Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.8.2008 | Von:
David Fitzgerald

State Policies

The 1974 Mexican General Law of Population requires departing labor migrants to present themselves to Mexican migration authorities, show a work contract authorized by the destination country consulate, and provide proof that they meet the entry requirements of the destination country.

The Mexican Stance

Yet Mexican officials have claimed they cannot deter emigrants with coercion given the 1917 Constitution´s establishment of a right to exit the country, though that right is qualified within the constitution and, at previous periods in Mexican history, the government strongly discouraged emigration, even briefly using force to try to stop migrants from leaving without authorization during the Bracero program.

Former President Vicente Fox (2000-2006) made a migration accord with the United States a pillar of his foreign policy. A fundamental philosophical shift has taken place in the Secretariat of Foreign Relations (SRE) away from the "policy of no policy", in which Mexican authorities long turned a blind eye to massive unauthorized migration across its northern border, to a more active stance. Mexican officials do not want to repeat their lack of involvement in U.S. legislation like IRCA, whose debate they did not participate in based on the premise that Mexican intervention in sovereign U.S. policymaking would legitimate U.S. interventions in Mexican politics. High-level bilateral meetings in 2001, including a presidential meeting in Washington, DC on September 7, 2001, centered on the design of a new temporary-worker program, an increase in the number of visas issued to Mexicans, and regularization of unauthorized migrants in the United States. Four days later, the 9/11 attacks derailed the bilateral talks. [1] President Felipe Calderón (2006-present) has downplayed his predecessor's vocal expectations of a bilateral migration accord but is clearly interested in the same goal of legalized flows.

The U.S. Stance

In 2004, President George W. Bush announced a unilateral plan for dealing with unauthorized immigration. Although the plan was not meant to establish an accord with Mexico, any changes in U.S. law would disproportionately affect Mexico, since Mexicans account for more than half of the unauthorized immigrant population. The Bush proposal eventually evolved into the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2007, which failed to pass the Senate in June 2007. The bill would have provided a path to legalization for most of the unauthorized already living in the United States; increased spending on border enforcement and workplace inspections; established a new temporary-worker program; and created a Canadian-style "point system" for selecting immigrants in a way that would favor the highly skilled.

Within these parameters, policy-makers have considered several major questions to be resolved in a comprehensive immigration reform:
  • Should reform be designed and executed as unilateral U.S. policy or as a bilateral accord with Mexico? If the policy is unilateral, should it treat Mexicans the same as any other nationality, or give Mexicans special consideration, given their country´s historic ties with the United States and membership in NAFTA?
  • Should unauthorized migrants living in the United States have a path to become legal residents and/or citizens? If so, what should be the required period of residence, English-speaking ability, level of fees, and requirements to leave the United States before legalizing?
  • What kinds of employer sanctions for hiring unauthorized workers, databases for identifying eligible workers, and enforcement strategies should be developed without elevating the risk of discrimination against authorized Latinos or foreigners?
  • Should there be a new temporary-worker program or simply a revision of existing temporary-worker programs? How many times should temporary-worker visas be renewable, and should they offer the holders the possibility of eventually becoming a citizen? Should the visas be portable among different employers; what incentives for migrants to return to their home country should be developed, what labor rights should temporary workers have, and what provisions should be made for family reunification?
  • What border enforcement measures should be in place?


Fitzgerald forthcoming.


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