April 19, 2006

Illegal Immigration - One Problem, Two Solutions

Mexico has illegal immigration from Central America. The state of Georgia has illegal immigration from Mexico. Mexico has methods to handle their illegal immigrants, and Georgia has a new act to handle its illegals. How are they different and what are the reactions to each?

Now, you would think that Mexico would set the standard on how to humanely treat "undocumented" workers. (I can tell that you're already getting ahead of me.) Well, you might be wrong if you did. Read the following articles from today to see two solutions to one problem.

Georgia's Solution and Mexico's Reaction:

Mexico blasts Georgia illegals law
By Jeremy Schwartz
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 04/19/06

MEXICO CITY — The Mexican government blasted Georgia's new illegal immigration law Tuesday, calling it a half-measure that discriminates against Mexicans.

The Georgia bill, signed into law Monday by Gov. Sonny Perdue, requires verification of the legal status of those seeking certain taxpayer-funded services. The law also prevents employers from claiming the wages of illegal workers as a state tax deduction.

Perdue spokesman Dan McLagan dismissed the Mexican government's characterization of the bill, Senate Bill 529, as a discriminatory measure. "This is saying that people should come in the front door, not the back door, and that the laws of our country and our state need to be obeyed.

Sen. Chip Rogers (R-Woodstock), the sponsor of SB 529, fired back at the Mexican government. "I would suggest the government of Mexico stop concerning themselves with what we do in Georgia and instead worry about their own corrupt government, which has caused millions of their own citizens to leave their home country. A foreign government has no place in making Georgia law," Rogers said.

Polls show about 80 percent of Georgians want their elected leaders to confront the issue of illegal immigration.

"The news has everybody concerned," said Ana Cristina Castillo Petersen, an international relations expert in Mexico City. "It's having an impact on how [Mexicans] believe immigrants are perceived — as a threat to cultural values, as a cost to the state."

Fox, a former executive for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Co. in Mexico, has pushed hard but unsuccessfully over the last five years for immigration measures that would allow more Mexicans to work legally in the United States.

Jorge Bustamante, a special rapporteur to the United Nations on the human rights outlook of migrant workers and one of Mexico's leading experts on the topic, called the complaints by Fox's government "absolutely irrelevant" because Mexico has so far failed to influence immigration policy in the United States.

© 2006 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Okay. Do you have that picture? Now, let's see if Mexico handles the problem in the same way that they demand of Georgia. What's your guess?

Mexico's Solution and Migrants' Reactions:

Few Protections for Migrants to Mexico
By Mark Stevenson
Associated Press Writer
Apr 19, 2006

TULTITLAN, Mexico (AP) -- Considered felons by the government, these migrants fear detention, rape and robbery. Police and soldiers hunt them down at railroads, bus stations and fleabag hotels. Sometimes they are deported; more often officers simply take their money.

While migrants in the United States have held huge demonstrations in recent weeks, the hundreds of thousands of undocumented Central Americans in Mexico suffer mostly in silence.

The level of brutality Central American migrants face in Mexico was apparent Monday, when police conducting a raid for undocumented migrants near a rail yard outside Mexico City shot to death a local man, apparently because his dark skin and work clothes made officers think he was a migrant.

Undocumented Central American migrants complain much more about how they are treated by Mexican officials than about authorities on the U.S. side of the border, where migrants may resent being caught but often praise the professionalism of the agents scouring the desert for their trail.

"If you're carrying any money, they take it from you - federal, state, local police, all of them," said Carlos Lopez, a 28-year-old farmhand from Guatemala.... "The soldiers were there as soon as we crossed the river," he said. "They said, 'You can't cross ... unless you leave something for us.'"

Jose Ramos, 18, of El Salvador, said the extortion occurs at every stop in Mexico, until migrants are left penniless and begging for food. "If you're on a bus, they pull you off and search your pockets and if you have any money, they keep it and say, 'Get out of here,'" Ramos said.

Maria Elena Gonzalez, who lives near the tracks, said female migrants often complain about abusive police. "They force them to strip, supposedly to search them, but the purpose is to sexually abuse them," she said. Others said they had seen migrants beaten to death by police, their bodies left near the railway tracks to make it look as if they had fallen from a train.

The Mexican government acknowledges that many federal, state and local officials are on the take from the people-smugglers who move hundreds of thousands of Central Americans north, and that migrants are particularly vulnerable to abuse by corrupt police.

The National Human Rights Commission, a government-funded agency, documented the abuses south of the U.S. border in a December report. "One of the saddest national failings on immigration issues is the contradiction in demanding that the North respect migrants' rights, which we are not capable of guaranteeing in the South," commission president Jose Luis Soberanes said.

And while Mexicans denounce the criminalization of their citizens living without papers in the United States, Mexican law classifies undocumented immigration as a felony punishable by up to two years in prison, although deportation is more common.

The number of undocumented migrants detained in Mexico almost doubled from 138,061 in 2002 to 240,269 last year. Forty-two percent were Guatemalan, 33 percent Honduran and most of the rest Salvadoran.

Like the United States, Mexico is becoming reliant on immigrant labor. Last year, then-director of Mexico's immigration agency, Magdalena Carral, said an increasing number of Central Americans were staying in Mexico, rather than just passing through on their way to the U.S.

She said sectors of the Mexican economy facing labor shortages often use undocumented workers because the legal process for work visas is inefficient.

© 2006 The Associated Press

Maybe Mexico could use a Minutemen Patrol. But, I would put it on the other side of its border--to protect the immigrants rather than to protect Mexico. Anyway, like I tell the wackos on the left and I would tell the Mexican government, don't make demands from me that you aren't willing to put on yourself.

It's been serveral days since the immigration act was signed by the Georgia governor, and the state's economy has not collapsed--nor will it. In fact, some of the unemployed legal citizens might be able to get jobs.

It's a crazy idea to protect your nation's borders, but let's see how it works. If it fails, we can always consider handling it Mexico's way.

Posted by Woody M. at April 19, 2006 04:40 PM | TrackBack

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