Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 14, 2006

Latin America to lobby against the border bill

Filed under: Border Security — by Christian Beckner on February 14, 2006

The AP reports today on a meeting of Latin American diplomats in Colombia to coordinate efforts to lobby against provisions of the border security bill in the U.S. Congress:

Latin American diplomats teamed up Monday to lobby Washington against a tough immigration plan that would include a large wall along the Mexico-U.S. border to keep out illegal immigrants.

Foreign ministers from 11 Latin American countries gathered in the seaside resort city of Cartagena, where they decided to send a scouting mission to Washington next week to identify key U.S. lawmakers on the immigration debate, Salvadoran Foreign Minister Francisco Lainez announced.

The region will urge those lawmakers in coming weeks to change or defeat altogether a bill making its way through the U.S. Congress that would make it harder for undocumented immigrants to get jobs and would authorize construction of a fence along parts of the 2,000-mile Mexico-U.S. border….

I don’t get it. Any efforts by Latin American governments to lobby against the border bill are bound to backfire. They show that these governments don’t care about the distinction between legal immigration and illegal immigration – and in fact condone or encourage the latter. This is likely to strengthen support in the U.S. in favor of bill provisions such as an expanded US-Mexico border fence and stronger workplace enforcement.

The governments in Latin America have a right to engage the Congress on these issues, but they’d be smarter to focus their discussions on provisions that have to do with legal migration or residency, such as the proposed guest worker program.

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