NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


May 11, 2005

Following U.S. complaints that too many Brazilians are using Mexico as way station to enter the United States illegally, Mexico has launched a crackdown on visiting Brazilians and is considering revoking Brazilians' visa-free entry privileges and forcing them to apply for permission to visit.

Behind the change, which is straining relations between Mexico and Brazil, is Mexico's desire to forge a favorable agreement with the United States for its own northward migrants, and growing U.S. concern that Brazil has become a conduit in the international movement of terrorists.

The number of Brazilians attempting to use Mexico as a springboard to enter the United States appears to have skyrocketed recently:

  • In the past seven months, the U.S. Border Patrol has caught more than 15,000 undocumented Brazilians, compared with fewer than 10,000 in each of the previous two years.
  • Last month, nearly 150 Brazilian migrants were seized on a single day near McAllen, Texas.

Brazilians say they are being unfairly singled out when there are far greater numbers of undocumented workers trying to enter the United States from Central America, Cuba and China. Brazilian politicians have warned that they will slap visa requirements on Mexicans visiting Brazil if Mexico acts similarly.

Mexican officials say they have little choice. Mexico wants the U.S. Congress to pass a Bush administration proposal to allow greater numbers of Mexican "guest workers" to legally work in the United States. That proposal and others like it are threatened by growing concern in parts of the United States about undocumented workers and calls to limit all undocumented aliens' access to such things as U.S. drivers licenses, bank accounts and -- in some places -- their children's right to enroll in U.S. schools.

Source: Joel Millman, "Mexico Focuses on Brazilians Amid U.S. Migrant Concerns," Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2005.

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