By Annette Quijada
It is often thought that Mexicans migrate to the U.S. to “steal jobs.” However, they migrate for different reasons revolving around their living environment.
Art Division, a non-profit organization hosted a Zoom lecture, “Art, Immigration, and Resistance,” where the speaker, Álvaro Huerta Ph.D., talked about the topic of immigration through art.
This Zoom lecture featured Huerta who is a professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Cal Poly Pomona. Also participating in the lecture was Jose Z. Calderon, a professor emeritus of Sociology and Chicano/a-Latino/a studies.
Huerta began his lecture by addressing the “anti-Mexican” sentiment that has grown within the United States.
Huerta talked about the “Yankee Invasion,” which was the invasion of Mexico City in 1847 that ended up having to lose half their territory to the U.S.
Huerta went through a few other historical moments such as Mexican Reparation (1920s-1930s), Bracero Program (1942-1964), ending with Operation Wetback (1954) where over one million Mexicans were deported including many who were U.S citizens and residents.
For Huerta it’s important to be reminded that there is still this continued suffering today, he said, “But for the Mexicans, it’s not just the past, it’s the present, and for the Central Americans…with ICE the horror continues, where families are being separated. Where you see ICE invading and conducting raids at courts, in front of schools, and so on and so forth.” He believes it’s essential to be educated on the issues of immigration, especially now in light of President Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric and policies.
As Huerta goes on with his lecture, he utilizes the art of Salomón Huerta, his sibling, to humanize the immigrant past and present by sharing the story of POC and his family’s migration.
He elaborated on the idea of being “otherized.”
“To be otherized, means that brown people, black people, Muslims, Asian and others are looked at as different,” said Huerta. This is what drives those with power to see these groups as less than them.
He shared an art piece, “Untitled” by Salomón Huerta from 1990, in this piece his brother created an image of a white European man alongside another image of a brown skinned man.
Huerta quoted an older professor named Samuel Huttington who argued that the European-American was superior to the Mexican because one comes from Europe while the other comes from Mexico.
Huerta believes that this narrative of “Us (the Mexicans) versus them (The Americans) needs to be thrown away.
Huerta then switched his focus to migration. “I want to talk a little bit about what drives migration. Too often people argue that it’s just jobs, Mexicans come to steal people’s jobs, Americans jobs, so on and so forth, all these lies. But people immigrate because of different reasons. There’s violence, natural disasters…” Huetra said.
Huerta’s family from his father’s side a family feud. The feud included violence and, due to that violence they had to move from their home in Michoacan to Tijuana.
His story is an example of family’s goal that wasn’t to come and “steal jobs” but to escape from a dangerous environment.
He ended his presentation with a few suggestions on what is to be done to create change and be part of the resistance.
Huerta listed things such as: utilize privilege (citizenship, education) for good, protest against injustices (ICE raids, kids in cages), and speak out and take action against systemic racism. Most important, vote in defense of democracy and racial injustice.