December 21, 2005

El Jutespa

It seems that Mexican President Vicente Fox is outraged, just outraged that the House (not the Senate, yet) has voted to build additional walls along the border to prevent illegal border crossings from Mexico to the US, and the outrage is general in our neighbor to the south.

The outrage is apparently not confined to El Presidente:
Many Mexicans, especially those who have spent time working in the U.S., feel the proposal is a slap in the face to those who work hard and contribute to the U.S. economy.

Fernando Robledo, 42, of the western state of Zacatecas, says the proposals could stem migration and disrupt families by breaking cross-border ties.

"When people heard this, it worried everybody, because this will affect everybody in some way, and their families," Robledo said. "They were incredulous. How could they do this, propose something like this?
And there's also outrage that the proposed legislation will make illegal entry a felony, rather than a misdemeanor:
The sense of dread connected with the measures is hardly restricted to Mexico. Immigrant advocacy and aid groups in the United States are worried about provisions of the House bill that upgrade unlawful presence in the United States from a civil offense to a felony.

"It would have a horrific impact on immigrant rights organizing and immigrant communities" in the United States, said Jennifer Allen of the Tucson-based Red de Accion Fronteriza.
There is, of course, a great deal of hypocrisy about this issue. Many businesses thrive on paying the low wages that immigrants from Mexico will accept, which is why many in the GOP have paid lip service to stemming the tide of illegal immigration, but done nothing about it, and why Pres. Bush tries to straddle the issue with his non-amnesty amnesty.

This country has been pretty good at assimilating immigrants, and has in many ways benefitted from immigration. Nor can it be said that most illegal Mexican immigrants are anything but economic refugees, seeking work to support themselves and their families. The particulars of current cross-border immigration--large numbers, no control, domination of the immigration by one ethnic group, the threat of terrorist infilitration--have, however, changed the picture.

A fundamenntal aspect of sovereignty is control of the borders, of who and what enters. That we have lost such control is clear.

Whether the walls are wise or foolish, then, is for this country to decide. How to punish illegal entry is also a sovereign decision. For Mexican politicians, coming from a country that makes a fetish of sovereignty, to howl in outrage at these sovereign decisions, is el jútespa in a big way. For a professional agitator like Jennifer Allen to complain that for this country to punish a violation of its laws should be rejected because it makes her agitation more difficult, is priceless.

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