Opinion: Kevin de León’s defenders emerge, but they’re still a minority
At his press conference with reporters on Tuesday, Kevin de León outlined his vision of a border-security-only “clean-up.” It’s too early to know if this has worked, but his strategy is a reasonable proposal for the Mexican government: a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants, with an emphasis on a pathway to citizenship.
The plan would include temporary guest worker visas (or the equivalent), border technology and new, more secure ports and airfields along the border. But no new detention centers, no more mass deportations, just a path to legal status for the undocumented that would result in significant tax breaks for the undocumented.
To make this program work, de León needed his most enthusiastic defender: the U.S. media. And so he invited me, along with a national media group, to give him an unmoderated press conference in his home city of Monterrey.
Kevin de León (left), Mexico’s president, listens to reporters during a press conference on the state of the nation in Mexico City, Mexico, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2019. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)
The media group included journalists from all over the country, some of whom I’ve represented at press roundtables at the White House and on the Hill, some of whom would be the reporters I would never trust to represent me in real life. The group included several columnists, radio personalities and editors, some of whom have been critical of my work. The purpose of these trips to Monterrey was to hear de León’s plan for border security and to see if his ideas could win public support from journalists who don’t like to be told what to do.
And I did get to hear a lot of new ideas. Among them, in fact, were two proposals that went directly against the consensus of the bipartisan group of senators that wrote the Senate bill — and which de León had been careful to let his proposal for border security pass. One was to expand the guest worker program to the whole of the United States