- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Border diplomacy

The U.S. ambassador in Mexico is explaining to the Mexican people that the decision to secure America’s southern border is based on U.S. sovereignty, while the Canadian ambassador to the United States is worrying about a backlash on the northern border.

The responses of the two ambassadors demonstrate the complexity of preventing illegal aliens from entering the United States and dealing with them once they have crossed the borders in violation of U.S. law.

Ambassador Antonio O. Garza released a statement on the U.S. Embassy’s Web site (mexico.usembassy.gov) urging Mexicans to read Monday night’s speech in which President Bush called for deploying National Guard troops to the U.S. border with Mexico, creating a guest-worker program for future foreign workers and allowing a path to citizenship for some of the estimated 10 million to 12 million illegal aliens in the United States.

“The United States has the right as a sovereign nation to make our border region more secure,” Mr. Garza said. “The president is the commander in chief of the United States, and his responsibilities include ensuring the safety of the American people.”

Mr. Garza, the grandson of Mexicans, said the United States values immigrants who enter the country legally but warned that Congress is unlikely to adopt any guest-worker program to help illegal aliens unless the Bush administration takes strong steps to secure the borders.

“Several million people are living and working in the United States in violation of our immigration laws, and, in my view, our Congress will not seriously consider any legislation addressing their presence in our country unless we can make our borders safe and secure,” he said.

Mr. Garza added that the United States is a “welcoming nation with a strong immigrant tradition, and we will continue to welcome those who enter our country in compliance with our laws.”

Mr. Bush’s decision to dispatch National Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border concerns Canadian Ambassador Michael Wilson, who is worried that political pressure on members of Congress with Hispanic constituents could result in sending troops to the Canadian border, where illegal immigration is not a major issue.

“Sometimes these statements can be interpreted to relate to both the Canadian border and the Mexican border, so we’ve got to be alert to that and ensure there isn’t some unforeseen consequence that could give us some difficulties,” Mr. Wilson said in an interview published yesterday by Canada’s CanWest News Service.

“Members of Congress who represent a significant Hispanic population feel that they have to have a balance; and though the concerns they have at the Mexican border are different [from the Canadian one], sometimes the pressures of political life draw some of those together in an inappropriate way.”

Dutch heritage

The ambassador from the Netherlands is applauding the creation of a congressional caucus by House members with Dutch heritage.

The Congressional Caucus on the Netherlands will “underscore the strategic importance of our enduring relations,” said Ambassador Boudewijn J. van Eenennaam.

“The Netherlands and the United States are joined historically, diplomatically, economically, financially and culturally,” he said.

Rep. Peter Hoekstra, one of the co-founders of the caucus, was born in the Netherlands and moved with his family to Michigan when he was 3.

“I am deeply proud of my Dutch roots and feel privileged to represent in Congress the region with the largest concentration of Dutch-Americans in the country,” said the Michigan Republican.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, the other co-founder, has Dutch ancestors. The Maryland Democrat called the Netherlands a “critical ally.”

Mr. Hoekstra last week received an award for public service from the Netherland-America Foundation.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@ washingtontimes.com.

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