Posted on June 26, 2018

Mexico — What Went Wrong?

Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, June 26, 2018

{snip} Andrés Manuel López Obrador {snip} has often advanced the idea that a strangely aggrieved Mexico has the right to monitor the status of its citizens living illegally in the United States. Lately, he trumped that notion of entitlement by assuring fellow Mexicans that they have a “human right” to enter the United States as they please. For Obrador, this is an innate privilege that he promised “we will defend” {snip}.

Obrador went on to urge his fellow Mexicans to “leave their towns and find a life in the United States.” {snip}


Mexico, the Aggressor

{snip} Mexico runs a NAFTA-protected $70 billion trade surplus with the U.S., larger than that of any other single American trade partner (including Japan and Germany) except China. {snip}

A supposedly affluent Mexico was supposed to achieve near parity with the U.S., as immigration and trade soon neutralized. Despite Mexico’s economic growth, no such symmetry has followed NAFTA. What did, however, 34 years later, was the establishment of a dysfunctional Mexican state, whose drug cartels all but run the country on the basis of their enormous profits from unfettered dope-running and human-trafficking into the United States. {snip}

In addition, Mexican citizens who enter and reside as illegal immigrants in the U.S. are mostly responsible for sending an approximate $30 billion in remittances home to Mexico. That sum has now surpassed oil and tourism as the largest source of Mexican foreign exchange. {snip}

{snip} [Many] of the millions of Mexican expatriates in the United States who send remittances home to Mexico are themselves beneficiaries of some sort of U.S. federal, state, or local support that allows them to free up cash to send back to Mexico.

When Obrador urges his fellow citizens to abandon their country and head illegally into the United States, [he] seems quite unconcerned that those who send home remittances live in poverty in the United States and seek offsetting subsidies from the U.S. government to find enough disposable income to save the Mexican government from its mostly corrupt self.


There may now be anywhere from 11 million to 20 million illegal aliens in the U.S. America’s open border is the keystone of Mexican foreign and domestic policy. For all practical purposes, Mexico City alone modulates the flow of both Mexican and Central American citizens into the United States — depending on its current attitude toward the U.S.

{snip} Mexico’s sense of immigration entitlement is predicated on the assumption that corporate America wants cheap labor, that liberal America wants voters, that identity-politics activists need constituents, that a liberal elite expresses its abstract virtue by its patronization of the Other — and that until recently most Americans were indifferent.

{snip} Exporting human capital {snip} has long acted as a political safety valve for the Mexican government. Its grandees are largely the descendants of European aristocrats and have shown little desire to enact the constitutional, human-rights, and economic reforms that they assume are the norm in the U.S. and that might help Mexican citizens live safely and profitably in their own homeland. Certainly, there appears to be little real self-reflection in Mexico about how and why such a naturally rich country — blessed with good soil, climate, natural resources, ports, and a strategic geography — remains so dismally poor.

{snip} About 12 percent of the Mexican population now lives inside the United States, the great majority illegally. {snip}

The activist expatriate community also insidiously pressures the U.S. to a more pro-Mexican foreign policy. The Democratic party has discovered {snip} that open borders provide a steady stream of potential first- and secure second-generation voters who in the past have flipped red states blue (such as California, New Mexico, and Nevada). The careers of identity-politics activists often hinge on having a permanent pool of poor, unskilled, and minimum-wage-earning constituents who need collective representation by self-appointed advocates. Without illegal immigration, Chicano or La Raza studies would in a few years resonate about as much as a Polish- or Italian-studies department.

{snip} Supposedly, a racist and bigoted America owes an illegal alien and his children employment or education reparations for their own deprived childhoods in Mexico, or as recompense for the racism they will soon inevitably encounter in the U.S., a bias that apparently did not bother millions when they chose to leave their own country and cross the border illegally.


{snip} In one of the strangest paradoxes of the present age, Mexico seems to love its people more, the farther they are from Mexico and the longer they stay away. And that convenient love is requited: The longer illegal aliens are in the U.S., the more they can afford to become staunch pro-Mexican adherents — again, as long as they do not have to return to Mexico.

We are warned by Obrador that a new relationship with the U.S. in on the horizon, and pundits warn us that six of ten Mexican now view the U.S. unfavorably. {snip}


Restoring Symmetry

What might the U.S. do to restore symmetry and save Mexico from its own delusions?

It should control its own border with Mexico as carefully as Mexico polices its own southern border. That vigilance can be achieved mostly by stiffening employer sanctions on hiring illegal aliens, finishing the wall, and warnings to Mexico that there will be trade and commercial consequences for cynically facilitating the transit of millions of illegal aliens from Central America.

{snip} A tax on remittances might be useful in funding the construction of a border wall.


A million cases a year of tax fraud through the use of fake names and identification is not just an artifact of illegal immigration, but a moral crime that callously harms U.S. citizens and their institutions.


It is not honorable for a foreign leader to claim that his own people are privileged immigrants who deserve, on the basis of their race or nationality, favoritism over Asian, African, or European would-be immigrants.

It is not kind to bring small children illegally into a foreign country, much less to send them ahead, unescorted, as levers for one’s own later entry.

It is an act of belligerency for a nation to undermine the laws of its neighbor — and boast that more of the same is to come.

{snip} Mexico’s entire foreign and economic policy is based on exporting its poor people abroad to scrimp and save cash to send home to provide the support their own government will not.

The United States has many enemies in the world, but it is hard to find one that deliberately is trying to undermine U.S. law by exporting its own citizens to change the demographic and politics of its supposed ally.

It is almost impossible to find enemies that can so carefully extract billions of dollars in remittances and surpluses from the U.S. economy. Most enemies do not send as many human traffickers and drugs into the U.S. as does Mexico. {snip}