Mexican Officials Feather Their Nests While Decrying U.S. Immigration Policy

George W. Grayson, Center for Immigration Studies, April 2006

Show me a politician who is poor and I will show you a poor politician

Carlos Hank González

Executive Summary

Mexican politicians continuously demand more visas for their citizens, an expanded guest-worker program, and “regularization” of illegal aliens living north of the Rio Grande. While neglecting to mention that the United States admits nearly one million legal newcomers each year, they also fail to publicize: (1) the extremely high salaries they receive, often—in the case of federal and state legislators—more than their counterparts in developed nations that have substantially longer annual sessions, (2) the generous stipends that they grant themselves, including year-end aguinaldos and end-of-term bonuses of tens of thousands of dollars known as bonos de marcha, and (3) the generous sums that party leaders in legislative bodies have to spend with few or any strings attached.

For example,

  • President Vicente Fox ($236,693) makes more than the leaders of France ($95,658), the U.K. ($211,434), and Canada ($75,582).
  • Although they are in session only a few months a year, Mexican deputies take home at least $148,000—substantially more than their counterparts in France ($78,000), Germany ($105,000), and congressmen throughout Latin America.
  • At the end of the three-year term, Mexican deputies voted themselves a $28,000 “leaving-office bonus.”
  • Members of the 32 state legislatures ($60,632) earn on average twice the amount earned by U.S. state legislators ($28,261). The salaries and bonuses of the lawmakers in Baja California ($158,149), Guerrero ($129,630), and Guanajuato ($111,358) exceed the salaries of legislators in California ($110,880), the District of Columbia ($92,500), Michigan ($79,650), and New York ($79,500).
  • Members of the city council of Saltillo, San Luis Potosí, not only received a salary of $52,778 in 2005, but they awarded themselves a $20,556 end-of-year bonus.
  • Average salaries (plus Christmas stipends known as aguinaldos) place the average compensation of Mexican state executives at $125,759, which exceeds by almost $10,000 the mean earnings of their U.S. counterparts ($115,778). On average, governors received aguinaldos of $14,346 in 2005—a year when 60 percent of Mexicans received no year-end bonuses.

These same politicians turn a blind eye to the fact that, when petroleum earnings are excluded, Mexico collects taxes equivalent to 9.7 percent of GDP—a figure on par with Haiti. In addition, the policy makers (1) spend painfully little on education and health-care programs crucial to spurring social mobility and job opportunities, (2) acquiesce in barriers to opening businesses in their country, and (3) profit from a level of corruption that would have made a Tammany Hall precinct captain blush—with $11.2 billion flowing to lawmakers in 2004 alone.

Many Mexican officials enjoy princely lifestyles, while expecting the United States to solve their social problems by allowing the border to serve as a safety-valve for job seekers.

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