Hypocrisy also slips across the border | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Hypocrisy also slips across the border

I love Mexico. My late wife was a beautiful and charming Mexicana and we had two terrific Mexican-American children, who have become successful adults. But the Mexican government is another story.

The latest example of Mexican government hypocrisy occurred last month when officials in Mexico City compared a proposed U.S. border fence extension to the Berlin Wall. President Vicente Fox called a legislative proposal that would appropriate $2.2 billion to build 700 miles of fence along the border “shameful,” and Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez labeled it “stupid and underhanded.”

Of course neither of them acknowledged any responsibility for the tide of illegal immigrants flowing into border states like Arizona and New Mexico, whose governors have declared emergencies in order to deal with multi-million-dollar expenses associated with the runaway costs that illegals generate in education, health care and criminal justice systems in those states – and Nevada too, although Gov. Guinn hasn’t declared an emergency.

Meanwhile, although it complains about how we treat illegal immigrants, the Mexican government continues to deport Central Americans who enter that country illegally across its southern border with Guatemala. In fact, while visiting Mexico City last July, I came across a newspaper article boasting about increased deportations of illegals along the Mexico-Guatemala border. Conclusion: Wholesale deportations are just fine when they’re carried out by Mexico but abusive and wrong when Mexicans are on the receiving end. Give me a break!

Other examples of Mexican government hypocrisy abound. In a clear effort to circumvent our immigration laws, their consulates – including the one in Las Vegas – issue “official” identification documents to illegal immigrants. And just last month, that government announced plans to distribute “how to” maps to people who wanted to sneak into the United States. Mexico City backed down from that plan, however, after loud public protests in the U.S.

Mexican officials and so-called immigration advocates always refer to illegal immigrants as “undocumented workers” in an effort to blur the vital distinction between legal and illegal immigrants. My late wife, Consuelo, was a legal immigrant long before she became a proud American citizen, and she was an outspoken opponent of illegal immigration, as are many U.S.-born Hispanics, who vote in large numbers.

Since more than 60 percent of Americans think that illegal immigration is a serious problem, President Bush and his allies are ignoring public opinion when they pander to the immigration lobby and big campaign contributors who exploit illegal immigrants in the workplace. In fact, in last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the president’s lone reference to immigrants failed to distinguish between those who are here legally and those who aren’t, in an obvious attempt to ingratiate himself with Hispanic and Big Business voters.

Mexico-U.S. relations are tense at the moment because of border security issues. I’m pleased to report, however, that our ambassador to Mexico, Tony Garza, a Texas Republican, has been frank and outspoken in his defense of stepped-up border security measures. When the Mexicans complained about an expanded border fence, Garza called their criticism “excessive, often irresponsible and almost always inaccurate.” Amen!

“There is no human right to enter another country in violation of its laws,” Garza wrote in a five-page New Year’s statement released in Mexico City. “Illegal immigration is a threat to our system of laws and an affront to the millions around the world, including in Mexico, who play by the rules in seeking to come to the U.S.”

I hope that President Bush and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff read Ambassador Garza’s cogent statement, and took it to heart, but they probably didn’t even though nearly 40 percent of the 35.2 million foreign-born people who live in the U.S. are here illegally, according to the nonpartisan Center for Immigration Studies.

The Mexican government rejected the ambassador’s statement and again denied any responsibility for our burgeoning illegal immigration problem, but they’re quick to respond when we complain. For example, after men dressed as Mexican soldiers helped drug smugglers escape across the border near El Paso late last month, Ambassador Garza filed a diplomatic protest and demanded an investigation. Foreign Minister Derbez downplayed the incident, however, and even suggested that the perpetrators might have been American soldiers in disguise. But I think they were Mexican soldiers.

Although many illegal immigrants are hard-working, family-oriented people, many others are criminals and far too many of them are involved in the lethal drug trade. As an English/Spanish interpreter in Northern Nevada courtrooms, I frequently deal with illegal drug traffickers who are fueling our local methamphetamine epidemic. Nationwide, the Christian Science Monitor reports that a drop in home-cooked meth has been more than replaced “by a new flood of potent crystal meth coming from Mexico.”

So much for the alleged benefits of illegal immigration. As many wishy-washy politicians will discover this fall, most voters want the federal government to enforce our immigration laws along the Mexican border. They want strict border enforcement, not another misguided amnesty for illegal immigrants. Sen. Ensign and other congressional candidates should recognize this fact if they want our votes in November.

– Guy W. Farmer, a semi-retired journalist and former U.S. diplomat, resides in Carson City. This column was originally published Sunday in the Nevada Appeal.

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