GRINGO TOURISTS are a familiar sight down here in Mexico. And the locals can spot them easily. It's not really a racial thing either - it's more the way they dress and act. (My Mexican wife Lilia tells me I don't fit the stereotype of a gringo tourist. Besides, I live here).
That's not to say that all gringo tourists have the same interests. Some just cross over to a border town and purchase some souvenirs, so they can say they went to "Old Mexico." Others fly directly to Cancun or another glitzy beach resort. Some take in the great variety of cultural attractions Mexico has to offer. For many college students, a week of spring break debauchery far from home is all they seek. But whatever the gringos look for in Mexico, good or bad, that's usually what they find.
November 16 -18, the Republic of Mexico was graced by the presence of two gringo tourists named Tom and Dick (I guess Harry couldn't make it).
But Tom and Dick were not your run-of-the-mill gringo tourists.
You see, Tom and Dick were here on an all-expense paid trip (courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer) and they got to personally hang out with Presidente Vicente Fox at his private ranch. (And that's something few Mexicans are allowed to do).
Plus, Tom and Dick got to negotiate away U.S. immigration policy and further the interests of the Democratic Party. You see, Tom (Daschle) and Dick (Gephardt) are respectively, the Democratic Majority Leader of the U.S. Senate and the Democratic Minority Leader of the House. So don't expect the same red carpet treatment when you come to Mexico!
Allow me to make three observations about Vicente Fox's ranch.
First, it's the same place where Fox hosted Bush way back in February.
Second, I've been there. Well, I've been up to the property line of Vicente Fox's ranch - but I wasn't allowed on the premises. It seems that Vicente Fox doesn't practice open borders on his own property. Hmmmm...
And third, I have never read nor heard of Mexican congressional leaders being invited to Vicente Fox's ranch. In fact, Fox is not getting along so famously with the Mexican Congress, because no party has the majority and a balance of power is developing in the Mexican government. Good for them. Maybe that's why Fox feels more comfortable among U.S. politicians and reporters, who talk about how great he is and how cool his cowboy boots are, than Mexican reporters and politicians, some of whom actually criticize Fox. You know, freedom of the press and all that.
Well, back to Tom and Dick's visit. As they enjoyed the fun of being on Uncle Vicente's ranch, Tom and Dick discussed immigration with the Mexican presidente. Not that there was much disagreement. Tom, Dick and Vicente are all in agreement that the at least 3 million Mexican illegal aliens in the U.S. (probably a conservative estimate) should be amnestied (or regularized, to use the preferred term nowadays). The American people are not in agreement with an amnesty, but Tom, Dick and Uncle Vicente (and Vicente's amigo George W. Bush ) aren't really concerned about that. So at Vicente's ranch, the topic was not "Should the illegals be legalized?" but "How can we legalize them?"
Tom and Dick did not spend all their time at Presidente Vicente's ranch. Like your typical gringo tourists, they also enjoyed getting out and about and mingling with real Mexican folks - or at least those real Mexican folks Vicente's handlers allowed them to get close to.
Tom and Dick went to the state of Puebla where they visited a genuine rural village. There Tom made a great discovery, which he shared upon his return to Washington, in that oh-so-earnest delivery he is so adept at. "In some of these areas," Tom pointed out, "as many as half the men have left and gone to America." Yes, and if American politicians continue to encourage mass immigration from Mexico, maybe the other half will leave too. As I've pointed out elsewhere, the mass emigration of Mexicans from Mexico encouraged by the ruling class is not really helping the country in the long run ("Does Emigration Really Help Mexico?")
Why are Tom Daschle and Dick Gephardt so eager for another amnesty? It's because they know that most of the illegal aliens who are amnestied and become citizens (and even some that don't) will most likely vote for the Democrats. In fact, immigration from Mexico is a great voter-importation program for the Democrats, and nothing the Republicans do is likely to change that.
George W. Bush thought otherwise, but look at the result. He pandered for the Hispanic vote by appealing to Hispanics not as Americans, but as Hispanics, implying that Americans of Hispanic ancestry have different interests from other Americans. But when it was all said and done, he got a lower share of the Hispanic vote (35%) than Ronald Reagan (37%), who, rather than pander to Hispanics, just treated them like Americans.
As I have argued elsewhere, the majority of today's Mexican immigrants are highly unlikely to vote for the Republican Party. Their family connections already orient them toward the Democratic Party; they don't care about limited government philosophies; they don't care about tax cuts; and despite what you've heard, they aren't attracted to the politics of social conservatism.
A well-documented study by Gimpel and Kauffmann researched the Latino vote and concluded that "Contrary to the thinking within the Bush White House, there is no evidence that a significant percentage of the Latino vote is 'in play.' " They also concluded that "There is no indication that the Republican or Democratic positions on immigration policy explain the orientation of Latino voters. Rather, it seems that the core positions of the Republican Party are simply not as attractive to Latino voters as are those of the Democratic Party." Plus, the pander-to-Hispanics campaign has absolutely nothing to offer the significant minority of Hispanic voters who really do share traditional Republican values. And it is precisely those voters who would provide a base the Republicans could build on for the long-term among American citizens of Hispanic descent. That's much better than encouraging divisive ethnic identity politics.
An amnesty for Mexican illegal aliens would be a windfall for the Democratic Party and a disaster for the Republicans. Maybe President Bush doesn't understand that. But Tom and Dick do, and that's why they came down here to Mexico.