Senate Approves New Immigration Law
(Mexico City, El Sur 25 February) Mexico’s Senate unanimously approved yesterday a new Immigration Law designed to establish rights on behalf of foreigners in Mexico. In a last minute amendment, the legislators approved a provision that says no one can be declared “illegal” by virtue of his or her immigration status. The final version also eliminated Article 26, a measure that charged Federal Police with immigration law enforcement in the same manner as the Immigration Authorities. The chairman of the Committee on Population, Humberto Andrade Quezada, said: “We took out article 26 entirely because we want to send a clear signal that the Senate is aware of the contribution and the value that immigrants bring to our country.” He added, “The new immigration law is a modern, advanced, integrated solution, which permits us to take our place as a country with a congruent human rights policy, and with the moral ability to demand of other countries respect for our nationals.”
Another provision provides a 180-day transit visa for persons who find themselves in Mexico without proper documentation, allowing them to return home without risk of incarceration or exploitation. This measure will help nationals of other countries (like Guatemala), who are deported from the US into Mexico without concern for their nationality.
Article 151 of the bill was also removed. It imposed fines and sanctions on illegal immigrants and the employers who hire them. Many of the bill’s supporters come from the conservative PAN, which represents employer interests. In the United States, labor organizations typically oppose immigration liberalization for obvious reasons of self-interest. Curiously, the Mexican left, comprised of the PRD, PT and Convergencia, criticized the original bill because it looked too much like the US immigration policy, perceived as xenophobic. The unanimous consensus on the final bill shows that the legislators were united in establishing a Mexican foreign policy of openness, one that serves as a positive example for its neighbor to the north.
The bill now goes to the Chamber of Deputies, where it is expected to pass after review and debate.