President Bush announced he will begin the long-awaited Congressional push of his immigration-reform proposal. This brought new hope in Mexico that at long last President Fox’s 2000 campaign promise may still be kept before next year’s presidential elections. His PAN party could well use the victory, as it is in desperate need of a major achievement in its effort to hold on to the presidency, which as of now looks dismal.
It has long been held by most countries that immigration policy must be based on what is best for the country, not for the immigrant.
Mexico’s immigration policy is very much based on this concept, as it should be. It is not easy for foreigners to simply apply for and receive a work-permit visa. Even to purchase a vacation home whether through title or a bank-trust (fideicomiso) in the foreign ownership forbidden zones requires a visa and proof of income from outside Mexico. Such visas are easy to obtain but must be renewed annually and do not permit holders to work in Mexico. Foreigners retiring in Mexico to obtain a visa must show proof of no less than $1,500 per month, and such a visa will not allow them to work.
Like the U.S. and other countries, Mexico does make it easy for certain individuals to obtain permanent residency (and eventual citizenship) allowing work in certain professions or for executives of multinational companies working in Mexico, business, industrial and real estate investors, etc. Such visas are clearly in Mexico’s best interest, but like in the U.S., a low-income foreigner looking to immigrate to Mexico to compete with low-income national workers has no chance of being welcomed.
However, Mexico wants—no, insists—that the best U.S. immigration policy is one that considers what is best for Mexican immigrants and Mexico, while paying only lip service to their needed reforms negating the need for Mexicans to seek economic asylum in the U.S. And this is of course where the friction comes in. But, the U.S. bears much of the blame for spoiling Mexico on this issue.