Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Mexico Invades!

Many conservative pundits and voters worry an invasion of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Central America.

Very often, it's tough to get a nuanced discussion on the economic realities that encourage people to uproot their lives and work in inhumane and degrading conditions in another country. (Personally, I have no idea how bad my life would have to be to make migrant farm work seem attractive.)

Corrupt and ineffective governments force their citizens to seek better lives in our country which has corrupt business practices, and lax and ineffective enforcement of labor laws. There are few winners in the illegal immigration morass - except corrupt meat packing plant owners and consumers of cheap Californian produce.

That's my view.

However, certain events make getting a nuanced debate even harder.

For example, when Mexican army forces illegally enter the U.S.

For four tense minutes, a U.S. Border Agent was held at gunpoint by Mexican troops that had entered the U.S. accidentally in a remote desert region known for smuggling.

This was the 42nd such incident in the last year.

Let's look at the EIL International Law Breakdown in such incidents:

What are the issues involved?
Minus an actual shooting, the only issue here appears to be confusion on the location of the U.S.-Mexico border.

What is the controlling International Law?

Two pieces of International Law apply, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo of 1848 and the Gadsden Purchase of 1853. Both of these actions defined who had territorial claim over the region now known as southern Arizona.

Worries about border integrity might also look to the International Court of Justice's (ICJ) 2004 ruling on a fence built by Israel in the occupied territory of the WestBank. This ruling probably does not apply, U.S. border security measures are taken inside the U.S. border; the Israel barrier was built in occupied territory is disputed to be not owned by Israel.

How does this affect you?

Unless your looking for reasons to militarize the U.S.-Mexico border, this occurrence has absolutely no effect on the normal reader. Importantly, this mistake happened between two official bodies that were trying to secure a shared border. Putting more bodies on the border will only end with more incidents of lost officials and tense stand offs. Honestly, instead of turning to International Law as a means of resolving these border incursions, the U.S. should just donate some GPS units to the Mexican army.