Saturday, June 23, 2007
After watching an immigration-reform bill that had bipartisan support stall in the U.S. Senate last week, it struck me that most of its opponents probably aren't just against that particular bill. They don't want any immigration bill to pass.
Consider Colorado's own Rep. Tom Tancredo, a Littleton Republican and candidate for the presidency. His distinguishing issue is his antipathy to illegal immigration. If the system were reformed, his issue would go away, and he would return to obscurity.
Little wonder, then, that he threatened to go out and support primary opponents of any Republican senators who supported the proposal and who were up for re-election in 2008. As long as he can run around shouting, "No amnesty for those who break the laws of our country" (unless the lawbreaker happens to be named "Libby"), then Tancredo is important. If the issue goes away, so does his prominence.
But just in case somebody wants a solution, there is one: Finish the job begun in 1846.
That was the year the United States provoked a war with Mexico by sending soldiers into a disputed area between the Nueces River and the Rio Grande. Texas had just joined the Union. Mexico insisted the Nueces was its western boundary; Texans had more expansive notions of their domain.
Eventually some shots were fired. President James Knox Polk could claim that the American flag had been insulted, and he got a declaration of war from Congress. (That seems quaint now, but there was a time when the federal constitution meant something.)
American forces quickly took the northern parts of Mexico. Santa Fe was occupied without a shot being fired, and though there was some actual fighting in California, the U.S. Army and Navy soon prevailed.
However, the Mexican government refused to recognize reality and come to terms with the United States. To make that happen, Gen. Winfield Scott landed at Vera Cruz in February 1847. After 260 miles and six months of fighting, outnumbered and far from home, he captured Mexico City.
Now that the United States could acquire Mexican territory, there was a question: How much? There were American politicians who wanted to take it all, instead of settling for the current boundary (as adjusted by the 1853 Gadsden Purchase).
Those expansionists were opposed by moralistic do-gooders, primarily from New England and the Midwest, who saw the Mexican War as nothing more than a conspiracy by slave owners to expand their domain. The more of Mexico the United Sates took, the argument went, the more slave states, and thus more power for the "slavocracy."
Thus the border was essentially the result of a domestic political compromise. Had it not been for anti-war whiners like Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau, the Stars and Stripes might have flown clear down to the Yucatan Peninsula.
Slavery is not an issue anymore. Already, many Americans construe illegal immigration from Mexico as an invasion, which can be defined as an act of war, giving the current administration a plausible excuse to respond militarily. Our Army, Navy and Air Force should be able to roll right over Mexico's small military.
Invading and annexing Mexico would obviously eliminate the major source of illegal immigration, since Mexican citizens would become American citizens. Mexico is the sixth-ranking oil producer in the world, and the 10th-largest exporter, so adding it to the United States would improve our energy security.
Granted, some prissy countries might denounce "unilateral American aggression," but those opinions carry little weight with the current administration, which should be able to spin the action as a "humanitarian relief effort to bring freedom and democracy to oppressed people who have been fleeing their current government by the millions."
It should be noted that even though we have a good track record here, the first Mexican War lasted two years, when President Polk had expected it to last only 90 days. And the ensuing occupation was not always pacific, as evidenced by the insurrection in Taos that included the brutal murder of Territorial Gov. Charles Bent.
So the second American conquest of Mexico might be more difficult than it appears at first. But it would be worth the price, since it will improve our border security, enhance our domestic energy supplies and put an end to nearly all illegal immigration. How could even Tom Tancredo be against that?
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