Mexicans skeptical of US immigration reform in wake of DC march
Sunday's march in Washington for immigration reform made front page news in Mexico, where many complain that the US focuses too much on Mexico's brutal drug war and not enough on immigration reform.
A day after thousands of immigrants – undocumented and not – marched on the National Mall in Washington to demand immigration reform, activists in the US hope the turnout will revive a debate that has fallen by the wayside since an immigration overhaul failed in 2007 under then-President Bush.Skip to next paragraph
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But in Mexico, where the march made front-page news and where it seems everyone knows somebody who has migrated north, people here are skeptical about the US commitment to comprehensive immigration reform.
President Obama addressed the crowd of immigrants and activists, numbered in the tens of thousands, via a giant screen, underlining his support to get a new law passed.
“I have always pledged to be your partner as we work to fix our broken immigration system, and that’s a commitment that I reaffirm today,” Mr. Obama said.
But as he spoke, Washington was scrambling to push through healthcare reform, overshadowing the immigration debate, as have so many other issues – such as the fight against organized crime in Mexico – during Obama’s first year in office.
“The US cares more about drug violence than immigration reform,” says Federico Gonzalez, a retired government worker in Mexico City who says he has little faith that a new immigration law will be on the books any time soon. “It is always the same. [US presidential candidates] promise it during their campaigns, and then they do nothing.”
Focus on drug trafficking
The US-Mexico relationship has been defined by the fight against drug trafficking, with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton scheduled to visit Mexico City Tuesday to discuss the Merida Initiative, the aid package to help Mexico battle its deadly cartels.
But while US priorities might be on security, for many Mexicans, their main wish is legal status for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
“There are so many Mexicans who have lived many years in the US. [Obama] discussed doing something about this in his campaign. But now he does not touch it,” says José Barrios, a priest in Ciudad Juarez from Casa del Migrante, an organization that helps Mexican migrants. “The North American does not value the Mexican hand of labor.”