In the United States of America there is an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the country, and under President Obama’s new Comprehensive Immigration reform immigrants stand to have a better and easier life in the states. In the past when the country has declared to change our policy on immigration one country in particular has always been vocal: Mexico.
On Tuesday, President Obama announced how it was now time for our country to take action and start to face some of the challenges we face. One challenge involves the endless battle of immigration reform. Announcing how a bipartisan group has drafted up a proposal that would see to easier yet efficient reforms to correcting our immigration system, President Obama revealed a comprehensive immigration reform that could change the old and faulty system. Yet, Mexico’s response was one that drew some questionable glances.
Out of the 11 million immigrants 6.8 million are undocumented immigrants from Mexico. Commenting on the new reform means for undocumented Mexicans living here the foreign ministry of Mexico released a press statement stating “the principles that have been set out” are welcomed. Aside from the small blurb there has been no other comment from the country.
According to Shannon O’Neil, senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations, the reason for Mexico’s silence may be in part due to their last attempt to stir political action in the past regarding immigration reform, “In 2000-2001the Mexican was quite active and vocal about immigration reform, and many feel it backfired.”
During President George W. Bush’s term in office, Mexico’s President (at the time) Vicente Fox pushed for a reform plan in the country that included increased border security and a guest worker program. While President Bush agreed and the Senate approved, the House rejecting the plan combined with the September 11th attacks plans on any immigration reform during his term ceased. In the post 9/11 world, Fox continued to make efforts for immigration reform but focus was geared towards border control and tighter security against future terrorist attacks.
Christopher Wilson of the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington commented on Mexico’s reserve-ness on the matter by stating that Mexico “is trying to be careful in terms of how it gets involved in the immigration debate,” and that it will continue to discuss matters “about border security, trans-migration, issues like that, but Mexico will weigh its involvement in immigration very carefully.”
Under the administrations of Vicente Fox’s successors, Felipe Calderón (2006-2012) and Enrique Peña Nieto (2012- ), Mexico has withdrawn in their vocal support of immigration reform reasoning behind the idea that immigration is more of America’s domestic policy issue and not a part of Mexico’s foreign policy.
Back in November during a meeting with President Obama on the border security and Mexico’s ongoing fight with the drug cartel, President Peña Nieto said he would support any move made by the Obama administration on immigration reform.
While Mexico may not be taking a louder standing on the country’s immigration reform, back in December the country did urge a U.S. court to block a part of immigration law in Arizona that prohibited the harboring of undocumented immigrants. Aside from the plea to the U.S. court, Mexico has not come forth in discussing immigration reform since.
“The Mexican government will welcome immigration reform because it will help many people out economically,” Petra Guerra, the associate director of the Chicano and Latino Studies program at the University of Wisconsin, said regarding the issue, “but they’re staying out of it because it’s not a foreign policy issue for them.”