George Boardman: Mexico’s meddling in immigration issue will just harden U.S. attitudes |

George Boardman: Mexico’s meddling in immigration issue will just harden U.S. attitudes

George Boardman

Some Mexican officials are so upset at the prospect of their fellow citizens returning home from the United States, they're actively supporting an effort to trigger a collapse of our immigration courts system — the one that confers legal rights on people in this country illegally.

A group of Mexican officials, legislators, governors and public officials are advising migrants in the U.S. to take their cases to court and fight deportation if detained. "The backlog in the immigration system is tremendous," explained former Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda. The idea is to double or triple the backlog, essentially rendering the system inoperable.

An advertising campaign is planned, and several members of the group — called Monarca after the butterflies that migrate across North America — visited the U.S. in the last few weeks to encourage resistance to deportation. The visitors included Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, currently the leading candidate for president of the country.

Mexico's government hasn't endorsed the strategy, but it recently allocated $50 million to assist undocumented migrants facing deportation, and President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has been criticized for not showing enough backbone in his dealings with President Donald Trump, has instructed the country's 50 consulates in the U.S. to defend migrants.

Some of this is playing to the Mexican electorate, which is infuriated over Trump's plans to deport undocumented Mexicans, renegotiate the countries' free-trade deal, and build a border wall at Mexico's expense. But if Mexican officials believe deliberate meddling in U.S. domestic affairs will prompt Trump to alter his policy, they seriously misread the mood of the president and most Americans.

Mexico likes the idea of poorly patrolled American borders because they are a safety valve for the social pressures created by the corrupt and incompetent rule of the federal government. A Mexican from Jalisco who can't feed his family is less of a threat to the ruling class if he's grumbling about it in Los Angeles, and $25 billion in remittances sent home every year — most of it from the U.S. — lessens the pressure to create a more equitable society.

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Mexico's policy is aided on this side of the border by vocal Latino immigrant groups that apparently believe that anybody who can evade the border patrol wins a game, and the prize is the rights and privileges afforded people who are here legally. When the U.S. Border Patrol periodically gets serious about doing its job, the policy is labeled "militarization" of the U.S.-Mexico border.

There are even periodic attempts to extend the constitutional rights of American citizens to illegals whose only right is a safe trip to the nearest border crossing. Amazingly, advocates for illegal immigrants have been able to persuade ("cower" might be a better word) some of our elected officials to accept these notions, or at least pretend the problem doesn't exist.

It is estimated there are more than 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States, double the number from 20 years ago, and about 2.4 million of them are in California. We have largely tolerated this because we like illegal immigrants who provide cheap labor for jobs Americans don't want to do. Then there's our insatiable demand for illegal drugs that has turned parts of Mexico into war zones that prompt any reasonable person to seek sanctuary elsewhere.

But these people are in the country illegally — a fact that seems to get ignored in the debate over immigration policy — and the Trump administration is determined to remove many of them from our presence. Many have been in this country for decades, content to live in the shadows and doing nothing to change their illegal status. Surely it has occurred to them that a day of reckoning is coming. Well, it may have arrived.

Keeping illegals out of the country is more problematical, and Trump's "big, beautiful wall" is a simplistic solution that won't solve the problem. For starters, an estimated 40 percent of illegals entered the country legally and overstayed their visas. A wall will do nothing to stop this evasion; the solution is coming up with better ways to monitor visa holders once they're in the country.

Then there is the cost and time involved in actually building a wall. The latest government cost estimate is $21 billion, well north of the $10 billion price tag Trump originally put on the project, and an issue dear to the hearts of conservatives — property rights — could really slow down construction.

"To build the wall, the U.S. would need to own all 1,954 miles of the border," points out Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist and political commentator. "Most of the land is now private property — especially in Texas, where the U.S. government owns only 100 miles of the 1,254-mile border."

This means the government would need to employ eminent domain, a long and costly legal process. Congress authorized construction of a border fence along 700 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, including 100 miles in Texas, back in 2006. The fence still isn't completed because more than 100 cases challenging eminent-domain seizures for the fence are still in federal courts.

A more practical solution would be an electronic wall that uses drones, motion sensors and other technology to detect illegal border crossings. The E-Verify system, which checks employment eligibility, could be expanded to track the location of foreign visitors and reduce visa overstays.

Mexico isn't the only source of illegal immigrants (and all of the illegals coming from the south aren't Mexicans), but it is the most visible source of the problem. If we aren't going to get serious about stopping illegal immigrants at the Mexican border, we might as well get rid of all of our immigration laws.

This issue has nothing to do with racism (we already have the most diverse population in the world) or preserving our Eurocentric traditions, or any of the other guilt trips apologists for illegal immigrants like to lay on the rest of us. It's about retaining the core values of America and controlling our own destiny.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union. Write to him at

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