View: U.S. may need to reconsider number of Mexican consulates over subversion of immigration law

A recent blog post by the Center for Immigration Studies, a group that favors less overall immigration into the United States, suggests that the Trump State Department may have to look at the activities of some Mexican diplomats staffing Mexican consulates within the U.S. who may be helping Mexican nationals illegally in the country subvert American immigration law.

The blog post sought to answer the following question submitted by a reader:

It is both legal and commonplace for Mexican consulates in border areas like El Paso and San Diego to have ongoing contracts with local U.S. law firms to assist Mexican nationals who encounter “legal problems.” Question is, since it is legal, what about other consulates in the interior, in Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Denver? How can we find out? It might be legal but politically dubious if foreign governments are shown to be assisting illegal aliens in circumventing U.S. immigration law through contracts with American law firms.

In response, CIS’ Dan Cadman explained that “the number and location of consulates of any country depends on negotiation between the foreign country and the host nation. Such negotiations are handled by the U.S. Department of State (DOS), and are often on the basis of reciprocity: ‘If you get an embassy and two consulates here, here, and here, then I want an embassy and two consulates there, there, and there.'”

He further explained that the U.S. “maintains an embassy, 10 consulates-general, and nine consular agents in Mexico — a total of 20 diplomatic outposts in Mexico. Conversely, however, Mexico maintains an embassy and 44 consulates-general and consulates in the United States —a total of 45 diplomatic outposts (excluding its UN mission).”

Cadman noted that normally there is a lot of latitude given diplomatic missions inside the United States as to how they are operated by the guest nation. But all embassies and consular missions are expected to abide by the host country’s laws.

Mexican consulates do not overtly subvert U.S. immigration law, but they “certainly toe right up to the line of propriety — and perhaps over it — by intervening in the internal affairs of the United States, at least where immigration law is concerned,” Cadman writes.

“One key example is the ‘matricula consular’, a form of identity document issued by Mexico only to aliens illegally residing in the United States as a means of attempting to aid them in their search for unlawful employment or bank accounts, procuring driver’s licenses, or obtaining a host of other, similar services or benefits.”

He provided three additional examples: 1) Assisting in boosting so-called “sanctuary city/state” policies (which shield illegal immigrants from federal immigration agents); 2) Publicly criticize U.S. immigration laws and policies; and 3) The consolates’ refusal “to engage in meaningful domestic immigration policies, where it involves interdicting third-country nationals using Mexico as a door mat [sic] to cross into the United States.” [source]

Analysis: Cadman suggests that it may be time for the Trump administration’s State Department to rethink reciprocity and I would agree. That may entail limiting the number of Mexican consulates in the U.S. to the number of American consulates in Mexico. That alone would curb the availability of Mexican diplomats and missions inside the U.S., thereby limiting Mexico’s ability to help shield and protect its citizens illegally inside the U.S. 

Beyond that, the administration may also want to think about closing remaining Mexican consulates if they are found to be undermining or even violating U.S. immigration laws. It makes little sense to allow Mexico to continue these activities while the Trump Justice Department and immigration authorities file lawsuits against states and withhold funds from cities over their sanctuary policies. The president should not allow Mexico’s policies to be counterproductive to his efforts to enforce all immigration statutes, and right now, Mexico appears to be doing just that.

Jon E. Dougherty is a political, foreign policy and national security analyst and reporter with nearly 30 years of experience in both fields. A U.S. Army veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom, he holds BA in Political Science from Ashford University and an MA in National Security Studies/Intelligence Analysis from American Military University.

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