Translation courtesy of Voice of Citizens Together

How to Fight Against the Wilsons

Jorge A. Bustamante - president of the College of the Northern Border in Tijuana and a leading Mexican migration expert - is also a professor of sociology at Indiana's Notre Dame University.

Excelsior, Mexico City (Mexican Newspaper)

March 27, 1995

On March 23, Pete Wilson, California governor called a press conference to say: "I have the duty to run for President of the United States." --- That almost Messianic "duty to run," leaves no doubt that he will leave the governorship. This is appalling news for Mexico. He lost no time in saying that he will take with him his three accomplishments; a) a reform of the state laws that make more harsh the penalties for the "three strikes your are out:" b) approval of Proposition 187; c) a reduction of the budget deficit, and d) to trim public social aid.

What it concerns us more in this side of the frontier, is that he would make Proposition 187 his presidential banner. That means that if he could win the nomination for president, we would be hearing a put down of Mexican immigrants, and of Mexico as a nation, which will exacerbate the xenophobic prejudice against Mexicans, this time at a national level. This means that Pete Wilson's success is in the U.S. that will give him votes.

We foresee worse times in the relations between Mexico and the United States. Therefore, I'm proposing to introduce an initiative that will facilitate permanent Mexican residents in the United States to become citizens of that country, so their increasing number will translate in a real possibility of more votes against Wilson in the next elections. In this column before, I have already proposed the means to facilitate that from Mexico: to make possible a double nationality. Let me explain how to achieve that, but not before sharing credit with Alejandro Carrillo, who has ample experience, as an Internationalist Lawyer and representative of Mexico.

First we have to distinguish between nationality and citizenship. Double nationality is something that our laws already permit for a long time, for who isn't yet 18 years old, was born in another country, from Mexican parents. That person has the nationality of the country where he was born, besides Mexican nationality. What is not permitted is double citizenship.

What I'm here proposing does not modify the principal on which this distinction is based, and that is at times, exclusive. For what I propose, it would be enough that the Congress of the Union, reform the Constitution, declaring that the Mexican Nationality becomes nontransferable for all its legal effects to be exercised in the Mexican territory. This way if a Mexican by birth acquires U.S. citizenship, that fact would allow him to vote in the United States, without loosing his Mexican nationality. However, he could exercise the latter only in Mexican territory, but he could not exercise his U.S. citizenship, and seek the U.S. government protection while being inside Mexican territory, unless he renounced his rights as a Mexican citizen in Mexico. But he could expressly renounce in Mexico to his U.S. citizenship, as a requisite to exercise his rights of Mexican citizenship, to which his Mexican nationality by birth gives him that right, which is nontransferable.

Alejandro Carrillo and me have toyed with this idea for many years, although we had proposed it independently when we did it the first time. The same happened to me with Dr. Roger Diaz de Cosio, who was the first Foreign Relations officer who I heard propose publicly the idea of "double nationality" with the political purpose made reference in these lines. In my version, which many times for about ten years I proposed in this column, I insisted that on the Legislative Constitutional Reform proposal, we should not expressly talk about "double nationality," but of Mexican nationality by birth nontransferable, save to what refers to citizenship and to the rights that come about. It should be made clear that this is a theme significantly different to the vote of Mexicans abroad...

The proposal that I now reiterate, has basic elements of form and substance. On substance there is a sovereign decision about a principle: that Mexican nationality by birth is nontransferable. As well as are the color of skin, the nationality of our parents, the existence of our ancestors and the ethnic identity that is attributed to us, both by the ones that accept us as members, as the ones who reject us by prejudice against the ethnic group with which they identify us, whether we want it or not...

My Constitutional Reform proposal is valid because of what I see coming due to Wilson campaign, as well as the future of the relations between Mexico and the U.S. in that future will be inevitable and irreversible participation of Mexicans - by origin or by birth - who live permanently in that country, in the politics of both countries. Therefore accepting that premise, anyone who wants to defend the interests of Mexico in whichever country they reside, augment their political power in order to make it within that country's rules. One way to achieve that objective is to make it easier for them to vote in the elections, through acquiring U.S. citizenship, and eliminating here the interests (property), costs that those Mexicans keep in Mexico.