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Mexico's next president is likely to defy Trump's immigration



(The Conversation is an independent and not-for-profit source for news, analysis and commentary by academic experts.)

Luis Gómez Romero, University of Wollongong

(THE CONVERSATION) US President Donald Trump has long held Mexico responsible made the stream of Central Americans who want to invade the southern border of the United States

Migrants simply cross Mexico as if they "are walking through Central Park," Trump once claimed.


In truth, Mexico is aggressive in enforcing American immigration policy. In 201

4, President Enrique Peña Nieto adopted a strong deterrent, the Southern Border Program, to prevent migration across Mexico's Guatemala border.

Between 2014 and 2015, Mexican deportations of Central Americans to the US – mainly Guatemalans, Hondurans and Salvadorans – more than doubled, from 78,733 in 2013 to 176,726 in 2015. In the same period, US border agents have half as many Central American migrants held at the border.


This compliant attitude will change. Mexicans choose their next president – and 18,000 other elected officials, from mayors to senators – on Sunday, July 1st. It is the largest and most expensive choice in Mexico's history. Trump's draconian new immigration policy, which includes the imprisonment of children and the prosecution of migrants, is at the heart of the presidential race.

Mexico's four presidential candidates argue about many issues, from corruption to the economy. But they all agree that Mexico can no longer maintain its policy of enforcing American immigration laws.


Presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador is an outspoken Trump critic who recently described the separation of migrant families as "arrogant, racist and inhumane".

He is generally expected to win on Sunday. The 64-year-old leftman has led the four-way race for months and currently has 49 percent of voter support, according to recent polls.

López Obrador made his presidential bid on April 1 with a rally in Ciudad Juárez. the city in the north of Mexico, where every year thousands of migrants enter the United States. In a fiery speech, López Obrador promised that Mexico would reestablish itself as President with him as a "free, sovereign and independent" nation and would not be the "piñata" of a foreign power.

An early critic of President Peña Nieto's Southern Border Program, López Obrador, has accused the Mexican government of perpetrating human rights violations in the persecution and deportation of Central American migrants.

Under his supervision, Mexico would pay special attention to its southern border, López Obrador. But López Obrador wants Mexico to respect existing laws protecting the human rights of migrants and to ensure that asylum seekers can find refuge within their borders.

Ricardo Anaya, the second candidate's right, has also attacked President Peña Nieto's policy of arresting and deporting Mesoamerican migrants. Anaya says his country must be a "moral authority" in matters of immigration, and treats the Central Americans in Mexico as justly and humanly as Mexican immigrants in the US want to be treated.

Illegal immigration to the US has been in the last two years Radical changes in decades

The number of illegal attacks by Mexicans has plummeted, from more than 1.6 million in 2000 to 130,000 last year.

Central Americans, driven by endemic violence and ubiquitous poverty, are now making most of the people across the US-Mexico border. In 2017, US border guards arrested 303,916 migrants. Just over half of them – 162,891 people – came from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Mexico has become an important transit country for migrants.

It is increasingly their final destination. In Mexico, 12,700 asylum applications were registered by Central American refugees, from 8,800 in 2016 and 3,400 in 2015. Only the United States received more Central American asylum seekers, according to the United Nations refugee agency

Instead of welcoming the Central Americans, President Peña Nieto's government has In 2014, $ 90 million of US funding was granted to better secure its borders. His government has ruthlessly tracked migrants traveling across the country.

Mexico alone seized 40,920 Central American migrants between January and April 2018. Nearly 35,000 were deported.

In 2016, the Obama administration recognized Mexico for "absorbing" so many Central American migrants. Trump has not expressed such gratitude.

In 2016, Peña Nieto's advisers invited both US presidential candidates to visit Mexico.

Clinton declined the invitation. Trump, whose 2016 campaign was driven by pledges to build a "big, bold, beautiful" border wall, accepted

In a joint press conference on August 31, 2016, Peña Nieto highlighted his country's contribution to US immigration enforcement , The border, said Peña Nieto, was a "common challenge" and a "major humanitarian crisis".

Trump was muffled at this event. But he mocked the Mexican president on an election campaign later that day, insisting that Mexico was indeed paying for a border wall.

"You do not know yet," he told supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, "but she'll pay for it."

Peña Nieto never recovered from this diplomatic disaster. According to El Universal, 88 percent of Mexican citizens were offended by Trump's visit – and by Peña Nieto's polite, submissive behavior. The approval of the Mexican president fell below 25 percent and never recovered.

His party has paid the price. José Antonio Meade, presidential candidate of Peña Nieto's Revolutionary Institutional Party, was nailed down in third place during the 2018 election season.

Lopez Obrador, an accomplished career politician, has benefited from Peña Nieto's mistakes.

Even the election Ciudad Juárez sent a strong message that López Obrador's attitude towards Trump should not be revered.

Juárez is not just a border town – it is a symbolic place in Mexican history. It was the bulwark in which Mexico's only indigenous president, Benito Juárez, fended off a French invasion in 1867 and rebuilt a sovereign Mexican government. Juárez is also the city where the Mexican Revolution began in 1910.

López Obrador ended his campaign on June 27, four days before the election, as required by Mexican law. At a massive rally in Mexico City's Aztec Stadium, he promised 100,000 supporters that he would "transform" their country.

Like so many of López Obrador's high campaign engagements, his immigration plan has failed in details. But it's clear that Trump has already lost his intimidating powers south of the border – even though he does not yet know, to put it in his own verbal jab.

This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original article here: http://theconversation.com/mexicos-next-president-likely-to-defy-trump-on-immigration-98912.



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