Mexico should butt out of
Arizona Daily Star
Feb. 5, 2005
Ernesto Portillo Jr.
a recent column, I cut the Mexican government
some slack over its publication of a
cartoon-laden guide to crossing the border.
Critics claimed the Mexican
government was encouraging its citizens to break
the law. I viewed it differently.
But now the Mexican government
has really stuck its nose in our business. And
this time, critics of Mexico's technocrats have
every reason to carp.
Last week, the Mexican foreign
minister got his country in the debate over our
state's Proposition 200.
Luis Ernesto Derbez said Mexico
would like to see the controversial
voter-approved law overturned. He said if our
courts don't strike down Prop. 200, Mexico may
lodge a complaint in an international tribunal.
"We are … first using the legal
capacities of the United States itself and … if
that does not work, bringing it to international
tribunals," The Associated Press quoted Derbez
as saying in a radio interview.
For someone supposedly astute on
American civics, and on the ways U.S. citizens
react, Mexico's chief diplomat is clueless.
Mexico has no business chiming in
about Prop. 200, which requires residents to
prove American citizenship when registering to
vote or applying for some state benefits. It
also requires voters to show identification at
the polling place.
Proposition 200 is law. A court
challenge has failed. The federal Justice
Department sees nothing wrong with it.
Still, the voter-approved law
will not stem - or even dent - illegal
immigration into Arizona. Undocumented
immigrants do not come here to vote, and few
manage to get on welfare rolls.
Prop. 200 will hurt American
citizens, not undocumented Mexican immigrants.
The new law will make voter registration and
voting far more difficult for ethnic minorities.
On that ground, Mexico has no
legs to stand on.
Derbez was right when he remarked
that the law could encourage racial
discrimination. But he was wrong to publicly
denounce a law his country can do nothing about.
Before Mexico starts criticizing
Prop. 200, no matter how onerous its effect will
be on Arizona's minorities, it should look under
the rug covering its own problems. Mexico has a
long history of discrimination against its poor
and indigenous people. It has no credibility in
its cries of discrimination against ethnic
minorities in Arizona and the United States.
Instead of focusing on this side
of the border, Mexican officials should show a
little more concern about the women of Ciudad
Juárez, who continue to disappear and turn up
In Ciudad Juárez, across the
border from El Paso, more than 300 women and
girls -perhaps as many as 400 - have been
stabbed, strangled and bludgeoned to death since
1993. Many of them were sexually assaulted.
The Mexican government puts the
figure at less than 300 and in the past year
stepped up its investigation.
Still, the victims' families and
women's rights groups have accused the Mexican
government of ignoring their pleas and demands.
Mexican and international critics have accused
Mexican authorities of bungling the
investigations and covering up the murders.
Mexican courts have sentenced 12
men for the murders, but critics accuse
authorities of doing too little, too late.
And last month - at about the
same time Derbez chided us for Prop. 200 - a
United Nations arm slapped Mexico hard, accusing
it of "grave and systematic" rights violations
because the victims are largely poor or
Thanks, Mexico, for your concern
over Prop. 200. But we don't need it.
The women of Juárez need it more.
● Ernesto Portillo Jr.'s
column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and
Saturdays. Reach him at 573-4242 or at
firstname.lastname@example.org. He appears on
"Arizona Illustrated," KUAT-TV Channel 6, at
6:30 p.m. and midnight Fridays.