We are worse than the U.S. immigration authorities. Much worse, in fact.
Here in Mexico there have been cases in which immigration agents were linked to groups of the Mafia, participating in areas such as human trafficking or drug trafficking; here there is no enforcement of human rights during the detention of immigrants, nor are there active Latin American embassies that post on social networks what should be done in the case of a detention in Mexico. Here is a hell probably greater than that of the gringo border.
I do not think there is an illegal human being, but there are human beings who violate the law. Let’s think about a painful but real issue: Approximately 6 million of our Mexican brothers in the United States are breaking the law because they are unlawfully on its territory. They are committing an offense under rules that, according to some legislative interpretations, provide that even being in the U.S. is considered a criminal offense.
They prefer to risk violating U.S. regulations over continuing to live in a country that has abandoned them, marginalized them and denied them possibilities for development. Nobody leaves his country, abandoning much, just for the heck of it. We have a historical debt that today we must consider before we consider measures of support for our Mexican compatriots.
What do we do then? Do we give them tips so they are not caught? Do we recommend secret hiding places? Do we try to create an alert where the raids will be recorded so they can avoid the risk zone? It sounds ridiculous! That is why I think that we must consider a real plan of action on the most sensitive issue of our bilateral relationship: the subject of human beings.
Regularizing the situation of 6 million undocumented Mexican immigrants in the United States may sound like a letter to the Three Wise Men. However, Barack Obama attempted to take executive action a few years ago that would give legal status to all the undocumented (about 12 million people). His proposal, which failed in Congress and in the courts, greatly resounded in American debate.
Convincing Trump of the benefits of mass naturalization over mass deportation is illusory, but it is not illusory to convince Trump’s adversaries, among whom are some distinguished Republicans. Where is the lobbying on behalf of the Mexicans in American politics? Where are the lobbyists? Where are the Mexican defenders, backed by the Mexican government, in the U.S. media? Where are we offering a debate?
One cannot expect much from a country that asks for respect on one hand, and tramples on its own undocumented people on the other.
And if it were the other way around, if we had to naturalize or deport millions of immigrants, what would we do?
*Translator’s note: The U.S. immigration authorities are commonly known in Spanish-speaking circles within the United States as “la migra.”