Feb 24, 2017 (San Diego) Secretary Rex Tillerson and Secretary John Kelly were in Mexico trying to smooth relations. They are as tense as they have been in a long time. Partly, because the United States keeps making demands from Mexico as if Mexico was subservient to the United States. The issue now revolves around the latest immigration rules. They include deporting people to Mexico to await a decision on American asylum
They met with Foreign Secretary Luis Videgaray. It was clear that Mexican officials were not pleased with the policy proposals from the United States. Videgaray told both Mexican and foreign media after the meeting that “I want to make clear, in the most emphatic way, that the government of Mexico and the Mexican people do not have to accept measures that, in a unilateral way, one government wants to impose on another.”
This is the latest attempt at trying to force Mexico to do things it will not do. Perhaps it is because the Donald Trump administration sees Mexico as a subservient country to the United States, a colony, that will do whatever they are told. Videgaray also said that Mexico was ready to go to the United Nations to defend the rights of their citizens in the United States, human rights of Mexican Citizens.
One reason for the deportation to Mexico is that in recent years migration to the United States while crossing Mexican territory from Central American nations, not Mexico. Under international law, Mexico is obligated to accept the forcible return of its citizens. However, Mexico is not required to receive third party citizens. In that case, the United States must arrange to transport their citizens back, or transport them itself, as has happened in the past.
Moreover, Mexico has been involved in the deportation of Central Americans from its territory, with increased deportations over the last few years. However, that border remains porous and somewhat easy to cross.
There is another reality, and this is the fact that Central Americans are fleeing violence and death squads and could qualify for asylum under the same international laws that the United States has signed. Among these treaties is the 1951 Refugee Convention.
This was a product of World War II and the horrors of that war. Refugees are granted certain rights under international law, not that there is any hunger in Washington to abide by these agreements. This is the precise framework that Mexico can use before the UN, or the World Court.
Under the America First nationalist stand taken by the White House, the US could simply ignore treaties, as it apparently intends to do. Sending people across the border who are not Mexican citizens will only further strain relations.
There is one more thing. American citizens are getting caught in this expanded enforcement net. The latest example is Eduardo Carballo, from Chicago, who was born in Puerto Rico. His case is not an exception, or rare.
This is from a 2014 Vice Report:
“Recent data suggests that in 2010 well over 4,000 US citizens were detained or deported as aliens, raising the total since 2003 to more than 20,000, a figure that may strike some as so high as to lack credibility,” Stevens wrote in a 2011 report. “But the deportation laws and regulations in place since the late 1980s have been mandating detention and deportation for hundreds of thousands of incarcerated people each year without attorneys or, in many cases, administrative hearings. It would be truly shocking if this did not result in the deportation of US citizens.”
Many people have seen the movie “Born in East LA.” That story is based on a real case. We could expect to see more US citizens deported, and denied their citizenship in years to come. In other worlds, they will become stateless, due to either errors or willful mistakes.
Historically it has happened before. During the 1950s we had a rise in anti-Mexican feelings and the government of then-President Dwight D Eisenhower enacted the “Wetback program.” It was meant to expel illegal immigrants that did not come into the country as part of the Bracero program. It raised tensions, and in the dragnet, US Citizens were also deported, in large numbers.
Estimates of people expelled range from a low half a million to close to 2 million. The reason why the numbers are far from exact is that records were not carefully kept, hence we have no idea how many Americans, some living in the country for generations, were expelled.
We are seeing this again. Some of the things that immigration authorities have done is not just detain a US citizens from Puerto Rico, but check the documents at JFK of an internal flight from San Francisco.
They also removed a woman with a brain tumor from a hospital in Texas, where she was waiting for life-saving surgery.
These cases violate American values and are reminiscent of the worst abuses of the 1950s. The fear and tension in immigrant communities is real. It is not just families of mixed status. At this point many immigrants are wondering if they should carry their US passports everywhere, not to mention their children.
Now to tourism. When countries get the air of a police state, where you could be stopped at any corner and have officers demand your papers, tourism tends to go down. This is hardly the first time. According to the Telegraph:
After 9/11, US Congress passed the USA Patriot Act, which amended US immigration laws and impacted the passage of travellers by introducing in-person interviews for visa applicants and biometric procedures (fingerprints and photos) at borders.
This had a huge impact on America’s tourism industry. According to the US Department of Commerce, between 2000 and 2009, global international tourist receipts grew by more than 87 per cent to $889 billion per year, while for the US receipts increased by just 13 per cent.
So what is the effect right now? We are quoting from the Frommer’s report yesterday:
Thus, the prestigious Travel Weekly magazine (as close to an “official” travel publication as they come) has set the decline in foreign tourism at 6.8%. And the fall-off is not limited to Muslim travelers, but also extends to all incoming foreign tourists. Apparently, an attack on one group of tourists is regarded as an assault on all.
As far as travel by distinct religious groups, flight passengers from the seven Muslim-majority nations named by Trump were down by 80% in the last week of January and first week of February, according to Forward Keys, a well-known firm of travel statisticians. On the web, flight searches for trips heading to the U.S. out of all international locations was recently down by 17%.
A drop of that magnitude, if continued, would reduce the value of foreign travel within the U.S. by billions of dollars. And the number of jobs supported by foreign tourists and their expenditures in the United States—and thus lost—would easily exceed hundreds of thousands of workers in hotels, restaurants, transportation, stores, tour operations, travel agencies, and the like.
So why does this matter? We are in San Diego. This is our third largest industry and at the heart of our economy.
- The visitor industry employs over 180,000 San Diegans – 13% of the jobs in the county.
- Visitors spend nearly $10.4 billion annually at San Diego businesses and produce $267 million in transient occupancy tax revenues.
- San Diego hosts more than 34.9 million visitors each year, and is a top U.S. travel destination.
- The industry generates more than $704.6 million annually in state and local taxes.
A drop in international tourism will affect our local economy. Combined with other the tensions rising within the Calibaja region, we could see a local recession. The investment of $741 million dollars in the San Ysidro port of entry was meant to make the region more productive. Yet, the policies from Washington may very well slow down our economy. We also have to wonder if the new port of entry, set to begin this year, will happen?
The economy in this region has been increasingly diversified. This is important to understand since many of these sectors do rely on good relations across the region, including the northern municipalities of Baja California. The region also relies on immigrants for two fields. The first is tourism, the second is agriculture. We also have immigrants in high-tech and the medical field. Fear in this community will not be productive.
Immigrants are coming from all over the world, including refugees from Somalia, and Iraq. We have two of the largest communities of refugees, one in City Heights, the other in El Cajon. The Somali community is the 2nd largest in the United States.
We are used to receiving immigrants and refugees. It is n the region’s DNA. A previous generation saw the rise of a Little SaigonLittle Saigon in San Diego. These were people who left Vietnam after the fall of Saigon in 1975. Like today’s refugees, some worked along US troops during that war.