Mexican President Vicente Fox’s multistate tour of the western United States last week came while his government is in the midst of a massive, well-financed campaign to influence congressional efforts at stricter immigration enforcement and shape public opinion to allow more Mexican nationals into this country.
Worried about pending legislation to better secure the U.S.-Mexico border, the Fox administration and its representatives are working through a coalition of U.S.-based immigration rights associations, Mexican-American organizations and grass-roots Hispanic groups to lobby U.S. lawmakers and civic leaders for amnesty for the estimated 12 million illegals in the United States,
Some of the groups are behind the rallies and boycotts held nationwide that drew millions of flag-waving demonstrators to protest immigration reform, including more than 500,000 in Los Angeles and 100,000 in Washington.
At least one U.S. prosecutor in the “middle of an invasion by illegal aliens” said he is outraged by what he called efforts by the Mexican government to interfere in U.S. policies and overturn laws being used to arrest and prosecute illegal aliens.
Maricopa County Attorney Andrew P. Thomas in Phoenix accuses Mexico of being behind a lawsuit challenging Arizona’s alien-smuggling law. He has asked the State Department to protest Mexico’s “concerted attempts to undermine” U.S. law and its “interfering in the internal affairs” of Arizona.
“The citizens of the state of Arizona will be deprived of their right to uphold public order and to protect themselves against the Mexican government’s systematic, unlawful export of humanity into the state,” Mr. Thomas told The Washington Times.
Mr. Fox visited several states, including California, where he touted the importance of immigrants and said they deserved the immigration reform bill passed by the Senate, which would legalize millions of illegal aliens and authorize 200,000 temporary work visas for foreigners who take low-skill jobs in the United States.
“They fought for it,” he told the Latino Chamber of Commerce in Sacramento. “We know about their contributions to this economy and to this country. We know about their loyalty to those they work for.”
A growing political alliance in this country aimed at dulling immigration enforcement efforts is under way, and includes the Institute for Mexicans Abroad, which reports to a counsel of government officials headed by Mr. Fox as a branch of Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Known by the Spanish acronym IME, the institute has called U.S. immigration reform a major priority, recommending policy changes that respect “the needs and rights” of Mexicans—both legal and illegal—in the United States. Mexican nationals in the United States send home an estimated $16 billion a year, that country’s second largest source of income after oil exports.
IME is not a legislative body, but makes recommendations to the Mexican government on efforts to improve and expand services and benefits to Mexicans living in other countries. Recommendations come from an advisory board of 130 members, mostly Mexican-Americans who live in the United States. The board consists of members from a number of organizations, including so-called hometown clubs and national groups like the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the League of United Latin American Citizens.
Working with the IME is the coalition of immigration rights associations, Mexican-American organizations and local Hispanic groups, who count among their members a number of illegal aliens and first-generation Mexican migrants. They have formed into groups known as “federations” from Los Angeles to Miami.
To publicize their concerns, IME and coalition leaders have met with state and local government officials in this country to discuss, among other things, immigration issues. Others have begun to organize “get-out-the-vote” drives for the 2006 elections.
Mr. Fox has openly criticized congressional efforts to better secure the U.S.-Mexico border, and in December the Mexican government hired a Dallas-based public relations firm, Allyn & Co., paying it $720,000 to polish Mexico’s image and convince Americans of the necessity of migrant labor. A goal of the program has been a blanket amnesty for illegal aliens in the United States.