OPINION COLUMNS

Mending fences while building walls

By Joy Carrico | Published Saturday, February 25, 2017
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Things aren’t good with our neighbor to the South.

Why is Mexico upset with us?

Well, we want to build a wall to keep people from illegally crossing the border from Mexico, and we want Mexico to pay for it.

We’re talking about sending undocumented immigrants who enter the U.S. through Mexico back across the border regardless of their homeland. Because they passed through Mexico, we’re shipping them back there.

Joy Carrico

We’re discussing imposing a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico.

We issued new orders that radically changed how Immigration and Customs Enforcement will approach deportation. They will have a lot more freedom to deport people who were not a priority before.

We have greatly increased our enforcement presence by holding deportation raids in major metropolitan areas.

We want to renegotiate NAFTA.

In addition to all these things, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments this week in a case where a U.S. Border Patrol agent shot and killed a 15-year-old Mexican boy. The agent was on U.S. soil, and the Mexican national was on Mexican soil. According to the oral arguments, this is the 10th time a U.S. Border Patrol agent has shot and killed a Mexican national while on opposite sides of the border.

American authorities investigated and found that the agent acted in self-defense. Mexico charged the agent with murder and requested extradition. The U.S. refused and the parents of the boy sued, and Mexico is supporting their efforts.

American courts threw the case out, concluding that there was no protection outside the U.S. So it’s made its way to the final court of decision in our nation.

The way the oral arguments went, it doesn’t look like the Supreme Court is going to find for Mexico’s side of the issue. At best they will deadlock, which will uphold the most recent ruling, which denied the rights of the parents.

Because Mexico isn’t happy with the U.S., two of our current administration’s cabinet members went to Mexico Thursday to try to repair our relationship, and it doesn’t look like it was all that successful.

Of course, it doesn’t help when they assure Mexico there will be no military involvement in deportation, and our leader, at the same time, is describing his new initiative as a “military operation.”

How would we feel if the situation were reversed? What if Canada announced similar reforms?

How would we react to the suggestion by Canada that they want a wall between us and want us to pay for it?

If they put an import tax of 20 percent on all American imports, thus jacking up the price of our goods and hurting us economically?

What if they sent their non-U.S. undocumented immigrants back to us because whoever it is entered Canada through the U.S. somewhere along the 2,000-plus mile border?

What if Canada said NAFTA wasn’t good enough, and they wanted to renegotiate?

And what if the higest court of the land ruled that an American shot and killed by a Canadian border patrol officer while each was standing in his own country had no rights to seek either criminal or civil relief?

We would scream bloody murder.

Many years ago I studied international law. My professor started the entire course by saying, “The United Nations is like a schoolyard playground. There are bullies, and there are the bullied.”

The U.S. has never, to my knowledge, been on the bullied side of the equation.

The general attitude toward Mexico seems to be (and this isn’t new) that if you want what we have to offer, you have to play by our rules.

And now we’re radically changing the rules in rapid order, and Mexico can’t even catch its breath before being hit with our latest reform.

I think we may be overestimating our ability to push Mexico around.

Mexico will eventually snap and no longer care about goodwill between us. And it has things it can do to hurt us, especially economically. They may be deeply dependent on U.S. goods, but we’ve got our own significant ties to the Mexican economy which they can break, and we will suffer for the loss.

Even if Mexico itself is no match for us, there are plenty of other kids on this playground who would like to see us taken down a peg. There are others with our level of power that would jump at an opportunity to be king of the hill.

We need to learn to play nice with the other kiddies, and we might as well start with the boy next door.

Joy Carrico is a Messenger graphic artist.

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