Monday, November 22, 2004
Mexican politicians want state-to-state
By Barnard R. Thompson
Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) members of
the Chamber of Deputies in Mexico are bandying about a variant immigration initiative that may involve more than meets the
eye. As well and if genuine, the proposal seems in all probability unconstitutional
— at least until it might be diametrically transformed to constitutionality.
The sketched PRI plan calls for a constitutional
reform that would authorize governors (presumably governors) of the 31 United Mexican States, as well as the head of the Federal
District, to sign regional migration accords with their U.S. counterparts.
As explained by congressman Roberto Pedraza Martínez
(PRI, Hidalgo), a mechanism would also be established to ensure seasonal work permits, eliminate the use of people-smugglers
(“polleros”) and guarantee that terrorists will not use Mexico to cross into the U.S.A.
Pedraza claims that the proposal has been run past
both Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Congress, as well as Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano. As a result of their positive opinions, the proposal “only lacks a consensus among all parties in
the Mexican Congress for it to be firmed up,” he said.
The Chamber of Deputies, Mexico’s lower house
in Congress, is composed of 500 members who represent six political parties. Among
the parties, the PRI holds the largest block of seats with 223. Next is the government’s
National Action Party (PAN) with 150 deputies, while the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) has 97. The remaining seats are divided among three small parties and two independents.
The 128 member Mexican Senate includes 60 members
of the PRI; 46 representing PAN; 16 from the PRD; five with the Mexican Ecological Green Party; plus one independent.
With this PRI domination, a number of important structural
reform initiatives sent to Congress over the years by President Vicente Fox have been blocked due to nothing more than party
politics. Restructuring that Mexico truly needs, such as energy and fiscal reforms
— but partisan politicians and recalcitrant opponents in congress have long thought of little else than wresting the
presidency from the PAN in 2006.
On that basis, and considering constitutional mandates
in both Mexico and the U.S., it begs the question is the PRI migration proposal as altruistic as it sounds, or might it be
a political stratagem to discredit Fox and damage the PAN during the run-up to 2006?
One has to suspect, that knowing it well may
be struck down by law even before it can be voted upon, opposition party politicians see this as an opportunity to further
and loudly show that Fox, his government and his party cannot keep the president’s long promised goal of an immigration
pact and/or migrant worker’s agreement with the U.S.
So what about governor’s signing treaties or
As it is now written, and like the U.S., the Mexican
Constitution exclusively vests foreign affairs in the president. The Mexican
President is empowered “to direct foreign policy and to enter into international treaties, submitting them to the approval
of the Senate.” The Senate in turn must “approve the treaties and
diplomatic conventions made by the President of the Republic with foreign powers.”
The U.S. Constitution states that “(the
President) shall have the power, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to make treaties, provided two-thirds of
the Senators present concur….” It also says that properly ratified
treaties are “the supreme Law of the Land.”
In other words, in both Mexico and the U.S. it is
the exclusive power of the federal governments to enter into treaties and conduct foreign policy. State governments may not enter into or sign treaties with other countries or foreign states, nor does
either country allow states the autonomy to decide which international treaties they will obey or which they will not.
“Up to now the Mexican government has not submitted
a single proposal to the Chamber of Deputies or the Senate on this subject,” Pedraza said. “For that reason this proposal seeks to be the spearhead for discussion and reactivation of negotiations,
and to level the route in order to sign a migratory agreement in the short-term,” he said.
However the PRI plan (that includes some interesting
similarities to proposals for immigration reform and conditioned guest worker programs mentioned by President George W. Bush)
should be targeting the federal governments and not states.
At the federal level, the PRI plan could represent
a starting point for national cooperation and international accomplishment. That
is if its for real and not just part of a domestic political agenda with the sights set on 2006.