Tuesday, May 23, 2006
I'm in Mexico on business. I have only been to Mexico once before, also on business, about ten years ago, and I do not speak or read Spanish, so I really know very little about the place. However, after about 30 hours "in country," I have three observations that bear ever so slightly on the immigration debate that is raging in the United States.
My Spanish-speaking colleague -- she's a naturalized Cuban-American -- translated an article in a local newspaper about the "stations" that the Mexican government has set up to take care of the migrants who are traveling from Central America through Mexico to get to the United States. One can interpret this as aiding and abetting illegal immigration into the United States, or an expedient means for encouraging the poor people from points south to "move along," or charity for people desperately in need. Or all three.
Tonight, we are in Mexico City at the Sheraton right next to the American embassy. My colleague needs to get some more pages for her passport, so after dinner we walked by the embassy to find out when it opened its doors for business in the morning. The guard said 6 a.m., and that she had better be there by then because the lines were incredibly long by 8 a.m. My naturalized friend was quite irritated to learn that American citizens have to wait in the same line as the locals. "I have to stand in line behind Mexicans to get into my own country's embassy?" One is forced to wonder about the Foggy Bottom reasoning behind that policy.
Finally, while in line in Guadalajara airport we noticed a young man with a colored bracelet with a legend that said, in Spanish, "Strength for Trevor," or words to that effect. Trevor, it turns out, is an eight-year old boy who attempted the border crossing through the Arizona desert. The sun and the sand injured him so badly that he was hospitalized in the United States for second-degree burns. According man at the airport, Trevor's relatives are selling these bracelets to raise money to pay the hospital bills.
I don't know about you sometimes, TH.
" 'I have to stand in line behind Mexicans to get into my own country's embassy?' One is forced to wonder about the Foggy Bottom reasoning behind that policy."
Why should the American government put the needs of its own citizens ahead of Mexican nationals? Wouldn't that be discriminatory?
Trevor is a victim of felony child endangerment by whoever smuggled him into the USA. His medical expenses will likely be paid for by Arizona taxpayers. What is in Trevor's future? Probably legal residency based on humanitarian grounds, and a lawsuit against the evil gringos who are responsible for his injuries.
What does the Mexican constitution says about immigrants? In brief, the Mexican Constitution states that:
• Immigrants and foreign visitors are banned from public political discourse.
• Immigrants and foreigners are denied certain basic property rights.
• Immigrants are denied equal employment rights.
• Immigrants and naturalized citizens will never be treated as real Mexican citizens.
• Immigrants and naturalized citizens are not to be trusted in public service.
• Immigrants and naturalized citizens may never become members of the clergy.
• Private citizens may make citizens arrests of lawbreakers (i.e., illegal immigrants) and hand them to the authorities.
• Immigrants may be expelled from Mexico for any reason and without due process.
I find it somewhat surprising that Americans have to wait in the same lines as locals at the US embassy in Mexico City. A few years ago, I had pages added to my passport at the U.S. embassy in Managua(which, incidentally looks like it could be used as a small military base in a pinch). The gringo line was in, had everyone taken care of, and out with utmost speed while the Nicarguan line was still in the process of stretching around the block.
Mexico is a land of plentiful, well-paying jobs compared to, say, Guatemala, and it would be terribly amusing if their solution to their illegal immigration problem was to pay it northward.