On June 7th and 8th, 2008, the 47th Annual Mexico-U.S. Interparliamentary Group Meeting was held, in Monterrey, a prosperous city in northern Mexico.
It's an annual meeting, of selected members of the U.S. Congress and the Mexican Congress, alternating between the U.S. and Mexico, to discuss issues of bilateral interest. And it's been going on for 47 years.
These annual get-togethers are much more highly-publicized in Mexico than in the U.S., where they are mostly ignored. If you follow the hyper-links in this article, you'll see that most of my sources—and the most informative sources—are from the Mexican and Spanish-language media (my translations).
You may have the impression that the "Interparliamentary", as I refer to it hereafter, is just a useless gabfest, a waste of the taxpayers' money.
Would that it were so! It would be better if it were just a useless gabfest. The Interparliamentary is now developing into more than a gabfest. It's becoming another vehicle for Mexican politicians—with the help of American collaborators—to meddle in U.S. immigration policy.
And who knows—the Interparliamentary could serve as a nucleus for a future North American Union parliament!
This year, the U.S. congressional delegation consisted of 11 members. It was headed up by Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT).
The Mexican delegation, however, held higher-ranking members, including Mexican Speaker of the House, Ruth Zavaleta, and the Leader of the Mexican Senate, Santiago Creel (mentioned in my most recent Memo from Mexico column as a non-exemplar of family values). It was also attended by Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhan, and the governor of Nuevo Leon, the state of which Monterrey is the capital.
As for Senator Dodd, what did he have in mind for the meeting?
The Connecticut Democrat said before departing for Mexico:
"The United States and Mexico share much more than a common border. We share a history, and more importantly, we share a future. I look forward to a weekend of robust discussion of how our two nations can continue to work together for the common good of our citizens, our nations, and our region."
The biggest issue on the table at this year's Interparliamentary was the proposed "Plan Merida", a controversial aid program to help Mexico fight drug cartels, which is still pending in the U.S. Congress. Both the Senate and House versions included various accountability measures making part of the aid conditional on a "certification" of corruption and human rights issues. This is the objectionable part to Mexico—because it's seen as meddling in Mexican affairs. They want the aid with no strings attached!
At the opening of the Interparliamentary, Ruth Zavaleta, Mexican Speaker of the House, declared that
"For the initiative to be successful our rights must be respected and any intentions to intervene in affairs that concern only Mexicans must be put aside". (Mexican Lawmaker Rejects Conditions on Drug Aid, Mark Walsh, AP ,San Diego Union-Tribune, June 7, 2008]
As it turns out, most of them weren't, when it comes to Mexican meddling in U.S. immigration policy.
After hearing from Mexican legislators on the Merida proposal, Dodd said that
"We heard from everyone here the common message that this language has got to be changed. Our friends in Mexico needed to vent and explain how this issue was not handled well. Anything that smacks of certification is a nonstarter." [U.S. Lawmakers to Review Mexico Aid Terms, Mark Walsh, Washington Post, June 8, 2008
Just a few days later, back in Washington, D.C., the U.S. House approved legislation that still included human rights certification for Mexican law enforcement authorities. However, Senator Dodd, who had been in Mexico, said that the certification part was "highly offensive" to Mexico, and he spoke of the "big concerns, huge concerns" about certification.
According to Dodd, "I don't have the details, but we're going to have something that is no certification". The senator suggested that when the Senate approves the measure, the certification would be modified to become "guidelines that we all agree on "—but not requirements. [U.S. House Approves Human Rights Rules for Mexico Anti-Drug Aid, By Nicholas Johnston, Bloomberg, June 10th, 2008]
Whatever you think of the Merida Initiative, it's pretty obvious that the Interparliamentary Meeting is influencing U.S. legislation.
By the way, while I'm on the subject, the Mexican media has reported that Leslie Bassett, a U.S. diplomat in Mexico, has proposed the integration of the Merida Initiative with the notorious SPP (Security and Prosperity Partnership). [Proponen Incorporar Iniciativa Mérida al ASPAN, El Universal, June 9, 2008
Then, of course, there's immigration. That's a perennial topic at the Interparliamentary.
And it's a real study in contrast. When they discuss the Merida Initiative, Mexican officials are indignant, condemning the prospect of Gringos Meddling in Mexico—even if, as in the proposed initiative, America is footing the bill!
But they regard immigration as a "bilateral" issue, requiring a bilateral solution.
That's how the Mexicans see it—and for the most part, our own lawmakers seem to accept that perspective.
In her opening speech—the same one in which she decried the possibility of American meddling in Mexico!—Speaker Zavaleta launched into a rant about how badly Mexicans are treated in the U.S.:
"She reminded them that every day Mexicans confront discrimination and police abuse 'when they attempt to cross legally or illegally to U.S. territory, seeking better opportunities in their lives'.. human rights should be defended on both sides of the border. She asked that Mexicans not be viewed as a danger but that the true risk to that country is the aggression and xenophobia." [Legisladores de México y EU proponen 'nuevo' Plan Mérida. Siglo, June 8th, 2008]
Yeah, well, what would you expect the Mexican Speaker of the House to say?
I'm more concerned about what our own Congresscritters had to say in Monterrey. And what they said was covered more fully in the Mexican media than in our own.
In fact, a Mexican article on the Interparliamentary quoted various of our own legislators holding forth on the subject. [Se Cancela el Optimismo de Legisladores Nacionales por un Pacto Migratorio con EU, by Roberto Garduno, La Jornada, June 7, 2008]
Let's start with their fearless leader, Senator Dodd. Just so you know where he's coming from, the immigration watchdog group Americans for Better Immigration gives Dodd a career grade of D- on immigration issues, and a recent (2005-2008) evaluation of F.
First off, Dodd apologized for Congress's not having passed amnesty
" I am terribly disappointed that the Senate could not arrive at a conclusion a year ago to have a law for foreigners. The realities are associated with millions of undocumented persons who live in the United States. They live in the shadows, I would add. Clearly, the workers that have violated our laws have to face our sanctions. But we cannot deport 12 million people. We should not do that. I support a new path to citizenship that supports the dignity of these families."
Another distinguished American lawmaker in Monterrey was California's Zoe Lofgren. Americans for Better Immigration gives her an F- in career grade and a D- in recent grade. Here's what the Jornada article cited above reported Congresswoman Lofgren telling the assembled binational dignitaries:
"Zoe Lofgren…referred to the urgency of taking care of family unity and immigrant rights, because nobody stops to recognize that, due to migratory policy and the walls, that Mexicans seek the routes through the most isolated areas. Therefore, more Mexicans have died on the border than Americans have died in the war in Iraq."
So how is what Zoe says different from what Mexican politicians say? Whose side is she on?
Well, how about the Republicans who went to the Interparliamentary?
Republican Jerry Weller, a Congressman from Illinois, was one. Weller has a career grade of B and a recent grade of B+ from ABI.
Weller, referring to amnesty for illegal aliens, told the group that "the average American taxpayer doesn't sympathize with initiatives that permit the legalization or regularization of Mexican migrants".
OK, that's a step in the right direction. But wait until you hear what he said later…
California Congressman Brian Bilbray was also in Monterrey. Bilbray has a career grade of A and recent grade of A- from ABI. Not only that, but Bilbray has replaced Tom Tancredo as chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus.
So what did Bilbray have to say to the Mexicans? Here's what the same Jornada article said:
"Brian Bilbray, California Republican, of Australian descent, maintained that the Congress of his country has the right to defend legality. Whoever hires illegals is illegal, whoever arrives without papers to the U.S. is illegal, and therefore, Congress goes for legal migration and that's why you can't hire without papers. "
OK, that's ok, as far as it goes. But why on earth did Bilbray say this, in private, to a Mexican reporter:
"Bilbray confirmed that if a comprehensive immigration reform is not passed within one year, then the establishment of a binational cooperation group can be established to take up the issue."
And that very day, at the suggestion of the Mexican delegation and with the full approval of the Americans (including Bilbray), the assembled dignitaries agreed to set up a "binational working group to discuss immigration reform."
In other words, it's yet another vehicle to facilitate Mexican meddling in U.S. immigration and nationality policy.
Thanks a lot, guys.
And not only did Congressman Bilbray (chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, remember) approve the working group, he also told the assembled Interparliamentary that nothing was going to get accomplished in immigration this (election) year, and reasoned that
"There was a consensus that there was not going to be, within the period of one year, a total reform of immigration law or that the issue of amnesty was going to move forward. Therefore this period permits us to think about the possibility of establishing this binational cooperative group to take up the matter in a bilateral manner and to look at the subject of illegal immigration. Basically, it would have the power to accommodate all the labor force that would come to the United States in a legal manner, totally separate from the ones who would be the subject of punishments or sanctions for the illegal immigrations. We would be thinking of a legal program of guest workers. " [Crearán commission para discutir migración, (They will Create a Commission to Discuss Migration) Texas en Linea (No date)
So why is the chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus in Mexico promoting a guest worker program?
According to Americans for Better Immigration, this is Bilbray's' weak point anyway. On the issue of importation of foreign workers, ABI gives Bilbray a grade of C-, and a recent (2005-2008) grade of F-!
So his actions in Mexico fit right in with his record.
By the way, if you go to Representative Bilbray's website, it contains only a brief mention of his Mexico visit. It never mentions his guest worker promotions and binational working group.
I also get the impression from recent statements from Bilbray that he only seems interested in stopping illegal immigration, and not in radically reducing legal immigration—although this is just as necessary.
As for fellow GOP Congressman Jerry Weller, he told the Mexicans that
"…we have arrived at an understanding to form a bilateral working group in order to achieve an agreement".
Excuse me, but aren't U.S. immigration policies to be decided upon by American lawmakers, not in conjunction with foreign lawmakers?
Isn't it time to put an end to these U.S.-Mexico Interparliamentary Group Meetings?
When they encourage Brian Bilbray, chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus, to pander to Mexicans on immigration, they have glaringly outlived any usefulness they may once have had.
Besides, both American and Mexican lawmakers have plenty of work to keep them busy. For starters, Mexican legislators might be thinking about how to reform PEMEX, Mexico's oil monopoly.
It's not that I'm against American lawmakers learning more about Mexico. In fact, if they want to travel to Mexico, I invite them to visit me in Mexico. I'll explain to them what's going on. Or at least, I invite them to read my VDARE.COM articles.
But traveling to Mexico for two days, and being bamboozled by Mexican legislators into surrendering on immigration is not what our lawmakers ought to be doing.
Memo to Brian Bilbray: You were elected by your congressional district—not by the Mexican Congress!
American citizen Allan Wall ( email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.