Widely condemned across Mexico’s political spectrum, the US Senate’s failure to pass an immigration reform bill has touched off reactions that could influence the course of Mexican politics as well as bilateral US-Mexico relations.
In the wake of the recent vote, legislators from the opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) demanded that the administration of President Felipe Calderon adopt a more aggressive defense of undocumented Mexicans in the United States.
Ricardo Garcia Cervantes, the president of the North American foreign relations commission in the Mexican Senate, contended that Mexi-co’s federal government ¨has to do its job¨ and get the immigration question back on the political agenda between the US and Mexico.
At the same time, the PRI members of the lower chamber of the Mexican Congress sent a letter to President Calderon requesting that he demand Washington halt the construction of new border walls. The PRI representatives proposed the possibility of withdrawing Mexico’s ambassador to the US if no positive response was received from the Bush administration.
In other pronouncements, the National Campesino Confederation (CNC), a mass organization of small farmers historically tied to the PRI, and the Mexican Episcopal Conference (CEM) both commented that the defeat of immigration reform in the US demonstrated the need for a fresh look at job creation and other internal solutions to a migration crisis that has as many as 600,000 Mexicans leaving their homeland every year.
For his part, longtime Mexican political leader Porfirio Muñoz Ledo noted the irony of the immigration bill, defeat at a time when Mexican residents of the US are reportedly consuming more than other US residents and driving economic growth.
In an exclusive interview with Frontera NorteSur, Muñoz Ledo called Mexicans in the US a “boost to the North American economy.” A former leader of the PRI who helped found the center-left Party of the Democratic Revolution in 1989; Muñoz Ledo has served in both houses of Mexican Congress. He was once Mexico’s ambassador to the United Nations and during the early years of the Fox Administration served as ambassador to the European Union.
Muñoz Ledo traced the current immigration crisis to the North American Free Trade Agreement that opened the door to the massive importation of basic grains from the United States and the “depopulation” of the Mexican countryside.
“The big error of (former President) Salinas was to not demand the free circulation of people in exchange for the North American Free Trade Agreement, like it exists in Europe,” Muñoz Ledo said.
The veteran politician also criticized the Mexican government’s “timid” relationships with migrants in the US and with “Hispanics in general.” Muñoz Ledo affirmed that it is up to migrants across the border to press for immigration reform, but that the Mexican government has both a responsibility as well as a right to strengthen relationships with its citizens in the US.
Reprinted from Frontera NorteSur U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico.