The Mexican workforce in the United States is by no means small. Agricultural fields in various states, mainly in California, as well as the service sector in dozens of U.S. cities depend on our compatriots’ labor. Unfortunately, a large part of our neighboring country’s political class — the more conservative part, that is — is either oblivious to this fact or choose to ignore it.
Millions of Mexicans have made a complete life for themselves on U.S. soil and have been completely integrated into the country’s economy as workers, consumers and even contributors.
In spite of this, U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order today aimed at constructing a wall along the border with Mexico, hiring 5 million additional border officers, opening additional migrant detention centers and increasing the number of deportations. He also signed an executive order withdrawing federal funding from sanctuary cities, which have announced they will not comply with Washington’s instructions and will protect migrants.
It is not clear whether these forceful measures will also be accompanied by immigration reform legalizing those who have already assimilated into U.S. life. No more scenes of separated families should be seen: children born in the United States — U.S. citizens — being separated from their parents, who, unable to acquire citizenship, are deported. Given that cases such as this occurred during President Obama’s administration our compatriots’ futures appear bleak under the current administration.
Facing such decisions by the White House, President Peña Nieto has announced as a main countermeasure that he will convert Mexico’s 50 consulates located in the United States into centers for the defense of migrant rights.
Addressing the needs of our fellow compatriots is the correct line of action. At this point, Mexico can find valuable allies in local American leaders. The mayor of New York City, for example, has announced that he will not permit the detention of migrants. On Tuesday, the governor of California went further and said that his government would defend everyone, including 27 percent of the state’s population, nearly 11 million people, who were born in a foreign land. “Immigrants have contributed to our prosperity from the beginning,” said Gov. Jerry Brown. If California were a country, it would be the world’s sixth largest economic power.
There are many more reasons why Mexico and the United States should build bridges rather than erect walls. Regional prosperity and security are achieved through dialogue, not monologue. An understanding must be sought out, yes, but without clinging to a relationship that, at this stage, can be harmful in the long run.