The Shame of Migrant Kidnapping in Mexico

By Jerry Kammer and Jerry Kammer on July 14, 2009

Sen. John McCain and other advocates of a guest worker program to ensure an ample supply of low-wage labor for U.S. employers know that such a program would need the cooperation of workers’ home countries, especially Mexico.

So they have reason to be alarmed at the stunning report of Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission about the kidnapping in that country of 10,000 illegal immigrants from other countries in the six months between last September and last February.

"The kidnapping of migrants has become a constant practice, on a worrying scale, generally unpunished and with characteristics of extreme cruelty," said Jose Luis Soberanes, head of the commission, as he presented the report last month.

Nearly all the victims were Central Americans. And while most of the perpetrators were reported to be criminal gangs, Mexican law enforcement authorities were also involved, according to the commission.

A columnist in the Mexico City Daily, Reforma, said alarm at the report is being compounded by the lack of response of Mexico’s federal authorities. The columnist expressed “profound pain and embarrassment that Mexico is among the countries where the most violations of immigrants’ human rights are committed.’’

The involvement of Mexican officials in the kidnappings would cast doubt on the integrity of a guest worker program or any other immigration agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. But Sen. McCain and the National Chamber of Commerce may not be aware of the report. It has received almost no attention in the U.S. press.