Luis Ernesto Derbez, Mexico's Foreign Minister, was making the rounds in Los Angeles last month, and it appears he accomplished a lot.
I have to hand it to the guy: he is cunning. And, in contrast to previous Foreign Minister, Jorge Castañeda, Derbez is more, well—diplomatic.
Castañeda is intellectually brilliant of course, and we haven't heard the last of him. He's now running for president of Mexico. But he wasn't really a team player, and had a habit of ruffling the feathers of fellow Fox administration colleagues—including the Presidente's wife, which is never a good idea.
Not that Derbez' replacement of Castañeda resulted in any change of policy. Both men have worked for open borders with the U.S. (one way only, of course) because that's what Vicente Fox wants. Derbez has even made it clear—to a Mexican audience—that Mexico doesn't intend to offer anything in exchange for a "migratory accord."
In fact, Derbez is now working with other foreign leaders to lobby U.S. members of Congress on behalf of yet more immigrants.
For such a short visit, Derbez did an impressive amount of networking.
He met with Governor Schwarzenegger, with Mexican diplomats, labor leaders, California Senator Gil Cedillo, representatives of California-based Mexican organizations and the "Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior" [Institute of Mexicans Abroad]. He also gave a well-crafted speech on U.S.- Mexican relations at the University of California.
(Derbez: It's in U.S. interest to legalize Mexican migrants By Eduardo Santana. San Diego, Apr 23 (EFE))
Derbez couldn't resist taking a swipe at Samuel Huntington's article The Hispanic Challenge, which the Foreign Minister called "absurd, embarrassing and dangerous." But if you read my VDARE.COM article last week, you know that's mild for a Mexican Huntington-hater.
As I said before, Derbez is diplomatic.
In Derbez' speech, he skillfully promoted Mexican immigration, to an American audience, as a necessity for the United States. We have an aging population, you see, and Derbez says we're going to have a labor shortage so we need immigration.
This is not a valid argument—for example, we could mechanize more, like Japan—but it sounds very reasonable and it bamboozled a lot of people.
Taking a cue from Huntington, Derbez unleashed an interesting cultural argument of his own:
"We Mexicans share culture and values with the United States. We are both Christian, law-abiding and hard-working. At some point, the U.S. will have to ask itself if it prefers that those jobs be filled with immigrants from Islamic countries, Africa or Asia."
(Actually, Mexican politics are rabidly secular. Mexico is the only country in Latin America which prohibited anyone under the age of 18 from viewing The Passion of the Christ—even if accompanied by a parent. This is the first time I've heard a Mexican politician refer to Mexico as a Christian nation. Could Derbez be appealing to American Christian voters?)
In effect, Derbez is telling Americans: "Wouldn't you rather have Mexicans working in your country than Asians, Africans or Muslim terrorists?"
Of course, the way things are now, it's "all of the above," even the threat of terrorism.
But in making this argument, Derbez tacitly concedes that there are differences among immigrant groups. He suggests that it's better for the U.S. to have Mexican immigrants than immigrants from those other Third World countries.
Americans, however, might decide, along with Huntington, that Hispanic immigration is already posing a major threat to our nation's unity and identity.
Derbez sounds forward-looking, progressive, as he rejects "the antiquated vision of the border." He told his listeners that "The border is no longer in San Diego-Tijuana, it's located in Chicago, New York, Atlanta."
Derbez is right, of course. But whether it's a good thing or not is another matter entirely.
In his meeting with Mexican clubs and the Instituto de los Mexicanos en el Exterior on April 23rd, Derbez had more interesting things to say. For example:
"There is an interaction between our communities in the United States and our communities in Mexico. This interaction is beneficial for both countries. The communities represent the fundamental axis of this relation between the two nations if we wish to arrive to the final solution of what would be the correct migratory accord for the two countries."
In other words, the "fundamental axis" of the Mexico-U.S. relationship is that between Mexican "communities in the United States" and Mexican "communities in Mexico" and this will determine the "correct" migratory accord.
And you thought the American people had some say in the matter?
Derbez also met with Gil Cedillo, California legislator and perennial campaigner for driver's licenses for illegal aliens. Can you guess what they discussed?
According to a communiqué issued by SRE (Mexican Foreign Ministry), the purpose of the meeting was "to be informed of recent advances that California legislators have achieved to approve legislation permitting persons who lack documents [a.k.a. illegal aliens] to obtain a driver license." [El secretario Derbez también mantuvo un encuentro con el senador Gil Cedillo, a fin de conocer cuáles han sido los recientes avances que los legisladores de California han logrado para lograr que sea aprobada la legislación que permita a personas que carecen de documentos poder obtener su licencia de conducir] (SRE Comunicado de Prensa No. 78, April 23rd, 2004)
So here we have a California legislator meeting with the Mexican Foreign Minister to discuss driver's licenses for illegal aliens.
How convenient. And Derbez met with California's Governor Schwarzenegger. But, rather than the usual Mexican Schwarzenegger-stomping, the Foreign Minister obviously decided he could catch more flies with honey. He described the meeting as "agreeable and positive." According to Reuters:
"Schwarzenegger and Derbez...discussed ways to make Mexican identification documents used by undocumented workers in California more secure.....[Derbez] said the Mexican consulate and the governor's staff would work together to find ways to improve the security of Mexican documents so they can be accepted by the state."
These "Mexican documents" are of course the "matricula consular." And "the security of Mexican documents" is not even the principal issue here. It's irrelevant how secure the matricula is—the real problem is that American officials accept them as de facto legalization documents.
Derbez announced that President Vicente Fox would meet with Governor Schwarzenegger in September—their first meeting. The meeting is scheduled to focus on…immigration and border issues.
Hmmm. Have you noticed how, increasingly, border state governors seem to be carrying out their own foreign policy when they negotiate with the Mexican government? Isn't that a violation of the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 10—"No State shall....enter into any agreement or compact ...with a foreign power...")?
We had better keep an eye on Schwarzenegger and Fox next September.
And, of course, on Foreign Minister Derbez. As I say, the guy is cunning.
American citizen Allan Wall lives and works legally in Mexico, where he holds an FM-2 residency and work permit, but serves six weeks a year with the Texas Army National Guard, in a unit composed almost entirely of Americans of Mexican ancestry. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here; his website is here. Readers can contact Allan Wall at firstname.lastname@example.org.