Remittances [$20 billion/3% Mexican national income] have cushioned Mexico’s failure, but they cannot achieve Mexico’s success. Only internal change in Mexico can do that. Mexico desperately needs foreign investment in its energy industry, a rationalization of its tax system, and free-market reform of its labor laws. Vicente Fox has done none of these things, and has in fact barely tried. He has instead pinned all his country’s hopes on the export of its population to the United States.
Today, almost one-fifth of all living Mexican-born people now make their homes in the United States. You have to go back to the Irish potato famine to find a parallel. But Mexico is not suffering famine: It is suffering from a comprehensive failure of political and economic leadership.
Mexico’s problems are also America’s problems, no getting around that. But an American president cannot agree that Mexico’s problems should be made only America’s problems.
I saw yesterday that Mexico has a labour shortage in Mexico. Farmers and people who here use illegal immigrants the most can’t get anyone to work for them because the ones who would are all working up here.
I also saw today on the news that Vincente Fox can’t stop people from crossing the border because of Article 11 of the Mexican Constitution:
Article 11. Everyone has the right to enter and leave the Republic, to travel through its territory and to change his residence without necessity of a letter of security, passport, safe-conduct or any other similar requirement.
Which anyone will tell you is a complete crock. Anyone sneaking over their southern border gets carted right back, without any protests in the streets of Mexico’s largest cities. And then, since this is a slow burn with me, I might as well get it out of the way, we have:
The immediate danger is that Republicans will ignore their longer-term interests by passing a punitive, and poll-driven, anti-immigration bill this election year. Any bill that merely harasses immigrants and employers, and stacks more cops on the border, may win cheers in the right-wing blogosphere. However, it will do nothing to address the economic incentives that will continue to exist for poor migrants to come to America to feed their families. And it will make permanent enemies of millions of Hispanics, without doing anything to draw illegals out of the shadows and help them assimilate into the mainstream of American culture and citizenship.
Well, why don’t we pass an anti-illegal immigration bill (which I thought was what they were doing), and open up legal immigration to those poor migrants who just want to feed their families, so they can (what a concept) bring their families? Then we don’t have to give them $20 billion to send out of the country. And if we’re rounding up people on trains, a picture the Mexican people are going to be turned off by, what if we have a train of legal immigrants coming the opposite direction? The Statue of Liberty says:
Give me your tired, your poor,<br/> Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,<br/> The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.<br/> Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:<br/> I lift my lamp beside the golden door.
Which we haven’t been doing, so the ones lucky enough to live on our border have been creeping over it. It’s ridiculous. And it doesn’t say “I lift my lamp beside the golden door to the guest worker program bureaucracy offices where you can get a temporary work permit before we make you leave again.”
Sorry, not done. I mean, what about all those poor Chinese people that arrive stuffed (“huddled”, really) in cargo boxes, who either get forced to work in sweat shops or brothels if they aren’t caught or deported if they are? Honestly. They’re so “wretched” they’re willing to do all that to come here, even getting across a whole ocean rather than one invisible line.
Oh, and the Irish! Remember when the Taoiseach was telling us on St Paddy’s day that we should do something about all the illegal Irish immigrants living here? Why are the Irish coming here illegally?! They don’t exactly have a reputation for being undereducated drains on society with nothing to contribute.
But here in Central California that is not the public face of the demonstrations that we saw–which were mostly angry and, in the case of truant high-school students, so often unfortunately characterized by Mexican chauvinism, if not overt racism of the La Raza (“the race”) type. And while these public outbursts were for the present just noisy, the private counter-reactions to them, I fear, are going to grow larger and angrier still.
If many thousands of illegal aliens marched in their zeal, many more millions of Americans of all different races and backgrounds watched–and seethed. They were struck by the Orwellian incongruities–Mexican flags, chants of “Mexico, Mexico,” and the spectacle of illegal alien residents lecturing citizen hosts on what was permissible in their own country.