Mexico breaks silence on US immigration bill: 'Walls aren't the solution'

Mexico has been quiet in recent years on the US immigration debate after former President Vicente Fox's vocal push for US reform prompted criticism.

Samantha Sais/Reuters
The Arizona-Mexico border fence near Naco, Arizona, March 29. Mexico breaks its silence on the US immigration reform debate this week, declaring that 'walls aren’t the solution.'

Mexico broke its silence on the United States immigration reform debate this week, declaring that “walls aren’t the solution.”

US lawmakers are considering extending the border fence as part of the added security measures that would accompany plans to provide legal status to more than 11 million immigrants, the majority of them Mexican.

Foreign Minister José Antonio Meade said the legislation would benefit Mexico’s countrymen in the US. But he also warned that the proposed fence extension could impact commerce, and the enormous legal flow of products and people across the border each day.

“Walls aren’t the solution to the migratory phenomenon, and they aren’t congruent with a modern and secure border,” he told media on Tuesday. “They don’t contribute to the development of the competitive region that both countries want to encourage.”

Seventy percent of bilateral commerce happens over the border via trucks, and it’s worth $1 million per minute, Mr. Meade said. More than 1 million people cross the US-Mexico border legally every day.

Mexico has been publicly quiet in recent years on the US debate over immigration reform after former President Vicente Fox's vocal push for US reform appeared to some to be an overreach. He made specific demands, including wanting to see reform by "year end." That was in early September 2001, days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks that would set the country on a new course and see immigration reform fall by the wayside.

During the current US debate, the Mexican government has kept mum – at least publicly – on the legislation, saying the debate is an internal domestic issue. But Meade said that Mexico has sustained a “permanent dialogue” with everyone involved since lawmakers began crafting the bill.

“Our country has let the United States government know that measures that could affect links between [border] communities detract from the principles of shared responsibility and neighborliness that both nations agreed upon.”

On the issue of shared responsibility: Over the past year, Mexico has found itself in the uncomfortable position of deterring increased illegal immigration through its own territory.

Illegal immigration between Mexico and the US fell to net zero last year, meaning that the number of crossers and returnees roughly canceled each other. However, in Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, US authorities saw an increase in apprehensions of migrants – the vast majority from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, according to a report by the Washington Office on Latin America. Mexico recently announced that Marines would take over securing its southern border.

As the US debate over the Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 gains steam, Meade noted Mexico’s requests are rooted in its desire for stronger economic development. These include the modernization of the infrastructure and administration of border ports of entry and measures that better facilitate the transit of products and people.

During last month’s meeting in Mexico, Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama promoted the idea of a unified economic region saying they could better compete globally, together.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.