January 2, 2024 - 9:01 pm
“What kind of Mexican are you?” my irritated Mexican-born wife asks whenever I say something that shows I grew up on this side of the border.
I respond with a smirk: “The American kind.”
As a Mexican American, my loyalty is often in question. I recall the reader who informed me, sweet as you please, that my opinion on the immigration issue was not needed. She wrote, “That would be like asking the Germans during World War II for advice on how to plan the D-Day invasion.”
But my critics get me wrong. I’m proud of my Mexican ancestry. Yet I’m also a fully assimilated Latino Yankee Doodle Dandy. I owe nothing to Mexico, which failed my grandfather and forced him to flee to the north — legally — more than 100 years ago during the Mexican Revolution. By contrast, I owe everything to the United States.
So whenever Mexico and the United States square off, I usually side with the latter.
On work trips to Mexico City to meet with Mexican officials, I can’t tell you how many arguments I’ve gotten into as my American blood begins to boil.
Why? Because I have zero tolerance for Mexicans who won’t take responsibility for their actions — such as keeping so many of their people in poverty — and instead want to blame their misfortune on the United States.
Yet in the immigration debate, I often side with Mexico.
Why? Because I have zero tolerance for Americans who won’t take responsibility for their actions — such as creating a porous border — and instead want to blame their misfortune on Mexico.
Last week, three Biden administration officials — Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and White House Homeland Security adviser Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall — made a quick one-day trip to Mexico City.
They went to ask Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador to help stop the migrant crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. Before AMLO lifts a finger, he wants a commitment of more U.S. aid for Latin America. He also wants to ease sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela, which he claims are driving people from those countries into his country — on their way to the United States.
With immigration sure to play a major role in the 2024 presidential election, and Republicans accusing President Joe Biden — falsely — of opening the U.S.-Mexico border and putting out a welcome mat for the world, the administration is on the back foot.
It’s important to recognize that Mexico didn’t create the border crisis that it is being asked to help solve. In fact, this crisis is almost entirely the doing of the American people.
Note that I did not say it’s the fault of “the Republican-controlled Congress” or the “Biden administration.” I could have. On this side of the border, there is plenty of blame to go around.
Republicans are clueless. Think of all the things that are causing upheaval around the globe and causing people to flee. Street gangs in Honduras. An assassination in Haiti. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Earthquakes. Floods. According to the GOP, Biden caused it all.
And Democrats are gutless. After promising to end Trump-era border enforcement policies, Biden kept a bunch of them. Now, after ignoring the border for nearly three years, the administration is desperate for help wherever it can get it — including Mexico.
Of course, Congress is no help. House Republicans, led by Speaker Mike Johnson, want the Biden administration to make it nearly impossible for migrants to seek asylum.
That’s weird. The American Civil Liberties Union is currently suing the Biden administration for its policies (carried over from the Trump era) that the organization’s lawyers claim — wait for it — make it nearly impossible for migrants to seek asylum.
So Republicans want the White House to do something that the administration is already doing.
But with 2.5 million encounters between migrants and Border Patrol agents on the border in 2023, and a seven-day average of 9,600 encounters per day in December, there is no point in blaming either party. If we’re being honest — which never happens, because neither party will dish out straight talk to voters — it’s the American people who bear much of the responsibility for the current crisis.
They’re the ones posting “Help Wanted” signs because they’re addicted to cheap immigrant labor, and they’re not sticklers for how those workers got to the United States.
People south of the border know that Americans are hiring, and so they come. This was bound to make a mess.
It’s not Mexico’s job to clean it up.
Ruben Navarrette’s email address is email@example.com. His podcast, “Ruben in the Center,” is available through every podcast app.