Mexifornia by Victor Davis Hanson

“Mexifornia: A State of Becoming” is a work by Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian with deep familial ties to California’s Central Valley. In the book, Hanson delves into the complex relationship between California and Mexico, particularly addressing the immigration patterns and policies of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Hanson offers both a personal and analytical perspective, combining his family’s multi-generational experience in the state with a historical and socio-political analysis.

Hanson’s primary argument is that the mass, largely unchecked, immigration from Mexico to California has led to societal bifurcation, with an entrenched underclass juxtaposed against an elite, leading to societal tensions and challenges. He is critical of both U.S. policies that encourage illegal immigration and Mexico’s inability to reform and provide opportunities for its citizens, creating push factors for migration.


  1. Personal Insights: Hanson’s deep-rooted connection to California provides the narrative with an authenticity and personal touch. His family’s experiences with immigration, farming, and changing demographics lend credibility to his commentary.
  2. Historical Depth: Hanson, with his background in history, contextualizes the current immigration issues within a broader historical framework, tracing patterns and policies over decades.
  3. Nuanced Perspective: While Hanson is critical of unchecked immigration and its consequences, he also empathizes with the aspirations of immigrants, recognizing their pursuit of a better life and their contributions to California’s society and economy.
  4. Candid Discussion: Hanson doesn’t shy away from addressing controversial topics, making the book a forthright exploration of immigration and identity.


  1. Perceived Conservatism: Critics argue that Hanson’s approach leans conservative, emphasizing the negative impacts of illegal immigration, which may overshadow the many positive contributions of immigrants.
  2. Generalizations: Some readers feel that Hanson occasionally resorts to overgeneralizations about the Mexican immigrant community, which may not capture the diversity and complexity within the group.
  3. Polarizing Rhetoric: At times, Hanson’s strong opinions can come across as polarizing, which might deter readers seeking a more neutral or comprehensive exploration of the topic.
  4. Economic Analysis: While Hanson touches on the economic implications of immigration, some critics believe he could delve deeper into the nuanced economic dynamics, including the demand for low-wage labor that drives immigration.


“Mexifornia: A State of Becoming” is a provocative examination of California’s transformation in the wake of mass immigration from Mexico. While Hanson’s personal ties and historical knowledge provide depth to the narrative, readers should approach the work as a perspective among many on the complex issue of immigration. To gain a well-rounded understanding, it’s beneficial to consider Hanson’s views alongside other analyses that might offer differing or complementary insights.