'Burrito' logic at the border
Here's a recent and supposedly racist message from the labor union that represents U.S. Border Patrol agents, as posted by the National Border Patrol Council: “New annual job rating areas: Babysitting, Diaper Changing, Burrito Wrapping, Cleaning cells. Law Enforcement? What's that?”
The message was designed to acknowledge and publicize the frustration and anger of agents who've been pulled from providing border enforcement and apprehending people who are illegally entering the United States and, instead, been assigned to multiple tasks of homemaking.
Specifically, the words “Burrito Wrapping” produced the instantaneous charge of racism from immigrant advocates, open-border activists and the ever-vigilant monitors of political correctness.
Those charging racism said it was typecasting to picture Hispanics eating burritos and to depict all illegal immigrants as Hispanic.
It may be true that the union committed a bit of burrito stereotyping and was, in fact, not exactly factual. I see people all the time in the lunch line at Chipotle for burritos who aren't, as they say, people of color. And conversely, not every Hispanic is genetically predisposed to prefer Cuban mojo chicken with mango salsa over Gen. Tso's chicken with gummy white rice.
It is also true that it's not only Hispanics who are illegally crossing the Southwestern border. Signs posted by the U.S. government in the Texas-Mexico corridor are now printed in English, Spanish and Mandarin.
So why did the union say nothing about egg rolls? Why couldn't its message have been less targeted at Hispanics and include some Chinese aliens and a few wandering Swedes?
As it turns out, the union was fairly accurate, with the actual food match to the country of origin of illegal aliens being 95 percent burritos and less than 1 percent fortune cookies.
As reported by the Austin American-Statesman, “A July 2011 fact sheet from the Department of Homeland Security states that nationally, immigrants from Spanish-speaking countries comprised more than 95 percent of Border Patrol apprehensions over the five fiscal years through September 2010, with immigrants from China accounting for 0.3 percent or fewer in each year.”
Replying to the charge that “Burrito Wrapping” was racist, the union's response was straightforward: “What is racist? Those are the duties agents are being assigned.”
Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council, explained on Fox News that agents now feel as though they are just the “hired help.” Stated Moran, “There is a reason that we are ranked at the bottom of the federal workforce in morale, and it's because our agents are treated like grade-schoolers, not allowed to make decisions on our own — micromanaged. We live in some Godforsaken towns on the Southwest border and just don't have the type of morale that we need to effectively do this job.”
In its recent editorial “The Border Crisis,” The New York Times referred to a Times article by Frances Robles about the bloody starting places that are generating the huge increases in illegal immigration by children escaping from Central America, unaccompanied by their parents: “In El Salvador, murders of children 17 and under were up 77 percent from a year ago. More than 2,200 children from San Pedro Sula, a city in Honduras with the world's highest homicide rate, arrived in the United States from January through May, far more than from any other city in Central America.”
Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert Morris University and a local restaurateur (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Capitals dominate overmatched Penguins in win at Verizon Center
- Starkey: What are Penguins, Pirates up to?
- Armstrong targets savings by refinancing debt
- Shaler grad pens poems on time served in Vietnam
- Nonprofit helps police keep wanderers safe in Mon-Yough area
- Pennsylvania Gov. Wolf to sign order barring drilling of new oil, gas wells in state forests, parks
- Duquesne City School District receiver accepts $1.335M interest-free loan
- Penn Hills man charged in robbery of The Exchange in Ross
- Popular Super Bowl, March Madness traditions prohibited under state law
- Super Bowl ads win by playing to viewers’ emotions, experts say
- For Penguins coach Johnston, it’s a matter of substance over style