The State Department says that the Mexican government, angry that a thousand American volunteers will begin an Arizona border vigil next month, consistently violates the rights of illegal immigrants crossing its southern border into Mexico.
Many of the illegals in Mexico, who emigrate from Central and South America, complain of “double dangers” of extortion by Mexican authorities and robbery and killings by organized gangs.
The State Department’s Human Rights Practices report, released only last month, cites abuses at all levels of the Mexican government, and charges that Mexican police and immigration officials not only violate the rights of illegal immigrants, but traffic in illegal aliens.
Although Mexico demands that its citizens’ rights be protected when they illegally enter the United States, immigrants who cross illegally into Mexico “are often ripped off six ways until sundown,” says George Grayson, a professor at the College of William & Mary and a fellow at the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).
Mr. Grayson, who wrote a report for the center on Mexico’s abuses of aliens, says “very little” is being done by Mexico to protect the welfare of the Central Americans and the others who cross into Mexico.
Mexican President Vicente Fox said last week that his government will sue in U.S. or international courts if the volunteers — part of the Minuteman Project, which is designed to protest the Bush administration’s lax immigration policies — break the law.
“We totally reject the idea of these migrant-hunting groups,” Mr. Fox said prior to yesterday’s Baylor University summit in Waco, Texas, with President Bush and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, at which the countries agreed to improve security and unify business practices.
“We will use the law, international law and even U.S. law to make sure that these types of groups … will not have any opportunity to progress,” Mr. Fox said last week.
In response, Sen. Jon Kyl, Arizona Republican, urged Mr. Fox to respect America’s right to defend its borders and “demonstrate perhaps a little less disdain for the rule of law north of the border.”
Mr. Kyl said Mr. Fox’s “pre-emptive threats” to file lawsuits on behalf of those crossing the border unlawfully “is hardly helpful, since it presumes that illegal aliens have more of a right to break American law than American citizens have to peacefully assist authorities in enforcing it.”
Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican, chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, says Mexico had “raised the bar on chutzpah” by criticizing efforts by the Minuteman volunteers to protest immigration enforcement by the U.S. government.
“Since when are ‘Neighborhood Watch’ citizens ‘vigilantes’?” Mr. Tancredo asked. “President Fox thinks we should tear down the fence that keeps illegal aliens out? Then why doesn’t he put up a welcome sign on his southern border with Guatemala instead of using his military to keep poor Guatemalans out? Such hypocrisy about borders defies historic parallel.”
In a press conference yesterday in Waco, President Bush described the Arizona volunteers as “vigilantes.”
Alfonso Nieto, spokesman for the Mexican Embassy in Washington, said the presence of “vigilantes” on the border “will only exacerbate a climate of unease and provide sources of confrontation that will not contribute to solving the flow of economic migrants demanded by the U.S. government.”
Mr. Nieto would not comment on suspected immigrant abuses in his own country, but Mexican government officials earlier said Mr. Fox created a national program on human rights to address problems.