Ciro Di Costanzo criticizes the euphoria of the Mexican government over the integral migratory reform approved in the United States, which the majority of Latin American organizations and leaders have met with wariness and even outright condemnation. The reform plans, among other sweeping changes, to give citizenship to all undocumented immigrants who have been living in the country for over 5 years. Di Costanzo postulates that the bill approved by the Senate and under debate in the House of Representatives does not represent a real victory for Mexico or for any Mexicans living on American soil.
Ciro Di Costanzo is a journalist and an analyst of international politics. He is the head of one of the most important radio shows in Mexico (Reporte 98.5 FM, now in its third season of broadcasting) and is a Professor of Communication and International Politics at the Universidad Iberoamericana. He has covered events worldwide and is the founder of the Mexican Counsel of International Affairs. He gives talks at the principal universities of his country and around the world.
WITH THE WORD VICTORY ON HIS LIPS and his right fist raised into the air, Mexican President Vicente Fox celebrated the recent approval of migratory reform by the United States Senate.
The reform proposes, among other initiatives, the legalization of all illegal aliens who have been living in US territory for over five years, provided that they fulfill certain conditions.
A HISTORIC DAY?
President Fox made his excitement and energy known as he completed his conveniently scheduled tour of the United States, ringing the victory bells and calling it a historic day. His visit to the United States gave him ample opportunity to lobby interest in the US government, and take advantage of hundreds of photo ops.
Yet, the rapture of the President is in stark contrast with the wariness, disapproval and denunciation of the reform expressed by many leaders of Latino organizations in the United States.
Those same groups who managed to organize two million people to come out onto the streets in support of illegal immigrants in early May have openly condemned the initiative. Their protest showed the political and economic strength of immigrants throughout America, and warned of the cost of not adopting a law to benefit illegal aliens in the states.
THE FINAL BATTLE HAS YET TO BE FOUGHT
And so why is President Vicente Fox’s attitude so different from that of these pro-immigrant organizations? Are they not both pursuing the same goals? Or did Fox simply count his chickens before they had hatched?
Maybe the Mexican President did not stop to think about some of the possible consequences that the adoption of the new law could have on political and social dynamics within the country.
The reform, although passed by the Senate, has yet to be approved by the House of Representatives, which may require a great deal of negotiation. While the Senate’s main concern in creating the reform is the condition of immigrants in America, the House is placing particular emphasis on the security and protection of American borders.
From this dichotomy of concerns a new law must be agreed upon, which must then be signed by President Bush before it can actually come into effect. The reform is far from being passed, the final battle has not begun, and yet the Mexican government is already celebrating.
CONVINCING THE ULTRA-CONSERVATIVES
It is important to consider the price the United States administration has to pay in order to convince the ultra-conservative legislators to adopt an immigration reform in the Senate. The compromise is great: the dispatch of hundreds of soldiers to the Mexican border and the construction of a dividing wall between the two countries (stretching more than 595 km) in exchange for the legalization of illegal immigrants.
Yet in the long run, the compromise will most likely create more risks than benefits for immigrants. In fact, those who are already profiting from the new reform are gangs of organized crime who will now begin to specialize in the trafficking of people.
As far as specialists can tell, the measures that the US government is implementing, far from inhibiting illegal immigration, will only increase it, spurring the creation of powerful mafias specialized in the trafficking of illegals. These traffickers of human beings, commonly known as polleros have already doubled their fees, and in response, the abuse and corruption of authorities on both sides of the border will only get worse.
VICTORY FOR MEXICO?
The new reform also proposes fining employers around the country 20,000 dollars for every illegal immigrant that they have in their service. The fine could put thousands of people on the street and make it almost impossible for them to find work.
Besides this forced unemployment, and the danger of many immigrants falling into a lack of productivity and even delinquency, the new measures could also affect many families in Mexico who depend on money sent by their loved ones in the United States.
From the propagation of organized crime, to the draconian Sensenbrenner initiative, to the negative effects that it will have on the American and Mexican economies; the new immigration reform risks to cause more harm than good, no matter how nice legalizing immigrants may seem.
Is that what Fox calls a victory?