Cablegate: New Slate of Interparliamentary Group Participants

DE RUEHME #3111/01 1651557
R 141557Z JUN 07





E.O. 12958: N/A


1. (SBU) Summary. Focusing this year on economic
competitiveness, immigration and security/law enforcement,
legislators at the 46th annual Interparliamentary Groups
(IPG) agreed their countries shared common stakes in economic
development and improved security. Coming as it did two days
after the Senate's comprehensive immigration reform bill had
stalled, however, discussion of migration issues was spirited
and contentious. A wide range of opinions divided U.S.
legislators from each other as well as from their Mexican
counterparts. Finally, talk of whether and how the two
countries might better work together in combating
narcotics-trafficking and violence touched off a brief media
flurry in Mexico that SRE sought to diffuse with a press
release clarifying the nature of U.S. - Mexican discussions
on counter-narcotics cooperation. End Summary.

2. (SBU) Overall the tone of the conference was cordial.
Rapport established in a variety of informal settings was
evident throughout the conference proceedings. Private
conversations with several Mexican legislators revealed some
frustration that Mexico's attendance was disproportionate to
that of the U.S. Opening the working sessions, the head of
the Senate's North America Committee Ricardo Garcia Cervantes
lamented the absence of his U.S. Senate counterparts. The
Mexican delegation, however, graciously accepted the regrets
expressed on behalf of the absent U.S. senators by U.S.
delegation head Ed Pastor (D Texas).

--------------------------------------------- -------
A Task Force to Promote Competitiveness along Border
--------------------------------------------- -------

3. (SBU) Senator Eloy Cantu (PRI) launched the discussion
of economic competitiveness with a proposal that an IPG Task
Force be established to help promote development along the
shared border. Citing what he said were similar economic
zones around the world, and noting the impact already robust
cross border trade was having in northern Mexico and along
the southwest U.S. border, he argued that the border area was
a zone of potential rich prosperity that the IPG should
foster. A congressional task force, he suggested, meeting
periodically throughout the year could identify and recommend
legislation and programs in both countries to facilitate
regional economic alliances and activities.

4. (SBU) The idea met with widespread approval among both
U.S. and Mexican legislators and generated several offers to
participate. Representative Ciro Rodriguez (D-Texas) was
first to second the suggestion, although he noted that the
NADBank was already involved in infrastructure development
and that its efforts to promote economic growth along the
border could be usefully expanded with an infusion of greater
resources. Other U.S. legislators, while similarly
encouraging, touched on the inter-play between security,
migration and economic development and stressed the
importance of also promoting development in Southern Mexico.

5. (SBU) Garcia Cervantes and Pastor agreed that, absent
specific objections from IPG members, the suggestion would be
considered adopted; work on the details would begin in coming

Migration a Divisive Issue

6. (SBU) By agreement between the two delegations, the U.S.
side presented a state-of-play report on the comprehensive
immigration reform bill. Despite the Senate's failure to end
debate on the bill and move it forward for a vote, Silvestre
Reyes (D-Texas) offered that the reform initiative was still
viable. Senator Reid will likely bring up another vote to
move the legislation forward within two weeks, he said. A
trade-off might be allowing for discussion of additional
amendments being sought by Republican lawmakers. Reyes
promised that the House would bring up a bill if the Senate
passed its own version of the legislation. Linda Sanchez
added that the House effort would be a compromise bill
similar to what the Senate might pass. It made no sense to
offer up a more "progressive" piece of legislation that stood
little chance of passage. Similarly, she said, the House
would only bring its reform package forward if the Senate
bill passed.

7. (SBU) Interventions by Mexican legislators tended to
focus on variations of the following points:

MEXICO 00003111 002 OF 003

-- Mexican migrants in the U.S. contribute to both the U.S.
and Mexican economies.

-- Mexico understands that it is the U.S.'s sovereign right
to decide how to deal with its illegal immigrants.

-- Nevertheless, Mexicans consider illegal migration to the
U.S. from a human rights perspective: anti-immigrant
sentiments and efforts to undermine the rights of migrants in
recent years in the U.S. are counterproductive.

-- Physical barriers will not stem the flow of migrants to
the U.S. as long as the economies of both countries remain
asymmetric; the U.S., with the dominant economy, needs to
carry more weight and somehow help Mexico create the jobs
needed to keep migrants at home.

8. (SBU) The discussion also occasioned disagreement among
U.S. legislators. Democratic panel members tended to be more
optimistic about the prospects for near-term immigration
reform than their Republican counterparts. Linda Sanchez
suggested there may be other ways to move it forward if the
current Senate effort fails, by crafting separate legislation
that addresses the constituent elements of the package.
Republican interlocutors, while also generally supportive of
a reform effort, focused their comments on the failings of
the 1986 reform law and the utility of border security
measures such as fencing. Some called for more emphasis on
employer sanctions in the United States to stem illegal
migration (a measure also endorsed by some Democrats at the
table). When Sanchez suggested that most Americans and their
legislators believe the U.S. needs to regularize the status
of illegal migrants in the U.S., Representative Weller
disagreed, saying the so-called "path to citizenship" was the
element in the cu
rrent legislation that was most divisive. Remove it, he
said, and the current bill would pass.

--------------------------------------------- ----------
Off-hand Comment on Security Cooperation Leads to Media
Flurry in Mexico
--------------------------------------------- ----------

9. (SBU) Near the end of the day, after a somewhat
roundabout discussion of law enforcement priorities in
Mexico, legislators touched briefly on the modalities of
expanding counter-narcotics cooperation. Representative
Pastor asked his Mexican counterparts what the U.S. could
specifically do to help. The U.S. Congress needed a specific
request to which it could respond, he said. At that point,
Representative Reyes noted that the Calderon administration
had expressed interest in expanded U.S. support and that
discussions had taken place between the two governments. He
provided no details regarding the nature of the request and
made no reference to a Plan Colombia in Mexico.

10. (SBU) The only reference to Plan Colombia came from
Representative Mike McCaul (R-Texas) who recognized that it
was "not applicable" in Mexico when he pledged greater U.S.
cooperation to Mexico's counter-narcotics effort. After
Mexican delegation head Garcia Cervantes said the Mexican
legislature would have to defer to the executive branch on
assistance requests, both sides moved on and ended the
discussion amiably.

11. (SBU) According to media accounts, however, two PRD
legislators complained privately to reporters that Reyes and
other U.S. representatives had surprised them by outlining
levels of ongoing U.S. assistance to Mexico and well as plans
for future assistance. "From what Reyes said, I have the
impression that cooperation between the U.S. and Mexico is
very advanced and that the government hasn't told us
anything(They are applying the same kind of technical and
intelligence assistance to the Mexican government that they
are using against Colombian insurgents," said the PRD's
Raymundo Cardenas.

12. (SBU) Quick off the mark in response were both Mexico's
Ambassador Sarukhan (who had attended the IPG) and Mexico's
Foreign Relations Secretariat. Sarukhan gathered reporters
and confirmed that the two governments are talking about how
the U.S. can do more to assist Mexico, but denied Mexico was
seeking its own version of Plan Colombia. "There could not
be any such plan because realities are very different in
Mexico," he told reporters. For its part, SRE issued a
statement later in the evening (emailed to WHA) outlining
current cooperation and confirming that the GOM had expanded
consultations with the U.S.

MEXICO 00003111 003 OF 003

13. (SBU) Comment: It is unfortunate that an off-hand
comment has led to grand-standing among Mexican legislators.
The issue of whether a Plan Colombia for Mexico was being
fashioned received front-page treatment in Sunday papers and
continues to generate calls by opposition legislators for the
GOM to clarify the nature of U.S.-Mexican discussions on
assistance. The public hoopla does not reflect the
character of the discussions that took place, however. An
almost entirely new slate of Mexican legislators comprised
the Mexican delegations (with two holdovers). Members of the
group had the opportunity to forge ties with their U.S.
counterparts, vent on the issue of migration and, more
importantly, get their first up-close-and-personal look at
how reasonable men and women in the U.S. can disagree over an
issue of fundamental importance to the bilateral
relationship. End Comment.

Visit Mexico City's Classified Web Site at and the North American
Partnership Blog at /

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