Chris Hawley, Arizona Republic (Phoenix), Jan. 1
MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government is giving out a colorful new comic book with advice for migrants, but immigration-control advocates worry that some of the tips may encourage illegal border crossers.
The 32-page book, The Guide for the Mexican Migrant, was published in December by Mexico’s Foreign Ministry. Using simple language, the book offers safety information for border crossers, a primer on their legal rights and advice on living unobtrusively in the United States.
Dramatic drawings show undocumented immigrants wading into a river, running from the U.S. Border Patrol and crouching near a hole in a border fence. On other pages, they hike through a desert with rock formations reminiscent of Arizona and are caught by a stern-faced Border Patrol agent.
“This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country,” the book says.
But immigration-control groups questioned some of the guide’s advice.
“This is more than just a wink and a nod,” said Rick Oltman, Western field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. “This is so transparent, this is the Mexican government trying to protect its most valuable export, which is illegal migrants.”
The book comes with a yellow disclaimer saying it does not promote undocumented immigration, and it repeatedly warns against crossing illegally. But it gives no information about the steps for seeking a U.S. visa.
Instead, it offers frank safety tips. In the section on crossing rivers, it notes, “Thick clothing increases your weight when wet, and this makes it difficult to swim or float.”
On crossing the desert, it says, “Try to walk during times when the heat is not as intense” and says migrants should follow power lines or train tracks if they get lost.