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Immigration Agreement May Depend On Mexico’s Vote on Iraq in Security Council

by Carl Baldwin

In this age of realpolitik, Mexico fears that its hopes for an agreement with the U.S. on immigration may be dashed if it opposes the new resolution on Iraq presented to the UN Security Council by the U.S., Great Britain, and Spain.

This, at any rate, is the conclusion I draw from an internet reading of the March 1 issues of El Pais, the Madrid daily, and La Jornada, the Mexico City daily (my translations). According to El Pais, "Mexico, according to official sources we consulted yesterday, is betting that the proponents will withdraw the new resolution, given the impossibility of obtaining the nine votes necessary for approval…The situation is delicate. Mexico shares a 3,200 kilometer border with its neighbor to the north, and a myriad of political, commercial, and social interests…The number of contacts with the U.S. on the subject of Iraq has been dizzying, and Mexico has its pragmatic interests. If war is inevitable, it would make sense for it to vote with the U.S., in exchange for the unblocking of the agenda leading to an immigration agreement…Officials of the U.S. government have hinted that the immigration agenda, put on hold with the change of priorities after 9/11, could come back to life if Mexico supports the U.S. in the Security Council."

If that report by El Pais is reliable, it is extremely upsetting. I hate to think that a nation which disagrees with the U.S. about a highly controversial foreign policy issue would be punished by having its nationals deprived of a vitally important immigration benefit that would be good for both countries.

Whether Mexico will vote as an independent sovereign state, or succumb to pressure from its more powerful neighbor to the north, has brought forth some impassioned editorial commentary. This one from La Jornada harks back to some painful moments in Mexican history: "Mexico was founded as an independent nation in the struggle against a colonial power, and consolidated its sovereignty resisting the expansionist ambitions of foreign powers. The United States deprived us of almost half of our territory. And France, allied with our conservatives, wanted to make us an appendix of its empire [the Second Empire, 1852-1870]…The majority of Mexicans oppose the war against Iraq. They are not ready to trade their principles for supposed immediate benefits…For many citizens it is unthinkable that a hypothetical agreement on immigration could be used to justify the death of thousands of innocent Iraqi children."

President Vicente Fox, in a statement on February 24 that is posted on his website, expresses the hope that a peaceful solution to the crisis can still be found. The statement refers to the flurry of telephone calls on Friday, February 21 from his counterparts from the United States, Canada, France, Great Britain and Germany. Fox told them that "our country holds to its independent position without making promises to any of the interested parties." With reference to the new resolution, he merely said that Mexico would "carefully study the content and make its views known to the Security Council at the appropriate time." Fox more recently stated, according to La Cronica for March 1, that he is "working step by step in the Security Council to avoid war."

If the new resolution is not withdrawn, as Mexico hopes it will be, and if Mexico votes against it in the Security Council, that action would have a David/Goliath aspect to it. But it might well sink the prospect of an immigration agreement between the United States and Mexico, at least for the remaining years of the Bush administration.

About The Author

Carl R. Baldwin graduated from Columbia University Law School in 1980, and became a member of the New York State Bar a year later. He worked for three years with the New York City Law Department, and then entered solo practice in immigration law, which he has continued to the present. His work with clients has included asylum applications, deportation defense, visa processing, adjustment of status, and naturalization. He has also worked to implement special laws, such as the 1986 "amnesty" (The Immigration Reform and Control Act), and the 1998 Haitian reform act (The Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act). Mr. Baldwin is the author of Immigration News Monthly. He can be reached by e-mail at

He has written a book on immigration law, called "Immigration Questions and Answers," Allworth Press, 2002. The book, which contains essential background information about how the immigration law works, can be ordered online from Allsworth Press at:

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.