Migrants in Mexico

Central American migrants face great dangers when crossing through Mexico, because of drug trafficking, the type of transportation and Mexican authorities themselves. This has resulted in a contradiction between the treatment demanded from the U.S. for Mexican immigrants and the way migrants from Central America are treated in Mexico.

Recent talk from Governor Aristóteles Sandoval shows an example of prejudice worthy of the governor of Arizona—but in this case, coming from the head of the Jalisco government. During a meeting with his security council to discuss crime and home break-ins, Sandoval said that they are searching “Hondurans or people especially from Central America, who are on the corners…,” proposing to return them to their country right away.

Unlike Jan Brewer, Sandoval apologized for offending immigrants when the Catholic Church and human rights organizations complained. However, this incident highlighted his way of thinking and his shameful prejudices, for an official from a state that has seen its emigrants being mistreated.

It is worth wondering if the comments from the PRI-party governor, who took office in March, are part of a strategy to divert attention from the lack of public safety—in this case, by pointing to foreigners as scapegoats. If that happens on this side of the border with comments like these, why would the motivation be different if the words are repeated south of the border?

But not everything about this topic is bad in Mexico. The Chamber of Deputies yesterday approved an immigration law reform to protect Central Americans en route to the U.S. Changes in several provisions of the law increase protections for migrant women and illiterate persons so that they are more aware of their options in immigration stations.

These small reforms help. However, they are not enough to create a legal framework where in Mexico the undocumented will be able to feel safer than today. It will become even harder to eradicate the prejudices Sandoval expressed and the singling out of foreigners as the ones committing crimes.