Mexican Interior Secretary: We'll Never Help U.S. Secure Border

Mexican Interior Secretary Santiago Creel, who has been agitating for the United States to grant amnesty to Mexican illegal aliens, said last week that his country will never help the United States secure its southern border.

“We are not going to do that,” Creel told reporter Jerry Kammer of the Copley News Service. Creel said the Mexican Constitution provides for “complete freedom of movement” for Mexicans inside Mexico, which, in Creel’s view, precludes his government from stopping anybody on their side of the U.S. border. “We can’t put up a checkpoint or a customs station inside our territory,” said Creel.

Kammer reported that prior to September 11, then-Mexican Foreign Secretary Jorge Castaneda had tried to work out a deal with the Bush Administration. If the administration would grant an amnesty to Mexican illegal aliens inside the United States, the Mexican government would work to make sure that the flow of illegal aliens stopped.

According to Kammer, Castaneda’s half-brother, former Deputy Foreign Minister Andres Rozental, unambiguously described the proposal as a “quid pro quo.”

“You both gave and took,” said Rozental. “The ‘take’ was you received an orderly way for a large number of Mexicans to go to the United States, and in exchange [Mexico promised] to play its role in ensuring that the vast majority go that way.”

Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Jeffrey Davidow viewed the U.S.-Mexican negotiations differently than Rozental. “That idea was never presented at the technical-level meetings,” he said. “That was the greatest weakness in the whole negotiating scenario: The Mexican ‘quid’ was not going to be big enough for the U.S. ‘quo.’ What were they going to do, start a Border Patrol the same size as ours to keep Mexicans from crossing?”

For his part, Rozental said that Creel was incorrect in arguing that it would be unconstitutional for the Mexican government to stop Mexicans from crossing illegally into the United States. “The Constitution says that Mexicans have freedom of movement,” said Rozental, “but it also says [that movement is] subject to administrative regulations.”

Creel may be taking a swipe at the United States with the hope that it will improve his political prospects. He is seen as a candidate that the conservative National Action Party (PAN) is grooming to replace President Vicente Fox, when Fox’s term expires in 2006.

On July 10, as reported by the Los Angeles Times, Creel visited Washington, D.C., to address a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and for private talks with Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge. Creel advised the bishops that the U.S. should essentially abandon any effort to stop Mexicans from crossing its Southern border.

“There are nearly four million Mexicans working in the United States with no record of who they are, where they live, where they work and when they entered,” said Creel. “Does it not make sense to improve security through allowing them to become fully recognized and legal? Migrant regularization would provide the United States with a greater margin of security than the one it currently has.”

“The policy of containment implemented by the United States on its southern border has not been able to stop the migration flow,” he said. “The widespread surveillance has only changed the traditional routes taken by the migrants and increased the price they have to pay to get across.”

“The Mexican migratory flow represents no risk whatsoever, even less if it is documented,” he said.