- The Washington Times - Monday, February 26, 2007

In recent months, members of Mexico’s lower house have condemned the construction of a fence along the U.S. southern border in what we can only regard as the Mexican Congress’ contribution to a national antipoverty strategy of relentlessly exporting people to the United States. The latest row is something different, however. Both sides should be able to appreciate a point about the inviolability of borders.

At issue is the stepping over the border last week by U.S. workers as they were busily building the border fence. The work zone is approximately 30 feet into Mexican territory between Douglas, Ariz., and the Mexican border city of Agua Prieta. The workers, seen on videotape, weren’t doing anything nefarious but were clearly inside Mexico in what is rightly being regarded as a violation of Mexican territory.

The Mexican Chamber of Deputies condemned the intrusion in strong words and was then followed by the Mexican senate in a clear bid to stiffen the spines of Mexican negotiators. In a few short days, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will meet her Canadian and Mexican counterparts in Ottawa to discuss security measures and trade — no wonder lawmakers are so vocal. With a major concession for Mexican truckers already in pocket, what better way to keep the ball rolling than to have U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza spend his week profusely explaining his nation’s utmost respect for Mexican sovereignty in the wake of an obvious violation?

Convenience or not, we can sympathize with the Mexican lawmakers, being staunch defenders of border inviolability ourselves. Mexican authorities are right to be unhappy. This intrusion was a mistake and should not be repeated.

In the spirit of understanding, then, we would offer a line from Robert Frost: “Good fences make good neighbors.” Failing to convince Mexico of that, we would at least mention some other points of sovereign contention. Mexican lawmakers still aren’t reconsidering their government’s “how-to” border-crossing guidebooks, which exist in flagrant disregard for U.S. law, instructing would-be illegals on the finer points of surviving in deserts and laying low from the U.S. Border Patrol. Nor are they much eyeing their government’s plan to give would-be illegal aliens global-positioning-system devices to track their whereabouts as they cross into the United States. Nor do they seem to care how hypocritical their own immigration policies look. Just this week, Mexico’s top migration official, Florencio Salazar Adame, was busily talking up the “enormous red alert” that is Mexico’s southern border. Mexico still expects impossible border laxity from the United States, however, a blatant double standard.

In the spirit of international comity, let’s have some consistency here.

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