Mexican immigration: a hot topic with Eagle County ties | VailDaily.com
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Mexican immigration: a hot topic with Eagle County ties

Daily Staff ReportVail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/John Nelson
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Do fences make good neighbors? Most Americans sit firmly on either side of this question when it comes to Mexican immigration. The roots of the present debate over Mexican immigration into the United States are extremely deep-rooted, spanning back several centuries.

On Monday Gregory Rodriguez will go beyond the current dispute, to provide a long-term historical perspective and context on the continuosly changing racial makeup of this country and discuss the cultural and political influences Mexican immigrants will have on the collective U.S. character. Mexican people form the largest immigrant group in American history, and in the last decade, the census counted Latinos as the largest ethnic group in America. According to Gregory Rodriguez Mexican immigration will transform the way Americans view race from a focused distinction of black or white to one with many various shades. Its the premise of his new book, Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds. The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at the Vail Marriott Mountain Resort and Spa, with a meet and greet with the author, followed by a talk and question-and-answer session beginning at 6 p.m.Mexican immigration is one of the hottest topics buzzing across the nation, said Fraidy Aber, executive director of the Vail Symposium. I am so glad we have scheduled Gregory Rodriguez, one of the nations leading thinkers, to discuss both the history and future of this topic that has tremendous local impact. Hosting his talk on Martin Luther King Day is especially appropriate timing. The Gallegos Corporation and the Vail Daily are both underwritting the program, in support of opening a forum for informed dialogue about Mexcian Immigration in our community.There is a lot of hot air about immigration, Gregory Rodriguez said. But the heated emotions that surround the current climate on Mexican Immigration are not new. Mexican immigrants have been present since the beginnings of this country. Changing borders, conquests, and integration shaped the earliest stories centuries ago. According to Rodriguez, We have to look into the Mexican past in order to see the changes that will impact the American future. Rodriguez attests that with the current debate and the climate that has developed on Mexican Immigration, it is a unique time to focus on Mexican immigration and its ramifications on this countrys future.Considering the rich history and cultural synthesis of the Mexican people since the Spanish conquest in the sixteenth century, Rodriguez will identify and trace the development of the race through the ages. The Mexican American experience cannot be understood through the dichotomy of cultural resistance versus assimilation Mexican Americans continue to blur the lines between us and them, Rodriguez said. Rodriguez describes several emergences of a new Mexican American identity, distinctly highlighting one in the 1930s, as well as the Chicano movement in the Civil Rights era of the 1960s, and the present era of Mexican American integration into mainstream American culture.Gregory Rodriguez is director of the California Fellows Program at New America Foundation and is an Irvine Senior Fellow. He has written widely on issues of national identity, race relations, religion, immigration, demographics, and social and political trends in such leading publications as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, where he is an op-ed columnist. The Economist has praised him for decisively changing the understanding of the Latino experience in the United States, and Esquire Magazine listed him among the Best and Brightest Americans who will revolutionize the way we think. Mr. Rodriguezs recent book, Mongrels, Bastards, Orphans and Vagabonds: Mexican Immigration and the Future of Race in America was published simultaneously in English and in Spanish in October 2007 and will be available at the talk from Verbatim Booksellers.For reservations or more information, please visit http://www.vailsymposium.org, or call 476-0954.


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