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For your own safety, natch.
450 illegal tamales from Mexico seized at LAX and ‘incinerated’ (not steamed)
Apparently there are illegal tamales.
A passenger at Los Angeles International Airport learned that the hard way earlier this month when he tried to bring pork tamales into the U.S. from Mexico.
The passenger arrived from Mexico on Nov. 2 and was stopped by U.S. Customs and Border Protection agriculture specialists, who found 450 pork tamales wrapped in plastic bags in the passenger’s luggage.
The passenger apparently denied that the tamales were made with pork, which is on the list of products that travelers may not bring into the country under customs regulations.
For many families, tamales are a quintessential holiday tradition. Making a batch takes days of planning and exhaustive preparation — all for a tasty bite of corn masa, red chile mole and pork, beef or chicken.
The passenger would have been in the clear had he tried to bring sweet tamales – or those all masa ones that always seem to be left over.
The passenger, who was not identified, was fined $1,000 because authorities believed the tamales were going to be sold and distributed.
As for the tamales, they met their demise. But not in the traditional manner: By being devoured.
All 450 of them were destroyed. The tamales were literally “incinerated,” a Customs and Border Protection spokesman said.
–Veronica Rocha, 450 illegal tamales from Mexico seized at LAX
Los Angeles Times, 18 November 2015.
Now of course Customs is being ludicrous, mean-spirited, invasive and petty. This is a heavy fine, and a pointless assault on the freedom of a peaceful traveler who did nothing to violate the rights of even a single living soul. It’s also a waste of perfectly good tamales, and just kind of a damned shame all around. But it is — qué pena! — just the most recent installment in a long, ludicrous history of American government’s mean-spirited and petty war on tamales and tamaleros:
By 1901, more than a hundred tamale wagons roamed Los Angeles, each paying a dollar a month for a city business license. Their popularity spurred others in outlying cities to follow their example. In 1906, Sonoran immigrant Alejandro Morales began selling his wife’s tamales from a wagon he commandeered through Anaheim. Morales, a ditch digger by trade, grew the concept into a restaurant, then a tamale factory, then Alex Foods, a multimillion-dollar empire now known as Don Miguel Mexican Foods.
It wasn’t just Latinos who operated tamale wagons — African Americans, European immigrants and whites also partook in the industry. In 1905, even the YMCA opened a temporary tamale wagon to raise funds so it could send a boy’s track and field team to compete in Portland, Ore.
Strangers coming to Los Angeles,reported The Times,remark at the presence of so many outdoor restaurants, and marvel at the system which permits men … to set up places of business in the public streets … competing with businessmen who pay high rents for rooms in which to serve the public with food.
Not everyone appreciated those first loncheras. L.A.’s press sensationalized any fight, quarrel or theft committed around the eateries, leading to a perception in polite circles that they weren’t safe (typical headline: “Says the Tamale Wagon is a Nursery of Crime”). As early as 1892, officials tried to ban them; in 1897, the City Council proposed to not allow tamale wagons to open until nine at night at the behest of restaurant owners who didn’t like their crowds. Four years later, Police Chief Charles Elton recommended they close at 1 a.m. because they offered “a refuge for drunks who seek the streets when the saloons are closed for the night.”
Los Angeles school trustees constructed kitchens at the city’s high schools (including the first prep cafeteria in the country at Los Angeles High) in 1905 to offer healthier lunches after having “long waged a crusade against the tamale wagons,” according to the Herald. And in 1910, 100 downtown businessmen signed a letter asking the council that tamale wagons be prohibited because they didn’t reflect well on the district.
The tamaleros fought back with their most powerful weapon: their fans. In 1903, when the council tried to outlaw them altogether, they formed a mutual-aid society and presented the council a petition with the signatures of more than 500 customers that read, in part: “We claim that the lunch wagons are catering to an appreciative public, and to deprive the people of these convenient eating places would prove a great loss to the many local merchants who sell the wagon proprietors various supplies.”
They also found an ally in Councilman Fred Wheeler. In 1920, he offered an impassioned defense in council chambers when tamale wagons once again faced the ax. “The tamale put Los Angeles on the map,” he thundered. “These wagons are almost an institution of our city. Cabrillo and his sailors are said to have found them here when they landed. Drive these wagons from our streets? Never!”
Wheeler convinced his fellow councilmen to spare the tamale wagons that year but wasn’t as lucky in 1924, when a resolution booted tamaleros from the plaza. They continued as usual, though, a move that sparked The Times to quip, “Those lunch carts have more lives than the eighty-one incarnations of Methuselah’s nine cats.”
By then, the wagons sold more than tamales — the massive wave of migrants from central Mexico over the previous 20 years had introduced other Mexican delicacies to the city, such as barbacoa, menudo and tacos. But their era was waning. “They belong not to the new order of things,” The Times editorialized in 1924. “They were born of the pueblo — they perish in the metropolis.”
The plaza, of course, transformed into Olvera Street, as a new generation of Angelenos wanted a more refined Mexican culinary experience than that offered by the chaos of Tamale Row. As the automobile grew in popularity, Latino families loaded up their trucks and drove through East Los Angeles selling food before settling in downtown, the precursor to today’s loncheras.
By 1929, when Samuel C. Wilhite received a patent for a “Tamale Inn” — a tamale wagon shaped like its eponymous snack complete with awning, rows of windows, and even steps — there was no need for it. He parked it on Whittier Boulevard and named it the Tamale, where the structure still stands, although it’s currently a beauty salon. The last tamale wagon on Southern California’s roads belonged to the Morales family: their Tamale Wagon, a legendary sprint car that captured the minds of race fans for decades.
–Gustavo Arellano, Tamales, Los Angeles’ First Street Food
Los Angeles Times, 8 September 2011.
Free the tamales and all political prisoners.
Senator Jeff Sessions isn’t against immigration. He’s just against illegal immigration. Also, legal immigration. Is there a third kind of immigration? If so, he might be against that too.
(c/w: Breitbart, nativism.)
In all seriousness, here is Senator Jeff Sessions freaking out about the U.S. government allowing legal immigration — at all, more or less. What he’s freaking out at is the U.S. issuing a really miniscule number of papers per year — less than 20% even of the total applications submitted, let alone the total demand — because, to put a fine point on it, Senator Jeff Sessions does not like having immigrants in the United States, period; and he thinks that he and the United States government have a right to use massive force and police powers to cut off the arrivals of foreigners, to lock out peaceful people who never did him any harm.
This is a shameful position, justified by nativist fear-mongering, and he ought to be ashamed of advocating it.
#AbolishTheSenate #AbolishJeffSessions #NoBorders #NoDeportations
From college to law school to professional life, from student visa to work visa, I have scrupulously followed every immigration regulation, paid all my taxes, filed all the papers I had to file, and have not so much as received a parking ticket. But it turns out that following all the rules is not enough. A move into public interest work unexpectedly fell through, leading to the imminent cancellation of my work visa. Following all of Uncle Sam’s rules has led me, 15 years down the road, to a plane ticket booked on short notice to anywhere but here. Maybe at some point in the indefinite future I will be able to come back, but I cannot count on it, certainly not the when or the how. Maybe in five years, maybe 10, maybe never. I have done battle with the US immigration system for a decade and half, and I have lost.
Numerous American friends, when the subject of my immigration status came up, have said to me things to the effect of, “Why don’t you just become a citizen?” To the Americans I have known, it really seems that people, or at least law-abiding people like me, should be able to just go down to the DMV, fill out some paperwork, and get citizenship. Time and again I have had to disabuse my friends of this misconception. What matters when it comes to obtaining citizenship is your “status” while you’re in America, and your status can be difficult to change. Years spent as a student do not count. Neither do years on a work visa unless your employer is willing to sponsor your green card. Right now there is no viable path for me to gain citizenship or even to stay in this country, because right now there is no way for me to get a green card.
–William Han, I spent the last 15 years trying to become an American. I’ve failed.
Vox (23 June 2015)
When people say
I’m not against immigration, I just want immigrants to follow the rules, what that actually means, in practice, is
I’m not against immigration, I just think people should have to wait in line forever and find out after years of waiting that it’s still literally impossible for them to legally stay in the U.S.
Borders are an injustice, an imposition, a usurpation, and a callous inhumanity. They seek out, attack and destroy everything that is precious and respect nothing that is loving or compassionate in human life. It is unconscionable that anyone should be expected to get ground through the gears of a monster bureaucratic machine like this in order to prove the validity of living their lives. Borders and citizenship and border-control laws and government permission-slips have no value compared to a human life, and they deserve no notice except to be trampled underfoot. Everyone should be free to immigrate without restriction and all currently documented and undocumented immigrants should be completely free from government scrutiny or nativist shaming.
\#NoBorders #NoDeportations #NotOneMore #AbolishICE #AbolishUSCIS #NoOneIsIllegal
So you tell me that your country cannot survive an influx of migrants from other countries, or from some other country in particular. OK, well, so what? Who cares?
If it is a question of
survival, and if countries have to perish so that people can live, then I am on the side of people, not on the side of your territorially organized ethno-political combines. Of course I am. Why aren’t you?
If countries’ survival and people’s survival come into conflict, then good lord of course people are always categorically more important.
\#ImmigrantRights #OpenAllBorders #AbolishAllNations
- GT 2015-03-16: Open all borders, end all national boundaries. A Manifesto.
- GT 2014-11-18: National borders are a military, not a natural, phenomenon.
- GT 2013-07-27: Immigration freedom is personal liberty. Borders are statism.
- GT 2007-11-12: Sin Fronteras
- C4SS.org 2013-10-15: Against All Nations and Borders