MEXICO CITY — Even before he landed in Mexico City today to begin a two day visit, President Obama had already sent a strong message to Mexicans via one of the capital city’s most influential newspapers.
In the piece, the president acknowledges that the U.S., distracted “by other priorities,” has on many occasions “neither sought nor maintained relationships with its neighbors.”
…our progress is directly linked to progress in the whole American continent. My government has committed to the promise of a new day. We will renew and sustain more extensive relationships between the United States and the hemisphere.
MEXICO CITY — As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton departed Monterrey, Mexico for Dallas Thursday the consensus among Mexican officials seemed to be that finally the United States has decided to acknowledge its share of blame in the growth of the drug cartels –and the violence they cause.
Thursday's El Universal cover
Mexican politicians greeted with approval and even delight Clinton’s statement that Americans’ “insatiable demand” for narcotics fuels the drug trade from south of the border. “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians,” she had said Wednesday. (Of course the reaction in the U.S. was quite different.)
“A self-critical discourse which has never before been heard from a high-level American official,” said an editorial in El Universal, perhaps Mexico’s most influential newspaper, which ran Clinton’s quotation across its cover yesterday, above the headline:
“Hillary: Unfair To Blame Mexico for Narco“
But Mexicans’ elation was not complete, as two other newspapers highlighted on their covers: while Clinton made the statements Felipe Calderón’s government wanted to hear, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano continued a recent trend of statements about the Mexican situation that are offensive to Mexican ears.
One day after the U.S. announced it will beef up security along its southern border, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives in Mexico today to discuss drug-related violence and economic issues. Clinton’s counterpart, Patricia Espinoza Castellano, said at a Mexico City press conference yesterday that the American measures are “coherent with the fight against organized crime.”
Mexico's Foreign Minister Patricia Espinoza. (Photo: AP)
Clinton’s visit comes in advance of a trip by President Barack Obama himself, who will travel south in April to meet Mexico’s head of state, President Felipe Calderón. In response to news of growing drug cartel-related violence in Mexico –and recently in some American cities close to the border– the Obama Administration seems determined to engage and cooperate much more closely with Mexico than the Bush Administration did.
Espinoza added that the security issue will feature prominently during Clinton’s visit, which she called the start of “a new age of cooperation between both governments.”
She also stated that her government will talk to Clinton about U.S. immigration policies. “We have insisted on an end to raids and to the separation of families (through deportations),” she said. (more…)
Turns out that, if anything, the U.S economic crisis has motivated many Mexican migrants to remain in the U.S., rather than make the expensive trip back home to try to weather the economic storm in an economy that is less well-prepared to deal with it.
[Please read an update on this story here.]
Mexico is bracing for the consequences of the U.S. economic crisis. Among these is an increase in Mexican immigrants going back to their home country — chased away by the lack of jobs north of the U.S.-Mexico border, the general economic downturn, as well as tougher enforcement of immigration laws.
Antonio García Conejo, an official from the Mexican state of Michoacán, is one of those pointing to a dramatic increase in Mexicans leaving the U.S. and returning home.
The return of Mexicans has already started, but many more arrivals are expected at the end of the year and in 2009.
Conejo was quoted by the Mexican newspaper El Universal. His state has been a major beneficiary of remittances, money sent home by expatriates living and working in the United States. The level of remittances to Mexico has been falling since last year, initially due to the slowing U.S. housing market.
In another story published Wednesday, El Universal said that 1,400 Mexicans are crossing the border back into Tamaulipas state from Texas every week — double the normal amount, according to a state legislator. The border city of Nuevo Laredo has decided to charter buses to help those people reach their home communities in states to the south to prevent an increase in local unemployment and vagrancy, the official said.
– Back From The Other Side. Upon his return to Mexico after seven years in the U.S., sixteen-year-old Edgar Gutiérrez “found relatives he couldn’t remember. Kids thought he was stuck up because he had lived in the U.S. Teachers scolded him when he pronounced his name with an American accent.” He is among “a rapidly growing number of undocumented immigrants moving back to Mexico to start over,” some drawn “by a desire to return home after meeting their financial goals,” others “pushed by the faltering U.S. economy.” See: Austin American-Statesman – After life in U.S., migrant children struggle with return to Mexico.
– The New Yorker: McCain Abandoned Immigration Reform. So says the magazine in its endorsement of Barack Obama: “Since the 2004 election, however, McCain has moved remorselessly rightward in his quest for the Republican nomination. He paid obeisance to Jerry Falwell and preachers of his ilk. He abandoned immigration reform, eventually coming out against his own bill.” See: The New Yorker – The Choice.
– Undecided “Europeans” in Pennsylvania. “On Oktoberfest weekend in Wilkes-Barre, the polka dancing, pierogies and kielbasa all capture the culture of an area where European immigrants once came for jobs. But the festival wasn’t the only thing on people’s minds,” reports NPR’s David Greene. People in the area are thinking hard about whom to vote for. See: NPR – Unpredictable Political Opinions In Northeast Pa.
– A Family Divided. One day, Ricardo Guerrero kissed his family goodbye in Durham, North Carolina and flew to his native Mexico with papers a Wake County notary public had helped him prepare and a two-page letter from his American-born wife. “His optimistic plan was to return with a green card (…) But those hopes were dashed by what immigration lawyers say is a sweeping problem — notaries who are unauthorized and unlicensed to practice law overstepping their bounds and giving bad advice about immigration laws and procedures.” See: The News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) – Family divided between two countries.
Vicente Fox at Wayne State University. (Photo: Centro Fox)
A capacity crowd of activists, politicians, students and intellectuals from the Detroit metro area gathered at Wayne State University Sept. 12 to listen to former Mexican President Vicente Fox give a lecture on “Globalization and Immigration.” Those attending the highly publicized event were eager to hear Fox’s thoughts on immigration from the Mexican perspective.
While the immigration debate has mostly been put in the back burner -as opposed to the economy and the Iraq war- during the 2008 campaign, Fox said he believes the issue will be front and center and could be used as a wedge issue as we get closer to the November 4 election.
When asked about his thoughts on the current debate, Fox said the discussion was “misleading, full of destruction and lack of factual information.” He went on to say that the immigration debate needs to be more objective and that the American people, as well as the media, are uninformed.
According to the Employment Policy Foundation, the United States has a systemic labor shortage that is expected to transform the workplace over the next 25 to 30 years, as baby boomers retire. In this context, while the United States needs and benefits from immigrant labor, Fox said, Mexico suffers from the northward migration in the long term, losing its human capital.
“All this energy, all this talent is needed in Mexico for the development of the nation and the competitiveness of the economy,” Fox said.
Immigration regulation is key to changing the current dialogue. Fox said he supports legislation like the failed McCain-Kennedy bill, proposed in 2005. The plan would have allowed illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. before Jan. 7, 2004, and who have jobs, to work legally for an additional six years and eventually become citizens, after paying fines and meeting certain citizenship requirements.
Senator and Republican presidential candidate John McCain is betting he can win the election using what he believes is his strongest suit: national security and foreign policy. It’s probably his best bet, but a risky one. (more…)
The campaigns engaged in their own Independence Day back and forth on who would best represent Latinos. Nothing that would resemble fireworks, but remarkable because the first attack ad the McCain campaign has launched was aimed at a Hispanic audience. (more…)
However, his campaign has aggressively sought these voters, releasing ads on both radio and television that talk of support for free trade agreements and job creation in Mexico and the United States.
But the political notes that play well in Mexico City may ring sour in Michigan, and that raises the political question of the day.
Will reaching out to minority voting groups be enough to tip the scales in favor of one candidate over another, especially in battleground states? If the answer is yes, it could signal a seismic shift in electoral politics.
Over the course of the primaries much attention was given to white, working class voters. These are the voters who bore the brunt of job losses from NAFTA, who fear an influx of immigrants because they could lower wages, and who strayed from the Democratic Party as it embraced social service programs and policies targeted towards minorities that left many Whites feeling that the party had forgotten their concerns.Re-labeled Reagan Democrats, they were the key to victory for Republicans and the one Democrat, Bill Clinton, who successful courted them.
When Sen. Barack Obama couldn’t win this group during the Democratic primaries, many analysts questioned his ability to forge a winning coalition in November.But Obama had a new demographic formula: young voters, African Americans voting in record numbers and affluent, liberal Whites.
As the first African American to be a presumptive party nominee, Obama faces greater scrutiny about his ability to win over Whites, and is spending time and resources in cultivating favor with this group. McCain, on the other hand, doesn’t have to worry about that kind of political symbolism.
It frees him to conduct one of the most novel exercises in this already unique campaign cycle – campaigning for American votes outside of America.It’s a recognition that despite resistance in some parts of the American electorate, the dam has burst on globalization and the effects of this flood has blurred borders, mixed identities and is making the U.S. more politically accountable to her immediate neighbors than ever before.
Aligning with Latinos on trade and immigration, McCain may be the first candidate, if he’s successful, to prioritize the concerns of a minority group over the wishes and priorities of a large part of the country’s majority demographic group.His move reflects the shift occurring in the U.S. population, but campaigning in this way also invests power in Latino voters and provides them the platform to push their issue agenda forward and by extension the agendas of the countries many in this group are tied to.
As the much publicized NALEO report showed, Latinos could be the swing block in the swing states. They have already provided McCain with one victory – in Florida.Winning the Sunshine state with the Latino vote allowed him to clinch the Republican nomination. Now will it allow him to clinch the presidency?