U.S. AND MEXICAN LAWMAKERS TO MEET ON MIGRATION
Copley News Service
WASHINGTON -- A week after Mexican President
Vicente Fox sharply urged the United States to resume stalled
immigration talks, both sides are bracing for a possible confrontation
when lawmakers from the two countries meet this weekend in Mexico to
discuss the issue.
All eyes will be on Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., who has become one of
the most outspoken opponents of an immigration deal and who has angered
Mexico in recent weeks with claims that Mexican troops and police are
conducting frequent incursions across the U.S. border.
In an interview, Tancredo himself did not shy away from the possibility
for a dustup at the annual Mexico-U.S. Inter-parliamentary Meeting,
which is set to convene Friday in Fox's home state of Guanajuato.
""I think there is a concern about the potential for some sort
of unpleasantness and they are probably right to worry,'' Tancredo said,
acknowledging the discomfort of some of his U.S. colleagues about his
presence on the U.S. delegation. A confrontation with the Mexican
lawmakers, he said, ""certainly would not be surprising.''
""It's not my purpose to go down there and make somebody mad.
My purpose is to get some questions answered. And in the diplomatic
arena, asking the wrong question -- or what somebody else considers to
be the wrong question -- can be unpleasant. I'm willing to be unpleasant
to get some answers. I want to ask them: What are you going to do to
stop the incursions? And why do you continue to meddle in American
politics to the extent that you do (on immigration)?''
Rep. Bob Filner, D-San Diego, who will be among a dozen House members
there, said Tancredo ""will raise issues in a way that I
wouldn't. But there are a lot of Americans who see things his way and
they (the Mexicans) have to hear him.''
Tancredo has been a passionate critic of legalization proposals as
chairman of the House's Immigration Reform Caucus.
Earlier this month, Tancredo provoked an angry Mexican response with his
demand that Fox himself explain the border ""incursions'' and
with his suggestion that their aim has been ""to protect the
traffic of drugs across the border and into the U.S.''
Mexican Ambassador Juan Jose Bremer chided Tancredo for ""the
unpolite and inadequate tone'' of Tancredo's letter to Fox. He says the
border crossings have been the unintentional result of efforts to pursue
drug traffickers in remote and rugged areas where the international
boundary is poorly marked.
In an interview, another official in the Mexican embassy expressed
concern about Tancredo's participation at this weekend's meetings.
""We hope Mr. Tancredo is not confrontational,'' said the
official, who asked not to be identified. ""But if he is, our
Congress members will be prepared to respond.''
While acknowledging that immigration is an issue ""of enormous
sensitivity,'' Tancredo turned the tables, accusing Mexico of
""meddling in American politics'' by lobbying for large-scale
legalization of Mexicans.
Fox has praised illegal Mexican immigrants for their hard work and
sacrifice in sending money -- about $9 billion last year -- back to
But Tancredo criticized Fox's May 9 statements in New York that an
immigration agreement is key to continued warm relations between the two
""Our relationship should never be based on anything that
requires the U.S. to reward people who come here illegally,'' he said.
""It is improper for the president of one country to ask the
president of another country to essentially ignore his country's laws.''
In the past, U.S. participants at the Inter-parliamentary meetings have
complained that the conferences are dull affairs, stifled by excessive
formality and a lack of open discussions. Now there is concern that the
event could produce fireworks. While the working discussions are not
public, there is expected to be at least one press conference.
""These talks have become more real and more frank over
time,'' said Rep. Filner, who added that he is attending his sixth or
Tancredo said he would be participating at the invitation of Rep. Jim
Kolbe, R-Ariz, chairman of the House delegation.
After Tancredo accepted the invitation, the delegation was expanded to
include Rep. Howard Berman, D-Mission Hills, and Utah Republican Rep.
Chris Cannon, two of the most outspoken advocates of efforts to legalize