Memo From Middle America (Formerly Known As Memo From Mexico) | Will Mexico's Latest Immigration Law Work—And Why Can't The U.S. Have It?

"Today, Mexico is doing its part to improve the immigration system in North America. This, without doubt, is advanced legislation, bold legislation, immigration legislation with few precedents in the world."

New Immigration Law Takes Effect in Mexico   [Jacob Sapochnick, Immigration Lawyer Blog, May 25, 2011]

Thus boasted Mexican President Felipe Calderon recently, when he signed into law Mexico's new immigration legislation. It's a popular and much-acclaimed new law. It's claimed to be the measure that will save poor Central American migrants crossing Mexico—and show the gringos how they should run their own immigration policy.

Calderon utilized the signing ceremony to tweak the nose of the United States with this statement:

"As long as the United States does not have a legal framework that permits this natural flow and channels it in an orderly way, migrants will continue to run the risk of becoming part of a market run by unscrupulous criminals. That is the reality."

Actually, we do have a "legal framework". It's called U.S. immigration law. And we take in more immigrants –and more Mexicansthan any other country in the world.

Calderon's comments were typical meddling Mexican mendacity. But, needless to say, no one in the Obama Administration or the Establishment media defended us.

So what's in this new law anyway?

Here's what the Los Angeles Times reported:

"President Felipe Calderon, his administration chastised by foreign governments for how their citizens are treated, this week signed a new immigration law aimed at reducing the risks. The measure decriminalizes the act of entering the country without papers and entitles the undocumented to education and health services. It also promises a major overhaul of the scandal-plagued federal immigration agency."

Mexico Law Aims to Reduce Risks to Migrants Passing Through, by Tracy Wilkinson, May 28th, 2011

For years, I've been pointing out that Mexico has a strict immigration system and that it's hypocritical for Mexicans to criticize ours. Here are some previous VDARE.com articles:

In recent years this issue has finally gotten some publicity, even in the Mainstream Media. So, finally, Mexico was under pressure to do something public about it.

Like a previous change to its immigration law several years ago (see my VDARE.com Is Illegal Immigration Into Mexico Really a "Felony"? Does it Matter?), Mexico passes immigration legislation in part to pressure the United States. It's a way of saying "We liberalized our Immigration System, How About Yours?"

Lest you think this is wild speculation on my part, the new law itself practically says the same. In Article 2, it says one of the principles of the new legislation is

"Consistencyso that the Mexican government guarantees the observance of the rights it claims for its nationals abroad [in the U.S., in other words] in the admission, entry, residency, transit, deportation and assisted return of foreigners in its territory."

Just for the sake of argument, let's assume the new law is successful and ends the harsh treatment of Central Americans in Mexico.

Should we for that reasons allow more Mexicans (and Central Americans) into our country? Why?

American immigration policy should be based on American interests—not on the situation in Mexico.

Plus, there is a big structural difference between the migratory situations in the U.S. and Mexico. The vast majority of immigrants (legal or illegal) that enter the U.S. come here to stay. On the other hand, the vast majority of Central Americans in Mexico do not want to stay in Mexico, they are just passing through on their way to the U.S.A. They have no intention of becoming Mexico's problem (not that the Mexicans have any intention of letting them be).

Is the new Mexican migratory law really going to solve the problem of Central Americans—from countries much poorer than Mexico—and their bad treatment while passing through Mexico? We should keep an eye on this legislation and how its enforcement develops. That's the real test.

The new law is quite comprehensive and ambitious. It reforms and replaces laws relating to immigration in various Mexican law codes.

The new law is available online here (in Spanish, of course). I have studied the law, poring over it through the night hours, so that here on VDARE.COM we can know whereof we speak. My impression is, despite the lofty rhetoric, the revolutionary nature of the law is greatly exaggerated.

The object of the law, as stated in Article 1, is

"to regulate the entrance and exit of Mexicans and foreigners to the territory of the United Mexican States, and the transit and residence of foreigners in Mexico, in a framework of respect, protection and the safeguarding of human rights, of contribution to the national development and the preservation of the sovereignty and national securities."

Notice already that, as far as Mexico is concerned, this is not an Open Borders document. Yes, it does attempt to protect Central Americans passing through—but it does not legalize illegal immigration in Mexico. The law does contain various stipulations about protecting Central American migrants, especially the "vulnerable", but it never surrenders Mexico's right to detain or deport.

Article 7, in fact, states that

"The liberty of each person to enter, stay, pass through or leave national territory will have the limitations established in the Constitution, the treaties and international conventions of which Mexico is a signatory state, this law and other judicial dispositions applicable."

That's not Open Borders!

As advertised, the new law does indeed stipulate that illegal aliens can't be denied education or health care. But experience shows we have to monitor the situation to see how that works out. In the meantime check out these articles: Why Mexican Hospital Emergency Rooms Aren't Swamped  and Turnabout Not Fair Play—Gringos Don't Get Free Medical Care in Mexico.

The law contains stipulations whereby illegal aliens can be legalized under certain situations. But it is by no means a blanket amnesty for all illegal aliens in Mexico.

Article 34 states that Mexicans and foreigners can only enter or leave Mexico through officially-designated crossing points. But that's not new—just not enforced. See Mexican Illegals Breaking Mexican Law Too!

Article 35 says that in entering and leaving the country, both Mexicans and foreigners must comply with legal requirements.

Article 20 grants to the INM (Mexico's immigration bureaucracy) the right of deportation. Article 64 grants it the right to cancel a visa. Article 92 gives it the right to perform "verification visits" to prove that foreigners are complying with the law. Article 94 gives it the right to require proof of legal status. Article 96 says that other legal agencies are required to help the INM if requested. Article 97 says it can carry out migratory checks at places outside of regular crossing points. The INM has a lot of authority to enforce immigration law.

The Mexican visa system has been somewhat re-organized. However, there are still visas—and Article 40 states that foreigners entering Mexico must present visas, listing the types of visas.

Article 43 stipulates that the Mexican government can deny those attempting to enter a visa, entrance to the country, or residence, for several reasons, among them "when they don't comply with requirements in this law… or other applicable judicial provisions…" or if the validity of their documents are doubted.

According to Article 65, a foreigner in Mexico has the responsibility to prove his legal status. Contrast that with Mexico's hysterical and hypocritical reaction to Arizona's SB1070!

The INM also has the right to detain those who can't prove their legal status. There is a lot in the new law (106-113) about the proper treatment of detainees, how their human rights must be respected, etc. But the bottom line: they are going to be detained.

Articles 118-121, and 123-125 talk about "assisted return", when a detained person voluntarily decides to go to his home country and Mexico gets him there.

That's different though from deportation, when the deportee has no choice. That is dealt with in articles 121-123 and 144. You can be deported for entering Mexico without the required documentation at an unauthorized crossing point, for entering again without permission after having been deported, for pretending to be a Mexican when you're not (Central Americans sometimes do this), and for presenting false or fraudulently acquired documentation.

There are also fines for infractions, and even jail time for human traffickers.

So what's all the hoopla? The "new" Mexican migratory law attempts to protect Central Americans and offers some benefits. Knowing Mexico, we'd better keep an eye on the situation to see how that works out.

Nevertheless, the new law still affirms the right of Mexico to

So doesn't the U.S. have the same right?

American citizen Allan Wall (email him) recently moved back to the U.S.A. after many years residing in Mexico. In 2005, Allan served a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his Mexidata.info articles are archived here; his News With Views columns are archived here; and his website is here.