We need Mexico’s help to solve the dangerous, out-of-control humanitarian and security crisis on our southern border, but President Trump’s plan to slap tariffs on Mexican products entering the U.S. isn’t the solution. Congressional Republicans and leading economists are warning the president tariffs will damage the booming U.S. economy along with American workers and consumers without resolving our border crisis.
As I drafted this column on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were attempting to negotiate a solution to the border crisis with Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard in Washington. If no agreement is reached over the weekend the president’s 5 percent tariffs on Mexican products will go into effect on Monday morning. At the same time seven former U.S. ambassadors to Mexico warned the Trump administration to “de-link trade and immigration and find ways to address the real problems around Central American migration” because tariffs “will cripple Mexico’s capacity to handle migrant flows.” Good advice.
We want Mexico’s new president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (“AMLO”), who took office in December, to re-institute tough border control policies that were in effect a few years ago when Mexico was deporting thousands of Central Americans trying to cross its southern border with Guatemala. That’s when National Geographic — yes National Geographic, not Fox News or the Wall Street Journal — reported “for many immigrants heading north, the first dangerous crossing isn’t the one into the U.S. It’s southern Mexico where the peril begins.” Investigative journalist Cynthia Gorney wrote illegal immigrants from Central America face “thugs, drug runners, extortionists in official uniforms, police and migration agents who pack them into filthy detention facilities before deporting them.”
A southern Mexico shop owner told Ms. Gorney he opposed illegal immigration on grounds Guatemalans were “too servile,” Hondurans too “gang-inclined” and Salvadorans too “hot-headed.” Sound familiar? She wrote “Mexican officials don’t worry about PC niceties or legal technicalities when they round up illegals and summarily deport them.” Many of those Central American border-crossers ask Mexican authorities for asylum, but Mexico is much less generous than we are in granting asylum, and sends them north to us. Thanks a lot!
I’m sorry to report “AMLO” seems to be soft on illegal immigration, which plays right into the hands of “open borders” advocates here in the U.S., including California Gov. Gavin Newsom and several “progressive” Democrats who are running for president.
At least two populous California counties — Orange and San Diego — sued their state government last year after former Gov. Jerry Brown declared California to be a “sanctuary state” where local law enforcement officials are prohibited from cooperating with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to enforce federal immigration laws. As a result, criminal aliens who had been convicted of felonies like burglary and sexual assault were released back onto the streets of California cities, with predictable consequences. Fortunately, a similar bill was defeated here during the recently concluded 2019 Nevada legislative session.
While Mexico and the U.S. are struggling to deal with tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers, migrant caravans are often infiltrated by organized crime. “These kinds of caravans are utilized by people who aren’t migrants,” said Jorge Andrade, a spokesman for an organization that helps migrants in Mexico. He told the Washington Post some caravan migrants are drug traffickers and illegal immigrant smugglers who exploit women and children... but we already knew that.
So be suspicious when “open borders” advocates extol the virtues of illegal immigration. There’s nothing virtuous about drug traffickers or “coyotes” who abuse illegal immigrants.
Guy W. Farmer, a retired diplomat, follows immigration issues closely.