I remember how relaxed they were in the Sixties. People could go back and forth across the border easily.
When I was working in Baltimore in 1959, on my last summer before graduating as an Electronic Engineer from the U of Illinois, I met a young Mexican man, who was living with his sister and her husband, both Mexican doctors, who were doing advanced training at a hospital in Washington, DC.
He owned a little printing company in Mexico City – but would sometimes come to the States to make some extra money. He had no trouble getting a job. On his last trip, he bought a new Chevrolet convertible, drove it down to Mexico City – and stopped making payments!
Lots of Americans, including my own parents, lived in Mexico easily. And crime was not a problem. Large numbers of Hispanics lived in Los Angles, and other places – including my home town of Ft. Madison, Iowa. They weren’t considered ideal citizens, but were tolerated easily.
Fifty years later there was a wall between the two countries, and and the Border Police were arresting many illegal immigrants – a category of people that had never existed before. And crime (mainly involving drugs) was a huge problem!
A lot of things – the economies of both America and Mexico deteriorated – and Americans became less tolerant. Mexicans were considered another race – and a despised one. American companies still hired Mexican workers (because they were hard-working, and would work for less) – but were careful about doing so, since it was illegal.
But most important of all – Americans decided to know nothing – and were not interested in patching things up between the two countries.
Americans were eagerly buying all the drugs Mexican criminals were sending them – but were not interested in solving their drug problems.
Drugs were relieving the pain of being Americans.