A San Francisco band called Monarchs hired three Latino day laborers to pose as the band members in a music video for their song “Mexicans.” Both the video and the song pay tribute to the hard work of the immigrant community in the face of a largely ungrateful America. In an interview with the Phoenix New Times, one of the band members explained the lyrics as such:
The chorus of the song goes: “Braceros, you’re the future now/ Everyone says, no one knows what town.” This references the Bracero program, where hundreds of thousands of Mexicans were brought here during World War II to fill a shortage of manual labor (primarily in West Texas). By the 60’s, the program was shuttered, but the idea of hiring cheap farm labor from Mexico had already been established. So fast forward to now, and the literal and figurative descendants of these Braceros are no longer just a group to be exploited. Their numbers are so great, their imprint so established, that they are, by any metric, the future of our country. Everybody kind-of knows this already, and so a lot of people’s response is to look at the issue and say, “not in my town.” But the truth is, if you look around, they are already pretty much in everybody’s town. The end of the song repeats the phrase “14 Mexicans in a van.” This phrase has proven somewhat controversial when we play the song live, but it’s really just telling it like it is. Every day you have all these people coming up from Latin America, using every bit of money they have for the privelege of crowding into a van or whatever, risking all kinds of calamity just to come here and work some difficult job. That’s heroic when you think about it. It should make people feel like John Wayne in some WW2 movie: “that’s the kind of man I’d like to have in my regiment.” But instead, our xenophobia gets in the way and we try to build electrified fences and legalize racial profiling to keep these relentlessly hard-working, self-made people out! What a world.