Sunday, January 09, 2005

Lost in Translation

Last month, Mexico's Foreign Ministry published a 32-page comic book entitled, The Guide for the Mexican Migrant. The title is a little misleading, however. The comic book is essentially a primer on how to be an illegal immigrant. The guide offers information on making safe border crossings into the United States, and outlines the illegal immigrant's legal rights.

Dramatic drawings show undocumented immigrants wading into a river, running from the U.S. Border Patrol and crouching near a hole in a border fence. On other pages, they hike through a desert with rock formations reminiscent of Arizona and are caught by a stern-faced Border Patrol agent.

"This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country," the book says.

The guide carries a disclaimer saying that the Mexican government does not encourage illegal immigration. But authorities say that for those who've made the decision to enter the United States illegally, the guide can be useful. (This is similar, I suppose, to telling teenagers to abstain from sex, but handing them packages of condoms "just in case.")

It may be worth noting that nowhere does the guide give information on how to emigrate legally.

You can download a PDF of the comic book here.

And in case you can't read Spanish, Dale Franks at Q and O offers a humorous translation.


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