NLRB-Mexico Agreement Undermines U.S. Rule of Law, Sovereignty

Obama discussing U.S.-Mexico partnershipA foreign power, in theory, has no authority to dictate another nation’s domestic policy. But don’t remind the National Labor Relations Board. Late in July the NLRB and Mexico’s Foreign Ministry signed a letter of cooperative agreement to promote the rights of Mexican workers on U.S. soil, regardless of their legal status. The pact commits the board to work with Mexican consulates in notifying that country’s workers in the U.S. of their rights and to investigate employer violations of labor law against their workers here. NLRB Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon believes the agreement will “promote a broader awareness within the Mexican community of the rights and responsibilities of employees and employers.” This statement appears at odds with the board’s mission. Worse, it exhibits an extreme political naivete.

International cooperative agreements, for better or worse, are a fact of contemporary life. The United Nations is a set of international agreements. So are the European Union, NATO and NAFTA. Nations participate because they believe they are serving their own best interests. But the National Labor Relations Board-Mexico labor agreement, signed on July 23 and announced on August 1, has all the appearance of a desire on our part to appease the Mexican government and its supporters in the U.S. In other words, the pact would be hard to justify even in terms of good intentions. And the outcome would be a further blurring of legality and illegality in immigration policy. This, as National Legal and Policy Center has explained, was the implicit goal all along of the “Gang of Eight” amnesty/surge Senate legislation, which was passed by a 68-32 margin in late June.

The National Labor Relations Board, headquartered in Washington, D.C., is an independent five-member federal agency with 26 regional offices and a general counsel’s office. Its mission is to define and enforce rights in the American workplace. According to its website: “Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) in 1935 to protect the rights of employees and employers, to encourage collective bargaining, and to curtail certain private-sector labor and management practices which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses and the U.S. economy.” While that doesn’t preclude protection of the rights of foreign workers, it certainly doesn’t single out one nation for special treatment. Nor would such a step be necessary. The real motive behind the letter of agreement with the Mexican government can be gleaned from the following statement appearing on the website of that nation’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: “The agreement promotes and protects the labor rights of Mexican immigrants in the United States, especially the right to free association, regardless of their immigration status (italics mine).” The statement continues:

Under this agreement, the Mexican consulates and the NLRB will take joint steps to inform Mexican workers of their right to join or be part of a union, elect a representative to negotiate on their behalf with employers, and work with other employees for their benefit and protection. It formalizes the relationship forged at the local level due to the work of the Mexican consulates. The agreement also increases the ways in which possible violations of the migrants’ job rights can be investigated and, if applicable, corrected.

In effect, the NLRB has committed itself to protecting the labor rights of noncitizens from Mexico, including those who are here illegally. There is every reason to believe that immigration lawyers and “civil rights” activists will use this agreement to expand the definition of Unfair Labor Practices even in the service of blocking deportations.

The board’s two signatories to the letter, NLRB Chairman Mark Pearce and Acting General Counsel Lafe Solomon, are comfortable with this arrangement. In a prepared August 28 statement, Chairman Pearce remarked: “We are placing a particular emphasis on educating Mexican workers employed in the United States by partnering with Mexican consulates in many communities. Along with other federal labor agencies, including the Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, we are participating in events designed to ensure that Mexican employers and workers in the United States understand their rights and obligations under American law.” Similarly, Solomon, who is set to be replaced by former NLRB board member Richard Griffin (pending full Senate approval), said earlier in the month:

We recognize the need to improve employer and worker awareness of the rights and obligations under the National Labor Relations Act that are applicable to all Mexican workers in the United States of America. This agreement will give us a greater opportunity to fulfill the goals of the [NLRA], to guarantee the right of workers – including employees just entering the work force – to engage or refrain from engaging in protected-concerted or organizing activity to improve their working conditions without fear of discrimination, harassment or retaliation.

Mexico’s signatory to the agreement, Eduardo Tomas Medina Mora Icaza, that country’s ambassador to the U.S., likewise is enthusiastic. Why not? It’s his country that gains from all this. Unions in the U.S. also win out. Indeed, the agreement may prove to be an organizing bonanza. But why is the National Labor Relations Board, an ostensibly impartial regulatory body, so intent on this alliance? The answer to that question can be understood in the context of a growing and aggressive Mexican intrusion into our political affairs.

Most Americans may be unaware of just how extensive official Mexican influence has been on our policymaking during the last decade or two. But the influence is very real. And the goal is to promote mass immigration from their country to ours – to ‘plant the flag,’ as it were – regardless of legality. Toward that end, Mexico, in addition to its embassy, now operates more than 50 consulates throughout the U.S. These consulates function as extensions of their diplomatic corps. And they exist to serve Mexican citizens living here. One of their more alarming of their activities is their making available for distribution of matricula identification cards to Mexicans living here. Legal Mexican immigrants already have U.S.-issued green cards; by definition, they have no need for such a document. Common sense, and hopefully political wisdom, would lead one to realize that the purpose of the matricula consular ID is to ease the way for Mexican citizens illegally here into permanent U.S. residency.

This isn’t the only example of official Mexican intrusion. The Mexican Foreign Ministry was a “partner” with the U.S. Census Bureau in conducting the 2010 Census of Population. Their government also helped overturn California’s Proposition 187 (which restricted state benefits to illegal aliens) in our courts – future Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa publicly boasted as much at the time. And the three most recent Mexican presidents – Vicente Fox, Felipe Calderon and (since last December) Enrique Pena Nieto – have pressured the U.S. government to grant amnesty to Mexicans residing here illegally. Fox, in fact, had met for several days with President Bush in Washington during the first week of September 2001 to work out the elements of an amnesty plan. Bush even invited him to sit in on a cabinet meeting. It was the Islamic terror attacks only days later that temporarily derailed the proposal, not any policy reversal on the part of the Bush administration.

With prospect of congressional passage of an immigration “reform” bill that would dramatically boost the already potent Mexican ethnic presence here, the Mexican government is pulling out the stops. Consider the following portion of text of a recent document, “Statement from the Government of Mexico on the Debate on Immigration Reform in the United States”:

The Government of Mexico welcomes the principles for a comprehensive reform of the immigration system of the United States that have been laid out both by President Obama and a bipartisan group of U.S. Senators. It also acknowledges the valuable input that has been provided in recent weeks by numerous economic groups and civil society organizations.

The Government of Mexico recognizes the commitment shown by an increasing number of U.S. actors to ensure that the legal frameworks in North America reflect the region’s demographic realities, the existing complementarities between our economies, the need for a prosperous, competitive, secure and efficient border, and the family links and shared values between our societies. The priority of protecting the rights of every individual, regardless of his or her immigration status, has rightly been included at the core of this debate.

This carefully spun statement – notice the phrase “regardless of his or her immigration status” – could pass for a press release from the National Council of La Raza or the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF). It also could have come from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or the AFL-CIO. This is no coincidence. Mexican officials are paying close attention to the outcome of immigration debate here. They know where support for amnesty/surge legislation is coming from. And they speak their language.

Here one returns to the National Labor Relations Board agreement. The Mexican government understands that when Mexican workers here are satisfied, they are unlikely to return home. Their government sees their presence here as expansion of territorial influence – the more, the better. It understands that by persuading us to extend legal protections to immigrant workers, whether here legally or not, the prospect of deportation or voluntary self-deportation becomes less likely. The letter of agreement with the NLRB should be seen as part of a larger campaign of expansion of political control. So important was the July 23 signing ceremony to the Mexican government that it broadcast the event in its consulate offices in 20 U.S. cities. The NLRB, for its part, broadcast the ceremony in its regional offices, a week before the full Senate approved all five nominees to the board. No senator from either party during floor debate rose to question this partnership.

In one sense, one can’t fault the Mexican Foreign Ministry for pursuing Mexican interests on our soil. That’s what it’s being paid to do. But the National Labor Relations Board has no reason to facilitate that goal. The official U.S. government explanation is that in today’s globalizing world, the interests of the two nations are rapidly converging and should be manifest in working partnerships. But these partnerships have a way of being skewed in one direction. And that direction points toward Mexico. Surely, we are not pushing that nation into expanding legal protections to Americans working in their country. Nor are we insisting that their government grant amnesty to any American living illegally there. The July 23 “agreement” is part of a long process of American political surrender. It is a mark of the fecklessness of our political leadership that it assigns a higher priority to avoiding Mexican disapproval than to enforcing our laws to the benefit of our citizens.


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