A Modest Proposal: “Give Arizona Back to Mexico”

arizona lawTo resolve the economic woes and tensions between the Irish and the English, writer Jonathan Swift, in his timeless 1729 classic, “A Modest Proposal,” suggested that the Irish poor sell their children as food for the rich. However, as I waited in the returns line at Costco, I hit upon a solution to our difficult times that is less shocking than Swift’s proposal and very much within the all-American tradition – “Return Arizona to Mexico and get our money back.”

Almost every major immigrant rights organization has set its crosshairs on Arizona. With a simple signature, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer enacted into law SB1070, which opponents claim would promote racial profiling, and HB2281, which would ban ethnic studies. A number of cities, organizations, and high-profile individuals have lined up to condemn and boycott the state for its racism. Most recently, the City of Los Angeles has joined the growing crowd with their own formal boycott resolution.

On the opposite side of the aisle, supporters of Arizona shake their heads in disagreement and decry the decline of civilization and opportunity within their own backyards. They argue that SB1070 is about the irresponsibility of the federal government and HB2281 is about schools teaching students to value each other as individuals, rather than inculcate them in divisive “ethnic solidarity.”

In the backdrop, despite our nation recovering from near financial collapse and a rising GDP, wealth remains largely in a few hands and have not reached hardworking patriots through higher pay and better benefits or simply more jobs. Major deficits still plague many states. During tight economic periods, especially whenever the election cycle begins its next revolution, elected leaders and large segments of US working families have historically and divisively fingered the blame on immigrants. Currently, Arizona has become ground zero for this type of fight. Do we really need these tensions now?

Back in the 1800s, when Mexico had to cede two-fifths of its land to the US after losing a war to them, the entrepreneurial US Minister to Mexico James Gadsen and his allies saw an opportunity and wanted more. James, who was also president of the Southern Carolina Railroad Company, had long dreamt of tying together all the Southern railroads into one Southern transcontinental railroad to the Pacific thus rendering the West economically dependent on the South, not the North (Coincidently, Jefferson Davis, who would become president of the Confederate states during the Civil War, helped James obtain this governmental position). He needed land for a railroad route and so the US purchased for $15 million, which is the equivalent to $376 million today, nearly 30 million acres of land, which is now a portion of New Mexico and largely Arizona (In 1854, when the residents of Arizona sought to form a territorial government, they considered naming their state Gadsonia, a Latin adaptation of Gadsden).

Well, it is no longer the 1800s. Does Arizona add anything to our national purse today?

According to the Northeast Midwest Institute, Arizona received more federal funds than its state taxpayers put in (Arizona received $1.19 in federal funds for every dollar spent by a taxpayer in 2005 whereas California only got $.80 for every dollar spent). They were rewarded over a $139 million in stimulus funds from the Federal Government in 2009. After the recent passage of 2010 Healthcare Reform, Arizona did refuse federal funds to administer the temporary high-risk insurance pool, which would have extended health care insurance to those who were rejected from a health care insurance plan due to pre-existing medical conditions (However, Arizona will not create or run it so the responsibility will fall onto the Federal Government). For a state with a long history in the “State Rights versus Federal Rights” battle beginning with the Civil War, they sure take in more than a pretty penny from the Federal Government.

With Governor Brewer signing SB1070, Arizona has made clear its desire for autonomy from the Federal Government. This new law directly challenges the Plenary Power doctrine, which grants decision-making authority exclusively to the Federal Government without constitutional review. This policy only applies to the areas of war and immigration since they fall under the concept of national sovereignty—the sole domain of the Federal Government. They clearly wish to escape from under the purview of our national government.

So, let us hand Arizona back to Mexico. Not only can we request our refund, we can save on what we are already spending on the state. In fact, we can probably ask for more since we are returning an Arizona with more developed land and attractive tourist sites (Only 15% of the region is privately owned and the rest are parks and other pleasant natural formations like the Grand Canyon). Plus, we are the US, the world needs us (Remember, the global economy went into a tailspin when we hit major financial crisis in 2007).

I’m absolutely sure that the bordering states of California, Utah, New Mexico, and Nevada could use the money to help further stimulate their economies.

Re-configuring our national borders will be relatively manageable since Arizona is already geographically connected to Mexico and it was the last landlocked state to become part of the US.

Additionally, this is a win-win for Arizona as well. Not only will they be free of the yoke of oppression of the US Federal Government, their “illegal immigration” issue will be largely resolved. Many of the undocumented immigrants will already be Mexican citizens. Arizona will be free of any legal challenges or bureaucratic red tape around their educational policy to ban ethnic studies. However, they will probably need to institute their own special ethnic studies classes since there may be some discomfort with the possibility that the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and Gadsen Purchase may be characterized as “land grabs” and that it may be taught that English-only policies and discrimination towards Mexican residents living in the area prior to the US-Mexican War are violations of international agreements between the US and Mexico.

If residents of Arizona want to remain citizens of the US, they can go through the same process that all immigrants undergo. They can apply for employment-based visas if they possess any professional and technical skills, especially in the sciences and computer technology. Since the Immigration Act of 1990, they can de facto buy their way into the US by voluntarily investing a “million dollars” in the US. However, if they attempt to enter through family reunification visas, the sponsor must be able to support the immigrant at an annual income not less than 125% of the federal level. Additionally, the sponsor must also be earning enough to support him or herself at minimally the same level of income.

When they land in the US, they must remember that if he or she goes on public benefits within the first five years they will be deported. Additionally, the family sponsor will be billed the cost of the benefits used and will be penalized $5,000 if a payment is not made. In fact, according to the Welfare Reform Act of 1996, new immigrants are already barred from public benefits for 10 years. Woe to the Arizonan-Mexican immigrant who is “convicted of a crime for which a sentence of one year or longer may be imposed” within five years after entry. The Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act of 1996 states that they will be deported and have no right to due process. For example, if an immigrant is convicted for a crime like urinating on the grounds of a public park, they will be deported without any judicial review.

We must not underestimate the potential danger of illegal Arizonan-Mexicans crossing the border. I am especially nervous about the ones who defiantly hold onto their guns, deride our national government as socialist and liken our democratically elected president to Hitler (I have heard rumors that some of them may have literally spat on some of our Congress members). We must secure our borders and ensure our safety by enhancing our ability to identify and deport illegal Arizonan-Mexicans. Of course, we will not engage in racial profiling so I will simply display photos of the more prominent Arizonan-Mexicans as a guide.

Some private citizens will argue that our economy may still need to rely on these illegal Arizonan-Mexicans. Considering Wal-Mart is the largest private employer in Arizona, this is a workforce conditioned to low wages and little benefits and may be a solution to our ability to save on labor costs and grow our economy. They are already familiar with the US culture and language. It would cost less than deporting them. However, if we pursue legalization, we may be sending out the wrong message and leaving out crucial cultural considerations.

In 1979, President Ronald Reagan, when he launched his presidential run, proposed a “North American Accord,” where people and commerce would freely cross the borders of Mexico and Canada. Underpinning Reagan’s position is the idea that migration is a part of the logic of the global market, rather than narrowly defining immigrants as parasites within the framework of American exceptionalism. He once stated, “It makes one wonder about the illegal alien fuss. Are great numbers of our unemployed really victims of the illegal alien invasion or are those illegal tourists actually doing work our own people won’t do? One thing is certain in this hungry world: No regulation or law should be allowed if it results in crops rotting in the fields for lack of harvesters.”

All due respect to President Reagan, I have friends who are Arizonan-Mexicans but I just can’t see them sweating out in the fields and picking vegetables. Their white skins burn too easily under the sun.

I definitely can see them letting the “crops rot in the field” and making a fuss about working below minimum wage for over 11 hours a day with no overtime. They don’t seem to realize that once the owners acquire enough wealth, it will eventually reach them. They lack the patience and discipline to properly prepare for the national cyclical boom and bust of our economic system. It is just the system cleaning itself out and engaging in the “creative destruction” of the market. Additionally, a certain degree of unemployment is necessary to maintain competitive salaries and quality products.

Again, I have friends who are Arizonan-Mexicans and one was even my date for the high school prom but they are just too self-centered and only worry about themselves and no one else.


We are at a crucial crossroads and Arizona stands like a signpost in front of us. We can either go the direction of progress or regress as a nation. Giving back Arizona may potentially jumpstart our economy and stimulate our national imagination towards creating a greater common vision. If returning Arizona to Mexico doesn’t work, we can always revisit and adapt Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” and sell and consume undocumented immigrants as food in the ultimate and most seamless form of assimilation into the body politic of the US.

Si, se puede. Yes, we can.

John Delloro


    • says

      Spainish/Latino people occupied this territory long before White America came along and slaightered innocent Native Americans and Latino People. White America wants to do nothing but rape the land and suck the resources dry in the name of money. I think the U. S. shoud return Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico back to Mexico. If this were to happen, I think this would settle the illegal immigrant problem for once and all. I think we should return Alaska back to the Russians. They were cheated out of a ton of wealth when Seward convinced the U. S. Government to buy it. It is time we started to make restitution for some of our historical sins. I am ashamed of this nation and many times I am ashamed to be an American. Lets all learn to live together and love a little and smoke a little of that weed to relax amd make love.

  1. mijo says

    Omfg…..give us a break. Mexicans are the most racist , bigoted, hypocrites ever known to mankind. This is the reason their underclass runs for the Northern border. I have a better idea. Take all of the land up to and including the Yucatan peninsula to pay off all the debts and costs of said Illegals of Mexico, for the U.S. territory.

  2. Jesus says

    Arizona was purchased from Mexico so it is U.S. land. California is Mexican territory. It was stolen from us in the Mexican-American war. It will soon be part of Mexico again. The movement is unstoppable now. A bronze California is in the near future and you will have to leave unless you are allowed to assimilate into our culture and given Mexican citizenship. Your cities, ports, farm land, your money, your whole state will be back in the hands of the rightful owners without my country even needing to fire a rifle. You think we only come here in the millions to find work? You are blind, stupid, and lazy. We come to take back what is ours and we are taking it. Try to stop us. See what happens. California is already ours. You are just too stupid to know it yet. You don’t know what is coming. What you will see in the next five years will send you running back to your countries of origin. Go back to Europe. Go back to Asia. California is Mexico.

    La Raza!

  3. Peter Lounsbury says

    Here’s a suggestion… since 67% of all Americans think Arizona is correct, how about we cede California back to Mexico? What would lose? A bunch of America hating actors and a few million liberals who are incapable of doing anything but promoting socialism? Let us know how that works for you in Mexico.

  4. Lisa says

    Wow- excellent writing, John! Provocative. Just subtle enough to make you think– “Wait… is this guy serious?” Bravo!

  5. Dianne says

    GREAT piece John!
    Effective use of classic political satire to both provide important, yet usually ignored, history of the SouthWest & US/Mexico relations; and also covers all the key policy points.

    Once again lives are at risk, with the poorest among us (trying to eke out a living) being scapegoated for problems they themselves did not create.

    Re-posting & emailing this all over the place.

  6. John says

    Rick, this is a satirical piece to highlight the problems in the discussion and debate on the issue. You need to re-read it carefully.

  7. Linda Doran says

    Sorry, but I’m not willing to sell the Grand Canyon to Mexico, or to anyone else, for that matter. While selling Arizona is a clever idea and makes for entertaining writing, it would do little to rectify the situation. Remember what happened when we simply told Cuba we wouldn’t buy their sugar any more. Selling Arizona would only move the problem to the borders of Nevada and Utah. Abraham Lincoln was right when he said a house divided against itself could not stand. I am confident that the Obama administration will deal effectively with Arizona, supported by the majority of the American people. Bigotry must not be tolerated and that, pure and simple, is the motivation here. As a nation, we have a moral obligation to outlaw this kind of legislation. Beyond that, fair immigration policy is one of the few areas where liberals and the Chamber of Commerce are largely in agreement. Unless we as a nation are willing to agree that police may stop and demand identification from anyone of any color for any reason, Arizona’s governor will lose this battle. Of that I am quite confident. It’s just a matter of time.

    • John says

      Linda, we are not in disagreement. The piece is a satirical piece and it actually agrees with your viewpoint on bigotry and that even the chamber of commerce perspective is in agreement with liberals (e.g. reagan quote).
      I wrote it in the vein of swift’s modest proposal (that is why i reference him and include it in the title of this essay). swift talked about how irish poverty can be addressed through selling their children for food. he really wasn’t serious but he wanted to highlight the ridiculousness of the British authority in how they addressed poverty and Irish-British tensions.
      I really don’t believe giving arizona to mexico is the answer. neither do i believe more restrictive immigration laws are the answer because we already have overly restrictive immigration laws (the ones i mention in my piece are real). one of the few times that i agree with reagan–immigration is part of the logic of the global economy. the more that we don’t see the impact of our foreign policies on other countries (e.g. displacement of local economies), migration to the US will continue. the situation in Arizona is not really about immigration. it is about bigotry.

  8. John says

    It is the failure of our education system when there are people who miss the point of satire. These are the same people who probably would have thought Jonathan Swift really did advocate cannibalism in his essay, “A Modest Proposal” and missed his political criticism.

  9. Beaver says

    Mexico’s alleged failure has more to do with the U.S.’s foreign policy and insatiable apetite for illicit drugs.

  10. says

    Why would anybody want to keep the irredeemably corrupt govt. of Mexico in existence at all, much less hand it more territory to ruin? Instead, it has to be dissolved first, allowing failed Mexico to dissolve and reorganize as a New Arizona, New Texas, New California, New Florida, etc., and join the U.S., ending the unsealable 2K-mi. U.S.-Mexico border and instead expanding it to the Mexican coast, making all 414 million Americans on the same team as well as map.

    Study the Megamerge Dissolution Solution that shows how it can be done at http://go.to/megamerge


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