¡Ask A Mexican!
By Gustavo Arellano
—Wabdaddy in Texas
Dear Wabpapi: You sound like a wonderful man, but tienes your ethnic terms wrong. A wab is a nickname Mexican-Americans in Orange County use to deride unassimilated Mexicans—think “hillbilly” in the gabacho context. A gabacho is a gabacho—in other words, someone of the gabacho race, the race that wants to deport wabs, not love them. I use wab and gabacho in my column for satirical purposes, and to teach gabachos new words, so you must’ve misread their meaning. You want to teach your niño to keep in touch with his wab roots, and live the privileged gabacho life (at least the nice parts, not all the nasty racist crap). Etymological concerns aside, I’m sure there are a lot of Tejanos who are more than happy to direct you to art, music, books (buy libros from Cinco Puntos Press in El Paso, porfas), and cultural programs that’ll teach your son about his proud heritage. Just don’t get them talking about the Alamo, and all will be fine!
I’m a judeo (notice I don’t call myself a gabacho) en Norte California, and after driving 1,800 miles to visit mi padre en Texas, I was surprised at the outrage over Mexican drivers in los estados unidos who don’t have a Texas (or wherever else north of the border) driver’s license. Does the U.S.A. not recognize foreign driver’s licenses? If they do, isn’t it simply an insurance issue, and, if so, couldn’t this whole silly problem be fixed by having car insurance companies offer cross-border policies? I know that the idea of getting into an accident with an uninsured driver is frightening, but couldn’t this be fixed if Geico (or whomever) sold norteamericano policies? Is there a law preventing this that I’m unaware of?
—Confuzzled Judeo en San Francisco
Dear Judeo: That’s a novel concept—distinguish yourself from gabachos because your tribe definitely ain’t them! Even more novel is your idea of having American authorities recognize foreign driver’s licenses in lieu of American ones. While wonderful and commonsense, the only problem is a matter of bureaucracy and jurisdiction. The United States doesn’t recognize foreign driver’s licenses per se but rather something called an International Driving Permit, which must be acquired in a person’s home country before coming to the United States. Since figuring out how to drive legally is usually the last thing on an illegal immigrant’s mind, most Mexicans are caca out of luck on that one. Furthermore, you have to apply for a driver’s license in American states once you establish residency there even if you were previously registered someone else, whether in el Norte or abroad. In the case of Mexicans, their Mexican driver’s license would only work for so long—and even if they’re here illegally, la licencia de manejar from Mexico won’t stop la migra from deporting your ass. Best bet? The burro.