Are we afraid of Mexico?

By Cindy Moy: I grew up a country girl, with my car radio tuned to two different country music stations. I’m also a Toby Keith fan, so when one of his songs came on the radio, I turned up the volume.

One line in the song, American Ride, gave me pause: Tidal wave comin’ cross the Mexican border.

My guess is that the line refers to illegal immigration from our southern neighbors. Thousands of illegal immigrants from other countries (Canada and Germany, for instance) live in the U.S., though, but those countries did not make it into the song.

Are we afraid of illegal immigration, or are we afraid of Mexicans?

I’ve never been to Mexico. Before today, the only thing I knew about Mexico is that The Husband likes to go scuba diving in Cozumel.

So I decided to educate myself on how Mexico is different from America, and this is what I learned:

Mexico is a federation of 31 states and 1 federal district.
The U.S. has 50 states and 1 federal district.

Mexico is a democracy with 3 branches of government: the Judiciary, the Legislative, and the Executive.
The U.S. is a democracy with 3 branches of government: the Judiciary, the Legislative, and the Executive.

Mexico was a founding member of the United Nations.
The U.S. led the way in creating the United Nations, along with China, France, Great Britain, and the U.S.S.R.

Mexico is a capitalist economy, and has the 11th largest economy in the world.
The U.S. is a capitalist economy, and is largest economy in the world.

Thirty-percent of Mexico’s 745,000 university students are studying engineering or technology.
In the U.S., 4.5 percent of university students study engineering or technology.

Mexico has a population of 115 million, with a 1.82 percent growth rate.
The U.S. has a population of 315 million, with a .9 percent growth rate.

Life expectancy in Mexico is 75.6 years.
Life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.2 years.

Mexico is ranked 88th on the list of infant mortality rates.
The U.S. is ranked 49th.

The median income of a household in the U.S. is 8 times that of a household in Mexico.

Does Mexico have its share of problems? Of course. But a quick online search for facts about Mexico turns up dozens, if not hundreds, of vitriolic opinions about that country.

Are such criticisms justified?

Would people have those opinions if illegal immigration from Mexico wasn’t such a political hot button?

Do we really need to fear Mexico?