Calderón Needs to Listen, Not Just...(m)

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2009
Calderón Needs to Listen, Not Just...(m)
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 4:58am,8599,1990176,00.html?


Mexico's Calderón Needs to Listen, Not Just Lecture U.S.
By Tim Padgett Wednesday, May. 19, 2010

Nine years have passed since a Mexican President last addressed the U.S. Congress. That was Vicente Fox, just days before 9/11, after which al-Qaeda's horrors all but erased Mexico from Washington's foreign policy radar. But, surprise, our southern neighbor's problems refused to go away. While we were fighting off an Iraqi insurgency, Mexico's drug war morphed into a ghastly narcoinsurgency that threatens to spill over the Rio Grande. While we were dropping the ball on immigration reform, Mexico kept pouring undocumented workers into the U.S.

So perhaps we deserve some of the lecturing we're bound to get from President Felipe Calderón when he climbs Capitol Hill on Wednesday. He'll point out, as the Obama Administration has conceded, that much of the blame for Mexico's horrible narcoviolence lies with our insatiable demand for drugs and our lame-brained refusal in 2004 to renew a ban on assault weapons that are being smuggled into Mexico. He'll insist, rightly, that we comply with NAFTA and give Mexican trucks access to U.S. highways. And he'll rail at Arizona's hysterical new anti-immigration law, which allows police to detain anyone they suspect of being an illegal immigrant — and which critics call carte blanche for racial profiling of Mexicans and other Hispanics. "It opens the door to intolerance, hate and discrimination," Calderón said recently. "My government cannot and will not remain indifferent." (See pictures of Culiacán, the home of Mexico's drug-trafficking industry.)

Once Calderón has had his say, however, let's hope that President Obama and congressional leaders give him a little piece of their minds before they toast him at Wednesday's White House state dinner. After all, blaming the U.S. for Mexico's flaws is a time-honored Mexican presidential tradition, even for Calderón. He suggested to Reuters last week that criticism of his handling of Mexico's crises was simply a result of flawed public "perception." But on the two biggest issues facing U.S.-Mexico relations, drugs and immigration, Calderón's failings are as much reality as America's are.

Calderón must know that many in Washington have begun to question his reliance on Mexico's military to fight the powerful drug cartels — and that enthusiasm for the U.S.'s $1.5 billion in anti-narcotics aid to Mexico under the Merida Initiative has faded somewhat. He's thrown some 40,000 troops at the narcos, and admittedly had some successes. But from terrorized northern border cities like Juarez, where two U.S. citizens with ties to the American consulate were brutally murdered by gunmen on March 13, to southern tourist resorts like Acapulco, the carnage (often including beheadings) has only worsened. Calderón's government has significantly raised its estimate of gangland killings in Mexico since December 2006, when he took office, to almost 23,000.

What's still missing is a sense that Calderón takes seriously enough the only real long-term solution to Mexico's drug war: police reform. "Calderón has taken some positive steps to improve federal police," says Alberto Diaz-Cayeros, director of the U.S.-Mexico Studies Center at the University of California at San Diego. "But Mexico still doesn't have real investigative police forces." And in Mexico, where most cops moonlight for the cartels, the narcos seem more spooked by the prospect of more professional police than by the presence of more soldiers. Last month I interviewed the police director of Calderón's home state of Michoacan, who had just announced stricter recruitment criteria for cops. A week later her SUV was attacked by narco-hitmen with assault rifles and grenades. Miraculously, she survived, but her two bodyguards — who had watched the door during our interview — were killed.

Calderón also needs to prioritize another, longer-lasting weapon: anti-poverty programs that give younger and poorer Mexicans economic opportunities beyond joining drug gangs. Mexicans in hard-hit areas like Juarez are giving Calderón an earful in that regard these days, and so should the U.S. — not just because it might blunt narco-recruiting, but because more social-development efforts south of the border also mean fewer indocumentados crossing north of it. Immigration is as much foreign policy as it is domestic policy, and the U.S. has got to push both itself and Mexico's political class to do more to stanch the flow of illegals at the source, inside Mexico, instead of only at the border.

Most Mexicans would back us. When Arizona Senator John McCain says, "Complete the danged fence," they know he's shamelessly pandering to gringo xenophobes. But many say there's a part of themselves that secretly agrees with him. A few years ago I talked with some fairly nationalist friends in Mexico City about the $7 billion border wall that Americans were debating. To my surprise, they only half-kiddingly said, "Tell the Americans to build it." Their reason: cutting off the social safety valve of illegal immigration is perhaps the only way to force Mexico's elite to get serious about improving opportunities for Mexicans — almost half of whom still live in poverty, even though Mexican exports to the U.S. have risen fivefold, to more than $200 billion, since NAFTA took effect in 1994.

Calderón, who hails from the conservative National Action Party, has taken some positive steps, like a tax-reform measure that may finally get Mexico's wealthiest families and companies to pay their fair share for once. But he "has never articulated a real vision for social development," says Diaz-Cayeros, a former social-policy adviser to the Mexican government. "Then again, the Obama Administration hasn't really articulated its own vision for Mexican development."

Given how feckless U.S. immigration reform efforts usually turn out to be, it seems all the more urgent that both sides do more to promote ways to keep Mexican workers in Mexico, like expanding microcredit programs. Those have proven a boon for small entrepreneurs in impoverished rural states like Oaxaca that are a major source of illegal migrants — and they'd be even more effective, Obama should remind Calderón, if Mexico didn't allow microlenders to charge interest rates that top an outrageous 70%, twice the world microfinance average.

Just as important, if Calderón wants Obama to work against immigration laws like Arizona's, then Obama should prod Calderón to work for passage of bills like the one sitting in the Mexican Senate right now that would give antitrust laws more enforcement teeth. Most Mexican workers are employed by small- and medium-size businesses, but those enterprises are all too often suffocated by the nation's club of large quasi-monopolies, which include telecom giant Telmex, owned by the world's richest man, Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

That lack of meaningful competition, as well as an overreliance on the U.S market, is one reason the recession has hit Mexico's economy (which shrank about 7% last year) perhaps harder than any other in Latin America. And that doesn't bode well for the wars against drug traffickers and migrant smugglers. The most salient point Calderón will make to Congress is that the U.S. and Mexico are in this together. That means Washington needs to drop its insensitive disregard for problems south of the border — and Mexico City needs to drop its hypersensitive obsession with tossing blame for those headaches north of the border. If they do, they'll have something genuinely worthy to toast at the White House.


iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2010
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 12:17pm

Oh, he will lecture and not listen.

Obama will apologize.

No mention will be made of the illegals who shot and killed the AZ rancher on his own property. No mention will be made of the rampant human smuggling problem that Phoenix has to deal with. No mention will be made of the 2 young Americans who were murdered in Mexico. No mention will be made of the sherriff's deputy that was shot by illegals.

Just apologies....that's all we will hear.

iVillage Member
Registered: 05-07-2004
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 3:44pm

The US is a country. Mexico is a country. They should take care of their problems and we should take care of ours. And that means if natives of Mexico come into our country and create problems we should deal with it according to our laws, and vice versa. I am getting a little sick of foreign rulers coming into our country and telling us what's wrong with us - it is like being invited to someones home and telling them what is wrong with their furniture or how they feed their kids. Mexico has a very strict immigration policy to deal with their 'below the borders' from Central America - they would not put up with what Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California have had to deal with.
iVillage Member
Registered: 02-01-2010
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 3:51pm
Calderón is simply a hypocrite. And while lib politicians applaud him, the American people jeer.
iVillage Member
Registered: 05-19-2010
Thu, 05-20-2010 - 11:46pm

(I am getting a little sick of foreign rulers coming into our country and telling us what's wrong with us)

You can thank Obama for that. Did you see the democrats in congress cheering wildly for him today as he was bashing America. It was sickening. How embarrassing!

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-30-2009
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 2:13am

"Mexico has a very strict immigration policy to deal with their 'below the borders' from Central America - they would not put up with what Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and California have had to deal with."

Yes. And I wonder how they detect "gringo's" without "racial profiling"...

Mexico's Immigration Law: Let's Try It Here at Home

Posted 05/08/2006 ET
Updated 04/12/2010 ET

Mexico has a radical idea for a rational immigration policy that most Americans would love. However, Mexican officials haven’t been sharing that idea with us as they press for our Congress to adopt the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill.

That's too bad, because Mexico, which annually deports more illegal aliens than the United States does, has much to teach us about how it handles the immigration issue. Under Mexican law, it is a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico.

At a time when the Supreme Court and many politicians seek to bring American law in line with foreign legal norms, it’s noteworthy that nobody has argued that the U.S. look at how Mexico deals with immigration and what it might teach us about how best to solve
our illegal immigration problem. Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

  • in the country legally;

  • have the means to sustain themselves economically;

  • not destined to be burdens on society;

  • of economic and social benefit to society;

  • of good character and have no criminal records; and

  • contributors to the general well-being of the nation.
The law also ensures that:

  • immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;

  • foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;

  • foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;

  • foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;

  • foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;

  • those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.
Who could disagree with such a law? It makes perfect sense. The Mexican constitution strictly defines the rights of citizens -- and the denial of many fundamental rights to non-citizens, illegal and illegal. Under the constitution, the Ley General de Población, or
General Law on Population, spells out specifically the country's immigration policy.

It is an interesting law -- and one that should cause us all to ask, Why is our great southern neighbor pushing us to water down our own immigration laws and policies, when its own immigration restrictions are the toughest on the continent? If a felony is a
crime punishable by more than one year in prison, then Mexican law makes it a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico.

If the United States adopted such statutes, Mexico no doubt would denounce it as a manifestation of American racism and bigotry.

We looked at the immigration provisions of the Mexican constitution. Now let's look at Mexico's main immigration law.

Mexico welcomes only foreigners who will be useful to Mexican society:

  • Foreigners are admitted into Mexico "according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress." (Article 32)

  • Immigration officials must "ensure" that "immigrants will be useful elements for the country and that they have the necessary funds for their sustenance" and for their dependents. (Article 34)

  • Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets "the equilibrium of the national demographics," when foreigners are deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when "they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy." (Article 37)

  • The Secretary of Governance may "suspend or prohibit the admission of foreigners when he determines it to be in the national interest." (Article 38)
Mexican authorities must keep track of every single person in the country:

  • Federal, local and municipal police must cooperate with federal immigration authorities upon request, i.e., to assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants. (Article 73)

  • A National Population Registry keeps track of "every single individual who comprises the population of the country," and verifies each individual's identity. (Articles 85 and 86)

  • A national Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants (Article 87), and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number (Article 91).
Foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may be imprisoned:

  • Foreigners with fake immigration papers may be fined or imprisoned. (Article 116)

  • Foreigners who sign government documents "with a signature that is false or different from that which he normally uses" are subject to fine and imprisonment. (Article 116)
Foreigners who fail to obey the rules will be fined, deported, and/or imprisoned as felons:

  • Foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be punished. (Article 117)

  • Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. (Article 118)

  • Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced to up to six years in prison (Articles 119, 120 and 121). Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico -- such as working with out a permit -- can also be imprisoned.
Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The General Law on Population says,

  • "A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally." (Article 123)

  • Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. (Article 125)

  • Foreigners who "attempt against national sovereignty or security" will be deported. (Article 126)
Mexicans who help illegal aliens enter the country are themselves considered criminals under the law:

  • A Mexican who marries a foreigner with the sole objective of helping the foreigner live in the country is subject to up to five years in prison. (Article 127)

  • Shipping and airline companies that bring undocumented foreigners into Mexico will be fined. (Article 132)
All of the above runs contrary to what Mexican leaders are demanding of the United States. The stark contrast between Mexico's immigration practices versus its American
immigration preachings is telling. It gives a clear picture of the Mexican government's agenda: to have a one-way immigration relationship with the United States.

Let's call Mexico's bluff on its unwarranted interference in U.S. immigration policy. Let's propose, just to make a point, that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) member nations standardize their immigration laws by using Mexico's own law as a model.

This article was first posted at

iVillage Member
Registered: 02-14-2010
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 10:27am

Wow, your posts are always an impressive read. I found this part of the article to be most interesting:

"Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets "the equilibrium of the national demographics," "

I wouldn't expect anyone on the left to respond with much other than "That's not the US, it's none of our business." I can only wonder where the O'cconner supporters are out there, the ones that think our constitution should be interpreted via other countries' constitutions and case law. For some reason I have a feeling they'll choose to keep a low profile.

iVillage Member
Registered: 09-04-2007
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 10:31am
I saw it and it made me sick to my stomach, but then again, I'm not surprised by it, either.


iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2009
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 2:54pm

Tom McClintock gives Calderon a well deserved smack down!

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-22-2010
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 3:14pm

What has happened to this country?

iVillage Member
Registered: 12-15-2009
Fri, 05-21-2010 - 4:07pm