Immigration explored as a concept in Mexico City exhibition

The video and photography exhibition Laberinto de Miradas – Labyrinth of Glances – that opened in Mexico City last month in the Cultural Center of Spain – features the kind of images that we are used to seeing in relation to immigration.

But the show also looks at migration and immigration as a concept, broadening out the typical notion we might have of the phenomenon of human migration and immigration.

Migration is “a middle-class Argentine woman, driven into exile by her country’s 2001 peso collapse. A Cuban man who bears the scars of jail time served for trying to flee to Miami. Hundreds of Brazilians of mixed ethnicities, body types and attitudes, mostly economic refugees from other parts of the country, all crammed into a ramshackle São Paulo apartment building, striving to co-exist (see photo, by Cia de Foto), writes Reed Johnson in this Los Angeles Times dispatch.

Watch the narrated slideshow below, made for the Los Angeles Times,  for some pictures from the show.

[blip.tv ?posts_id=1163480&dest=-1]

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Tijuana: Reflections on the Border

Tijuana side.

The view from the border: Tijuana side.

“TJ? Really?” was the response from most people last week when they learned I was heading down south of San Diego for a research trip.

They were right to be cautious. I live in Mexico City — one of the biggest, baddest towns around — but still gave Tijuana a second thought. The world’s most famous border city has been getting some bad press of late due to the drug-related violence playing out on its streets.

But what struck me more during my brief trip was the border itself and how it is littered with evidence of its own casualties and conflicts, past and present. The wall is at the center of the current national debate on immigration, and I wanted to see it for myself.

Read on – this post was written for La Plaza.

Illegal border crossing – for tourists.

La Caminata Nocturna, HidalgoVideo Coming Soon

Panting for breath, I waded through cow-pat flavoured mud, struggling to keep myself from slipping in the dark. “Vamanos, vamanos, vamanos!” urged my coyote, the Spanish name for people who smuggle migrants across the border into the United States.

The sound of La Migra’s sirens – also known as United States Border Patrol – sounded out behind me. Hands shaking, I stopped to catch my breath and watched the faces of the other migrants crouched in the dark, breathing heavily.

“We know you’re there,” boomed a crackling voice in English, tinged with a Mexican accent, over the loudspeaker. Gun shots rang out.

“What you’re doing is illegal. We have food and water. We can help you get back home.”

Only, no one wanted to go back home. Everyone was actually having a rather a good time. That’s because this wasn’t for real. We were pretend migrants, trying to cross an artificial border pursued by a fake Border Patrol deep in the Mexican state of Hidalgo for the bargain price of 100 pesos (US$10) rather than the thousands that Mexicans and Central American migrants crossing into the U.S illegally pay their smugglers. Continue reading

How many non-immigrant visas did the United States grant in Mexico last year?

In the year ending September 2007, the U.S embassy in Mexico processed applications for 1,300,000 non-immigrant visas (visitor, student, temporary work, and other categories) according to this page on the site of the U.S Embassy in Mexico. This year the embassy is projecting more than 1,600,000 applications – and projections are generally overtaken by actual applications, as the graph at the bottom of this page shows.

I called the Embassy myself this week to find out how many of the 1,300,000 non-immigrant visas processed last year were actually granted, but was told that information is not available. Then I emailed a press and information officer at the Department of Home Security and was directed to this page.

According to THAT info, not including border passes, a total of 1,027,737 non-immigrant visas were issued from Mexico last year. That would suggest that only 272,263 non-immigrant visa applications DIDN’T get granted by the US Embassy in Mexico, if their figures are anything to go by. Can that be right? Was Juan just one of the unlucky few?

Or is my maths just wrong? Please click on the image below to see it in full – it won’t fit in this blogging template.
imm stats

Figures provided by the U.S Department of State

Holiday in the United States? Not this time

A good friend of mine, Juan, was denied a tourist visa to the United States this week. It’s technically known as a B-2 visa. Juan’s girlfriend is from the U.S, and he wanted to travel with her to her home state later this year to attend her sister’s wedding and to meet her parents for the first time.

A home-owner (he bought the house thanks to a finance scheme through the Government) and Mexico City Government employee for the last five years, he did things the way that the United States want Mexicans who want to come to the U.S to do things. Continue reading

Absolut fall-out

It’s been a full week since the eruption of fury over the Absolut advertising campaign that ran in Mexico. Since we broke the story it has gone international, appearing on the Los Angeles Times, Reuters, AP , the Drudge Report, The UK’s Independent, Radio Five Live and other major media outlets, not to mention thousands of blogs around the world.

Spleens have been vented, apologies have been made, and a counter-PR move by rival SkYY vodka was made today. Here’s the latest. Continue reading

Sparks continue to fly over Absolut ad

Since the publication of the Absolut Mexican ad campaign story, the comments have been flooding in and controversy around the campaign has been growing. You can see MexicoReporter.com’s 130+ comments here and comments on the La Plaza post, which have pushed past the 7000 mark, here.

Here’s an update on La Plaza with some more detail about the fallout, and Absolut have tried to address the mountain of complaints rolling in about the ad:

‘We have received many comments on an ad showing what an ABSOLUT world would look like from a Mexican point of view. We are sorry if we offended anyone. This was not our intention. We will try to explain. Though you may not agree, I hope you understand’

Vote on the ad here.