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Last week, as we reported on this page, the Mexican Embassy in Washington defended a guide for illegal immigrants that its government publishes. The booklet, “The Guide for the Mexican Migrant,” advises illegal immigrants on things like crossing rivers and deserts safely, dealing with U.S. authorities if caught and how to lay low in the United States once across the border. In our view, publishing such a guide aides and abets illegal immigration. When you give safety tips to people violating U.S. immigration law, you are tacitly condoning those violations. So we called on the State Department to register a complaint with Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza.
Well, the State Department has responded. Apparently the answer is no. A spokesman said no action has taken place, and declined to tell us whether the department plans to take any measures outside routine meetings with the Mexicans. “We have regular communications with them on illegal immigration,” he told us, “and we hope they continue to work with us on the need to use safe, legal and orderly means as the only way to migrate to the United States.” Beyond those regular communications, the official wouldn’t tell us about any department plans to discuss the migrant guide and its effect on illegal immigration. That’s because there aren’t any.
Given the State Department’s lenient record on immigration, we can’t say we’re surprised. But does the department at least recognize that the “migrant” guide is a problem? To find out, we asked whether the department thinks the migrant guide is good or bad for the control of illegal immigration. The official didn’t go so far as to tell us he thought it was good, which is reassuring. But he told us, in effect, that he doesn’t think it’s bad. “The Mexicans have made it clear publicly that this document was not intended to promote illegal immigration,” he said. Apparently the department’s policy is to believe them. Another spokesman offered this: “Both the United States and the Mexican government have a strong commitment to ensuring that migration into the United States is safe, orderly and legal.”
But the facts show it just isn’t so. Repeating the phrase “safe, orderly and legal” might gloss this over in diplomat-speak, but it can’t hide the underlying reality. As the “migrant” guide demonstrates, the Mexican government is ready and willing to help its citizens flout U.S. law. And the State Department is unwilling to do anything about it.
(Posted on January 13, 2005)