- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 30, 2005

In Washington, Mexican officials say all the right things about illegal immigration: that only a cooperative approach will work, that any solution must meet the needs of both countries and that Mexico respects U.S. sovereignty. But then their superiors back home contradict those sentiments in word and deed.

The latest example is an apparent campaign to bring down Arizona’s new Proposition 200 illegal-immigration law — a set of measures to limit distribution of public benefits to illegals — even if it means going to international courts. In December, Mexico’s Foreign Ministry announced a “complete rejection” of Prop. 200.

Now, its chief is threatening to move to non-U.S. tribunals if necessary, and is ratcheting up the pressure via the airwaves. As Mexican Foreign Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said last week in an interview on W Radio, all means will be used to defeat Prop. 200. He plans to “first us[e] the legal capacities of the United States itself and … if that does not work, [bring] it to international tribunals.”

Cooperative relations don’t usually land governments in world courts challenging each others’ domestic laws. Maybe Mr. Derbez was just saber-rattling: In light of apparent discontent last week with a State Department advisory about heightening violence in certain regions of Mexico, the move might have been diplomatic payback for a perceived slight.

But the remarks also fit into a pattern of apparent high-level contempt for U.S. law. Just a few weeks ago, the “Guide for the Mexican Migrant” came in for criticism here and elsewhere for encouraging illegal immigration. The guide — which gives tips to would-be illegals on how to cross the border safely, how to evade detection and what to do if caught — is published by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, and in our view constitutes egregiously official assistance to Mexicans preparing to immigrate illegally.

“It is a good idea for good neighbors to cooperate,” Mexican Ambassador Carlos de Icaza told the Washington Times in December. He went further, acknowledging that U.S. authorities are best suited to handle immigration matters inside U.S. territory. “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,” he said.

If Mr. de Icaza’s colleagues in the Mexican Foreign Ministry agree, they could find better ways to show it than campaigning to overturn our state laws and purporting to know how much welfare money Arizonans should spend on illegal immigrants.

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