Calderón & Mexico’s Own Immigration Laws

Mexico’s President visited The White House & Congress in the aftermath of Arizona’s new authoritarian and racist immigration law.

President Calderón made headlines this week, more than anything for his address to a joint session of U.S. Congress where he asked for the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban and for the rejection of Arizona’s new authoritarian police law.  Watch his full address by clicking here.

Full disclosure: for those that don’t know, Calderón is actually a social and fiscal conservative, whose Presidency is still tainted by allegations of election fraud, which prevented progressive presidential candidate Lopez Obrador (click here for Obrador’s website) from becoming President instead of Calderón.  Current Mexican President Calderón is also a big supporter of Mexico’s oil privatization to open it up to even more agressive foreign controls, something that would please U.S.-based corporations very much.  Having said that, you would think that conservatives would love Calderón.  Instead, he has been lambasted by the U.S. right-wing media for urging Congress to pass immigration reform, God forbid!

I can’t tell you how many times the tired old argument surfaces with conservatives again and again: that Mexico’s own immigration laws are just as authoritarian as the United States’ and so that somehow justifies draconian immigration laws.  First, I’ll repeat here what I have already stated on Project Economic Refugee’s site previously:

…two wrongs do not make a right.  For the sake of argument: just because Mexico or any other country might have been guilty of having an inhumane immigration policy of its own in the past, it does not mean that it is okay for the U.S. to have an even more horrible one.  The U.S. is supposed to be better, not worse, than other countries.

So what are the facts on Mexico’s own immigration laws?  Via ThinkProgress:

In 2008, the Mexican Congress voted unanimously with 393 votes to decriminalize undocumented immigration to Mexico. Undocumented immigration is now a minor offense punishable by fines equivalent to about $475 to $2,400. However, just because Mexico reformed its laws doesn’t mean its law enforcement authorities got the memo. Amnesty International recently issued a report saying there is still “widespread abuse of migrants in Mexico,” largely because Article 67 of Mexico’s immigration law still requires law enforcement to demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country — which is nearly identical to provisions in Arizona’s immigration law. The Interior Department is reportedly working to repeal Article 67 “so that no one can deny or restrict foreigners’ access to justice and human rights, whatever their migratory status.” However, rather than seeing it as a source of hypocrisy, the U.S. would be wise to examine Mexico’s experience with illegal immigration as an extreme, but poignant case study of the deputization of immigration law and what can happen when it turns immigrants into criminals.

I am clearly not here to defend Calderón nor Mexico’s politicians for their shortcomings to their own people but before you start believing the right-wing propaganda machine’s demonizing of  the solutions he proposed during his address to Congress, maybe you should take a closer look at what he actually said (something that the corporate media tends to gloss over).  Let’s review the transcrip from the Mexican President’s address to Congress to examine what he actually advocated for:

A stronger Mexico means a stronger United States … and a stronger United States means a stronger Mexico … Let us create more jobs for American workers and more jobs for Mexican workers; members of the Congress, I’m not a President who likes to see Mexicans leave our country searching for opportunities abroad; in migration our communities lose their best people, the hardest working, the most dynamic, the leaders of their communities, as migrants, as parents, [sometimes] will never see their children again.

…today, we are doing the best that we can do in order to reduce migration to create opportunities and to create jobs for Mexicans in our own country where their homes are and where their families are; as many jobs as we can, and Mexico will one day be a country in which our people will find the opportunities that today they look for outside of the country.  Until then, Mexico is determined to assume its responsibility.  For us, migration, is not just your problem, we see it as our problem as well.  My government does not favor the breaking of the rules, I fully respect the right of any country to enact and enforce its own laws but what we need today is to fix our broken and inefficient system; we favor the establishment of laws that work and work well for us all, so the time has come for the United States and Mexico to work together in this issue, the time has come to reduce the causes of migration and to turn this phenonemon into a legal order and secure flow of workers and visitors.  We want to provide the Mexican people with the opportunities they are looking for, that is our goal, that is our mission as government to transform Mexico into a land of opportunities to provide to our people with jobs and opportunities to live in peace and to be happy.

I don’t know about you, but that didn’t sound as crazy to me as the right-wing propaganda machine is making it out to be.