Yesterday, senators Jeff Bingaman and Tom Udall introduced S. 1730, the Southern New Mexico Economic Development Act, a law to allow Mexican citizens holding Border Crossing Cards to travel within an area of New Mexico up to 75 miles from the U.S.-Mexican border. It seems that, under current law, Mexican citizens with these cards can enter New Mexico, but only within a zone stretching 25 miles from the border.
I’m feeling uneasy about this legislation, not because of the difference between a 75 mile-wide zone and a 25 mile-wide zone, but because of the existence of any such zone at all. I’m finding it difficult to pinpoint the source of my uneasiness, but I think it has something to do with the restriction of travel within our national borders. The idea that certain people would not have permission to travel freely outside of a certain region within the United States doesn’t seem to be compatible with the preservation of our our national liberty.
We don’t have border checkpoints between U.S. states, certainly not between counties within a state in New Mexico. Such checkpoints would be necessary, however, to enforce the restrictions on movement contained in the Southern New Mexico Economic Development Act. It wouldn’t only be Mexican citizens who would be restricted by such checkpoints. American citizens would have to be required to carry citizenship papers in order to pass as well, for the law to make any sense.
What’s your reaction to this legislation? Is the creation of a restricted travel zone within the United States a reasonable thing to do?