Thursday, August 21, 2008

Original Ownership is a silly argument

One of my favorite programs received input from a gentleman named Juan who used the "California belonged to Mexico first!" argument on them. I couldn't resist replying to it, and thought I'd post it for a broader audience.

The "original ownership" argument used to claim California still belongs to Mexico is as fallacious as it is disingenuous.

It's like saying the people who bought my house new in the late 1940's have the right to come and take it from me because they had it first.

Ironically for Juan's argument, Mexico didn't own California first. Neither Spain or even the American Indians from whom they took it. There's solid evidence of a people living in much of North America before American Indians arrived, meaning they took it from an earlier people who probably took it from someone else.

California was acquired as part of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, which ended the Mexican-American war. The U.S. paid $15 million (about $315 million in today's dollars) for the land, guaranteed existing property rights of Mexican citizens and took on $3.25 million (about $70 million in today's dollars) in debt owed by Mexico to Americans.

This territory was paid for in American lives and dollars. The fact we bothered to pay anything to the nation that lost the war and guaranteed the rights of her citizens was much more civilized than most of the previous "transfers of ownership" in the past.

I really don't care who owned the land when. It has nothing to do with a coherent border security policy, which is necessary for any modern nation. If I illegally entered Mexico, then demanded the same rights and services as citizens there, I'd be put in prison for a few years and then shipped back to the U.S. All I'm asking is we are at least as serious about our border as Mexico is about theirs.

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