Mexico’s Northern Strategy
The Mexican government has a plan: the ongoing Mexicanization of the United States, paid for by Americans. The spectacle of a superpower being colonized by its impotent neighbor is without precedent in modern history. But to nationalist Mexicans nurtured on resentment of the Texas Revolution, Mexican War, and landings at Veracruz, it would be sweet revenge.
A combination of diplomatic chutzpah and sheer weight of bodies is bearing fruit as the United States becomes ever more Latin American, sliding into a multicultural future very few Americans actually want. Political correctness, partisan calculation, and corporate greed combine to prevent any national defense against what has, in the last thirty years, become an invasion. In 1970, the United States’ Mexican-born population was no more than 800,000. Today it exceeds 10 million—half of whom are here in violation of U.S. immigration law.
The Mexican policy is not that of an ally, as George W. Bush supposes, but of a demographic invader. It is a greater threat to the national integrity of the United States than anything Saddam Hussein can muster, and the Mexicans pushing it—led by President Vicente Fox and his present and former foreign ministers, Luis Ernesto Derbez and Jorge Castañeda—do not care what harm their plan does to Americans. Nor do they care that mass emigration hollows out Mexico’s interior. It is easier to export stomachs than to fill them.
With few exceptions, American politicians have no plan to counter the Mexican challenge. Most have no idea it exists. Bush insists the United States’ most important bilateral relationship is with Mexico, which is true, and that Mexico is an ally on a par with the United Kingdom, which is false.
Vicente Fox took office in December 2000. A month later, George W. Bush came to Washington. On the stump, Fox promised that he would fight for the rights of Mexicans in the United States and change Mexico’s constitution to allow them to vote in Mexican elections. He immediately pressed a sympathetic Bush for what Castañeda called “the whole enchilada”: regularization of Mexican illegal aliens (always carefully referred to as undocumented migrants—a force of nature rather than criminal intruders); a guest worker program for millions more Mexicans (despite American experience showing such programs only beget more illegal immigration); and an increase in permanent visas.
In spring 2001, Fox published his five-year plan for Mexican development. Amid the policy wonk prose are sections that make clear Fox’s agreement with his predecessor Ernesto Zedillo, who spoke of a Greater Mexico consisting of all Mexicans within and without Mexico’s current borders. According to the Fox plan, the Mexican government “has accepted the challenge of serving the 100 million Mexicans who now live in Mexico and the more than 18 million who live abroad.” The Fox plan goes on to posit immigration to the United States as a human right: the issue of “migration, especially in the United States, needs a new focus over the long term to permit the movement and residence of Mexican nationals to be safe, comfortable, legal and orderly, and the attitude of police persecution of this phenomenon must be abandoned and it must be perceived as a labor and social phenomenon.” In Fox’s view, therefore, the United States has no right to preserve itself as a distinct nation. Americans must pay for the health, welfare, and education of all Mexicans who move in while accepting that Mexico will be active in our country reinforcing its emigrants’ mexicanismo.
Bidding for the loyalty of all Mexicans up north—including Mexican-Americans—Fox set up a Presidential Council for Mexicans Abroad. To run it, he picked UT-Dallas professor Juan Hernández. Unconcerned—for good reason—that his new job might jeopardize his U.S. citizenship (he holds dual nationality), Hernández lobbied aggressively in the United States. On ABC’s Nightline he said that Mexicans in the United States need to become more politically active, “like Jews and Puerto Ricans.” Making no distinction between Mexican-Americans and Mexican resident aliens, nor between illegal aliens and legal residents, Hernández threw down the gauntlet: “I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first.’”
The Bush administration was receptive. The president endorsed an amnesty for Mexican illegal aliens; Congressional Democrats predictably one-upped him by demanding amnesty for all illegal aliens. Bush and Fox met in September 2001 to prepare the way for America’s immigration capitulation, but the following Tuesday, terrorists attacked New York and Washington, and our war on terror sidetracked an immigration deal—temporarily.
Fox muted his rhetoric, but Hernández carried on. In April 2002 he reminded Americans, “Vicente Fox sees the nation of Mexico as being one of 123 million people—100 million people within the borders, and 23 million living outside of Mexico.” Aware, however, that September 11th had hardened American attitudes about immigration, Fox closed down OPME and made Hernández his Coordinador de la Crónica Presidencial, a court historian to chronicle Mexico’s glorious passage to democracy under Fox. Hispanic pressure groups and illegal aliens bewailed OPME’s demise, as they have lamented Jorge Castañeda’s recent resignation. They need not worry. The shifts are tactical, the strategy unchanged.
Fox is still after the whole enchilada, one way or another. As did Hernández, both Castañeda and Derbez know the foibles of the American elite. Both are American-trained and have lived in the United States, Castañeda at New York University, Derbez at the World Bank. Castañeda long proclaimed the inevitability of Mexican emigration north, confidently predicting that Americans will tolerate their role as Mexico’s social safety valve. In July 2002, he explained Mexico’s strategy to the Mexico City daily Reforma:
First, making [migration] a central part of our agenda with the United States and opening it to a bilateral negotiation, something we had never managed to do before; second, define and agree [to] the structure the negotiation will take; that is, the five elements that make it up (guest worker program; regularization of Mexicans in the United States; new ceiling on permanent visas for Mexicans; channeling [American] resources to [Mexican] areas of out-migration; and programs to guarantee migrants’ security and reduce border violence [i.e., U.S. border enforcement]); and third, build the social and political coalition [in the United States, not Mexico]—legislators of both parties, unions, employees, state and local authorities, civic leaders, non-governmental organizations and means—that we’ll need to support negotiations.
Derbez immediately confirmed that he will change none of this: “I see no substantial change between a Derbez chancellorship and the Castañeda chancellorship … the only thing that can be different is the style of the chancellor.” Lamenting the U.S. focus on terrorism and Iraq, Arturo Sarukhan, Castañeda’s chief of staff for policy planning, told the Dallas Morning News, “[T]hat is why we are thinking of the onion approach. We start with the outer rings, we start with the state and local levels, because the federal government for many reasons is not focused on [immigration] issues.” Castañeda put it more bluntly to U.S. Hispanic activists: “You know the age-old saying about how to eat an elephant. You do it a bite at a time.” On taking over Castañeda’s portfolio, Derbez discussed his view of the enchilada: “…if the whole enchilada is not possible, we can divide it into small enchiladitas … the central issue is to see what size the enchiladitas can be to advance the process.”
Mexico thus proceeds on three levels: local advocacy inside the United States, direct pressure on the Bush administration, and intervention through international organizations using the human rights of “migrants” as a lever. As Castañeda laughingly told El Universal last November, “I like very much the metaphor of Gulliver, of ensnarling the giant. Tying it up, with nails, with thread, with 20,000 nets that bog it down: these nets being norms, principles, resolutions, agreements, and bilateral, regional and international covenants.” Taking the cue, the Mexican Senate recently presented a formal complaint to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights accusing the United States of “arbitrarily detaining migrants.” Said Sen. Sadot Sánchez, “[W]e cannot accept, under the pretext of combating terrorism, [that] human rights should be violated and the lives of Mexicans put in danger. We cannot allow migration to be associated with delinquency.” Sánchez challenged the U.S. Border Patrol directly: “We won’t allow undocumented Mexicans to be hunted down like animals.” Derbez is petitioning the International Court of Justice on behalf of Mexican convicts on American death rows. This Mexican “human rights” crusade, designed to make enforcement of U.S. immigration laws a violation of international law, is supported by the AFL-CIO, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the Cardinal Archbishop of Mexico City, who exhorted Mexicans to show greater unity against the hard-hearted norteamericanos.
While condemning the Americans’ failure to open our southern border completely, Mexico continues to sidestep our half-hearted attempts at enforcement. In recent years, Mexican consulates have revived a government ID card called the matricula consular. Its stated purpose is to allow Mexicans without passports to identify themselves. Castañeda in Reforma again: “The Mexican government will keep pushing forward … the acceptance of the new matricula consular as an official means of identification that will permit Mexicans in the United States to open bank accounts, obtain driver’s licenses and other forms of identification, or access public education in a preferred status.” As legal residents have the documents to do these things, this is an admission that the revived matricula’s real purpose is to make illegal immigration easier.
Thanks to the cravenness of local governments, the cupidity of banks, and an utter lack of federal response, the matricula consular is succeeding beyond Castañeda’s hopes. The breakthrough came in November 2001, when, after intense direct lobbying by the Mexican foreign ministry, Wells Fargo Bank and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors agreed to accept the matricula as official identification. By the end of 2002, more than 80 U.S. banks had agreed to open accounts on the strength of the matricula, while over 800 U.S. police departments now accept it as valid ID and will not refer holders to the INS. To save illegal aliens a trip to the consulate, Mexican consular officials set up matricula mills in Hispanic chambers of commerce, church halls, and parochial and public schools. A federal breakthrough for the matricula came with new House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) insistence that San Francisco’s Burton Federal Building accept it as valid ID for entrance, so that her “constituents” may have easier access to services.
The usual excuses for accepting the matricula include allowing police to gain the trust of the “immigrant community” by reassuring illegal aliens that police will not turn them over to la migra and, as Boulder, Colo. assistant director of human services Richard Johnson avers, because “they’re here and contributing to the community.” For banks, it is just business, with a warm and fuzzy “diversity” gloss. The INS response is the dazed indifference one expects. Spokesman Bill Strassberger: “The document is not a bad thing, really, as long as it’s used strictly for identification.” The matricula’s reliability as identification is dubious. Its revival has birthed a booming black market in bogus Mexican birth certificates. The INS acknowledged that one man in Denver had three matriculas when arrested, all issued by the same consulate. All bore his photograph, but each had a different name and address.
Vicente Fox is augmenting the matricula’s inroads by replacing OPME with a National Council for Mexican Communities Abroad. The council, headed by Fox himself, consists of 100 Mexican-Americans and Mexicans resident in the United States, selected by Mexican consuls. Introducing it on his radio show (broadcast in the United States), Fox said, “[O]ur communities abroad exceed the number of 20 million people of Mexican origin who embrace four generations. Our task is to look after, serve and contribute to the protection and promotion of every one of them. … We intend a great union between those Mexicans who are outside our country and those of us here inside.” His Mexican-American members agree. Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Teresa Sánchez-Gordon: “It’s very important to me … that judges’ perspectives on Mexicans improve; that we educate judges about the culture, the psychology, the feelings of Mexicans, so they can better understand the dynamic of our people in California.” This American judge’s “our people” are not the American people.
The Mexican propaganda offensive proceeds on other fronts. In November and December 2002, a series of virtually identical opinion pieces appeared in newspapers across the United States. Credited in each case to a local Mexican consular official, the planted column touts the purported benefits to U.S. national security of “regularizing” illegal aliens while claiming America has an “urgent need for Mexican laborers in a wide range of agricultural and service sector jobs.” More subtly, the Fox government is underwriting an ongoing series of cultural exhibitions and museum shows in the United States to polish Mexico’s image among Americans. According to Ignacio Duran, cultural minister at the Mexican embassy, “Mexico considers this a very effective instrument. People who appreciate the culture of a country begin to identify with that country.”
At a time when the United States needs an unequivocal advocate of American interests in Mexico City, George W. Bush has sent just the opposite. Tony Garza, the president’s choice for ambassador to Mexico, is a comforting reminder to Mexicans that administration policy will be driven by the Republican Party’s quixotic quest for Hispanic votes. Garza is a Texas political pal, Gov. Bush’s secretary of state and border liaison. Once in Mexico, he did not disappoint the Mexican pundits who had cheered his appointment. To Reforma, Garza said he “would like to see us have a debate to legalize these people who have been part of our community. I believe we should recognize them, giving them some sort of status.” As for U.S. citizenship for illegal aliens, Garza told El Universal, “[T]hat can be sought as part of another process, without discrimination.” As someone close to Bush and personally interested in Mexican immigration, Garza’s statements no doubt reflect Bush’s wishes.
Assisted by American indifference, Mexico is peeling the onion. And other countries are catching onto the immigration racket: the United States is a gigantic job fair and welfare office for all the world, not a true nation that will defend its borders, its cultural integrity, and the livelihoods of its citizens. Guatemala began issuing a matricula consular in September. El Salvador, Honduras, and Poland have followed suit. Having accepted Mexican undermining of U.S. immigration law for so long, how can the administration object—if it were so inclined? The Bush administration’s crackdown on terrorism obscures the fact that it has done nothing—“Homeland Security” bureaucracy notwithstanding—to curb the influx of illegal aliens or to detect and deport those already here. One slight, probably temporary, show of backbone came in January 2003 as the Departments of State and Homeland Security agreed to “review” the Mexican and other consular ID cards. The review is due to pressure from Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and other House immigration reformers, not to any particular concern within the Bush administration. Still, for the moment Nancy Pelosi’s “constituents” cannot get into San Francisco’s Federal Building on the strength of their matriculas alone.
Today’s U.S.-Mexico relationship is gravely debilitating for both countries. Mexico has become a parasite nation, so dependent on America that its rulers fight to send their people north to work as peons and become public charges. Its unhealthy dependence drains Mexico of able-bodied people while allowing the country’s oligarchs to avoid genuine reform. They ease their humiliations by attempting a cultural conquest of the despised gringo superpower. America, hobbled by multiculturalism, is largely inert in the face of the Mexican demographic challenge. Conditioned by the media, politicians, and a failed education system to see America as no more than a nation of immigrants, how can Americans object to more … immigrants?
Mexico cannot make the United States a new Mexico. But if Americans will not resist the demographic challenge and end Mexican meddling in American affairs, Mexico could be the end of an American United States.
Howard Sutherland is an attorney in New York.