Other Immigration Crisis
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the
gander, as the old saying goes.
That’s not the way it works for the two sides
of Mexico’s immigration coin.
Whatever “rights” an illegal alien may
enjoy in the country that he or she has unlawfully entered is open to debate, and indeed is being debated. However, there’s
general agreement that those rights include not being robbed, beaten, or raped.
Even those rights are being denied to thousands of
clandestine border-crossers into southern Mexico from Central America. Often the perpetrators work for the federal immigration
Even as Mexican lawyers and politicians indignantly
demand fair and legal treatment for the estimated 12 million of their countrymen who migrated illegally to the United States,
other countrymen, including real or ersatz civil servants, are engaging in robbery, extortion, and even raping of Central
Americans who sneak into Mexico.
The motivation for illegal Central American immigrants
is identical to that of Mexican illegals going north: they risk life and limb in hopes of jobs, improved living standards,
and better prospects for their children.
But their trek is an order of magnitude more dangerous
than the perilous one Mexicans make to the north. Like Mexicans, they have to evade American border controls, but before that
they must avoid falling into the hands of criminals — or Mexican authorities.
The cover story of the November 27 edition of the
Spanish-language weekly newsmagazine Milenio contains a chilling inventory of horror of things done to hapless Central Americans
who run afoul of Mexican immigration officials.
The main focus is on the state of Oaxaca, but it
also says abuses perpetrated by federal or state officials occur in Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Sonora, Chihuahua, Veracruz, Puebla,
and Tabasco. No illegal immigrant is “safe” until they cross into the United States — and we know what kind
of safety that is!
What happens to those who are caught in Mexico is
scandalous. They are subjected to mistreatment beyond what even the most aggressive of those self-appointed American border
vigilantes, the Minutemen, would do.
Many illegals make their way north from the Guatemala
border by climbing aboard moving freight trains. Sometimes one of them loses an arm or a leg when an immigration official
or railway policeman pushes them off.
The situation is so bad it’s attracted the
attention of the United Nations Committee for the Protection of All Migratory Workers and their Families.
Even Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission
(CNDH) decries the violence against illegal immigrants in southern Mexico.
“We cannot maintain in our law a punishment
of two years in prison for foreigners who enter our country illegally,” said Mauricio Farah, a CNDH official.
Central American illegals do have allies. One such
person is Jose Alejandro Solalinde, coordinator of the Pastoral of Human Mobility in the diocese of Tehuantepec. Solalinde
offers food and shelter for fugitives who find him.
Solalinde, called “The Phantom” because
he dresses in white, says government officials treat Central Americans “like animals.” For them, he says, it’s
a “business,” and they don’t care whether their victims live or die.
“We know of one family that was murdered, from
El Salvador, as a reprisal because one of their countrymen complained about the actions of some officials from public security.”
He added, “I don’t know who can control
them. There’s no law here.”
In Chiapas, Hipolato Treviņo, the local immigration
authority in the village of Talisman, accuses the immigrants of corrupting the officers with offers of money.
“The immigrants come offering money to the
authorities so they can pass through,” he said.
As is often the case in Mexico, there is a law, seldom
invoked, that addresses the problem on paper, the Law to Prevent and Eradicate Discrimination.
President Felipe Calderon is aware of the problem.
In a December 13 speech he acknowledged that government officials subject Central American immigrants to unacceptable abuse.
“Just as we demand respect for the human rights
of our countrymen, we have the ethical and legal responsibility to respect the human rights and dignity of those who come
from Central and South America and who cross our southern border,” he said.
Calderon’s “to do” list as a fledgling
president in a troubled country is long and daunting. However, one effective way to strengthen his case for better treatment
of Mexican immigrants in the United States is to crack down on the abuses visited upon illegal immigrants in his own country.
In other words, sweeten the sauce for the gander.
Kenneth Emmond, an economist, market consultant and
journalist who has lived in Mexico since 1995, is also a columnist with MexiData.info.
He can be reached via e-mail at Kemmond00@yahoo.com.