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MEXICO WATCH : Foreign Critique

The Mexican government rarely speaks out publicly about domestic U.S. political issues. (One reason, perhaps, is that U.S. officials tend to express themselves all too freely on issues in Mexico, as so many did during the debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement.) However, on the issue of a ballot initiative in California that bears directly on U.S.-Mexican relations, the Mexicans might be forgiven a bit of presumption.

In a speech in Los Angeles, Mexico’s deputy foreign minister knocked Proposition 187, on November’s ballot, as a misguided effort to end illegal immigration that “not only won’t solve the problem but, on the contrary, can only aggravate it.”

Ambassador Andres Rozental warned that the ballot measure, aimed at denying health care, education and other public services to illegal immigrants, if approved by the voters could create a huge Latino underclass here and exacerbate ethnic tensions.

Rozental, a careful career diplomat who obviously spoke with permission from his superiors, said Mexican officials would express their concerns about Proposition 187 to California business leaders, citing its potentially negative effects on cross-border commerce. That reason, as much as any, is why thoughtful Californians should welcome Rozental having his say. More than any other state, California needs vigorous foreign trade. While life on the Pacfic Rim brings many benefits, it brings many challenges, too--like illegal immigration. But a mature California can live with both, and with occasional foreign criticism.

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