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Warming Trend: Why do Mexicans heat up their cars for so damn long? 

Dear Mexican: I am a naturalized (legal) hispano in the U.S. and I just realized what the "illegal" craze is about. What immigrant-bashing citizens are trying to protect here are people Consider what this concerned woman said to John McCain during a public meeting in New Hampshire last year. "I just think it's not fair to all the people who came here legally and went through the process and now all the illegals, you're just gonna give 'em citizenship?" she said. "That's not fair." I have to say, I was moved. I came here legally, I went through the process and, you know what, I never cared whether the neighbor I buy my tamales from has his papers in order or not. Now I see why this woman wants to deport millions of people just like me. Because not doing so would be "unfair" for me. See, Mexican (I would say, Chicano), this concerns you, too. Anti-immigrant campaigns are made so people like you — rigorously legal immigrants — are treated fairly. Any words of gratitude?

Dear Coño: You honestly think "anti-immigrant campaigns" (your words, not mine) arise to protect legal immigrants? And they say it's Mexicans who never bother to learn American civics and history! Where did you naturalize — outside a 7-Eleven? How do you account for Chinese getting lynched out of California's Gold Rush during the 1850s, Japanese internment during World War II, the constant railings by Know Nothings about foreign cultures invading our shores without care for legal status, the centuries-long obsession with who's white and who's not right? The Mexican can't help but to grin extra-grande when he hears people profess to love legal immigrants and hate the illegal ones. History just doesn't prove it. If this were truly the case, anti-immigrant loons wouldn't get their chonis in a bunch about language, ethnic makeup, and culture like they always do. They wouldn't care about the rise of Univisión, chickens in the backyard, billions of dollars in remittances to the motherland — and yet they do. So, a challenge: who amongst you can truly say they hate the illegal Mexican but not the legal one? Who amongst you doesn't care about culture but everything about the law? The best three responders (keep answers under 100 words) get a Border Patrol hat or a copy of my ¡Ask a Mexican! book — their choice!

Dear Mexican: Why do Mexicans think they have to warm up their cars in the morning for almost half an hour before they go to work? Modern cars clearly do not need this, and my white mom says it's something they used to do back in the fifties. There's no solid mechanical reason for it.
Yo Quiero Bailout

Dear Gabacho: You know how it is with Mexicans — we're always at least twenty years behind the times. That's why we like oldies music and classic cars, why wabs wear sweatshirts and camisetas emblazoned with antiquated icons and slogans like CHICAGO BEARS SUPER BOWL XX CHAMPS or Bart Simpson masquerading as Michael Jordan, why the motherland got into the democracy game back in 2000 after 75 years of one-party rule and some Mexican men still think whistling at 16-year-old girls isn't creepy. Same with warming up cars. It's advisable to warm up any car for a minute or so to get its juices flowing, longer if it's a jalopy (a word that supposedly has its origins in the Mexican city of Jalapa, the same place that is the etymological birthplace of the jalapeño; supposedly, Jalapa received a lot of cars destined for the scrap heap in the early part of the 20th century, but such stories never seem to include the Mexican side of the cuento). But what do you care that Mexicans calientan sus cars for so long? Let them enjoy the ten minutes of respite revving their cars; once that's over, they get to deal with being Mexican again.

Ask the Mexican at,, or write to him via snail mail at: Gustavo Arellano, P.O. Box 1433, Anaheim, CA 92815-1433!

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