Ask a Mexican

Yukon Ho! Canada Rolls Out a Welcome for Mexicans

Dear Mexican: I'm in this country illegally, but I have a current passport from the country I am from, and I have an international driver's license. Occasionally, I fly commercially within the United States, and these docs are always sufficient. I wish to take a cruise to Alaska that leaves from and returns to Seattle, with no stops in Canada. Will these docs work?

—La Estrella de Sinaloa

Dear Sinaloa Star: While you can theoretically make it — your trip is domestic travel after all — it's better not to put yourself at risk, since the Obama administration is even cracking down on cruise ships in its ridiculous search for the undocumented. Then again, maybe you should take the trip. Go to Alaska, then smuggle yourself into Canada. According to the Mexican Migration Project, the number of temporary workers who found employment in Canada grew from about 7,000 cabrones in 1998 to nearly 18,000 in 2007. And those hosers are so darn nice that academics writing for the Migraciones Internacionales journal last year opined, "Although results reported here suggest that American guest workers fare much bet­ ter in the labor market than those without documents, they still do not achieve the same level of economic welfare as their counterparts in Canada, earning less money per hour, working fewer hours per week, remaining abroad fewer months per year, and thus earning 28 percent less income during a season of work." You heard the eggheads, raza: time to push Aztlán into Alberta!

I must be one low-class individual. According to the news tonight, Taco Bell is introducing an "upper class" menu that includes black beans. I never even heard of black beans until I moved from Los Angeles to Denver. Grandma always made pinto beans. Since when did black beans become "higher class"?

—Dumbfounded in Denver

Dear Gabacho Wab: Beans as status symbols? You know it! Although the black bean is a part of the Mexican diet, it's only traditionally found in the Southern and Gulf Coast states; the rest of the country sticks with pinto beans. Black started popping up at "higher-end" Mexican restaurants during the Southwestern cuisine movement of the 1980s, the same fad that brought us fajitas. The mega-chain Chipotle, which emphasizes its use of hormone-free meat, continued the use of black beans, further searing into the American psyche that those legumes are somehow healthier than pintos, even though both are equally good for eaters. Now, Taco Bell is following in those footsteps with the use of frijoles negros, knowing that gabachos now associate black beans with trendy food, and the humble pinto with beaners.

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Gustavo Arellano
Contact: Gustavo Arellano