very confused.

Is “Mexican” a racist word? I have seen countless people call someone a “Mexican” at school and get knocked out for it, yet I can refer to my Mexican friends as anything I want (partly because I’m half-black, and they can call me whatever they like). Can you help me understand? Should mainstream America start referring to the Mexican people as “Cinnamons”? Or is my cousin being ignorant/racist? Can you PLEASE help me understand this conundrum?

Eager in Elizabethtown

Dear Young Mujer: “Cinnamons?” At least your cousin didn’t suggest “wetbacks.”

He’s not racist—one of the most romantic songs in the Spanish language is the bolero standard “Piel Canela,” which translates as “Cinnamon Skin” and was immortalized by Eydie Gormé (yes, of lounge-lizards legend Steve and Eydie) with Trio Los Panchos. That said, calling someone a “Mexican” can be racist, mostly if the person being called that isn’t a Mexican, or if the person saying it pronounces it “Messkin” and has a deportation cannon next to them.

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 white, and Donald Trump scares the crap out of me. Mexicans must be shaking in their boots. Does The Donald give Mexicans the willies? Do Mexicans get the willies?

Dump Trump

Dear Gabacho: Scared of him? Donald Trump is the best thing to happen to Mexicans since the bacon-wrapped hot dog. Oh, his rhetoric is straight out of The Turner Diaries, and Trump’s fans make slack-jawed yokels seem as cultured as Aristophanes. But the piñata pendejo is exactly what Mexicans need—a kick in the nalgas to wake us up and get ready for the 2016 elections.

Mexicans vote best when raza is threatened, and given he’s vowing to deport 11 million undocumented folks and their anchor babies (otherwise known as “American citizens” by the Constitution), we’re going to make sure that neither Trump nor any of the candidates copying his ideas get into the Oval Office. And if he does? Let’s have a double-revolution in Mexico and the U.S., and boot the bastards out in both of our countries, ¿qué no?

Can you clue me in as to what it means when someone is called jarocho? I know it’s a traditional Mexican style of music—son jarocho—but in what other ways is it used?

Colas, Colas

Dear Nicholas Gabacho: A quick description for your fellow gabas: Son jaracho is a style of music from the Mexican state of Veracruz that involves high-strung, quickly strummed tiny guitars called jaranas; a distinctive lead guitar called a requinto; and other instruments that can range from a harp to a donkey’s jawbone to a drum. Together, they create a beautiful genre (“La Bamba” is its most famous song) that, while known in Mexico, is an obsession of Chicano yaktivists; they arrange academic conferences around all-night parties, lionizing its supposedly proletarian spirit while relegating other, more-popular Mexican regional music forms like tamborazo and chilenas to quinceañeras in Montebello.

No es surprise, then, that jarocho also refers to someone from Veracruz. But this is where its etymological roots get fun: The Real Academia Española defines a jarocho as someone “of brusque manners, not courteous, and something insolent,” and traces its roots to the word farota, which means “shameless woman” (and that word comes from a classical Arabic term referring to the act of getting angry). In other words, jarocho is a word originally used as an insult, but reappropriated by veracruzanos as a point of pride. Such linguistic tactics are popular around Mexico: Words like chilango (someone from Mexico City) and paisa (a hillbilly) are other such intended regional slurs. This shows Mexicans can make beauty out of shit at all times, which explains the continued popularity of Maná.

And speaking of caca

Your people have destroyed your own country, and like any good virus, when you run out of things to destroy, you move on to somewhere else to destroy.

Do you know why Mexico is a shithole, and America is great? Because Mexico is full of Mexicans, and America is full of whites. That’s literally the only reason. Congratulations: You will never be more than a poor, brown-trash spic. Viva la Caca!

The Donald Devotee

Dear Gabacho: Viva! Manure is a wonderful, natural miracle worker that can fertilize the most wasted of terrains. Why, with all us shit-Mexicans smearing across the United States, our cosecha in 50 years will bring this country back to the Garden of Eden.

And gabachos? Y’all will be reduced to skid marks.

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

On this week's diversity-laden Independent comics page: Jen Sorenson imagines Donald Trump as a refugee; The K Chronicles takes on the purple people; This Modern World looks at the rationality of our free market; and Red Meat shows Milkman Dan focusing on his legacy.

Published in Comics

Dear Mexican: Why is it that Mexican immigrants like my parents—who have done well enough in this country to provide a home (a house, paid off in 10 years, in white Orange County), an education, food, clothes and toys for their children (namely, myself and my brother)—can complain about El Hombre Gringo and his stupid immigration laws, yet when they go down to Tijuana, or to visit family in La Barca and Zacatecas, they complain about the prices of things: the blankets, the jewelry, the food, about how all it’s “tan caro”? Call me a commie, but goddamn, these people are making shit profit on their wares. Shouldn’t more affluent people such as my parents be happy to spread their money around and help out their fellow men and women?

Why do my parents complain about how El Hombre Gringo treats us like shit, even though Mexicans work hard at the jobs gringos wouldn’t do, but when they see one of “our people” selling roses on the freeway off-ramps, they ignore him, and never even think about buying them from him? At least he’s not just standing there with a cardboard sign that says “Will wurk fur food,” so why make a big stink when I want a damn blanket at the border crossing (one of those fabulous warm fuzzy ones, you know) that costs $32, and would most certainly cost me more than twice that even in Westminster? ¿Qué mendiga mierda es eso?

I don’t exactly consider myself Mexican; call me a traitor, if you will, but since I was born in the U.S., raised around nothing but whites, and went to school with a majority of whites, I don’t identify with the Chicano culture. But I see what people like my parents do—people who were born in Mexico, and know what it’s like to live in poverty—and I wonder what mierda their brains are made of, that they wouldn’t try to help out with something so piddly as buying the stupid Chicletes that the children at the border sell. Sure, you can’t buy from all of them, but why refuse to let me buy the blanket, saying, “Oh, he’ll come back and lower his price”? Well, he didn’t come back, and I never got my blanket. And he never got the $32 I was more than willing to fork over; I was actually, going to give him $40. because who cares? (But don’t tell my dad that; he’d mess his pants.)

Too Many More Issues to Mention

Dear Pocho: Loco, you’re nothing but a Chicano. Chicanos are the only people on Earth who care about poor Mexicans. Mexicans in Mexico don’t give a shit; Mexican immigrants in the United States not brainwashed by progressive do-gooders (SARCASM ALERT to said progressive do-gooders, who’ll only laugh at jokes that involve Republicans getting ISIS’ed) talk nothing but shit about the paisas and nacos and chúntaros in their neighborhoods. So God bless you for caring about poor Mexicans, but a word to the wise: Stop being a Linus. The Paramount Swap Meet sells blankets for cheaper than $32.

Does Mexico have a problem with illegal immigrants coming into their country for free healthcare and welfare?

San Miguel de Allende Asshole

Dear Gabacho: No, because we’re smarter than that—and look at how great our immigration policy has worked for us!

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

I live in the Bronx, in a heavily immigrant area. We have many West African, Dominican, Mexican, Central American, Guyanese and Bengali newcomers.

I’ve noticed that Mexican men seem to spend lots of time with their wives and kids. Every weekend in the park, you see Mexican man after Mexican man playing soccer with his kids or doing some other activity with his family. I know that most of these men work six days a week, and am amazed that in their free time, they don’t just want to be left alone. It’s not that you don’t see men of other nationalities playing with their kids, but more often, you see the African and Dominican men hanging out with other men, and the wives are with the kids. This is, of course, a vast generalization, but I’ve noticed it a lot.

I also often see Mexican men helping their wives at the Laundromat. I thought Mexicans were supposed to be machos. But now I’m thinking that maybe I need to find myself a Mexican man!

Randy in Riverdale

Dear Gabacha: You should definitely get yourself an hombre, but not to take care of kids. “The Quality of Time Spent With Children Among Mexican Immigrants,” a paper written by Purdue University professor Andres J. Vargas and Daniel Kidane of Ohio Wesleyan University, found that Mexican fathers spent less time with their kiddies than gabachos, Mexican Americans and African Americans, although the rate improved the more time the papis lived in the U.S. “We interpret this as evidence that duration of residence is associated with an improvement of the child-care behaviors of Mexican immigrants,” the two wrote.

They didn’t give a reason as to why Mexican fathers spend less time with their kids, but you alluded to the answer: Our dads work a lot. There’s no time for museums, libraries or tutoring. But trying to turn your son into the next Fernando Valenzuela or Chicharito? Of course!

I’m a gabacho, but I’ve been loving menudo for about 45 years. What are your thoughts on why menudo is the Food of the Gods?

I Ain’t Mexican but Mi Estómago Damn Well Is

Dear No Soy Mexicano But My Stomach Sí Es: You are one smart gabacho! Most people of your ilk only think of the tripe soup as an edible donkey show: a horrific, disgusting artifact of a horrific, disgusting people. But menudo is so much more than boiled cow guts or something to soak up the booze that fueled your previous night.

Menudo is a socio-historical lesson in a bowl: The fat, pale kernels of pozole have nourished Mesoamericans since time immemorial; the use of tripe (and not the better parts of a cow) is a testament to its status as a poor person’s meal. Menudo is delicious, with the trinity of firm pozole, chewy tripe and a fiery, blood-red broth producing a comforting, fatty flavor.

More important: Menudo is amor. It’s the soup Mexican women slave over for their hungry families on weekend mornings, the dish over which families unite and teens fall in love. Menudo nowadays exists in can form, but that’s heresy. True menudo is a difficult feat, taking hours to create, but it comes with a payoff that transcends taste buds and strives for the sublime.

Will menudo cure a hangover? No doubt. But if that’s all you eat it for, then you truly don’t know love.

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: Some time back, you discussed the Chivas soccer team. This reminded me of my time in San Francisco’s Mission District, when the traficantes would whisper, “Chiva … chiva,” (pronounced “chee-ba”), as I walked down 16th Street. At least that’s what it sounded like. When I asked someone what it meant, they said, “stuff,” which seemed plausible enough. Now it’s baby goats?

I know slang etymology is often hard to pin down, but why is heroin referred to as chiva, if that’s the right word?

My Only Animal is a Chihuahua

Dear Gabacho: Don’t ask me; ask my pal Sam Quinones, the greatest-ever reporter on Mexican immigration to the U.S. and its effects on both countries, and author of the magnificent new book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic.

His response: “Oooh estimado, that’s no goat they’re offering for sale. That’s black-tar heroin. Chivas are indeed a soccer team, and chiva means goat—the meat that goes into that delicious birria and barbacoa that the folks from Jalisco and Michoacán make so well. But on the street, it’s slang for that sticky, semi-processed kind of heroin that looks like rat crap, and tends to block up all your arteries and then pretty soon, you get infections and gangrene, then flies start buzzing the infected area, and trust me, no one wants to talk to you after that. So you want to stay away from the chiva those heavy breathers are offering on the street. They’re supplied by our traficante friends from northwest Mexico, whom we have to thank for the decapitations and wanton massacres of late. Stick with the barbacoa. It’ll just get your fingers messy.”

Perhaps immigrants need a bit of a public-relations boost. Instead of being portrayed as parasitic foreigners who siphon off taxpayer money, shouldn’t someone point out that they believe in America, and want to be part of a free nation built on American principles? This may go a long way toward integrating the immigrant population and reducing resentment, sí?

Inclusive Gabacho

Dear Gabacho: While I’m sure you’re asking this from a good place in your corazón, this is the exact sentiment expressed by Know Nothings like Donald Trump—you know, his bullshit: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. … They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems with us. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”

Fuck it: Let’s celebrate all the “bad” Mexicans who come into this country without papers. Let’s celebrate people like my dad, who came to this country with a fourth-grade education and is the proud papi of four college graduates—three of them with master’s degrees. Let us now praise the people savvy enough to not only escape la migra, but then make a life of themselves in los Estados Unidos outside of immigration law. The supposed losers of society are the people who made this nation, from former slaves to Jewish refugees to the Yellow Menace, homesteaders and yes, Mexicans.

Besides, when we do highlight the absolute best that Mexican immigrants we offer—undocumented college students—those same Know Nothings like Trump just dismiss them as illegals.

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: I work with mostly young, progressive, educated white folks at an institution of higher education in Southern California. The other day, I mentioned buying a shirt that reads, “Illegal immigration started in 1492.” We had a good laugh, and my co-worker, whom I like a lot, said that it actually began in the Ice Age, suggesting that no one kind of human has a claim over “land” or geography.

While I get her argument, I was stunned. A flippant response like that diminishes the struggles of people trying to make a life here, under adverse conditions and having fled other adverse conditions, as well as the systematic historical exceptionalism mythology, jingoism, xenophobia and racism that has created the current state of affairs.

Can you give me a good comeback for when an otherwise cool gabacho says similar bullshit?

A Chicana in the Hallowed Halls of Learning

Dear Pocha: You can point out the fact that attachment to a vanquished homeland is a fundamental part of the human experience—witness the Garden of Eden, Israel, Palestine, Aztlán, Camelot and even The Sandlot—but did you try, “Check your privilege?” How about: “We didn’t cross the border; the border crossed us?” Maybe, “Who’s the illegal alien, pilgrim?” Perhaps: “Vete a la chingada, pinche sucia pendeja babosa”? Or the classic: “Chinga tu madre”?

I know you’re looking for an intellectual retort, but even Kant knew that a well-thrown verbal chingazo every once in a while makes the best possible point.

I enjoy your column, and I need advice on how to handle a difficult situation with a very special Mexican in my life.

I am in Big Brothers Big Sisters, and my little sister is a smart, kind, beautiful 12-year-old Mexican girl. Since we became sisters three years ago, she has been telling me all about what she wants for her quince (a beautiful blue dress, a stretch Hummer, a mariachi band, etc.). Although her parents don’t have much money, they try very hard to do special things for their kids and make their lives really happy. Today, her mother told me that they are not going to have the money to throw my little sister a quinceañera party. Instead, they want to take an inexpensive trip to the beach (she LOVES the beach), and save the rest of the money for her education. Her mother wants me to help her discuss the situation. Her parents have decided to tell her now so that she doesn’t spend three years planning a party that isn’t going to happen.

I would like to do something special for my sister which captures the spirit of a quinceañera celebration, but without the traditional party. However, being a white lady, I have no idea what that might be. Can you help me to figure out what a girl needs on her quince to feel special and celebrated? I love her so much, and I want to make her feel happy.

Happy to Be a Güera Hermana

Dear Gabacha: Primeramente, can you throw the chingones parents a party for breaking the chains of quinceañera nonsense? Not spending tens of thousands of dollars on one day of a teenager’s life in order to save for their daughter’s educational future? What a novelty!

That said, a beach party quinceañera is not only feasible, but would be more memorable than any rented VFW hall or community center. Check into reserving a big section of sand; tell the parents to invite her friends and family; and watch how happy your hermanita will be. Just don’t be surprised when all the Mexicans go into the ocean with their clothes on …

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Published in Ask a Mexican

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans make up such glaringly obvious lies? Like this galán who had his sister call me and say it was really him—with a cold. Or my friend who pretends to be traveling around the world, but is really sending emails from his mother’s home computer. Or the random person on the street who tells you he knows how to give you directions, and then makes them up.

Do these Mexicans have something against reality, or do they really believe themselves on some level?

Clara la Dudosa

Dear Clara the Doubter: “There is nothing new about Mexico’s tradition of lying, of course,” wrote Andres Oppenheimer in his 1998 Bordering on Chaos. “Since as far as historians could remember, double-talk and deceit had been part of Mexico’s culture.”

This line has been used by Know Nothings ever since as proof that Mexicans are never to be trusted—never mind that Oppenheimer is an elitist Argentine carajo. Mexicans lie for the same reason anyone makes mentiras: to protect oneself, to try to gain an advantage over someone else, and to ultimately come out on top. If you think that’s somehow a uniquely Mexican characteristic, then you must also believe President Obama when he says the guv’mint ain’t spying on you, and that he has the best interests of Mexicans in mind while deporting us in record numbers.

Hola! I am trying to move to Japan and have been studying the language for two years. To my shame, when one of my Japanese associates posed the question, “What do you think of when you hear the word ‘immigrant’?” I first thought of a Mexican national in America illegally. I replied honestly, and we entered a discussion about why that was. (It’s in the news all the time—it’s still no excuse but, hey, I’m human and subject to flaws on occasion.)

After doing some research into the Mexican economy, I learned they seem to be doing very well among Latin American countries as far as unemployment rates and economic growth. I wonder: Are the benefits are only going to large corporations and a few at the top? Are wages pathetically low with no labor unions to negotiate for better pay? What is the main factor or factors that encourage people to risk so much to get here?

Please forgive my ignorance on these matters, and help me understand the larger picture.

Hoping to Become an Immigrant

Dear Gabacho: Konichiwa! Although it seems self-evident why Mexicans continue to migrate to the United States—better opportunities, just like every immigrant group that has ever come here—what makes them sour on their patria is a little more telling.

A 2014 Pew Research Center poll found that a third of Mexicans would migrate to the U.S. if they could—but whereas 60 percent said the economy is a big problem, 79 percent said crime is the country’s biggest issue. Also beating the economy on list of concerns were corrupt political leaders (72 percent), cartel violence (also 72) and water and air pollution (70 and 69, respectively—and gabachos say Mexicans don’t care about the environment!). Even corrupt police officers beat the economy as a topic of concern for Mexis.

At this point in Mexico’s history, it’s time to push the reset button and start a revolution—or do what we’ve been doing, and migrate to the U.S. Because why revolt in one country when you can do it in two?

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

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