In 2002, I had an illuminating conversation in Mexico City with Juan Hernandez, a Texas-born dual citizen who served as head of the “Office of Mexicans Abroad” in the administration of Mexican President Vincente Fox. Hernandez bragged about Mexico’s policy for financing and distributing 200,000 “survival kits” for Mexican migrants seeking to enter the United States illegally. Years later the Texas Observer highlighted the episode as a key part of the Juan Hernandez legacy, along with his important role in John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign.
Hernandez explained that the policy of supporting illegal entry was only part of his efforts to greatly increase the number of Mexican nationals residing in the U.S. He was amazingly candid about the reasons. He said that first of all, the movement of millions of young, unemployed Mexicans across the southern border reduced the pressure they would otherwise be placing on the Mexican economy. Secondly, these folks would send home remittances and those dollars accounted for the second largest source of foreign income for the country. In 2016 Mexico received a record $26.8 billion in cash remittances.
These remittances were so important to Mexico that Hernandez spent most of his time in the U.S. “working with the community” to maintain the migrants’ cultural ties to Mexico. The Mexican government recognized that if these migrants assimilated into the U.S. culture, the remittances would go down commensurately. And finally, he told me that the other advantage Mexico gained by massive export of their population into the U.S. was the positive impact such a large population of Mexicans living here would have on our foreign policy towards Mexico. He could have added that that same population would put pressure on American politicians to relax efforts to secure the southern border or increase internal enforcement of immigration laws like the banning of sanctuary cities.
Following that statement by Hernandez, I asked him, “Aren’t you embarrassed to admit such a thing, that your government is openly violating U.S. Sovereignty?” His reply opened my eyes to the scope of Mexican ambitions and their total disregard for U.S. law and international borders. Hernandez replied, “Really, congressman, we are talking here about a region, not two countries.”
Mexico uses those 50 consulates to assist millions of illegal Mexicans in adapting to “life in the shadows.” Beginning around 2001, Mexico’s consulates started offering Matricula Consular identification cards to the millions of illegal Mexicans in the United States, ID cards that helped them get bank accounts, driver’s licenses and gain access to other public services. A legal immigrant from Mexico has no need for that card, so it is a brazen program to facilitate illegal immigrants’ access to services and benefits normally reserved for legal residents. Needless to add, it also helps fortify the migrant’s ties to Mexico. In congressional testimony in 2003, the FBI called the cards a national security threat.
Mexico is the second largest economy in Latin America, yet its economy has an unemployment rate more than triple that of the United States, has experienced average GDP growth of only 1% annually over the past 20 years and has half its population living below the poverty line.
So, those remittance dollars flowing from its citizens in the U.S. are a pillar of stability and a prop for a failed socialist economy. It is in Mexico’s national interest to keep that Mexican population in the U.S. growing and those remittance dollars flowing. Maximizing those goals requires our neighbor to pursue policies in direct opposition to U.S. immigration laws—and to praise American politicians who put illegal immigration ahead of the rule of law. And yet, miraculously, there has never been a congressional investigation of American politicians and government officials who routinely play ball (dare we call it “collusion”?) with that foreign government.
The point is, Mexico has values and interests separate and different from ours, so the perennial and continued interference in American politics through the encouragement of illegal immigration and other activities is rightfully a matter of serious concern. Moreover, we should remember that Mexico was annoyingly neutral in the Second World War — and for fifty years has been stridently pro-Castro in hemispheric politics.
I am not suggesting that Mexico poses an existential threat to American national security on the same level as the Soviet Union or the Russian Federation under the leadership of former KGB agent Vladimir Putin. Nonetheless, the fact remains that Mexico’s interests and American interests are far from identical and in fact frequently diverge. Colluding with the Mexican government or with organizations closely allied with Mexican goals and interests ought to be a subject of concern to the guardians of political probity.
So, let me ask: what is the difference between “collusion” and “collaboration,” or between “co-conspirator” and “partner.” Does it depend on whether you are plotting “demographic enhancement” or a Miss Universe Pageant?