This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Americas Meet in South Texas

This weekend the New York Times featured two articles that provide different perspectives on the emerging demographics of the Americas. The first one was by Julia Preston reporting on the surge of unaccompanied minor children migrating from Central America (not Mexico) to the U.S. either to escape violence at home and/or find their parents who are in the U.S. without documentation--an issue I have mentioned before.
The children are coming primarily from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, making the perilous journey north through Mexico to Texas without parents or close adult relatives. Last weekend alone, more than 1,000 unaccompanied youths were being held at overflowing border stations in South Texas, officials said.
The flow of child migrants has been building since 2011, when 4,059 unaccompanied youths were apprehended by border agents. Last year more than 21,000 minors were caught, and Border Patrol officials had said they were expecting more than 60,000 this year. But that projection has already been exceeded.
The other story is a little more hopeful, because Damien Cave is embarking on a journey up I-35 from Laredo, in south Texas, through the Midwest up to Minneapolis to follow the trail of Latin American (predominantly Mexican) migrants who are repopulating and re-energizing Midwestern communities, no matter how much discrimination there may be and no matter how little progress is being made on immigration reform in the US.
The new cars and the heroin, the avocados and the immigrants: They all pass through here before heading up I-35 to Kansas City or Minneapolis. Especially since the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, Laredo has become a city of global commerce, with truck stops the size of stadium parking lots.
I was thinking about the drug flows across the border as I watched 60 Minutes tonight. In a segment on trash-pickers (recyclers) in Paraguay, the story was about how an incredible local man made instruments out of trash and created an orchestra of children that has given them an alternative to gang life. But, kids in Paraguay and Central America should not have to spend their lives avoiding gangs created largely by the demand for drugs in the US and Europe. It seems to me that we have to legalize and regulate these drugs, and give up the charade that somehow people will just say 'No.' And, of course, we have to change our immigration laws so that they match the demographic reality of the world in which we live.

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