The Mexican-American border is under siege, and the latest attack has come from the Mexican government. In December, the Mexican Senate unanimously approved a constitutional amendment which allows Mexicans to become United States citizens without losing their Mexican citizenship. A few days later, the Mexican Congress approved the same amendment, 405-1. This was Mexico’s second major constitutional amendment in three months. The first, passed in September, allows Mexicans living in the United States to cast absentee ballots in Mexican elections. Taken together, the two amendments allow American citizens of Mexican origin to vote in both countries.

Mexican-Americans have been blunt about the purpose of the constitutional revisions. “We finally won!” Jose Chapa, a retired radio announcer from Chicago who for years has pressured Mexico to adopt a dual-citizenship amendment, told the New York Times. “Now we’re asking our people to become American citizens because that’s the only way we can defend our interests here.” Mexican officials have been even less circumspect. The Times reports that “The Government of President Ernesto Zedillo hopes that [Mexican-Americans] will become an influential ethnic lobby,” while NPR’s “All Things Considered” stated that Mexican officials believe that California’s Proposition 187, which prohibited illegal aliens from receiving many public services, could have been defeated if the citizenship amendment had been in place.

In the past, immigrants—contrary to the “Melting Pot” myth—often retained much of their cultural heritage, including their native language, foods, and religious practices, and lived in fairly insular, unassimilated communities. Some—the Irish spring to mind—even enjoyed dual citizenship. But the Mexican government’s action portends a new era in immigration. Mexico revised her constitution with the express intent of increasing her influence over American policy. The Mexican government clearly believes that Mexican immigrants who become American citizens will retain not only their culture and language but their loyalty to the Mexican state. If Señor Chapa’s statement is any indication, the gamble is likely to pay off.

Should other countries follow suit, the United States could become the first country whose democratically elected politicians are placed in office by the citizens of other countries. Of course, the campaign finance scandals of the past election could be avoided. The Indonesians could keep their money, and simply ship their surplus population to the United States. While in the past, American Presidents have tended to take few foreign trips during an election year, we could expect to see them flying off to Mexico City, Beijing, and other exotic locales, seeking the endorsements of foreign leaders who will double as ethnic wardheelers.

But in the meantime, in its continuing effort to destroy what remains of the border, the Mexican government can count on its economic allies to the north. A key provision of NAFTA requires that Mexican truckers be given unlimited access to the interior of the United States. The Clinton administration, bowing to pressure from the Teamsters Union and environmental groups, has dragged its feet, instead restricting Mexican trucks to a commercial zone within 40 miles of the border. But now Governor George W. Bush of Texas, whose state stands to gain economically from the border’s destruction, is urging the administration to implement the free-access provision. In American politics, economic interest always trumps concern for sovereignty.

Bush has been joined by Governor Pete Wilson of California. To save California money, he led the fight for Proposition 187; now, to stimulate California’s economy, he’ll fight to open the border, letting nothing stand in the way. More than anything else, it was Wilson’s economic blinkers that stymied his presidential aspirations.

As the border rapidly erodes, American greed, combined with Third World imperialism, may yet make us—in Eugene McCarthy’s phrase—a “colony of the world.” Or perhaps, just the northernmost state of Mexico.