Posted on July 5, 2018

Now Is the Moment to Revisit the Legality of the U.S.-Mexico Border

Marcela Davison Aviles, San Francisco Chronicle, July 2, 2018

There’s a popular saying among those of us in the Mexican American community who grew up on the border: We didn’t cross the border, the border crossed us. With Sunday’s election of Andrés Manuel López Obrador as Mexico’s next president, the idea to revisit the legality of our southern border, proposed by Mexican leftist leader Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas Solórzano, is suddenly not so crazy.

I’m referring to the Mexican American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. There are many reasons why feelings run deep over issues on immigration and security at our southern border. One is history.

Generations of families, like mine, have a long memory. We remember why contemporary “thought leaders” like Ulysses S. Grant, Abraham Lincoln and Henry Thoreau all protested what was actually a war of occupation because the doctrine of “manifest destiny,” promoted by the slave-owning American President James K. Polk, sought new American territory to expand slavery. We also remember the subsequent breaches of the treaty that affected Californians like Gen. Mariano Vallejo, who was thrown in jail. We remember that land was invaded and occupied.

But we weren’t the invaders.

{snip} The best way to resolve the immigration crisis is to:


Go back — all the way back — to its source: the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.


  • Form a binational committee consisting of American and Mexican experts and stakeholders involved — farmworkers and farmers, economists and small-business people, diplomats and the military, ordinary citizens who believe in “America First” and those who believe in global trade and exchange. Apple CEO Tim Cook says he wants to help — he can host the first meeting.
  • Reopen the treaty. Renegotiate its terms relative to immigration and include a plan for temporary workers, a path to citizenship, border security and cultural exchange.

Give this group three months to come up with an action plan that includes how its terms would be paid for. To ease the discussion, appoint a facilitator, someone with a good track record in bringing together groups of people with disparate points of view and finding common ground. The Bay Area’s American Leadership Forum is a nonpartisan, nonprofit with a 30-year track record of bringing people together. Joint Venture Silicon Valley is another.


At the end of three months, our citizens’ committee would submit a plan to the American people. If it passes, then the president signs it.

This plan takes the politics out of the situation and places its resolution squarely into the hands of those whose fate is now being debated without real representation. Its authorship would come from both sides of the aisle and both sides of the border. Its promise of reconciliation could disrupt, finally, the observations of Gen. Grant that “the occupation, separation and annexation (of Mexico) were, from the inception of the movement to its final consummation, a conspiracy to acquire territory out of which slave states might be formed for the American Union.”