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Pro: You may want to stay home for political reasons

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David A. Ridenour
April 30, 2011
EDITOR’S NOTE: The writer is addressing the question, Should Americans avoid travel to Mexico?

Don’t let the drug-related violence keep you from traveling to Mexico. There are plenty more compelling reasons to skip Mexico this year.


The murder of a U.S. immigration agent, the killing of an American jet skier and the seemingly constant stream of stories of drug-related beheadings and kidnappings have led many Americans to believe that violence is rampant throughout Mexico.


But this simply isn’t the case: Most of the violence in Mexico is limited to northern border towns such as Juarez, Nogales and Tijuana.


Although Mexico’s homicide rate is about double that of the United States—12 murders per 100,000 compared to less than six here—this number is still about half the rate of the rest of Latin America and less than many urban areas in America.


Last year, for example, New Orleans, a city with a population of just 336,400, had 105 homicides, or 31 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. In Detroit, there were 202 homicides in 2009, about 21 per 100,000. Puerto Rico, with a population of just 4 million, had nearly 900 murders in 2009, a rate comparable to Detroit’s in 2002.


Yet, no one says you shouldn’t travel to New Orleans, Detroit or to Puerto Rico because of violence.


For Americans living in these areas, some quiet time in relatively peaceful Mexico might be just the ticket for soothing those frayed nerves.


So should we pack our bags and head to Mexico for our vacations? No, there are very good reasons to spend your vacation dollars elsewhere.


First, Mexico’s immigration laws unfairly discriminate against American citizens. To work legally in Mexico, U.S. citizens must demonstrate they possess special skills that Mexican nationals do not; provide evidence that they meet minimum income requirements; submit recommendations from Mexican nationals attesting to their upstanding character; and pay filing fees.


Americans aren’t allowed to—as some “undocumented workers” do here in the States—assemble in parking lots and wait for employment opportunities to come to us. Instead, we must present proof of a job offer from a Mexican employer and not just any employer, but one up-to-date on all of its taxes.


And Americans shouldn’t even think of slipping into Mexico illegally. Doing so is a felony punishable by up to two years in prison. Some advice to our neighbor to the south: Those who live in glass adobes shouldn’t throw stones.


Second, Mexicans have been boycotting Arizona and now is the perfect time for payback. Last September, to protest Arizona’s new immigration law, governors from six Mexican border states boycotted the annual Border Governors’ conference planned for Phoenix. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer was forced to cancel the meeting.


Earlier, Cesar Nava, the president of Felipe Calderon’s ruling National Action Party, called for Mexicans to abstain from traveling to Arizona to protest the law and Mexico’s exterior ministry helped him by issuing a travel advisory, warning Mexicans that Arizona has an “adverse political atmosphere for migrant communities and for all Mexican citizens.”


Third, Mexico routinely interferes in U.S. internal affairs. Last May, for example, Mexican President Felipe Calderon called on the U.S. Congress to reinstate a ban on so-called “assault weapons” during an address before a joint session of the Congress.


In the same speech, he falsely claimed that Arizona’s immigration law—a law far less intrusive than Mexico’s own General Law on Population—“introduces a terrible idea that uses racial profiling as a basis for law enforcement.” Then, in June, Mexico filed an amicus curiae brief in support of the Obama administration’s lawsuit in federal court to overturn the Arizona law.


If these reasons aren’t enough to justify skipping Mexico this year, there’s always this old standby: You still can’t drink the water.


David A. Ridenour is vice president of The National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank in Washington. Readers may write to him at: NCPPR, 501 Capitol Court NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; Web site: www.nationalcenter.org.

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