Fox Plans Reconquista. Bush Plans…?
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You really have to tip your hat to Mexican President Vicente Fox, who seems determined to get the United States to change its immigration laws and take in even more Mexican immigrants than we do already.  Ever since his election last summer, Mr. Fox has been pushing a scheme under which the two countries would essentially abolish their borders and accept anybody from either country who wanted to move in either direction.

The Fox plan is an absurdity on its face, because it would not only open up the United States to the unlimited drug smuggling and other unpleasantness bred in Mexico but also because only Mexicans would make use of its open immigration proposal.  How many gringos do you imagine would flock across the Rio Grande to seek honest work south of the border?  Yet as silly as Mr. Fox's plan is, last week his emissaries were back in Washington with even sillier ideas.

The emissaries were Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castañeda and Interior Secretary Santiago Creel, and the idea this time was that Mexico would go the extra mile and actually do something to control emigration to the United States from its side of the fence.  As Mr. Creel boasted to a news conference, that in itself was no small concession from the Mexicans.

"For the first time," Mr. Creel announced after he and his colleague palavered with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Attorney General John Ashcroft last Wednesday, "the Mexican government is recognizing that we have a responsibility regarding the migratory flows" into the United States.  That sounds like progress of a kind, doesn't it?

Well, of course it was intended to sound that way, but what Mr. Creel and his pal really meant was that Mexico would undertake to control what is sometimes called "cross migration" — that is, not immigration of Mexicans into the United States but rather the immigration of non-Mexicans into Mexico for the purpose of crossing it to enter this country.

But, as The Washington Post pointed out, it's really not much of a concession.  In the first place, non-Mexican illegal immigrants coming from Mexico are mainly from Central American states south of Mexico and constitute a quite small proportion of the total number of illegals each year — the vast majority of whom come from Mexico itself.  The Immigration and Naturalization Service's figures for 2000, for example, show less than 29,000 non-Mexican illegals detained by the Border Patrol, as opposed to more than 1.6 million Mexican illegals nabbed the same year.  Mexico is pounding its chest at its generous concession to help keep out other nation's illegals, but it offers to do nothing to control its own illegal outflow.

But there's a perhaps more sinister edge to the Mexican proposal as well.  By agreeing to help keep mainly Central American illegals out of the United States, Mexico would essentially establish a monopoly on the illegal alien labor market in this country.  It also would help to increase the number of Mexican illegals in the United States, all of whom remain Mexican citizens with voting rights in Mexico.

Mr. Fox, as presidential candidate last year, actually campaigned inside the United States to pick up the votes of Mexican citizens living here, and only last month he was back in California vowing to establish improved absentee ballot procedures for them by the next election.

Now Mexico, ever since the U.S.-Mexican war of the 1840s, has nursed grievances about all the territory it lost to the United States, territory that is now the American Southwest.  Lots of Mexicans like to claim we stole the land and want it back, and the Mexican government has never exactly discouraged them from harboring that ambition.

By making sure that only Mexican illegals flood over the U.S. border, Mr. Fox and his government will vastly increase the number of Mexicans here, and by facilitating the political participation of Mexicans living here, legally or not, in Mexico, he will discourage any tendencies among them to assimilate as Americans and strengthen all tendencies to remain Mexican.  And when there are enough Mexicans living in the United States who are Mexican citizens, the American Southwest will simply cease to be part of the United States and revert to Mexico.

Whether either President Bush or the U.S. officials who met with Minister Castañeda and Secretary Creel last week grasp what might emerge from Mr. Fox' proposal to reform our immigration laws is not known, but even if the reconquista of the Southwest is not the Mexicans' secret intention, that might still be the actual consequence of what they are proposing.  We know what the Mexicans think about the reconquista.  What we don't know is what their American counterparts think — or what they will do to prevent it. 


April 09, 2001

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