Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Pizza for Pesos Fuels Immigration Debate

I first heard about the Texas pizzeria that takes cash payment in pesos a week or so ago on Fox News. A couple of day later, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams ran a segment on the story. Then I found this article on the topic at the New York Times on Monday. Here's the introduction:

Jose Ramirez and two friends stopped by a Pizza Patrón here after work on Thursday for a carry-out dinner. Mr. Ramirez, his jeans dusted with white chalk from the construction site, ordered a Hawaiian and La Patrona — a large with the works.

The pies cost him almost 220 big ones. Pesos, that is.

Mr. Ramirez, 20, received his change in American coins and said he liked the chain’s new “Pizza por Pesos” promotion. He had been in the United States for 15 days — his home is in Guanajuato, Mexico — and he wanted to spend the last of his Mexican currency....

The employees at this Pizza Patrón in East Dallas, one of 59 in five Southwestern and Western states, were still puzzling over the conversion rates almost a week after the chain started accepting peso bills on Jan. 8.

But the promotion has already hit a nerve in the nationwide immigration debate. The company’s Dallas headquarters received about 1,000 e-mail messages on Thursday alone. Some were supportive, but many called the idea unpatriotic, with messages like, “If you want to accept the peso, go to Mexico!” There were even a few death threats.

Antonio Swad, president and founder of Pizza Patrón, said he was surprised by the outcry.

“I certainly wasn’t expecting ‘pizza for pesos’ to become a touchstone for the immigration issue,” Mr. Swad said. It was nothing more than an effort to “reinforce our brand promise to be the premier Latino pizza chain,” he said. “We’re businessmen.”
The emergence of a duel currency system in Texas is another example of the weakening of American sovereignty and national identity in the current era of out of control immigration:

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies in Washington, a group that seeks to limit immigration, said he was concerned that Hispanics could create a parallel mainstream in the United States.

“It’s a trivial example, but Hispanics now have their own pizza chain,” Mr. Krikorian said. “It’s a consequence of having too many people arrive from a single foreign culture, and may well reflect a kind of cultural secession.”
This cultural secession is leading to the demographic reconquista of the Southwestern United States, according to Samuel Huntington in his book, Who Are We: The Challenges to America's National Identity.

For my recent post on Peggy Noonan's compelling argument if favor of slowing down the pace of immigration, which would allow the U.S. to absorb and assimilate those newcomers already here,
click here. See also Business Week's 2004 cover article, "Hispanic Nation," for more on the nature of the Hispanic challenge to the American cultural mainstream.

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