Mexico’s Immigration Law: Let’s Try It Here at Home

Mexico has a radical idea for a rational immigration policy that most Americans would love. However, Mexican officials haven’t been sharing that idea with us as they press for our Congress to adopt the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform bill.

That’s too bad, because Mexico, which annually deports more illegal aliens than the United States does, has much to teach us about how it handles the immigration issue. Under Mexican law, it is a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico.

At a time when the Supreme Court and many politicians seek to bring American law in line with foreign legal norms, it’s noteworthy that nobody has argued that the U.S. look at how Mexico deals with immigration and what it might teach us about how best to solve
our illegal immigration problem. Mexico has a single, streamlined law that ensures that foreign visitors and immigrants are:

  • in the country legally;
  • have the means to sustain themselves economically;
  • not destined to be burdens on society;
  • of economic and social benefit to society;
  • of good character and have no criminal records; and
  • contributors to the general well-being of the nation.

The law also ensures that:

  • immigration authorities have a record of each foreign visitor;
  • foreign visitors do not violate their visa status;
  • foreign visitors are banned from interfering in the country’s internal politics;
  • foreign visitors who enter under false pretenses are imprisoned or deported;
  • foreign visitors violating the terms of their entry are imprisoned or deported;
  • those who aid in illegal immigration will be sent to prison.

Who could disagree with such a law? It makes perfect sense. The Mexican constitution strictly defines the rights of citizens — and the denial of many fundamental rights to non-citizens, illegal and illegal. Under the constitution, the Ley General de Población, or
General Law on Population, spells out specifically the country’s immigration policy.

It is an interesting law — and one that should cause us all to ask, Why is our great southern neighbor pushing us to water down our own immigration laws and policies, when its own immigration restrictions are the toughest on the continent? If a felony is a
crime punishable by more than one year in prison, then Mexican law makes it a felony to be an illegal alien in Mexico.

If the United States adopted such statutes, Mexico no doubt would denounce it as a manifestation of American racism and bigotry.

We looked at the immigration provisions of the Mexican constitution. [1] Now let’s look at Mexico’s main immigration law.

Mexico welcomes only foreigners who will be useful to Mexican society:

  • Foreigners are admitted into Mexico “according to their possibilities of contributing to national progress.” (Article 32)
  • Immigration officials must “ensure” that “immigrants will be useful elements for the country and that they have the necessary funds for their sustenance” and for their dependents. (Article 34)
  • Foreigners may be barred from the country if their presence upsets “the equilibrium of the national demographics,” when foreigners are deemed detrimental to “economic or national interests,” when they do not behave like good citizens in their own country, when they have broken Mexican laws, and when “they are not found to be physically or mentally healthy.” (Article 37)
  • The Secretary of Governance may “suspend or prohibit the admission of foreigners when he determines it to be in the national interest.” (Article 38)

Mexican authorities must keep track of every single person in the country:

  • Federal, local and municipal police must cooperate with federal immigration authorities upon request, i.e., to assist in the arrests of illegal immigrants. (Article 73)
  • A National Population Registry keeps track of “every single individual who comprises the population of the country,” and verifies each individual’s identity. (Articles 85 and 86)
  • A national Catalog of Foreigners tracks foreign tourists and immigrants (Article 87), and assigns each individual with a unique tracking number (Article 91).

Foreigners with fake papers, or who enter the country under false pretenses, may be imprisoned:

  • Foreigners with fake immigration papers may be fined or imprisoned. (Article 116)
  • Foreigners who sign government documents “with a signature that is false or different from that which he normally uses” are subject to fine and imprisonment. (Article 116)

Foreigners who fail to obey the rules will be fined, deported, and/or imprisoned as felons:

  • Foreigners who fail to obey a deportation order are to be punished. (Article 117)
  • Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be imprisoned for up to 10 years. (Article 118)
  • Foreigners who violate the terms of their visa may be sentenced to up to six years in prison (Articles 119, 120 and 121). Foreigners who misrepresent the terms of their visa while in Mexico — such as working with out a permit — can also be imprisoned.

Under Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony. The General Law on Population says,

  • “A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of three hundred to five thousand pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally.” (Article 123)
  • Foreigners with legal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of being imprisoned. (Article 125)
  • Foreigners who “attempt against national sovereignty or security” will be deported. (Article 126)

Mexicans who help illegal aliens enter the country are themselves considered criminals under the law:

  • A Mexican who marries a foreigner with the sole objective of helping the foreigner live in the country is subject to up to five years in prison. (Article 127)
  • Shipping and airline companies that bring undocumented foreigners into Mexico will be fined. (Article 132)

All of the above runs contrary to what Mexican leaders are demanding of the United States. The stark contrast between Mexico’s immigration practices versus its American
immigration preachings is telling. It gives a clear picture of the Mexican government’s agenda: to have a one-way immigration relationship with the United States.

Let’s call Mexico’s bluff on its unwarranted interference in U.S. immigration policy. Let’s propose, just to make a point, that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) member nations standardize their immigration laws by using Mexico’s own law as a model.

This article was first posted at

1. “Mexico’s Glass House,” Center for Security Policy Occasional Paper, April 3, 2006.

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  • terry

    I’m tired of listening to this crap. If they are illegal, put them in jail and deport them. Plain and simple. We (the USA) need to protect our people and not let them (illegals) disrupt our politics or general welfare of our country. They do not belong here !!!!!

  • Justin

    That’s not very polite. How are we in your land? It was sold to America for $15 million after the war. I am all for immigration into the United States, but not circular immigration. The article is just pointing out how Mexico is creating extremely harsh laws on immigration while asking America, which already has some of the most relaxed immigration laws in the world, to ease up on immigration.

  • Beth Reed

    Well said Glenn. I am planning to marry a Mexican within a couple of months in Mexico. He is about to be deported from the U.S. I am concerned about the laws and what I will need to do to be able to work and live there with him and my son. The information online differs according to the site. Can you give me any advice? I want to do everything correctly. Beth Reed.

  • Valerie Woolen

    Gerardo tu eres un atrasado mental, caso cerrado. Gerardo your a retard, case closed.

  • kenfrombayside

    Copy of letter sent to my new congresspersonGreetings Rep Meng: Now that the White House will begin to push “comprehensive immigration reform” that will lead to a “path to citizenship” for lawbreakers, the time has come for reform to take into account the present situation . In 1986, an amnesty was passed with then Sen. Ted Kennedy promising there will never be a bill like this again. Sadly, the Federal government lied to us. There are an estimated 12 – 20 million illegals in this country. It is virtually impossible for them to be given legal status. Remember, they broke the law and it will be a travesty of justice if there is another amnesty. The correct way to handle this matter is rounding up each and everyone of them and deporting them. The USA doesn’t owe this group anything as billions are being spent on them already. For example, any illegal can go to a emergency room and be treated free of charge. There is a precedent for this: President Eisenhower, in the 1950s, implemented Operation Wetback that led to deportation of illegals. The time has come to have another Operation Wetback. In other words, the legal and illegal invasion of unwanted third world invaders had got to come to an end. As long as there is a rudderless “immigration policy,” American citizens remain disenfranchised. Rep Meng, answer this question: why is there an annual intake of millions of poor unskilled third word people when 47 million citizens are on food stamps? I will closely follow this situation how you handle this issue.:

  • Dempsey Levi

    Now this is a must use plan.. Can we start by deporting congress and getting some not so crooked politicians? Nigerien scam artists are more honest then white house politicians..

  • stan

    They enforce their laws, that is the difference.

    Mexico also is ACTIVELY ENCOURAGING THEIR CITIZENS to invade our country

  • adalporto


  • MoparToYa

    No one here has a set enough to enforce the laws we DO have …

  • Travis Sartele

    We need to enforce our existing laws first and arrest and deport all illegals. Then we need an electrified fence system along the border complete with Guard towers armed with 50 cal machine guns and a mine field.. Lay 100 yards of landmines out and see how many of them get across. Have signs out that warn of danger. After a few get blown up the word will spread. It may seem insensitive but it is what needs to be done.

  • Tom B

    Come to Texas and see this for yourself!Illegals have no business being here at all!

  • Tom B

    Go home and stay home!People are sick of the illegals in Texas and we want you GONE!

  • Juan Roadruunnermoving

    I like the part about they need to be able to take care of themselves and their children, I hate to go places and right away the talk in Spanish instead of English first, they should not be able to get food stamps and welfare and they should all learn english, no other country would allow what america is allowing, You go to the schools and it is all Spanish…

  • Olddood Chaffe

    But they come to America use the system, Food Stamps and other things and send all of the money they make back to Mexico. I understand they are from a poor country but why does that make it a problem for me as a US taxpayer ?

  • Lee McBrayer

    I like the idea of adopting the laws and rules in place in Mexico. Clearly defined rules, & laws that should easily be understood by immigrants from any of the countries crossing into the United States from Mexico. Mexico has had these in place for a very long time. These are simple to understand and enforce? These are laws to protect Mexico. Our laws should also be in place for the same reasons.

  • Lee McBrayer

    I just looked at Mel Rubio’s comment. I am more than a little stunned! Foul language, demanding attitude and threatening to punish us Americans. He believes we are on their/his land and in 10 years, he and others like him will be deporting us. This mannerism is reason for much of the hostility we feel towards illegal immigrants from Mexico. Mr. Rubio should examine Mexico’s immigration laws and demand of Mexico show the same tolerance Mr. Rubio demands of these United States of America. Anyone from anywhere that dislikes us to the degree he does, should voluntarily leave!

  • Kergun

    Why is Mexico pushing US to weak laws? So they can dump their trash here and hence, profit by all the money sent home killing 2 birds with one stone

  • James Wentz

    We can start by nuking Mexico City and shooting all politicians who help the wetbacks invade!

  • Silence Dogood

    YOU are retarded. I have family members that live down there because it’s CHEAPER to live there. Not because they’re criminals.

  • Rozemarijn Van Der Steen

    Hi Justin,
    I don’t know why Tom sent you such a negative message. You make some very good points. My point is the same as yours – Mexican authorities shouldn’t be name-calling when they treat their own immigrants worse than the US does.

  • Spencer Alonso

    Here is the solution. Tax all illegal immigrants. If they don’t pay taxes deport them. The majority of the immigrants of this generation are contributing in a positive way to the United States. Yes I agree impose the same immigration laws as Mexico but for the good illegal immigrants here find a way to make them legal and pay taxes and contribute to society. As the Mexican would state if illegal immigrants don’t help the society then deport them. When deported make sure it is justifiable and tell any person in disagreement that it is not racism it’s equality. If an immigrant wants to live in the United States then they need to follow the same rules everyone else does.

    I’m Mexican I’m a Citizen of the United States of America and I believe immigration needs to be fixed. There will always be people who will pull the racist card but those people are one sided.

  • Spencer Alonso

    You can’t be serious

  • Spencer Alonso

    Glenn Mcbride thanks for the info
    Tu eres impresionante
    Stay Awesome my friend

  • Spencer Alonso

    Colonists had no business being here, why can’t people join a prominent US?
    Don’t kill immigrants for fun that’s messed up!! Killing innocent people wont slow them down.
    Ok i’ll agree with you Illegals should do things the legal way but maybe if the process wasn’t so difficult then maybe there will be more Legal immigrants.

  • Spencer Alonso

    Mexico is not invading they are illuminating. Actively contributing to the economy of the US. Sure there is a few bad apples and it maybe illegal how we get here but make it easier for it to be legal. Yes Enforce laws but also make more channels for Legal immigration. Mexico couldn’t even invade the USA. The probably couldn’t even invade 19th century USA.

  • Spencer Alonso

    Dude those stereotypes aren’t even half true and you know that. Yes I agree illegal is wrong. Kick out the bad people, legalize the good and then strengthen the borders and only let people in who can contribute positively to US society.

  • Spencer Alonso

    I agree with Olddood Chaffe
    The US needs to give the needs to its citizens and not the illegal immigrants. If there is aid left over the US should consider them. I think the big issue is just that Illegal immigrants don’t pay taxes. If that changed I feel like a lot less people would be enraged by this issue.

  • geaaronson

    You are vastly ignorant. I live in Mexico. I am not wanted for anything in the US where I was born and lived as a citizen for 55 years, hardworking, paid taxes, kept my nose clean…do not have a criminal record, am not running from the law. I have returned to the US twice for visitations without a hitch.I have worked legally in Mexico for several years as an English teacher and am a contributing member of Mexican society. I could cite hundreds of fellow expats living here in Mexico who do not fit into you ignorant stereotyping.

  • Ashden Garcia

    I can not believe how badly racism still exists today. It’s 2015 we should all be accepting, I think it’s pretty silly to hate someone just because they aren’t ” white”. I am a hispanic female, and just because I am brown doesn’t automatically make me an illegal from Mexico. I was born in the U.S; having someone be racially mean to you is a terrible feeling. So get over it, people in the U.S are from everywhere in the world, no race is superior!

  • serious woman

    Do unto others as you will have them do unto you so, according to Mexico’s Immagration Laws……GET THE HELL OUT.

  • Michael

    Why should Mexico have any kind of input into American law anyway? Close the border, put some of soldiers on it, and shoot anyone crossing not at a checkpoint. Load up all the illegals onto barges and use tugs to push them to southern Mexico.

  • William F. Wood

    Simple Solution: Donald Trump as President of USA would address this illegal immigration problem fast and hard as soon as he gets into Oval Office. Add “Great Wall” full of surveillance security cameras along with drone patrol sweeps (like Terminator Movies) between USA and Mexico would be great first step.. 2nd step: Deport any remaining illegal aliens back to Mexico for which that they would find unable to return to USA once again thanks to USA Great Wall.

  • Charles

    I HAVE THE ANSWER!!!!!!!! Does Mexico have anchor baby provision in their constitution? If not, there’s America’s answer to the problem! We will change the 14th Amendment to match theirs. Also our immigration laws should mirror theirs. And lets start cutting their foreign aid for every one that crosses over illegally, and they can do the same. Follow up on that one Congress

  • leader4hru

    Pass it word for word.

  • Just_me_and_God

    Voluntary Self-Deportation or Voluntary Slavery… Their Choice

    These are really simple long-term solutions that would not only be a catalyst for self-deportation but it removes the incentive for other illegal criminals to continue to invade this country.

    It should cost very little or nothing at all to have illegals deport themselves, just cut-off their ability to get and keep jobs, by making hiring them and keeping them employed, illegal. With a skyrocketing escalating fine for the employer, and jailed on a chain gang for 20 years, for the fourth offence.

    Day laborers, gardeners and any other kind of temporary, short-term or ‘For Hire’ employment must show valid ID to those that employ them.

    Cut off their ability to receive welfare and food stamps and all other Social Services. Cut off all ability to receive any kind of income!

    Cut off their ability to buy or rent apartments and housing, give them nowhere to live. With a skyrocketing escalating fine for the landlord, and jailed on a chain gang for 20 years, for the fourth offence.

    Make it impossible, except for bona fide medical emergencies to receive any free medical care.

    Pregnancy is not an emergency! (How long have you known about it?)

    No ‘anchor” babies, to be possible if the parents are here illegally!

    Give them less than a year to self-deport or it’s automatically a 20 year stint on a chain gang!

    Make it illegal for convicted criminal illegals to ever return, for if they do, they will spend the next 20 years on the chain gang!

  • Jessica

    What’s funny is that the officers over there can be corupted…if you pay them more than what they earn for the week/day then they’ll pretend they never saw you….is that really how you want the US to be?

  • Jessica

    Lol you should go home too :) Last time I checked you came from England and executed and killed many of the natives that already lived here

  • Marly Duran

    Your comment, including- your action movie/ border wall/ fantasy reads like something from a 13 year old’s diary. The part about Trump being President confirms that you’re delusional. Look past Trump’s racism -which you clearly share, and see if the total package is what you really want representing the U.S. to the world.

  • Marly Duran

    You’ve been overdoing it with the Republican Kool-aid. Slow down Bundy!

  • Just_me_and_God

    Perhaps you would prefer that the USA follow Mexico’s own Immigration and Alien Laws?

  • TigreBlanco

    Y cual es tu problema? No tienes capaz de aprender cosas?

  • Juan Roadruunnermoving

    Puedo hablarlo y entenderlo , Debe ser las mismas leyes aquí que tienen en México , por lo que debe tener el problema …

  • Juan Roadruunnermoving

    I can speak it and understand it, It should be the same laws here that they have in Mexico, So you must have the problem…