Foreign Policy Blogs

Calderon and Bush: Immigration Reform?

With approximately 12 million illegal immigrants from Mexico currently living in the United States, the focus of the last leg of Bush's Latin America Tour in Mexico was dominated by immigration issues. In the article “Mexico presses Bush over Immigration on Tour“, writer Steve Holland suggests that President Felipe Calderon of Mexico surprised many by placing the issue of immigration as a priority in his meetings with President Bush who has focused most of his tour on trade and anti-drug policies as opposed to immigration. Calderon, a fiscal conservative, took to primarily encouraging the US to “acknowledge the rights of the migrants and workers.” Calderon prioritising immigration surprised many as drugs and trade issues are of serious concern with recent new drug related conflicts in cities such as Acapulco and the loss of much of Mexico's trade opportunities from the US to China and India. In speaking about Mexicans in the US, Calderon stated:

“They are people who work and who respect that country, people who pay taxes, who grow the vegetables you probably eat, people who serve in restaurants,”

President Bush has pledged to reform the immigration laws in the United States, but with much pressure from Calderon, his own Republican Party and constant criticism from the Democrats, Bush will be hard pressed to satisfy all sides in the last few months of his Presidency. While the law reform will not allow for an Amnesty, Bush hopes to develop a guest worker program in order to appease the numbers of illegal migrants coming to the US. Bush also hopes to pull some of the focus away from Iraq and never ending controversies such as with Alberto Gonzalez this past week. Forming a balanced "rule of law" and respect for "humanity" in a new immigration law with both parties in Congress will be a difficult task for Bush. With new candidates for the next elections already being the focus of much of the attention in Washington, it remains to be seen if Bush's attempt at a balanced approach to immigration reform will satisfy both parties, Mexico and the future candidates. Many who appear to be distancing themselves from Bush due to his low approval rating and ever problematic criticisms of those in the Bush administration may delay any real reform of the immigration law in the near future. The immigration issue also is not always a positive for Bush, who would like to avoid protests similar to last summer in forming a new immigration law.

 

Author

Richard Basas
Richard Basas

Richard Basas, a Canadian Masters Level Law student educated in Spain, England, and Canada (U of London MA 2003 LL.M., 2007), has worked researching for CSIS and as a Reporter for the Latin America Advisor. He went on to study his MA in Latin American Political Economy in London with the University of London and LSE. Subsequently, Rich followed his career into Law focusing mostly on International Commerce and EU-Americas issues. He has worked for many commercial and legal organisations as well as within the Refugee Protection Community in Toronto, Canada, representing detained non-status indivduals residing in Canada. Rich will go on to study his PhD in International Law.

Areas of Focus:
Law; Economics and Commerce; Americas; Europe; Refugees; Immigration

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