I have traveled a lot in beautiful Mexico. I love that country, the culture, the food and most of all, the people. I like it so much, it is my intention to move there, for at least awhile, in about a year and spend some real time there, as I explore this Latin world in depth. I think about it every day, my heart is totally pumped at the thought of adventure and education in a place I only know from what I have gleaned with a week here or three weeks there.
The problem is that immigrating to Mexico is not a simple thing. The Mexican government has set enough obstacles to ensure that only the wealthy or retired can legally experience life there beyond six months. This is not an anti-Mexican immigration article, I am not a Minute Man, I haven't lost a single minute sleep thinking about the possibility of some Mexican slipping over the border one night. Politically, I am a dyed in the wool liberal. In my first presidential vote, I dropped my ballot in the box with the name of Robert Kennedy marked. Just recently, I gave Hillary Clinton my nod. I am against building ridiculous walls along our border, or goose stepping into any massive deportations of Mexican workers that are here now. However, I am in favor of forcing American employers to pay a "living wage" that would enable American workers to do the jobs that the "illegal aliens" are quite happy to do for a ridiculous minimum wage. I don't have friend or acquaintance, over the age of eighteen, that is ready to bake your pizza or wash your car for $8.00 an hour.
But for a moment lets turn the tables and look at immigration from my side of the fence. With all the "hoopla" of attention chronicling the treatment of illegal aliens in the United States, "hoopla" that originates from here and from outside our borders, one seldom hears about the trials and tribulations of an American moving to Mexico.
How about this for starters, under Mexican Law, illegal immigration is a felony. The General Law on Population says,.....(The general Law of Population establishes the rights and obligations of foreigners and the immigration status permitting foreigners to enter Mexico, www.mexico-trade.com)
"A penalty of up to two years in prison and a fine of 300 to 5,000 pesos will be imposed on the foreigner who enters the country illegally." (Article 123) "foreigners with illegal immigration problems may be deported from Mexico instead of imprisoned. (article 125). Foreigners who are deported from Mexico and attempt to re-enter the country without authorization can be imprisoned for up to 10 years, (article 118)
That puts walking across the desert or swimming across the Colorado River in the middle of the night out of the question for me. Nope, no $3000 Coyote for me to pay, I guess I will drive across and pick up a legal temporary tourist visa (FM-T) to begin my journey. That is certainly an advantage for me over my Mexican counterpart. I can do it legally, his best option is a "Hike and Swim." This visa allows me to visit, not to work or to go into business, just to visit.
Then 6 months down the road, at the very most, if I want to stay in Mexico and stay legal, I need a new and improved visa. I am required to, as the Jefferson's would say, '"move on up" to a Visitante Rentista visa (FM-3), this card of gold is good for a year. However it comes with a few MAJOR stipulations. Try this on for size. In order to attain this required visa, one must provide documentation of a monthly income equal to 400 times the average daily wage of a Mexican National. If you have a wife or children tack on an additional 50% for each dependant. The Mexican Government wants to be guaranteed that you are totally self-sufficient and that you will not take any job away from a Mexican citizen. In my "single and happy" case, it means I would be required to provide bank statements that show I have a monthly income of about $1200 a month. Still, this visa DOES NOT allow one to seek employment. Next, and you aren't going to believe this but it's straight out of Ripley's......with a FM-3 visa you can own a business but you CANNOT work in the business without a work permit. Chances of a Gringo getting a work permit in Mexico is similar to finding a pearl in a can of clams.
Let's put this in perspective, should the United States ever decide to mimic this requirement, any Mexican National here in California holding a legal visa would be required to document that he/she had a income of $25,600 per month, but not be allowed to work here. (California minimum wage..$8 hr... times 8 hours=$64.00 daily wage... times 400= $25,600). If we do, in fact, have an immigration problem, I guess this would solve it immediately.
After five years of adding $1200 a month into the Mexican National Treasury, without the possibility of any withdrawals, I would be allowed to apply for an upgrade to Immigrante Rentista (FM-2) visa. However, the income requirements increase by about 50%, so the $1200 a month becomes about $1800 a month. My simple mind can't figure out how a person can be expected to raise his income while not allowed to work.
We are getting close...If I hang on to the FM-2 visa for just 5 more years, I can apply for permanent immigrant status. And voila, I can now work at almost any job or endeavor I please, including a business. I would enjoy all the rights of a citizen other than voting. The problem is will I live that long?
Pretty discouraging isn't it? It seems clear that as far as the Mexican Government is concerned, policy dictates a one-way immigration relationship.
Times in Mexico are changing and the changes aren't for the better. Here, at the California border with Tijuana, the drug cartels are randomly killing police on the street in broad daylight. organized paramilitary gangs are involved in the kidnapping, rape and even murders of American campers and visitors along the beach areas. Tourism has ground to a virtual halt. Last week, long time homeowners in Rosarito Beach had their properties seized, their possessions put out on the street by unscrupulous land developers. When the U.S. Government announced that the National Guard would be stationed along our borders, there was a hue and a cry! This took place while at the same time in Mexico, in the State of Chiapas, on the border of Guatemala, the Mexican Army and Police were stationed and routinely robbing and raping Central American immigrants on their journey to the U.S. border...... not just bandits...... but Police and Army. Despite the election of a President that has promised an end to corruption, the NarcoTrafficers continue to operate with impunity. I would strongly suggest that you rent a National Geographics documentary titled, "Wetback." (Net Flix) It tells the brutal story of two Nicaraguans as they head to the United States.
Will I go as planned?....of course, I will. I might even find myself married to a lovely Latin lady. Mexico calls and buracracy will have to take a back seat.
No hay miel sin hiel. (from Don Quixote)
Interpretation: There is nothing good in life without a downside
Choose Mexico For retirement: John Howells and Don Merwin
The Peoples Guide to Mexico: Carl Franz