The trouble with Mexico is that it’s full of Mexicans. Now, before any of you self-righteous white liberals or self-appointed Hispanic “leaders” fire off angry emails to me, keep in mind that this statement simply reflects the official policy of Mexico’s Government, not what I personally believe. The current administration of Mexico has apparently decided to support the wholesale export of its people to America as a desirable economic policy.
The stream of economic refugees that has flowed northward from Mexico for sixty years was once a source of embarrassment for the ruling elite of Mexico –obvious evidence that Mexico was so poorly-governed and corrupt that its people’s best hope for a better life lay in escape to America.
But the attitude of Mexico’s rulers to this chronic exodus now appears to have changed to something more like “Good riddance”. Apparently, they believe every Mexican that leaves Mexico is a Mexican they don’t have to solve any problems for. Mexico’s president, Vicente Fox, has made increasing the flow of his people out of Mexico and into America his highest priority in his relationship with the US. His expressed desire is that the border should pretty much cease to exist — at least for Northbound traffic. He would prefer that America voluntarily acquiesce to his desire to depopulate his nation’s poorest neighborhoods, but he is also prepared to achieve this depopulation unilaterally. Mexican consulates brazenly issue official-looking ID cards to illegal aliens in the U.S. to help them appear legitimate to employers and banks. And, infamously, the Mexican government recently published a “how-to guide” for those wishing to illegally smuggle themselves into the United States. In poignant testament to the extent to which Mexico’s government has utterly failed its people, the guide was issued in comic book form, to facilitate its use by the illiterate.
The merits of mass immigration, both legal and illegal, from Mexico into the US are a source of constant discussion in America. But consider, for just a moment, what the situation must look like from the other side of the broken border. With his enthusiastic support for emigration by the tens of millions, Vicente Fox has essentially said to his people “My best idea for Mexico is to send Mexicans someplace where people have better ideas.” Apparently, Mr. Fox lacks the “vision thing”. Imagine if President Bush’s plan for economic recovery in the last recession had been exporting the unemployed. (But the situation in Mexico is worse than that, because not only do Fox’s policies inspire no outrage, they are popular. When told by their government that perhaps they should just give up and leave, the response of many Mexicans is simply to agree — a sad state of affairs.)
The motivation of Mexico’s leader in becoming an active accessory to the transnational smuggling of his country’s labor force is not just that Mexico is economically dependent upon the dollars that expatriate Mexicans wire home each month (although that motivation should not be discounted). Also at play is his desire to take advantage of a little commented-upon effect that America has had on the world for decades. America’s acceptance of refugees by the millions has made it, effectively, the safety valve for tyrannical and incompetent governments the world over.
Normally, bad government is unstable government. When a government makes a substantial part of its population destitute or unhappy, it can expect them to work against that government, first as individuals and over time as political parties, gangs — or even armies. But with America close-by to absorb the most unhappy, bad governments have found a release for those segments of their populations they most fear: the poor, the ambitious, the disgruntled.
America, of course, does not see itself this way. Our motives for accepting the huddled masses may not be entirely pure, but among these is not the desire to stabilize failure abroad. However, the rulers of other countries recognize the service America unwittingly provides. The most flagrant proof of this was the Mariel boatlift in 1980, in which Fidel Castro organized a mass exodus of 125,000 Cubans from the port of Mariel, Cuba, to Florida. These refugees included common criminals and the mentally ill released from Cuban jails and asylums (Cuba’s “universal healthcare” apparently has it limits), but the overwhelming majority of the migrants were simply the proverbial poor yearning to be free –exactly the sort of people Castro could not depend upon to help maintain his oppressive rule. Castro may claim to detest the fact that Florida is just 90 miles away from the shores of his communist paradise, but if it weren’t, his regime might have ended long ago. Florida is full of the Cubans who would most like to change Cuba. They do Castro little harm in Miami.
Most nations are not so obvious in their use of the safety valve, but America is filled with diverse immigrants who do little to agitate the status quo in their homelands, and the ruling classes in these lands were not sad to see them go.
Mexico is a far cry from Cuba and Vicente Fox is certainly no Castro. But he understands the many ways in which shunting his discontented poor out of the country benefit him and his political allies.
There is no shame in poverty and no sin in seeking work, but there is something unseemly in a leader who sees people as a product for export. In all the discussion of the immigration issue, the one aspect I have not seen bluntly assessed is what a failed and myopic leader Vicente Fox is. In America, men are made rich and families are well fed by the energetic labor of Mexicans. An admirable Mexican government would set about reforming the country so that that same energetic Mexican labor could create riches and feed families inside Mexico. Fox’s government simply wants to avoid the issue, preserve the established power structure, and make sure it gets a cut when Mexico’s workforce auctions itself off to more efficient economies. Seeing his people forced to sell their labors abroad, Fox simply wants to act as pimp on the sale.