Mexico reacts

President George Bush’s border security plan, announced on May 15, provoked a range of responses in Mexico, but some common points became immediately apparent.
First, for many Mexicans, the US National Guard’s presence clearly implies the border’s militarization. Further, such a military presence “creates the risk of more abuses of migrants’ fundamental rights,” according to José Luis Soberanes Fernández, chairman of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission.
Secondly, many Mexican observers say this measure will not keep people from trying to cross the border into the United States. However, migrants will have to “pay more money to polleros [guides], seek increasingly dangerous crossings and find increasingly harsh soldiers or police,” according to Manuel Camacho Solís, a member of the Mexican Congress. In an op-ed in the El Universal newspaper, he emphasized that “controls have become tighter,” while “the reality of the labor market has not changed.”
International relations expert Lorenzo Meyer pointed out in the Reforma newspaper that the great majority of undocumented Mexicans entering the United States is immediately absorbed by the US economic machinery as bricklayers, janitors, cooks, dishwashers, waiters, gardeners, agricultural workers, packers, car washers and mechanics, among many other jobs.
Meyer, a professor at El Colegio de México, said he does not question the right of the United States to monitor its border with Mexico and choose the type of barrier that best fits its interests. However, he saw a contradiction ina “semi-sealed border” that does not cover the entire border, since a flow of undocumented workers will continue to enter the United States, “although with more difficulty.” He added that the expanded border wall essentially sends the North American Alliance for Security and Prosperity, established in 2005, “to the historic trash can.”
Mexican historian Ilán Semo wrote in the La Jornada newspaper May 20 that the low wages received by Mexican immigrants enable the United States to “maintain competitive levels with, for example, China, as well as minimize costs in the services industry and keep agricultural production alive.”
As for the reason for the Bush administration’s new immigration strategy, Semo pointed to the low popularity currently enjoyed by Bush and the threat posed by the possibility of an opposition-controlled Congress. He described the “militarization” of the border as a dose of “racism, classism and fear of intruders” aimed at impacting the upcoming congressional elections.
Rafael Fernández de Castro, who heads the international relations department at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, agreed that Bush is using the “fear factor.” When asked whether Bush is striking a middle ground by implementing stricter controls at the border, while proposing a guest worker program and possible citizenship for some immigrants, Fernández de Castro told HSToday that, “with the executive order militarizing the border, we’re getting the stick, but who knows whether we’re going to get the carrot or not?” since the initiative for allowing some immigrants to remain legally in the United States requires full congressional approval.
Looking inward
But criticism was not only directed outside the country. Fernández de Castro joined others in emphasizing that the Mexican government has not done enough to keep its citizens working in its own country through “more jobs and better-paying jobs.”
Mexican President Vicente Fox’s “burst of enthusiasm” about the Senate’s approval of the Bush plan on May 25 was described in an editorial in the La Jornada newspaper as not only premature, considering the difficult road toward House approval, but as an attempt to present this type of immigration reform as “the” solution to the dilemma faced by immigrants, when millions will not benefit from the new measures, if passed.
Meanwhile, Soberanes Fernández of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission said expanding what he calls a “wall of shame” reflects “the inability of both governments to confront the full complexity of migration as a social and economic phenomenon.” HST

(Visited 10 times, 1 visits today)

The Government Technology & Services Coalition's Homeland Security Today (HSToday) is the premier news and information resource for the homeland security community, dedicated to elevating the discussions and insights that can support a safe and secure nation. A non-profit magazine and media platform, HSToday provides readers with the whole story, placing facts and comments in context to inform debate and drive realistic solutions to some of the nation’s most vexing security challenges.

Leave a Reply