Immigration is an unavoidable area in Mexico’s political reality. However, it is a sector of government that the new administration of President Enrique Peña Nieto has yet to define.
It is understandable that the new president wants to establish, for example, that trade is the predominant link in the U.S.-Mexico relationship, playing down the importance of the immigration issue. But that does not mean that the issue does not exist or can be ignored by the government.
Whichever way we look at it, Mexico’s reality is intimately linked to population movements, both as a country of emigrants and a stopover nation. The fact of being almost on the tip of that phenomenon represents a great responsibility for the Mexican government.
Therefore, we are concerned about signs that this government is not paying the necessary attention to the immigration issue. For example, so far nothing is known about the promised National Institute of Public Policy for Service to Immigrantspromised during the campaignas an umbrella for scattered programs. Even more, the person responsible for Immigrant Affairs during the transition has joined the ranks of the unemployed.
Nothing has been done either at the National Migration Institute, the agency in charge of immigration in Mexico. This has a direct impact on the safety of the many Central American immigrants on their way to the U.S., as well as the Beta groups that help Mexican emigrants.
That same lack of attention is reflected in the relationship with Mexican communities in the U.S. through the inaction at the Institute for Mexicans Abroad (IME). Same as with immigration, this institute has no new officials in charge.
We are concerned that the relationship with the Mexican community in the U.S. is apparently outside the radar of the new administration. The lack of attention to the IME and the fact that Peña Nieto, during his recent visit to the U.S., did not wish to participate in the traditional meeting of a Mexican president with representatives of the immigrant Mexican community, are bad signs.
It is fine that the economy is now the main focus, but at least within that context, the importance of Mexicans abroad should be kept in mind. This year, they contributed $24 billion in remittances to the Mexican economy. They do not deserve to be slighted.
Mexico can do very little to push comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. But that does not take away the need to tackle other fronts of immigration that are its concern.