I have spent the last few days on the Texas/Mexican border. It is my first trip here in two years although I used to come down here often. The drug cartels have basically stopped traffic flow across the border. It is not a direct affect, but because of the increased security and other concerns, it takes hours to go back and forth and most choose not to.
Two nights ago when I got into my rental car I drove about 70 miles along the border. It struck me how much the border towns on the American side differ little from the border towns on the Mexican side. All of the signs are in Spanish. I scanned through the radio stations and only found 3 English language channels. Going north to San Antonio it is very similar to driving south to Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. We are quickly becoming a Latin-oriented society.
When you go into Juarez, Matamoras, or Nuevo Laredo you know, without a doubt, that you are in Mexico. On the American side, it could go either way. But, the American/English impact on Mexico is minimal. Although English is spoken in some Mexican border establishments, I get along much better in Spanish. With the immigration into the United States, we are rapidy losing whatever character defined our country. Bilingual signs, a need to speak Spanish, and the blare of Tejano or Conjunto music penetrates the air. I came to the conclusion that we are going to change whether we like it or not.
Now, before you twist off and think I am a bigot, be it known that my mother was of Mexican descent and I have spoken Spanish since I was knee high to a Corona bottle. I love Mexican culture and the Mexican people. I have even considered living in Guanajuato or San Miguel de Allende. That said, it is sad for me to see the cultural identity of the United States change so rapidly. Although I do well in both languages, I think a country should have an official language (just look at Canada--they spend a fortune on bilingual signage because of a single province). Why should I, as a physician, be somewhat expected to speak Spanish while the patients (who have often lived in the Estados Unidos for more than a decade) do not learn English? But, the real victim is the immigrant. Failure to master the English language keeps them out of the American educational system and the higher paying jobs. It is a viscious cycle that keeps them in poverty and they will subsequently see their offspring lost to drugs, gangs, and bullets. Perhaps there needs to be more English radio stations and fewer Spanish signs. When I go to Peru or Colombia, they sure as hell don't have English signs. We may be a melting pot society, but we should be stirred with the same spoon.