The Presidential election campaign was well under way when the two major party candidates began crisscrossing the United States, stumping for votes at the annual meetings of Mexican-American organizations. Here in Rockford (as in other cities with significant Hispanic populations), the local Gannett paper devoted an entire Sunday commentary section to interviews with the candidates, stressing the close ties between the United States and Mexico. Not surprisingly, the main opposition candidate charged the handpicked successor to die current president with corruption, while the heir apparent both trumpeted the successes of the ruling party and tried to distance himself from its scandals. The two strongest third-party candidates argued that there wasn’t a dime’s worth of difference between the two major parties. And when election day came, thousands of Mexican-Americans flocked to the polls to help determine who would be the next president—of Mexico.

Three years ago, when the Mexican government decided to allow Mexicans who had become American citizens to retain Mexican citizenship (and thus vote in both American and Mexican elections), there was a minor outcry in the United States. How could we expect Mexican-Americans to assimilate if the Mexican government told them that they didn’t have to? But now, in the midst of our own presidential election, both Democrats and Republicans remain silent on the issue, afraid of alienating a growing voting block.

Or perhaps they don’t even care. Both Al Gore and George W. Bush have praised the new Mexican president, Vincente Fox, a former Coca-Cola executive who wants to “modernize” Mexico, completing the work begun by NAFTA. Within two weeks of winning the election, Fox was talking about abolishing the border between Mexico and the United States, allowing the free flow of all workers between the two countries. Bush, in particular, may find Fox’s program appealing. After all, he has long attacked the Clinton administration for refusing to implement a provision of NAFTA that would let Mexican trucks cross the border without an inspection—a sure way to increase the flow of illegal immigrants and drugs into the United States. Combine a Bush administration in the Estados Unidos with a Fox administration in Mexico, and our southern border may become even more porous than our border with Canada.

The issue of dual citizenship, though, is more important than any provision of NAFTA, because it strikes at the very heart of American sovereignty Assimilation is an organic process which takes considerably longer than we like to think, and governmental efforts to hasten assimilation by convincing new citizens to renounce their cultural inheritance are often destructive. But there is a difference between retaining your culture and remaining loyal to another state, and immigrants of an earlier era understood that distinction. The intent behind Mexico’s granting of dual citizenship to Mexican-Americans is nothing less than the creation of a fifth column inside the United States.

I have yet to see a reliable estimate of how many American citizens voted in tire Mexican presidential elections, but judging by the video footage of the polls that the Mexican government set up just across the border, the number is significant. Those who care about American sovereignty should demand that our presidential candidates confront this issue, and they should vote only for those who are willing to support legislation that would strip citizenship from any American who chooses to vote in another country’s election. Any candidate who would refuse to sign such legislation implicitly supports the ongoing destruction of American sovereignty and citizenship.