is bringing about a kind of reconquista"€”it's just not the old-fashioned version where territory is lost, but rather a new, 21st century variety. What we are seeing, right now, is the gradual development of a new constitutional order of shared sovereignty, where the nominal borders stay the same but, through an accumulation of seemingly small American capitulations, the Mexican government gradually acquires more and more authority over the decision-making of federal, state, and local governments all over the United States"€”i.e., it expands its sovereignty beyond its nominal borders. Under the pretext of protecting its compatriots (a group of people which Mexico defines very broadly, as we"€™ll see below), Mexico City is moving toward becoming, in effect, a second federal government that American mayors and governors must answer to." /> is bringing about a kind of reconquista"€”it's just not the old-fashioned version where territory is lost, but rather a new, 21st century variety. What we are seeing, right now, is the gradual development of a new constitutional order of shared sovereignty, where the nominal borders stay the same but, through an accumulation of seemingly small American capitulations, the Mexican government gradually acquires more and more authority over the decision-making of federal, state, and local governments all over the United States"€”i.e., it expands its sovereignty beyond its nominal borders. Under the pretext of protecting its compatriots (a group of people which Mexico defines very broadly, as we"€™ll see below), Mexico City is moving toward becoming, in effect, a second federal government that American mayors and governors must answer to." />

July 06, 2008

The boasts by Mexican nationalists about “€œreconquista”€ used to sound comical to most American ears, little more than banana-republic bravado. Americans who took this reconquista rhetoric seriously were breezily dismissed as cranks or alarmists, “€œblack helicopter”€ people imagining world events controlled by the Trilateral Commission or, worse, by the Elders of Zion.

But as Mexican immigration”€”most of it illegal”€”has continued at levels unprecedented in history and as illegal aliens have massed in the streets issuing demands to the American people, concern over reconquista has entered the mainstream. Ron Maxwell, for instance, acclaimed film director of “€œGettysburg”€ and “€œGods and Generals,”€ wrote in an open letter to President Bush in the Washington Times in 2006 that “€œIt may already be too late to avoid a future annexation of the Southwest by Mexico or the evolution of a Mexican-dominated satellite state.”€ Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin wrote a piece in May 2006 entitled “€œReconquista Is Real.”€

This concern is justified, as this chapter will outline. But the specific outcome that these writers point to is not going to happen. There will be no secession of the Southwest from the Union. Even if federal immigration policy remains unchanged and artificially creates a Hispanic majority in the Southwest (something that the 2007 Bush-Kennedy amnesty bill would have accelerated), there are still too many non-Hispanics, and too much diversity of opinion among Hispanics themselves, for a successful irredentist movement”€”where an ethnic group breaks away and joins its co-ethnics in a neighboring state.

But that doesn”€™t mean there isn”€™t a problem. Mass immigration under modern conditions is bringing about a kind of reconquista”€”it’s just not the old-fashioned version where territory is lost, but rather a new, 21st century variety. What we are seeing, right now, is the gradual development of a new constitutional order of shared sovereignty, where the nominal borders stay the same but, through an accumulation of seemingly small American capitulations, the Mexican government gradually acquires more and more authority over the decision-making of federal, state, and local governments all over the United States”€”i.e., it expands its sovereignty beyond its nominal borders. Under the pretext of protecting its compatriots (a group of people which Mexico defines very broadly, as we”€™ll see below), Mexico City is moving toward becoming, in effect, a second federal government that American mayors and governors must answer to.

This is different from the concerns expressed by many about possible movement toward a North American Union, along the lines of the European Union. Such a development would go beyond measures like NAFTA that facilitate trade and would actually create new governmental institutions that could overrule the decisions of Congress or the president.

This is not a baseless fear. The Council on Foreign Relations has published a blueprint for “€œCreating a North American Community”€ and many critics have pointed to the trilateral (U.S.-Mexico-Canada) governmental initiative called the Security and Prosperity Partnership as the germ of such a new political union.

But the erosion of sovereignty promoted by mass immigration does not lead in the direction of a North American Union. Instead, what continued mass immigration will lead to, in practical terms, is a situation where, for example, it becomes a binding custom that the governor of California would have to receive the permission from the Mexican Consul General in Sacramento before signing legislation that affects Hispanics in the state, such as any measures related to education, health care, welfare, occupational safety, unions, etc. The Mexican embassy staff in Washington would work on an increasingly regular basis with the staff of congressional committees in framing legislation and conducting hearings on such matters and as well as on matters specific to the federal government, such as immigration, affirmative action, voting rights, military personnel issues, etc. And Hispanic defendants would receive favorable treatment at police stations and county courthouses around the country out of concern for objections from the Mexican consulate with oversight of their area”€”and maybe even from the consular representative housed in the police station or courthouse itself.

This looks a lot like “€œextraterritoriality,”€ a concept in international law where foreigners are exempt from local laws. The best known example of such extraterritoriality was the status of westerners in China during much of the 19th century, starting with the British after the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. What this meant was that when a legal issue arose with regard to westerners in China, their local consuls resolved the matter according to their own country’s laws, rather than China’s.

But what’s happening now between the United States and Mexico goes beyond extraterritoriality. It’s more like the role France and Russia asserted in the 17th and 18th centuries as protectors of the oppressed Christian minorities in the Ottoman Empire.

Actually, though, mass Mexican immigration is creating in the United States a situation that goes beyond even the European role in the internal affairs of the declining Ottoman Empire. The role that the Mexican government is acquiring in America’s internal affairs is not merely defensive, as was the Ottoman case, where European powers were, among other things, trying to limit rapacious Muslim assaults on persecuted Christians. Rather, Mexico is in the unprecedented position of proactively working with governments at all levels in the United States to shape new policies and in general becoming a permanent participant in the day-to-day business of governance.

This is what in international law is called “€œcondominium“€”€”not an apartment complex, but rather an arrangement whereby two powers jointly exercise their sovereignty in the same territory without dividing it up (“€œcon-“€ and “€œ-dominium”€ or “€œjoint dominion”€). It’s a relatively unusual situation, indeed, our situation with regard to Mexico does not seem to have any precedent in world history”€”a stronger country allowing itself to, in effect, be colonized by ceding sovereignty to a weaker power.

A New Constitutional Order

In other words, mass immigration isn”€™t laying the groundwork for a dramatic switch in sovereignty and loss of territory at some point in the future“€”it’s restricting America’s sovereignty right now, a little bit at a time, all over the country (not just in the Southwest), as Mexico’s government increasingly insinuates itself into American politics and governance. This is not the kind of expansionism we”€™ve seen in history”€”the Spanish expulsion of the Arab invaders from the Iberian Peninsula, for instance (the original Reconquista) or the medieval German expansion into the Sudetenland and elsewhere “€“ but it might be seen as the 21st century version of reconquista, one that leaves in place the lines on the map but changes the realities of power.

And this is actually a greater threat than conventional reconquista because even the most supine, multiculturalist, post-American administration in Washington would be forced to respond to an ethnically driven secessionist movement in the Southwest. But the current reality”€”the slow but steady development of a new, nationwide constitutional order within our existing borders”€”can always be ignored or explained away because of its gradualism, like the proverbial frog in the pot on the stove who doesn”€™t notice the increasing water temperature until it’s too late to escape. And the implausibility of old-fashioned irredentism and secession make it harder to get the American public and political class to focus on the very real threat to America’s sovereignty that is growing right under our noses as a result of mass immigration under modern conditions.

This progressive retreat of American sovereignty is an inevitable consequence of mass immigration into our modern society, for two reasons. First, modern communications and transportation technologies enable the governments of immigrant-sending countries to maintain ties with immigrants in a way never before possible, allowing those governments to act immediately and decisively as intermediaries between the immigrants and our government.

But technology would be irrelevant without the second factor: elites in modern nations like ours have lost the self-confidence in the value of their own society and culture that is needed to assert sovereign rights in the face of immigration-driven challenges from foreign nations. In the domestic context, this loss of elite self-confidence translates into multiculturalism and identity-group politics, the result being a refusal to impose the new country’s standards upon immigrants and, in fact, a sense that their norms are superior to our own.

The effect on our sovereignty is even greater because, since most immigrants are members of federally designated minority groups”€”called “€œprotected classes”€ in recent law and jurisprudence”€”mass immigration becomes a kind of affirmative-action program, with the sending-country governments becoming important players in America’s domestic identity-group politics under the guise of protecting the “€œprotected classes”€ that they claim responsibility for.

Whatever the plusses or minuses of identity politics, none of the other groups engaging in it represents a threat to American sovereignty. No African nation, for instance, presumes to speak for black Americans, nor is there a sovereignty issue regarding the claims of the various non-ethnically based identity groups”€”feminists, homosexuals, the deaf, smokers, the obese, et al.

It is, of course, theoretically possible to address this part of the immigration challenge by restoring the elite’s self-confidence in the desirability of American norms and sovereignty. As libertarians are wont to say, there’s nothing wrong with mass immigration that ending multiculturalism won”€™t fix.

But our modern elite’s cosmopolitanism, as Sam Huntington called it in his book Who Are We? (or what I have called “€œpost-Americanism”) is a systemic problem, deeply rooted in every institution of our society”€”every corporation, every school, every church, every day-care center, every police department, every university, every government agency. Trying to make a zealous defense of the nation’s sovereignty the default position of America’s elite again is a worthwhile, even urgent, goal but success is a long, long way off. Curtailing immigration, on the other hand, is simple in comparison, and since the combination of elite cosmopolitanism and mass immigration is toxic, the preservation of our sovereignty requires that we end one of them as soon as possible.

Drive to the North

Although the Southwest isn”€™t going to become our Sudetenland, you can see why people would fear reconquista of the traditional kind. Under modern conditions the results will be different, but the Mexican surge to the north is very real, a “€œDrang nach Norden,”€ comparable to the “€œDrang nach Osten“€ (Drive toward the East), the term used for the German demographic expansion into the Baltic and Slavic areas of Central and Eastern Europe during the Middle Ages.

Start with the numbers. There are some 12 million Mexican-born people in the United States (legal and illegal, citizens and non-citizens), accounting for about one-third of all immigrants. The large majority have arrived since 1990, with the total growing by more than 25 percent just from 2000 to 2005. This is a huge change from the relatively recent past; in 1970, there were fewer than 800,000 Mexicans in the entire country, and they represented less than 8 percent of all immigrants.

And there are no immediate prospects of this surge in immigration from Mexico tapering off on its own, despite claims to the contrary by supporters of open borders. Mexico’s National Population Council projects that under any combination of assumptions about job growth and the like, Mexico will continue to send to the United States between 3.5 million and 5 million immigrants every decade until at least 2030 (barring a change in American immigration policy, of course).

This very large, and continuing, flow of immigration from Mexico is, as you would expect from Mexico’s geographic proximity, highly concentrated in a handful of states. Although they have begun to spread out in recent years, some 70 percent of Mexican immigrants are still in the four border states of California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.

The combination of huge inflows and concentration means that the Hispanic share (immigrant and native-born) of the population in the Southwest is rising rapidly. The California Department of Finance projects that the state’s population, 33 percent Hispanic in 2000, will become majority Hispanic by 2040. In Texas, 32 percent Hispanic in 2000, the Office of the State Demographer projects a Hispanic majority by 2035.

And this huge, concentrated population is marginalized from the American mainstream. Mexicans have the lowest citizenship rate of any major immigrant group. Mexicans are the least-educated major immigrant group, with 62 percent of all Mexican immigrants lacking a high school degree; even among the children and grandchildren of Mexican immigrants, the dropout rate is stuck at 25 percent, nearly triple the rate for other native-born Americans.

Consequently, Mexicans have the highest poverty rate of any major immigrant group, with 26 percent below the poverty line and fully 63 percent in or near poverty (in other words, earning less than 200 percent of the poverty threshold). Forty three percent of households headed by Mexican immigrants use at least one major welfare program and 50 percent are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit. Even among the third generation”€”the native-born grandchildren of long-ago Mexican immigrants”€”welfare use is triple the rate for other natives and nearly half live in or near poverty.

Finally, Mexicans have one of the lowest rates of entrepreneurship, with only 7 percent of them self-employed, well below the national average.

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Ethnic Chauvinism

Now, when you combine this phenomenon”€”a large, rapidly growing, geographically concentrated, poor population from a neighboring country”€”with Mexican ethnic chauvinism and resentment toward the United States, both on the fringe and in the mainstream, both in Mexico and in the United States, then reconquista doesn”€™t look so crazy after all.

A revanchist attitude toward the United States is part of the background music of Mexican discourse about the United States. An early example tying mass immigration to re-conquest is from a 1982 column in the Mexican newspaper Excelsior, entitled “€œThe Great Invasion: Mexico Recovers Its Own.”€ The writer says the American Southwest is “€œslowly returning to the jurisdiction of Mexico without the firing of a single shot, nor requiring the least diplomatic action, by means of a steady, spontaneous, and uninterrupted occupation.”€ This was not written by a gadfly journalist, but by Carlos Loret de Mola, former governor of the Mexican state of Yucatan and a prominent member of the then-ruling PRI.

Carlos Fuentes, one of Latin America’s most prominent men of letters, cheered the “€œsilent reconquest of the United States”€ through Mexican immigration.

The reconquista perspective is not confined to Mexico’s elite. A 2002 Zogby poll found that 58 percent of Mexicans believed that “€œthe territory of the United States”€™ Southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico,”€ while 57 percent agreed with the statement that “€œMexicans should have the right to enter the U.S. without U.S. permission.”€

Nor is this talk of reconquista and the rejection of American sovereignty limited to chauvinists living in Mexico itself. People in the United States of Mexican origin”€”both immigrant and native-born”€”make similar claims, and not just those on the fringe.

Major politicians get in on the act as well. Take, for instance, Mario Obledo. In 1998, the same year he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Bill Clinton, he said “€œEventually, we”€™re going to take over all the political institutions of California.”€ It wasn”€™t a slip of the tongue; on another occasion the same year he said, “€œCalifornia is going to become a Hispanic state, and if anyone doesn”€™t like it they should leave … they ought to go back to Europe.”€

Xavier Hermosillo, a businessman and radio host who was California chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly, said in 1993: “€œWe are taking Los Angeles back, house by house and block by block.”€

For ordinary Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans. Reconquista radicalism is largely absent, but a stubborn resentment against the United States is nonetheless widespread. The Grammy-winning musical group, Los Tigres del Norte, are very popular among their fellow immigrants, singing often of the Mexican immigrant experience. Notable among their many love songs and ballads about drug smugglers is “€œSomos Mas Americanos“€ “€“”€œWe Are More American.”€ It contains lyrics such as “€œLet me remind the Gringo / That I didn”€™t cross the border, the border crossed me”€ and “€œWe are more American / Than any son of the Anglo-Saxon.”€ The fact that this resonates deeply with ordinary Mexican immigrants doesn”€™t mean they will demand an Anschluss between California and Mexico, but rather that ambivalence runs very deep “€“ and not ambivalence normal to any stranger in a strange land, but ambivalence about America as such.

But the historic resentments shared by the Mexican-origin elite and the public wouldn”€™t be relevant to America’s sovereignty without the last element: An expansionist stance by the government of Mexico. “€œExpansionist,”€ of course, does not mean territorial expansion; no Mexican political figure seriously foresees a change in the borders. But what Mexico has done is aggressively pursue expansion of its sovereignty into the United States by claiming the role of spokesman and intercessor for Mexican immigrants, and for naturalized Mexican Americans, and for native-born Americans of Mexican origin, and increasingly for Hispanics in general.

A government is supposed to speak up for citizens abroad, of course”€”we would expect nothing less of our own government if we got into trouble in a foreign country. But when the number of one country’s citizens concentrated in another country becomes large enough, there can be a qualitative change in the role of the sending country’s government, a difference in kind, not just in degree. The government of the sending country (in this case Mexico) at that point is no longer just looking out for the well-being of individual compatriots, but rather speaking for a portion of the nation itself. In other words, what was once simply a service function becomes a political one.

Precisely when Mexico reached that stage is hard to say, but it clearly did so at some point during the rapid increase in the Mexican immigrant population over the past generation. Prior to that, Mexico’s relationship with its former residents was cool, at best; nationalists either dismissed emigrants as traitors or conducted outreach mainly to persuade people to come home.

But at least by 1990, things had begun to change fundamentally. That was the year President Carlos Salinas created the Program for Mexican Communities Abroad, the first permanent government agency in charge of outreach to those in the United States, implicitly accepting both the permanence and the legitimacy of those communities.

Greater Mexico

But it was Salinas”€™ successor, Ernesto Zedillo, who formally moved Mexico from being a modern nation-state, responsible for governing only the inhabitants of its territory, to what might be called Greater Mexico. This embrace of an older, racialist conception of membership is a process sociologist Robert Smith has described as the “€œredefinition of the Mexican nation.”€

In 1997, Zedillo told the National Council of La Raza in Chicago, “€œI have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important, a very important part of it.”€ Zedillo’s 1995 development plan suggested the sweeping nature of this conceptual change; under the heading “€œSovereignty,”€ the plan lists among its objectives the defense not merely of the “€œrights”€ of Mexicans abroad, but also of their “€œquality of life,”€ something usually considered a domestic-policy concern and not the bailiwick of consular officials assisting their sojourning compatriots.

A major step toward Greater Mexico came in 1997 with a change in the Mexican constitution permitting dual nationality. John Fonte, a scholar at the Hudson Institute, quotes a Mexican congressman on the significance of the change:

Belonging to Mexico is fixed in bonds of a cultural and spiritual order, in customs, aspirations and convictions that today are the essence of a universally recognized civilization


An important point about the dual-nationality law is that it not only permits Mexican immigrants to naturalize in the United States without losing citizenship rights in Mexico, but it also permits native-born Americans of Mexican origin to acquire Mexican nationality without having to go through the immigration process that other foreigners would.

Zedillo’s successor eagerly built on this ideology of Greater Mexico. Vicente Fox pledged when he was elected “€œto govern for 118 million Mexicans,”€ a number which included 18 million in the United States”€”many of them native-born Americans. Fox merged Zedillo’s outreach program into a new Presidential Office of Mexicans Abroad, headed by U.S.-born Chicano studies professor, Juan Hernandez.

The office has since evolved into a different form, but this is how its web site described the office’s functions several years ago (as translated by writer Allan Wall): “€œTo attend to the millions of Mexicans and Mexican-Americans who live in the United States as citizens, residents, temporary workers and undocumented…”€

Nor is this supposed to be a temporary phenomenon, as Hernandez made clear on ABC’s Nightline in 2001 when he said, “€œI want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think “€˜Mexico first.”€™”€

The administration of Felipe Calderon, who succeeded Fox as president in 2006, has cooled down his rhetoric, but then his basic perspective has not changed; as President Calderon said in his September 2007 state-of-the-nation address, “€œMexico does not end at its borders … Where there is a Mexican, there is Mexico.”€

This redefinition of the Mexican nation was formalized when Mexicans abroad (including native-born Americans) were permitted to vote in the 2006 presidential election. Only about 28,000 ballots were mailed in from the United States due to the extraordinarily complex and expensive process required but, as the Mexican government’s coordinator for the “€œexpatriate”€ vote said, “€œThis was a first step of a historic vote. It planted the seeds for years to come.”€

In addition to voting, American citizens now hold elective office in Mexico as well. Naturalized American citizen Manuel de la Cruz, for instance, was elected to the Zacatecas state legislature in 2004, while Andres Bermudez, and another naturalized American, was elected to the lower house of Mexico’s national Congress in 2006. There are also a number of naturalized American citizens elected as mayors in Mexico, and in 2007 Michoacan became the first state to allow expatriate voting in state elections.

Mexico’s transition to a racial conception of nationhood is all the more obvious when you contrast the recent addition to the legislature of a naturalized American of Mexican origin with the provision in Mexico’s constitution that bars naturalized Mexican citizens (i.e., immigrants from abroad who have moved to Mexico and received Mexican citizenship) from serving in the same legislature.


As if aspiring to become a parallel government for Mexican immigrants (and Mexican Americans) weren”€™t enough, the Mexican government is claiming additional authority by seeking to become the paramount spokesman for Hispanics in general in the United States. Today’s system of identity politics actually fosters this. Mexicans are part of a broader identity-group category under current American race laws; our system of racial classification, which developed haphazardly in the 1960s and 1970s, has no category for “€œMexicans,”€ only for “€œHispanics.”€ The majority of “€œHispanics”€ are indeed of Mexican origin, but not all. The 12 million Mexican-born people in the U.S. today are joined by perhaps 17 million native-born Americans of Mexican origin, plus another perhaps 16 million people, immigrant and native-born, whose ancestry is from Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and elsewhere in Central and South America.

Thus both the logic of our race laws and the self-interest of the Mexican government in magnifying its power within the United States argue for Mexico’s expanding its claims beyond Mexican immigrants, and beyond Americans of Mexican ancestry, to encompass all people of Latin origin in the United States. You get a lot more attention claiming to be the spokesman and intercessor for 45 million Hispanics than for 12 million Mexican immigrants.

Whether Americans of Mexican and other Hispanic origin actually want the Mexican government to be their intermediary with the American government in Washington (and state and local governments) is irrelevant. The genuine American patriotism of millions of Hispanic citizens doesn”€™t change the fact that Mexico is already actively involved in American domestic politics ostensibly on their behalf. After all, the two largest Hispanic “€œcivil rights”€ organizations “€“ the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund (MALDEF) and the National Council of La Raza “€“ are not membership organizations funded mainly by citizens and yet claim to be speaking on behalf of millions of people. Why should the Mexican government, aspiring to the role of spokesman for Hispanics in America, be any different?

The Mexican government’s activities in the United States bear this out. Look at the frequent appearances before the big three Hispanic organizations, none of which is specifically Mexican. The National Council of La Raza, the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), and even the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) all claim to speak, not for Mexican immigrants and Mexican Americans, but rather for the entire Hispanic Volk (“€œRaza”€ in Spanish).

The unprecedented nature of Mexico’s current interference in U.S. internal affairs is recognized even by its supporters. Armand Peschard-Sverdrup, director of the Mexico Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, has said, “€œWhat we”€™re now seeing is a consular system being evolved into an advocacy/educational role. It’s never been done before.”€

Mexico’s lobbying on big-picture immigration policy really is remarkably shameless. Its rejection of America’s sovereignty over its own borders is sweeping; in response to a 1996 U.S. law intended to limit illegal immigration, President Zedillo actually said that “€œWe will not tolerate foreign forces dictating and enacting laws on Mexicans.”€

Castaneda was more blunt when discussing this strategy with other Mexican officials; to Mexico’s Congressional Foreign Affairs Commission he said, “€œWe are already giving instructions to our consulates that they begin propagating militant activities “€“ if you will “€“ in their communities.”€

The ambassador of the current administration made essentially the same point in 2006:

Certainly the only way in which Mexico can advance a comprehensive agenda [i.e., amnesty for illegal aliens] with the United States is if we use the [Mexican] embassy and the network of consulates as “€˜beachheads”€™ of lobbying for the image, the interests and the agenda of Mexico in all of U.S. territory and with all sectors of American society.”€

It is in the area of working outside Washington”€”in the field with illegal aliens and local advocacy groups, as well as lobbying local and state governments”€”that Mexico’s consular network is most active and the expansion of Mexico’s sovereignty is most noticeable. For starters, consulates actively subvert American law by advising ordinary illegal aliens on how to evade deportation. They have distributed the “€œGuide for the Mexican Migrant,”€ a comic book-style pamphlet presented as a safety measure (it provides advice on how to safely sneak across the Rio Grande and the Arizona desert), but it also advises the reader on how to avoid deportation.

But the most serious Mexican government interference comes from direct lobbying of American officials. Castaneda was described as telling a meeting of LULAC in 2002 “€œthat by lobbying local governments in the United States, the Mexican government has managed to make it easier for illegal immigrants to live a more normal life. The Mexicans have pushed to get their citizens proper identification and access to college, he noted.”€

One Foreign Ministry official called this “€œthe onion approach”€”€””€œWe start with the outer rings, we start with the state and local levels, because the federal government for many reasons is not focused on these issues.”€

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Documents for the Undocumented?

Probably the most important layer of the onion has been lobbying for acceptance of the “€œmatricula consular”€ (consular registration) card. For decades, consulates have issued these cards to Mexicans living in foreign countries, as a way of keeping track of their citizens abroad.

As part of the expansion of its sovereignty, Mexico rejects the legitimacy of American immigration law, and hit on a way to circumvent it”€”upgrade the matricula cards, making them laminated photo IDs like driver’s licenses, and market them to Mexican illegals. By 2007, some 3 million matricula cards had been issued. The problem was that while Mexican consulates are free to issue any kind of document they please to their citizens, it’s of little use to illegal aliens unless it’s accepted in the United States.

Thus an aggressive lobbying campaign was launched by the consulates to persuade state and local governments to accept the card as a legitimate form of ID, in an attempt to bring about a de facto partial legalization of illegal aliens. The goal of Mexico’s first big foray into American domestic politics was clear; in the words of Miguel Angel Isidro, head of the consulate in Santa Ana, Calif., in 2002, “€œEventually, this will be accepted throughout the United States.”€

Up against the Mexican government’s push for acceptance of the card was the FBI’s opposition to it. But it was no contest “€“ Mexico beat the FBI hands down.

The matricula campaign’s first big success came in November 2001, when intense consular lobbying persuaded Wells Fargo Bank and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to accept the matricula as an official ID. Since then, Wells Fargo has opened more than half a million accounts for illegal aliens using the matricula.


Another place where Mexico has invaded U.S. territory is the public schools. Of course, Mexico is happy for us to pay for the education of illegal-alien children. But just because American taxpayers are picking up the tab doesn”€™t mean that Mexico doesn”€™t want to make sure it has a hand in education policy.

One of the ways the Mexican government does this is through aggressive support for bilingual education; it has donated thousands of dollars to the National Association of Bilingual Education and was the recipient of the group’s 1997 Presidential Award in appreciation for its support of the organization’s efforts. And in California, where voters ended bilingual education for most public school students, the Mexican consulates have helped parents in some districts get waivers allowing bilingual instruction to continue. As one consulate spokesman said, “€œIt’s important to have both Spanish and English in the classroom because the children are young, still creating their identities at this age.”€

More broadly, the Mexican consular network has distributed hundreds of thousands of Mexican textbooks to districts across the country and imported Mexican teachers to work in American schools. In 2005 alone, the Mexican consulate gave the Los Angeles Unified School District nearly 100,000 textbooks for 1,500 schools. Since the initiative began in the early 1990s, the total number of books sent to U.S. schools likely numbers in the millions.

The textbooks are not just intended to help students retain the Spanish language, as problematic as that might be for assimilation. There are books (in Spanish) on subjects such as math, science, geography, and Mexican history. The history textbooks, the same as used in Mexico’s schools, are naturally designed to foster Mexican patriotism: they refer to America’s flag as “€œthe enemy flag”€ in the discussion of the Mexican War and celebrate Mexico’s patriotic symbols. “€œWe love our country because it is ours,”€ the book says. The presence of such textbooks in American public schools is another example of the expansion of Mexico’s sovereignty.

The role of consulates in inculcating Mexican nationalism in American children isn”€™t confined to words on a page. In Salinas, Calif., for instance, the consul general responsible for the area organized a Mexican Flag Day ceremony at a public school, promoting Mexican patriotism among American children. And in Aurora, Colo., the Denver consulate helped set up an alternative public school for Spanish-speaking teen-agers where Mexican history would also be taught.

Our Problem, Not Mexico’s

A quote from former Foreign Minister Jorge Castenada describes quite well Mexico’s policy with regard to American freedom of action around the world, but could just as well have been describing Mexico’s goals within the United States:

I like very much the metaphor of Gulliver, of ensnaring the giant. Tying it up, with nails, with thread, with 20,000 nets that bog it down: these nets being norms, principles, resolutions, agreements, and bilateral, regional and international covenants.

But, like Gulliver, we can only be tied down if we are asleep. It’s hard to blame Lilliputian Mexico for trying to gain control over us “€“ it’s natural for a state to try to expand its sovereignty to areas where its people are expanding. The problem is that we permit it. As with the other incompatibilities between mass immigration and modern society, the problem is less the immigrants than it is us.

Trying to turn America’s elite away from the dangers of multiculturalism and post-nationalism is a long-term project that may yet fail. There have been brief flares of resistance to the immigration-driven encroachments on our sovereignty, from congressmen Tom Tancredo and (the late) Charlie Norwood, for instance, and from some local officials (though not from our State Department, which has developed a corporate culture of post-Americanism).

But interestingly, these defenses of American sovereignty have come exclusively from supporters of tough restrictions on illegal immigration and curbs on legal immigration. It should theoretically be possible for one to be an outspoken supporter of mass immigration, even increased immigration, but still ferociously defend America’s sovereignty against assault by immigrant-sending countries. But in the real world, there are no such people, at least not in positions of authority. All prominent supporters of mass immigration”€”Republican and Democrat”€”ignore the loss of American sovereignty caused by immigration, or downplay it, or even applaud it.

This should tell us something. In a modern society there are two choices: mass immigration accompanied by a progressive loss of sovereignty, or protection of America’s sovereignty through limits on immigration.

Mark Krikorian is executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies.

Reprinted from THE NEW CASE AGAINST IMMIGRATION”€”BOTH LEGAL AND ILLEGAL. Copyright © 2008 by Mark Krikorian. Published by Sentinel, a division of the Penguin Group.


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