Dr. John Hennen
Intro to Appalachian Studies
15 February 2017
The topic for this essay revolves around the movement of labor into and out of Appalachia. More specifically, it focuses on the immigration of Latinos into Appalachia to work and the outsourcing of industrial businesses native to Appalachia to Mexico. “Going South, Coming North: Migration and Union Organizing in Morristown, Tennessee” was the main source for this essay. This peer-reviewed article used a multimedia essay format to add further commentary and remarks about the documentary that we viewed called Morristown: in the air and sun. In it, it talks about things that were touched on in the documentary, but in deeper context, and in a more interactive way. For example, in the hour long documentary, the dangerous trip from Mexico to America is briefly examined, but in this article, a firsthand account from someone that made the trip and knows how hard and treacherous it actually is is interviewed, giving the reader an even better understanding of how much people that come illegally put at stake just to work and provide for their families. There were several reasons I chose to write on this particular subject. To begin, I thoroughly enjoyed the documentary in class and wanted to learn more about the topics at hand. I come from a small Appalachian town that was directly affected by the influx of Mexican citizens, and all I ever heard was how bad they were and how they were taking the jobs of citizens. However, this documentary changed the way that I viewed Mexicans who risk it all to come take lower quality jobs in order to support their families. Instead of looking at them like people who break the law and come in and steal jobs from hardworking Americans like I had been conditioned to, I could look at their situations with empathy and a sense of admiration – anyone that risks their lives in order to work and provide for their family surely can’t be as bad as people lead me to believe. Another reason why I chose to write on this topic is because although I was not directly affected by my parents’ jobs being outsourced to Mexico, I can remember the fears that it would be, because my dad works in a factory and there was always that chance that it would be moved to Mexico.
One of the main things that struck me both in the documentary as well as in the article was the information about Mexican citizens that make the trip from their homeland to the United States. There were countless reasons that so many people made that trip, risking their lives to face the unknown in hopes of making better lives for both themselves and their families. The peso, the Mexican currency, had been devalued greatly. In 1994, it devalued so quickly that in only one week it went from being 4 pesos to 7.2 pesos for the American dollar. This means that for every 1 dollar and American citizen has, they had 7.2 times as much, or $7.20 in Mexican pesos (Hufbauer & Schott, 2005, 10). The peso devaluation...