Vicente Fox, Mexico’s president, began his state visit to Washington in September by issuing a public challenge to President George W. Bush to grant amnesty to millions of illegal Mexican aliens in the United States by year’s end. He said he wanted a “bilateral migration agreement” that would ensure that “all Mexicans entering the United States did so with the proper documents.”

What President Fox really wants is for even Mexican who may ever wish to live in the United States to be free to do so. He also wants millions of his countrymen who are already here to be “legalized.” Legalization would happen in waves, and temporary work restrictions would halt low-skilled workers like meatpackers or waiters from moving into higher skilled jobs.

President Fox’s challenge stems from his desire to create a “North American common market” similar to Europe’s, which would allow free movement of people. The equalization of wages in a common market, he argues, is how Germany and other prosperous European countries stopped poor people from immigrating illegally from Spain, Portugal, and Greece. He ignores the fact that those countries have functioning polities and low birthrates, highly literate populations, and—by Mexican standards—bureaucratic structures that are paragons of efficiency, honesty, and civic responsibility. In addition, those countries, unlike Mexico, have no irredentist designs on America.

Nevertheless, there is a political consensus in favor of amnesty (or, at least, there was until September 11), and its purported rationale is reflected in the words of White House Spokesman Ari Fleischer: “There are people who are already in this country, contributing to the American economy even though they may not be legal, and they are paying taxes.

Fleischer is mistaken: immigration is not economically necessary; at best, it is a zero-sum proposition financially, and it carries a huge social and cultural price tag. The consensus in Washington is not really about economics but about ideology and the short-term objectives of special interest groups.

The liberals want a Mexican amnesty because they are ideologically committed to American exceptionalism. To them, any notion of an American polity founded on shared ethnic, cultural, and religious bonds is strictly verboten. and every step aimed at diluting that majority is welcome. Their political vehicle, the Democratic Party, sees in these future citizens a key component in the black-Hispanic-Jewish coalition that has been crucial to all of their recent presidential and congressional victories.

GOP leaders have given up on their natural constituency. Contrary to the will of Republican voters, they subscribe to the establishmentarian consensus on race and dare not openly appeal to the concerns of European-Americans. Republican strategists pathetically hope that competing for the Latino vote will save the party from its deserved demise. “If Republicans don’t move on this, and don’t find some leadership from the White House, Democrats will seize on it,” says Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican. “It would be almost folly to let this slip through our fingers.” Hagel and his ilk are wrong: Latino votes are not up for grabs; they belong to the Democrats now and always. For the GOP to become a willing accomplice in Fox’s design is folly for the party and the nation alike, but few dare say so out loud.

The unions see an opportunity to recruit new members in the millions of uneducated, poorly paid Mexicans. The churches see a chance to fill their empty pews. Federal and state bureaucrats want to cater to them. Corporate America wouldn’t mind even a billion new immigrants, as long as their influx kept American wages down. “North America Doesn’t Need Borders,” the Wall Street Journal proclaims. Legitimize labor flows and ensure that Mexican workers in the US enjoy the same legal rights and protections as their local counterparts.” echoes the Financial Times. These special-interest groups care about America’s cultural and demographic profile about as much as they care about its industrial base.

Regardless of the wording of the communique at the end of Fox’s visit, the onslaught will continue unabated across America’s southern border, thanks to the efforts of this country’s deracinated elites, corrupt politicians, self-serving unions, and globalized corporations. President Fox’s aplomb is due to his awareness that the movers and shakers in Washington are on his side. Doubtless, he can hardly believe his luck. Exporting thousands of angry and poor young men averts the potential for racially based revolutionary violence so familiar to Mexico. Sending them north of the border but allowing them to retain dual citizenship is the best of both worlds for Mexico. It reflects former President Ernesto Zedillo’s frankly stated hope to “create an ethnic lobby with political influence similar to that of American Jews.””

We will pay the price: Though President Fox’s avowed goal is to lift Mexican living standards closer to those of the United States and Canada, he does not admit that the corollary of his project is the lowering of our standards closer to Mexico’s. Illegal immigrants are already draining America’s resources—setting aside the social cost of their presence. The ultimate price tag of what Fox and his friends in Washington propose is the destruction of the United States as the nation-state of the American people. The ruling elites will aid and abet him because they know that the ever-growing pool of immigrants, legal or otherwise, will permanently enhance their centralization of political, economic, and cultural power. They are the social engineers of post-nationalism par excellence, and with every fresh amnesty, they make the possibility of the revival of the Old Republic ever more remote.

Mexican fifth columnists in the United States see what is going on and make no bones about their long-term ambitions. Richard Alatorre of the Los Angeles City Council says of his Anglo neighbors: “They’re afraid we’re going to take over the government and other institutions. They’re right. We will take them over.” Prof. Jose Angel Gutierrez of the University of Texas points out that an aging white America is not making babies: “They are dying. The explosion is in our population. I love it!” Mario Obledo, California’s secretary of health, education, and welfare under Jerry Brown and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Bill Clinton, says that California will be an Hispanic state—and “anyone who doesn’t like it should leave.”