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Let Texas, Not Washington, Run U.S.-Mexican Relations

The Lone Star State is defending our national frontier while also fighting the Biden administration’s open-border malfeasance.

Credit: Octavio Hoyos

President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador set the tone for U.S.-Mexican relations when he asserted earlier this year that Mexico does “not produce fentanyl, and we do not have consumption of fentanyl; why don’t they [the United States] take care of their problem of social decay?” 

AMLO’s brash assertion revealed much about what he really thinks of el Norte and President Biden’s feckless Mexico policy. Under Biden, the highest priority in U.S.-Mexican security relations continues to be for the Department of Homeland Security to keep our frontier open to illegal migrants, even after millions have already crossed the southern border. 


The White House imposes no negative consequences for Mexican non-cooperation on fighting illegal drugs, even as Biden’s own counternarcotics chief sounds the alarm. According to DEA Director Anne Milgram, “The most urgent threat to our communities, to our children and our families is [the Sinaloa Cartel and the Jalisco New Generation Cartel] which are mass-producing the fentanyl that is poisoning and killing Americans.”

Biden’s economic team also voices no cautionary concerns about where U.S.-Mexican commercial integration is going. It should be clear that Mexico’s capacity to remain a solid business partner is deeply undermined by its internal corruption-criminal cancer. Yet U.S. businesses are charging headlong into a new era of “nearshoring” industries in a country where criminal cartels vie for control of almost 40 percent of the national territory, where wide-spread Mafia-like extortion squeezes all legitimate businesses, and the judicial-police-legal system is a shambles. 

Into this void, thankfully, rides Governor Greg Abbott and Texas to fight for the Lone Star State and the American national interest, and in particular to resist the Biden administration’s open-borderism. The Austin-based Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), joined by the Heritage Foundation, recently put a spotlight on this crucial fight with a summit on U.S.-Mexican relations

The good news coming out of the TPPF summit is that Texas, even after three years of struggle with the Biden administration, still has plenty of resources and energy, particularly when it comes to keeping out illegal migrants. The bad news is that U.S.-Mexican relations are not likely to improve when AMLO leaves the presidency in 2024, and the Biden administration has no remorse or second thoughts about its destructive policies towards Mexico or Latin America. 

First and foremost, alas, is the wearying fight against Biden’s refusal to protect the American border from millions of invading foreign migrants. With admirable resilience, Texas is still refusing to accede to Washington craziness; Abbott and his team, led by the state’s lawyers and the Department of Public Safety, continue to undertake a spirited resistance against unprecedented federal malfeasance in defending the national frontier.


Summit experts analyzed the American constitutional crisis that Biden’s border policy has unleashed. The president’s dubious claim that opening the U.S. border is a matter of “foreign affairs,” exclusive to the federal government, blithely ignores that admitting millions of illegal migrants overwhelms state obligations to provide local services and community security. Constitutional mandates, such as those spelled out in Article IV, Section 4, and the 10th Amendment, are valuable legal tools in thwarting the warped federalism that is trying to force Texas, and other states, to prioritize foreign migrants over their own citizens. 

The Lone Star State is in a fierce legal struggle to halt Biden’s outrageous campaign to remove and dismantle state-deployed concertina wire and water barriers in the Rio Grande that block illegal migrants. The tactic is effective, and Biden officials are predictably outraged; they have tried to destroy the barriers physically, and Texas has sued to protect state property. The smuggling cartels also see the barriers as a serious impediment and are directing more of their human cargo to cross into other states, such as Arizona.

Having come up with many creative responses to Washington, such as transporting illegal migrants to blue states, Abbott has called a fourth special session of the legislature to commit more resources to the crisis. A new bill under consideration would make unlawful entry into Texas a state crime and authorize county officials to order foreign migrants returned to ports of entry. The plan cannot push them all the way back into Mexico, but it would slow migrants’ northward progress.

Panel experts at the summit detailed how the U.S. Border Patrol regularly coordinates directly with Mexican government authorities to move illegal migrants across the border, a phenomenon without precedent in American history. Panel experts also denounced the policies that exhort millions from around the world to tramp through Mexico to the American frontier, despite the open knowledge countless thousands fall victim to cartel abuses. The mass exploitation includes crimes against women and children, including rape and chattel labor, as well as some 2,000 verified deaths, yet little of this carnage and tragedy captures media attention; they prefer the romanticized immigrant-arrival story. 

Similarly, AMLO rarely decries these cartel abuses that take place on Mexican territory. Instead, he proclaims that all economic migrants should exercise their “universal human right” to illegally cross national borders – risks to women and children be damned. No doubt that AMLO also smiles at the $51 billion in annual remittances that Mexicans in el Norte send back. That is why el presidente continues to demand more visas and access for Mexicans to go north. More than 38 million Mexicans or first-generation Mexican-Americans already live in the United States, of which some five million are illegally present. 

Consider the immigration data just for Mexicans: in 2022, the State Department issued some 66,000 immigrant visas (green cards) to Mexicans; plus 1.7 million temporary visitor visas; and over 400,000 temporary work visas. In addition, the Biden administration, in accommodating AMLO while ducking public scrutiny, also “paroled” in another 57,000 Mexicans. Yet the Mexican president still wants more access, and the White House thoroughly agrees: Bringing in foreign workers is manifestly a higher Biden priority than trying to reintegrate marginalized Americans back into the U.S. labor force.

The American trade über alles lobby is equally worrisome, and shortsighted. U.S. businesspeople and policymakers need to have an honest discussion about how robust trade with Mexico might actually be cutting against the national interest in areas other than just the loss of manufacturing jobs. It was a debated topic at TPPF summit, but it is inconceivable that the Mexican underworld does not get a substantial cut of the $780 billion in legal products and goods crossing the border in both directions. 

Some 175,000 Mexicans work for organized crime, making it the country’s fifth largest employer. The cartels reap profits not just through smuggling illegal drugs and migrants, but through widespread extortion of normal business activities, including cross-border trade. The extortion is hidden amid legitimate fees and costs, such as those associated with freight forwarding, insurance, and warehousing, leaving most Americans unaware that it takes place. But Mexicans live constantly with these kinds of Mafia-like shakedowns that garner the criminal underworld vast profits south of the border.

Gangsters brandishing AK-47s are only the foot soldiers of a sophisticated crime and corruption cancer that is strangling Mexico. AMLO’s much ballyhooed claims of overcoming it are not only untrue, but they mask the Mexican president’s ruthless pursuit of power and control. As summit experts pointed out, AMLO will leave office in 2024, but will almost certainly be succeeded by his protégé Claudia Scheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City. 

Whether Scheinbaum turns out to be an AMLO puppet or a new leftist political force, she is unlikely to make any progress against the corruption-criminality axis that dominates Mexico. Intense national efforts, backed up by a quarter century of NAFTA commercial integration and a decade of Washington’s Merida Initiative, have all dramatically failed to boost Mexico’s modernization forces. Instead, the criminal underworld became more entrenched and profitable—and not just from its illegal drug market in the U.S.—as our southern neighbor unsuccessfully struggles to develop a functioning judicial system and reliable police forces. La presidenta Scheinbaum will have no answers to the criminal bribes and death threats that permeate Mexican institutions. 

A summit panel also examined the Biden administration’s overall engagement in Latin America and the Caribbean. In the discussion, some conservative critics argued convincingly that Biden has no discernible diplomatic strategy for the Americas. In fact, however, the “Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection,” which the president proclaimed in 2022, is the heart of administration engagement for the region. U.S. foreign policy is all about promoting open-borderism and massive immigration.   

As the TPPF summit made clear, Biden’s approach is as removed from enlightened America First principles as U.S. diplomacy for the hemisphere has ever been. Biden zealots have not only unleashed migration chaos in Mexico and across the Americas, but their “foreign policy” has put Texas and other states on the frontline in defending the rule of law in our own country. 

It is a great shame that Abbott does not have a national pulpit to respond to the prickly Mexican president; at least the governor understands the U.S. national interest. Meanwhile, we can only hope that AMLO does not ask President Biden to renegotiate the 1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.