On Thursday, June 27th in a 68-to-32 vote the United States Senate passed historic immigration legislation. The measure now moves into the House of Representatives as they return from recess this week, where it is likely to face more resistance. House Republicans have already said the Senate bill is dead on arrival. Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), chair of the House Judiciary Committee, says he will pursue a series of smaller bills to reform the current immigration system. In the Senate version of the bill, a series of border enforcement measures totaling close to $46 billion must be achieved within the next decade. These enforcement measures include hundreds more miles of border fencing, doubling the number of U.S. Border Patrol agents stationed along the U.S./Mexico border to almost 40,000, and the use of new surveillance technologies.
Largely absent from the immigration debate last month was the Mexican government, which in recent years has shied away from publicly voicing concern after former President Vicente Fox’s push for U.S. immigration reform in 2000 and 2001 prompted criticism. That was at least until last week when Mexico’s Foreign Minister, José Antonio Meade, voiced concern over how the proposed U.S. border surge would impact bilateral trade and commerce, “walls aren’t the solution to the migratory phenomenon, and they aren’t congruent with a modern and secure border.” He is not, however, the only one speaking up in Mexico with many newspapers voicing similar opinions on the legislation before the United States Congress.
• In a guest column last week in Reforma, one of Mexico’s leading newspapers, Sergio Aguayo, a Mexican sociologist, said “restraint and silence are counterproductive because Washington feels free to act however they wish,” in response to the U.S. Senate approving a “border wall build-up and militarization of a border, as if it were only theirs [the U.S.] to manage.”
• In an opinion piece on infobae.com, Jorge Castañeda voices concern over the Mexican government’s tepid response to the debate: “Mexico cannot overlook the massive amount of Mexican deportations, the damage to communities, and to the environment that the border wall causes or the $46 billion dollars wastefully spent which could be used to improve the border’s infrastructure. We cannot abstain from this debate because we cannot be certain that the U.S. Congress’ decision won’t have grave consequences for Mexico, as is the case with the Corker-Hoeven amendment…This measure can only prove acceptable if on the border wall they place many doors, give us many keys with which to open them, they add doorbells, and when we knock and open the door, they welcome us.”
• In an editorial originally published in Reforma, Genaro Lozano discusses how for the most part laws which come out of the United States Senate tend to be less radical. Yet this time, the recent immigration reform bill embodied some of the more conservative and radical positions with the addition of 700 miles in border fencing and the increase in the number of border patrol agents stationed along the border. Lozano goes on to say, “The border wall is an embarrassment towards which the Mexican Presidency and the Mexican Senate have had a very absent and lukewarm reaction. That wall will be built if immigration reform is passed by the United States House of Representatives and I don’t know if my generation will get to see the wall come down for some decades, much like the Berlin wall did at the end of the 1980s.”
• Ana Paula Ordorica at Excelsior recaps the U.S. immigration debate and concludes her summary by saying, “It seems as though what Republicans actually want to say is for migrants to disappear! Republicans know immigrants form an important and growing part of the U.S. population, but they don’t like that migrants want to enter the U.S. or that they be an important voting bloc for the Democrats. This is why they are proposing measures which should be anachronistic but means that, for example, measures like those applied during the Second World War to divide two distinct ideological blocs are being contemplated on the U.S./Mexico border.”
Tomorrow, House Republican leadership will meet to discuss the future of the immigration reform bill in the House. Some are beginning to wonder if anything will happen before Congress breaks for their August recess. Will immigration reform be left to tackle in September?