- The Washington Times - Monday, May 24, 2010

Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon ought to know a lot about illegal immigrant abuse. His country has one of the worst migrant human-rights records in the world.

During his state visit last week, Mr. Calderon repeatedly - and with support and encouragement from the White House and congressional Democrats - made his opinions known on a variety of American domestic issues, including immigration and gun control. He took particular aim at Arizona’s new law concerning illegal aliens, absurdly describing it as “violating the human rights of all people.”

Criticism from Mexico on immigration issues is nothing new, but rarely has it been so bold, and such salvos have never been launched from U.S. soil. It might be considered bad manners except for the fact that the foreign leader was promoting President Obama’s domestic agenda.

Boiled down in simplest terms, it is hypocritical for Mr. Calderon to criticize Arizona’s law when his country has similar or more severe statutes. Article 67 of Mexico’s Population Law mirrors Arizona’s law by requiring federal, state and municipal officials to “demand that foreigners prove their legal presence in the country, before attending to any [other] issues.” Mexico’s constitution gives the president authority to summarily expel both legal and illegal aliens without due process. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer confronted the Mexican president with some of these contradictions, Mr. Calderon was oblivious to the double standard. Asked about Mexico’s policy for dealing with illegals sneaking in from Central America looking for work, Mr. Calderon quipped, “If somebody [does] that without permission, we send [them] back.” If only Mr. Obama had such enlightened views.

Illegals in Mexico are lucky if deportation is all that happens to them. An April 2010 report from Amnesty International entitled “Invisible Victims: Migrants on the Move in Mexico” called the trip from Central America to the border with the United States “one of the most dangerous in the world.” According to Amnesty researcher Rupert Knox, “Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human-rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses.” The report says that “Mexico’s irregular migrants are condemned to a life on the margins, vulnerable to exploitation by criminal gangs and corrupt officials and largely ignored by many of those in authority who should be protecting them from human-rights abuses.” Common abuses committed by Mexican officials include extortion, excessive use of force and violence against women. Arizona is a paradise by comparison.

Mr. Calderon’s government recently issued a travel advisory about the “dangers” Mexicans might face in Arizona, but being there is much safer than staying home. In February, the State Department issued a travel advisory regarding Mexico that noted drug gang conflicts resembling “small-unit combat, with cartels employing automatic weapons and grenades.” The circular also warns against robbery, kidnapping and other relatively common crimes. Meanwhile, gang-related beheadings are virtually unknown in Arizona, which is more than Mr. Calderon can claim for his own country.

America doesn’t need self-righteous lectures from officials from the developing world. Mexico has its own problems, including pervasive violence, openly armed drug cartels, pollution, widespread institutional corruption and lack of economic opportunity. If Mexicans are flooding north over our border, it is for many very good reasons. Mr. Calderon should stick to trying to fix his own basket-case country, if he can.