- The Washington Times - Monday, January 3, 2005

To keep good relations, neighboring countries must respect each others’ immigration laws. The government of Mexico has repeatedly professed that it agrees. If it truly does, how does it explain last month’s release of “The Guide for the Mexican Migrant”? The guide, published by the Mexican Foreign Ministry and distributed inside Mexico, gives tips to would-be illegals on how best to get to the United States safely. As such, it constitutes egregiously official assistance to Mexicans preparing to immigrate illegally, and undercuts its leaders’ professions of goodwill and cooperation.

Excerpts of the 32-page document obtained by the Washington Times reveal the extent to which Mexican authorities are condoning the breaking of U.S. law. One section we reviewed advises would-be migrants on how to deal with U.S. authorities if caught. Another tells how to survive in “high risk zones” like rivers and deserts. A third tells how best to avoid detection once past the United States’ borders. The specifics are telling, since they presume situations where law-breaking has already occurred or is occurring concurrently. The guide warns migrants not to throw rocks at U.S. authorities or to insult them or brandish weapons. It advises that “it is better to be detained a few hours and to be repatriated to Mexico than to get lost in the desert.” It warns that drinking salinated water guards better against dehydration and that heavy clothing makes it harder to swim safely. And on laying low once inside the United States, it tells would-be illegals not to change travel routines.

In an editorial board meeting with the Washington Times last month, Mexico’s Ambassador to the United States, Carlos de Icaza, assured us that his government intended to cooperate with U.S. initiatives on illegal immigration. “It is a good idea for good neighbors to cooperate,” he told us, and also said that “as an ambassador I am respectful of the fact that it is up to the American Congress and the president to decide how to best protect the rights of the immigrants already in the United States.”

To be sure, the guide does advise would-be migrants that getting a U.S. visa is the best way to get into the United States, and that crossing the border illegally could land them in jail. But Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies calls these “disclaimers,” and tells us he thinks the guide is essentially an official wink and a nudge to illegals. Speaking for the Mexican Embassy yesterday, Press Secretary Alfonso Nieto disagreed. “The guide in no way promotes undocumented immigration into the United States,” he said, calling the guide part of a public safety campaign. “It is in the interests of both countries to discourage dangerous crossings of the border.”

Surely it’s in both countries’ interest to discourage illegal crossings. But we also think that when a government counsels its citizens on crossings that are illegal in character, that government is in effect offering an endorsement of the lawbreaking in question.

When Secretary of State Colin Powell gets back from his tsunami relief trip, he should call Ambassador de Icaza to the State Department to register the U.S. government’s official complaint. A government can’t advise its citizens to break a neighbor’s laws and then call it “public safety.”

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