The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982

Book Reviews

the man. Mary Whatley Clarke's The Slaughter Ranches and Their
Makers (Austin: Jenkins Publishing Company, 1979) provides an
interesting companion volume.
University of Texas, Austin C. RICHARD KING
The Border Economy: Regional Development in the Southwest. By
Niles Hansen. (Austin: The University of Texas Press, 1981. Pp.
xi+225. Preface, map, tables, appendixes, notes, bibliography,
index. $17.95, cloth; $8.95, paper.)
In this excellent study Niles Hansen, professor of economics at the
University of Texas, offers his readers several pleasant surprises. Look-
ing at statistics, he documents the recent growth experienced by the
border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. He
shows that average income disparities between Mexican Americans
and Anglos have been reduced, and he alleges that illegal aliens, or un-
documented workers, present no serious threat or crisis for the border-
lands. In fact, the present nonpolicy may be the best approach to the
Although some labor and Chicano activist groups may disagree,
Hansen marshals a convincing mass of evidence to support many of
the present border economic arrangements. He argues that regional
population growth in the last decade indicates that workers from both
countries sought jobs in the borderlands. Migrants from the Mexican
interior invaded these areas to upgrade their income. After crossing
the border, they performed tasks considered menial by United States
workers. Despite popular opinion regarding a dollar drain, they ac-
tually spent most of what they earned north of the border. Hansen
maintains, therefore, that what appears to be a relationship of domi-
nance and submission between the two countries is actually a more
complex and essentially symbiotic relationship.
Hansen then addresses the tricky problem of the undocumented
worker. He suggests why the status quo is preferable to either a stricter
enforcement of border crossing policy or an implementation of a guest-
worker program. The present system provides Mexico some relief
from its unemployment, as well as some additional technical skills.
Most migrants earn higher wages than they could otherwise. At the
same time, United States employers hire workers willing to perform
unappealing tasks for low wages. But since the migrants are not part
of a guest-worker program, they tend to be temporary residents.


Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 85, July 1981 - April, 1982. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed April 29, 2016.

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