Letters to the Editor: 'Mexican versions of Stephen Miller' — on the backlash against expats in Mexico

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MEXICO CITY - JULY 06: Cafe-goers sit at Quentin Cafe, a coffee shop popular with Americans and remote-workers in the Condesa neighborhood on Wednesday, July 6, 2022 in Mexico City. (Celia Talbot Tobin for the Times)
Cafe-goers sit at Quentin Cafe, a coffee shop popular with Americans in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City on July 6. (Celia Talbot Tobin / For The Times)

To the editor: Several years ago, when I realized how dangerously divided our country had become, I thought about why and read a lot on the subject. It didn't take too long to conclude that Americans had started to see their fellow citizens as the "other." ("Californians and other Americans are flooding Mexico City. Some locals want them to go home," July 27, and "The new generation of smug American expats in Mexico needs to face the truth," column, July 29)

We are educated and successful. They are deplorables.

We are taxpayers. They find ways not to pay.

We worked hard for what we have. They work the system.

We came as immigrants and contributed to this country. They go to another country and exploit it.

Please. People are people, and we are more alike than different. We can all improve the situation we're in by moving toward "us."

Linda Mele Johnson, Long Beach

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To the editor: The Times' report on Americans relocating to Mexico City riled up a storm on Twitter, as people with right-wing sensibilities proclaimed "gotcha." Others decried what they saw as gentrification and displacement.

Columnist Gustavo Arellano provided his own perspective, siding with those who expressed concerns about cultural change in Mexico that is brought about by "ugly Americans."

I'm here to offer a third perspective: The universal human impulse of nativism is bad.

I'm a proud Mexican American who does not shy away from speaking Spanish. I should be free to be my authentic self as long as I am not hurting others.

It is each country's prerogative to craft its own immigration laws. However, we should avoid trying to sound too much like Mexican versions of Stephen Miller.

Mario Gonzalez, Palmdale

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To the editor: Recently, 30 young Mexican volunteers painted fanciful designs on the power poles along the main street of the Mexican village where I live. The young people hold a lesson for us expats.

Mexicans not only chafe at higher cost of living, but at folks from NOB (north of the border) who come because it's cheap, set up shop, demand people speak English, stay in their little NOB groups and ignore the fact that they are in one the most magical cities in one of the most magical countries in the world.

Perhaps if they saw and talked with those kids, they would understand that Mexico is magic not because it is cheap, but because of its people.

I advise people moving to Mexico to bring four things: patience, flexibility, generosity and a sense of humor. This country runs on relationships; sequestering yourself to a computer screen and your NOB friends does not build relationships.

Talking even in broken Spanish will earn you a smile. Give five pesos to the old woman begging by the store, tell her your name and ask for hers. Smile at the kid who wants to wash your car and maybe say "sí."

And if you see a group of high school students painting telephone poles, tell them "muy bien." They are probably your neighbors, and then they will be your friends.

Patrick O'Heffernan, Ajijic, Mexico

The writer is assistant editor for English of the bilingual newspaper Semanario Laguna.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.