Mexican President Felipe Calderon continues to demonize Arizona’s new immigration law as he has since his official state visit to the U.S. last May. During his address to a Joint Meeting of Congress (May 20, 2010) – a privilege given to very few foreign dignitaries – President Calderon scolded the U.S public and those in Congress that supported the Arizona law. The response from the Democratic majority, the elected representatives of the U.S. public, was an overwhelming round of applause. That same day, President Obama joined Calderon at the White House in criticizing the Arizona law.
I make no judgment here on the merits (or lack there of) of Arizona’s new immigration law. I will leave that for another day. It’s the hypocrisy of President Calderon’s remarks, and the abundance of hubris to do so in front of the U.S. Congress and the President of the U.S., while completely disregarding the way his own country treats immigrants along Mexico’s southern border.
Indeed, Mexico has its own problems with illegal immigration, however unlike the U.S. it does not have nor does it need legions of its own citizens protesting the federal government to stem the tide of illegals entering their country. You see, the immigration laws in Mexico are very different from those of the U.S. and Arizona.
To legally immigrate to Mexico you must first demonstrate that you speak fluent Spanish and have a trade or skill that is in demand. Unskilled laborers are never allowed to immigrate to Mexico. Fluency in the local language is waived only for investors. To be fair, such requirements are typical for most nations.
As a foreign born citizen legally living in Mexico, you may never: receive any public assistance, hold any elected or public office (Federal, State and local), participate in any public protest or strike and own any waterfront property. Serving as a member of the clergy or as crews of Mexican-flagged ships or air planes are also prohibited. Certain legal rights are waived for foreign born residents of Mexico, including the right to a deportation hearing or other legal motions.
If you are in Mexico illegally, your life is much less “complicated”. Illegal aliens are simply jailed and deported – no hearings, no petitions, nothing. The fate is the same for women that give birth in Mexico. Once deported, re-entering Mexico illegally will earn you a trip to prison for 10 years! Amnesty International has issued reports claiming illegal immigrants in Mexico, typically from Central America – its southern border, most often face abuse, rape, kidnappings and death, and that Mexican police do little to stop it.
Hellish as all that sounds, hundreds of thousands of persons from Central America make the 1,600 mile long trek north through Mexico by foot and by smuggling themselves inside or on top of rail cars. Suffice to say, many more Central Americans die on that journey than do Mexicans crossing into Arizona. Unlike the illegal immigrants entering the U.S. southern boarder, Mexico’s illegal immigrants do not intend to make Mexico their final destination. Their aspiration is the same as those of the Mexicans citizens, to enter the U.S. by whatever means possible. Clearly, President Calderon believes such an opportunity should be reserved only for Mexican citizens, not some lowly illegal alien from Central America. Why? Money, and a lot of it!
Immigrants throughout the world, both legal and illegal, send a large percentage of their income back to their home countries via remittances. Remittances, Mexico’s No. 2 source of foreign income after oil exports, totaled over $25 billion in 2008 from its citizens working legally and illegally in the U.S. Apparently President Calderon, a self-described devout Catholic, sees no shame or hypocrisy in denying that opportunity to its far poorer neighbors on its own southern boarder.
So to venture a guess as to the reason for President Felipe Calderon’s hypocrisy, I would say it’s nothing personal, it’s just good for business. As as to why President Obama invited a foreign dignitary into his house to scold his own people, I would say it’s nothing personal, it’s just good for politics.