Cultural Revolutions

A State Visit

Vicente Fox, Mexico's president, began his state visit to Washington in September by issuing a public challenge to President George W. Bush to grant amnesty to millions of illegal Mexican aliens in the United States by year's end. He said he wanted a "bilateral migration agreement" that would ensure that "all Mexicans entering the United States did so with the proper documents."

What President Fox really wants is for even Mexican who may ever wish to live in the United States to be free to do so. He also wants millions of his countrymen who are already here to be "legalized." Legalization would happen in waves, and temporary work restrictions would halt low-skilled workers like meatpackers or waiters from moving into higher skilled jobs.

President Fox's challenge stems from his desire to create a "North American common market" similar to Europe's, which would allow free movement of people. The equalization of wages in a common market, he argues, is how Germany and other prosperous European countries stopped poor people from immigrating illegally from Spain, Portugal, and Greece. He ignores the fact that those countries have functioning polities and low birthrates, highly literate populations, and—by Mexican standards—bureaucratic structures that are paragons of efficiency, honesty, and civic responsibility. In addition, those countries, unlike Mexico, have...

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