Los Angeles is turning into Mexico!
It's a racist old joke told by the likes of Adam Carolla and Jay Leno, to name a few. The problem is, it's just not true.
Sure, one out of every two of us in the county is Latino, but that's a far cry from a town turning into Mexico. Here's why:
5. The Latino immigrant doesn't come here to turn L.A. into her home country. She comes here because this is not her home country. Simple but huge difference. Everything about America you like -- the Democracy, the standard of living, the clean highways, Walmart -- immigrants like too. Why would they uproot themselves and leave home for ... home? Do you think those immigrants from Oaxaca who name their newborn daughters Ashley and shop at Ralph's want to turn this into Mexico? Do you think the English-only-speaking, college-attending children of Latino immigrants desire to return this land to a country they don't even know much about? Doesn't make any sense at all.
4. L.A. is turning into Beverly Hills, not Chiapas. The punchline might be funny, ha-ha -- L.A. is turning into Mexico, look at all the poor, brown people blasting oompa-loompa music -- but it's not supported by the data. If you're saying L.A. is going downhill socioeconomically, you'd be hard pressed to prove your case. Sure, SoCal has been hit hard by the subprime mortgage mess, but that had little to do with immigration. And it was a mess that impacted the nation and even the world.
In fact, even during the economic downturn (in which the rich got richer), Los Angeles maintained a roster of billionaire residents rivaled by few other cities. In 2011 we looked at Forbes' billionaire rankings and figured that if California were its own nation, it would rank fourth, behind the U.S., China and Russia, in billionaire population. SoCal billionaires would dominate the state's wealth, too, in our estimation.
Remember, just because you see brown around you doesn't mean this isn't the home of the The Brentwood Country Mart, Rodeo Drive, $300,000 cars, pet spas, and some of the priciest real estate on earth.
L.A.'s core, urban basin, north of the 10 freeway, south of the Santa Monica mountains, west of downtown, is turning into Manhattan, for better or worse. It's real estate gold.
So, if L.A.'s turning into Mexico, Mexico must be quite a rich place.
3. Mexico is not such a bad thing to be. A key aspect of the L.A.-is-turning-into-Mexico oeuvre is the Mexican stereotype of dusty towns, dogs eating taco-stand droppings, and Indians sleeping next to cacti.
Of course, that's just bullshit. Chris Anderson of Wired fame had an op-ed piece in the New York Times over the weekend that compared Mexico's high-tech manufacturing resurgence favorably to China's rise. Most of the LCD TVs sold in the United States come not from L.A., that's for sure. They're assembled mainly just south of the border. Audi and Volkswagen are opening new auto plants in Mexico. Baja has become, in the words of some foodies, "the new Provence." The richest man in the world, Carlos Slim, lives in Mexico City.
If only L.A. were turning into that Mexico ...
2. Los Angeles is experiencing a renaissance. From the real-estate rebound of that most-Mexican of neighborhoods, Highland Park, to the well-known gentrification of other Latino neighborhoods -- Echo Park, Silver Lake, Atwater Village -- the Latino influence has been terrible for this town, huh?
The Los Angeles Tourism and Convention Board announced earlier this month that a record number of tourists -- 41.4 million -- visited our town in 2012. People must really hate this region of Mexico.
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And the number one reason L.A. is NOT turning into Mexico ...
1. We have our cake and eat it too. What happens when you mix hard-working immigrants willing to do more for less money with some of the wealthiest communities on planet earth? You get a unparalleled quality of life. You get a place where you can have your car washed, your baby taken care of, your home improved, and your lawn mowed on the cheap. Every time you eat out you enjoy the benefits of immigration. Check that kitchen. Who's cooking up that affordable meal? See who's washing those dishes. Now, if this were Mexico, you wouldn't be able to afford all that. But since it's not, we get the best of both worlds.