Mexico Accused of Practicing Immigration Double-Standard

By Michael L. Betsch | July 7, 2008 | 8:12 PM EDT

( - The Mexican government has urged the United States in recent years to legally and financially accommodate undocumented Mexican immigrants living and working in the U.S., but Mexico apparently has no reservations about detaining and deporting its own illegal aliens, according to experts in Mexican and Latin American affairs who spoke with

"When there's a need for them, they're allowed in, and when there's not a need for them, they're sent out," said Barnard Thompson, a government and business consultant from San Diego, regarding Mexico's treatment of illegal immigrants. Mexico, he said, certainly has "one set of values for the immigrant and another set of values for the emigrant."

Thompson attended a recent conference near Tijuana, sponsored by the Mexican government's Population, Borders and Migratory Affairs Committee, where it was noted that Mexico had repatriated illegal aliens from 55 nations in 2001 alone.

The conference specifically addressed the increasing numbers of undocumented Central Americans who are illegally entering Mexico in hopes of eventually crossing into the U.S., Thompson said.

Mexican authorities, Thompson noted, seem to exhibit a double standard when it comes to advocating what U.S. immigration policy should be versus their own efforts to curb illegal immigration along Mexico's southern border.

In the case of undocumented Mexicans working in the U.S., the motive of the Mexican government appears to be financial, according to Thompson.

He said the national bank of Mexico, Banco de Mexico, reported that undocumented Mexicans working in the United States pumped at least $8 billion into the Mexican economy last year.

If such numbers are accurate, he said, remittances to Mexico from undocumented workers in the U.S. amount to the Mexican economy's fourth leading revenue generator behind petroleum exports, non-manufactured exported goods and tourism.

But Thompson said the undocumented workers, most from Guatemala and hired by Mexican growers to perform seasonal agricultural jobs are quickly forced to leave Mexico once their jobs are done. He said those workers are willing to labor in the fields for jobs that most Mexicans refuse to perform such as picking coffee beans, fruit and vegetables.

Magdalena Carral Caves, Mexico's newly appointed commissioner of the National Institute of Migration (NIM), offered a different viewpoint during her recent acceptance speech. By her account, Mexico must combat illegal immigration by adopting a "humanitarian migratory policy."

Mexico, she said, must always "respect" the human rights of illegal aliens that enter along the country's southern border.

In fact, Caves proposed that Mexico should treat its own illegal aliens with the same respect America extends to undocumented Mexican immigrants. She emphasized the importance of putting a "human face" on every illegal immigrant who enters into Mexico.

Caves concluded her acceptance speech by pledging to develop an effective immigration service that guarantees "legality, security and order" in the enforcement of the NIM's policies on illegal immigration.

William W. Grayson, a government professor at William and Mary College in Virginia, said Mexico "doesn't practice what it preaches" when it comes to enforcing immigration laws along its own southern border.

According to Grayson, the U.S. government informed the Mexican government early last year that if it continued to allow Central Americans to use Mexico as a "backdoor" to the U.S., Mexico's own immigration objectives with Washington would be jeopardized.

Since then, he said, "Mexicans have been acting much more assiduously and professionally to apprehend illegals." He noted that Mexico routinely fills 10 or 12 buses a day with undocumented Central Americans and buses them back to their country of origin.

Still, Mexico's southern border is like a "sieve that's been blasted by buckshot" with at least 200 gaps along the border where Central Americans can enter and begin their journey up to America, Grayson said.E-mail a news tip to Michael L. Betsch.

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