Mexico publishes guide to assist border crossers
Republic Mexico City Bureau
Jan. 1, 2005 12:00 AM
MEXICO CITY - The Mexican government is giving out a colorful new comic book with advice for migrants, but immigration-control advocates worry that some of the tips may encourage illegal border crossers.
The 32-page book, The Guide for the Mexican Migrant, was published in December by Mexico's Foreign Ministry. Using simple language, the book offers safety information for border crossers, a primer on their legal rights and advice on living unobtrusively in the United States.
Dramatic drawings show undocumented immigrants wading into a river, running from the U.S. Border Patrol and crouching near a hole in a border fence. On other pages, they hike through a desert with rock formations reminiscent of Arizona and are caught by a stern-faced Border Patrol agent.
"This guide is intended to give you some practical advice that could be of use if you have made the difficult decision to seek new work opportunities outside your country," the book says.
But immigration-control groups questioned some of the guide's advice.
"This is more than just a wink and a nod," said Rick Oltman, Western field director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform. "This is so transparent, this is the Mexican government trying to protect its most valuable export, which is illegal migrants."
The book is being distributed as a free supplement to El Libro Vaquero, a popular cowboy comic book, in five Mexican states that send many migrants to the United States: Zacatecas, Michoacán, Puebla, Oaxaca and Jalisco. The government plans to print 1.5 million copies.
The book comes with a yellow disclaimer saying it does not promote undocumented immigration, and it repeatedly warns against crossing illegally. But it gives no information about the steps for seeking a U.S. visa.
Instead, it offers frank safety tips. In the section on crossing rivers, it notes, "Thick clothing increases your weight when wet, and this makes it difficult to swim or float."
On crossing the desert, it says, "Try to walk during times when the heat is not as intense" and says migrants should follow power lines or train tracks if they get lost.
The book warns migrants that they may have to walk for days to reach towns or roads in the desert and that they will not be able to carry enough water or food.
But it also shows a woman adding salt to a water bottle and advises, "Salt water helps you retain your body's liquids. Although you'll feel thirstier, if you drink water with salt the risk of dehydration is much lower."
Mexican authorities say they're just trying to keep migrants safe.
"We are not inviting them to cross, but we're doing everything we can to save lives," said Elizabeth García Mejía, chief coordinator for the Nogales, Sonora, section of Mexico's Grupo Beta migrant protection service.
Carlos Flores Vizcarra, Mexican consul general of Phoenix, said he had not seen the guide until a reporter showed it to him.
He said the guide appeared to be only the latest attempt by the Mexican government to warn migrants about the dangers of crossing the border without proper documentation.
The reality, however, is that many migrants will try to do so anyway, he said.
"This is nothing new. It's a way to put it in very simple terms so people will understand the risks," Flores Vizcarra said. "The intention is out of concern for human rights. People are doing it anyway. We cannot ignore that there is a very big migration between our two countries, and people who are coming to work need to understand the risks."
Some migrants from Mexico who have crossed the border illegally in the past said the guide seems to send a mixed message.
"On the one hand they seem to be saying, 'Don't cross,' but on the other hand they are saying, 'Cross,' " Humberto Morales, 22, an undocumented immigrant from Oaxaca working as a day laborer in Phoenix, said after looking at a copy.
He doubts the guide will keep many people in Mexico from crossing illegally, but he said it could help save lives.
"We have lots of programs like this in Mexico, but people keep crossing," Morales said.
No official at the Foreign Ministry headquarters in Mexico City would agree to an interview about the comic book, despite repeated requests through the ministry's media relations office.
The book's pictures are drawn to match the style of El Libro Vaquero. They portray the migrants as strong and healthy men and women, wading into a river or walking through the desert.
One section of the book urges caution when dealing with immigrant smugglers, known as coyotes or polleros. It shows migrants climbing into the back of a tractor-trailer, a possible reference to the 19 migrants who died in Texas after being sealed in a tractor-trailer in May 2003.
Another section warns migrants not to lie to U.S. authorities or use false identification, and it gives instructions on what to do if caught by the Border Patrol.
"Don't throw stones or objects at the officer or patrol vehicles because this is considered a provocation," it says. "Raise your hands slowly so they see you are unarmed."
A picture shows a group of migrants running from a Border Patrol sport utility vehicle, though the text urges them not to flee.
"It's better to be detained a few hours and repatriated to Mexico than to get lost in the desert," it says.
Seven pages are devoted to migrants' legal rights after they are detained and another four to living peacefully in the United States.
"Avoid attracting attention, at least while you are arranging your stay or documents to live in the United States," it says. "The best formula is to not alter your routine of going from work to home."
The Arizona Republic faxed copies of the guide to the U.S. Border Patrol, FAIR and two groups that support stronger controls on immigration.
A Border Patrol spokesman said he does not think the book encourages illegal crossers.
"If they've already gone ahead and made that decision to cross illegally . . . then anything that helps protect lives is worth it," said Andy Adame, spokesman for the Border Patrol's Tucson sector.
But the immigration-control groups said some of the advice goes beyond protecting migrants and, instead, encourages them.
"A lot of it is disclaimers, but then there's this part about if you're going to cross the desert, do it when the sun isn't so hot," said Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. "It's a mixed message."
Said John Vincent, editor of a newsletter published by Virginia-based Americans for Immigration Control: "It really looks like the Mexican government is encouraging illegal immigration. It shows the contempt that the Mexican government has for our laws."
The Mexican government produces a similar book aimed at Central American immigrants who try to enter Mexico illegally. The book covers much of the same information about legal rights and repeats many of the warnings. It even shows a group of migrants struggling to breathe inside a truck.
But that book doesn't give the same kind of safety tips on crossing the border or advise immigrants on how to live peacefully in Mexico.
Reporter Daniel Gonzalez contributed to this article.
[vincente f'tard mode]There is no illegal immigration problem. I am highly offended by that attitude of the americans that stole part of our country[/vincente f'tard mode]
Wow...you're special......you can create dupe topics from the hometown forums!
This is only the latest step -- Mexico has been encouraging people to cross the border, legally or not, for quite some now.
Next they'll publish a manual for drug smugglers.
"While I am saying this half serious and half joking, I think we are practicing la reconquista in California."
~ Jose Pescador Osuna, Mexican Consul General, Feb 2002.
"I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important - a very important - part of this."
~ Ernesto Zedillo, Former President of Mexico, speaking in Chicago, July 23, 1997.
"Mexico extends beyond its borders."
~ Vicente Fox, Current President of Mexico, speaking to a gathering in Milwaukee in July of 2001
"California is going to be a Hispanic State and anyone who doesn't like it should leave. They should go back to Europe."
~ Mario Obledo, President of the Californian Coalition of Hispanic Organisations, June 1998
"Our devil has pale skin and blue eyes," and who once said at a MAYA (Mexican American Youth Organization, the forerunner to MEChA) meeting, "To the gringos in the audience, I have one final message to convey, 'Up yours, baby. You've had it, from now on.' "
~ Jose Angel Gutierrez, professor, University of Texas.
"Remember 187 (proposition to deny taxpayer funds for services to non citizens) was the last gasp of white America in California."
~ Art Torres, Chairman of the California Democratic Party in front of 400 cheering Latinos at U.C. Riverside on January 14, 1995.
"We need to avoid a white backlash by using codes understood by Latinos...non-Latinos aren't watching, they aren't raising questions"
~ Fernando Guerra, professor, Loyola Marymount
"Go back to Boston! Go back to Plymouth Rock, Pilgrims! Get out! We are the future. You are old and tired. Go on. We have beaten you. Leave like beaten rats. You old white people. It is your duty to die. .. Through love of having children, we are going to take over."
~ Augustin Cebeda, of the 'Brown Berets', a militant Aztlan group at a violent rally in Los Angeles on July 4, 2000.
"In an extraordinary political move, President Vicente Fox has announced the formation of a cabinet level agency to govern, protect and provide services to over 20 million Mexicans now living in Aztlan, a territory encompassing most of the southwest part of the USA. President Fox declared yesterday that he will personally lead the new agency he named "Consejo Nacional para las Comunidades Mexicanas en el Exterior" (National Council for Mexican Communities Abroad). The "Council" will consist of the president, most of the cabinet secretaries and a, as of yet unnamed, representative from Aztlan. This is a bold move that essentially extends the arm of the Mexican government into the territories it previously lost during the Mexican-American War of 1848."
~ Reported in "La Voz de Aztlan", August 7, 2002.
"Fair housing agencies report a surge in discrimination by immigrant landlords from many nations who refuse to rent outside their ethnic group."
~ Reported in Los Angeles Times, Nov. 21 2001.
"We have an aging white America. They are not making babies. They are dying. The explosion is in our population... I love it. They are shitting in their pants with fear. I love it.... We have got to eliminate the gringo, and what I mean by that is if the worst comes to the worst, we have got to kill him."
~ Jose Angel Gutierrez, professor, University of Texas.
Such nice people. How could anyone ever even think of calling these people "THAT" word?
Those who do not live in border states affected by reconquista have no idea how mainstream those quotes are in the mexican immigrant community.
Ohh that sucks, and I used to think the movie " Born in East L.A. " was funny.
Bring it, bitch.
Mexico also started an outreach program for 'emmigrates' AKA illegal aliens in the U.S.- sort of a support program for their citizens that have sneaked into a foreign country illegally.
My Idea- we treat Mexicans here, the same way Mexico treats their immigrants- well minus the torture and such.
Let's just say that Mexico ain't real friendly towards people that sneak in.
I think it might be time to let lose the Dogs of War right here in our own country.
It's a huge problem.
The Neutral Observer has ideas on how to halt it, but nothing that wouldn't screw up the foundations of American society.
The Neutral Observer, does The Neutral Observer always speak in a third party narrative? lol, j/k
When The Neutral Observer is ready.......The Neutral Observer has but to give the word.
That's all fine and good, get rid of the gringo, but whose yard are they going to mow? Whose tax dollars are going to fund welfare for them?
Don't you mean George Bush's "friend"???