“Mexico as a Land of Opportunity”: Changing Immigration Trends, Economic Recovery and Potential in Mexico, and Stalled Immigration Reform in the U.S.

coffee-by-flikr-user-samrevel1The Mexico Institute’s “Weekly News Summary,” released every Friday afternoon summarizes the week’s most prominent Mexico headlines published in the English-language press, as well as the most engaging opinion pieces by Mexican columnists.

What the English language press had to say…

Two articles featured this week in the New York Times discussed Mexico’s increasing appeal to both returning migrants and to individuals migrating from South America and Europe.  An article published on September 23rd stated that the country’s documented foreign-born population “nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010”, and that “officials now say the pace is accelerating as broad changes in the global economy create new dynamics of migration.” This article received a widespread response, and in a subsequent article, the Times wrote that “many foreigners who have lived in the country for years stress that while they wish the world would focus more on Mexico’s strengths, they also wish the country would do more to tackle its flaws – especially corruption and a justice system that does little or nothing.”

A number of articles examined the state of Mexico’s economy and made predictions for the future. Forbes wrote that Mexico is increasingly a favorite investment for Latin America-bound emerging market fund managers. The article discussed how retail sales rose 1.3% year over year in July. A Smart Planet article titled “Can Mexico Live up to its Economic Potential?” considered the wave of recent reform proposals and the impact they could have on the economy. The article concluded that while the reforms are a promise for future growth, it’s not clear that the government is doing enough to ensure growth in the short term, given that Mexico has already endured 2 percent annual growth on average for a decade. Several news sources asked what impact last week’s storms will have on the economy. One article stated that the storms have caused a dent in the country’s growth, and that, according to Finance Minister Luis Videgaray, the damage is certain to exceed the government’s $1 billion natural disaster fund. Another noted that while Mexico is unlikely to be dragged into recession as a result of the storms, the risk has increased. Other pieces discussed the controversy surrounding the government’s response to the floods. Several officials have been blasted for their handling of the crisis, and critics have questioned whether the devastation could have been prevented.

Early in the week, the Wall Street Journal and the LA Times documented Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Mexico. The former noted that Biden avoided any discussion on the spying controversy, and “offered an olive branch of sorts on Friday by strongly backing the Mexican government’s plans for an economic overhaul as well as proposed immigration changes in the U.S” The latter quoted Biden’s affirmation that an economically prosperous Mexico would strengthen the US economy. The Vice-President also spoke about the need for improving their justice systems and strengthening intellectual property rights.

Finally, the topic of immigration reform and the results of a number of studies were featured prominently by the press this week. Politico reported that Nancy Pelosi is spearheading a plan to advance comprehensive immigration reform in the house. Greg Sargent of the Washington Post wrote that while immigration reform is on life support, it is not dead, and MSNBC reported that an immigration reform framework is taking shape. A number of reports highlighted changed immigration trends.

What Mexican columnists had to say…

Columnists in Mexico focused on corruption in the aftermath of the storms, the rule of law, and the protection of rights and Mexican sovereignty. Jesús Silva Herzog Márquez wrote that the devastation faced by thousands of Mexicans after Ingrid and Manuel is not a consequence of natural disasters, but rather, is the result of poor governance and petty politics. He argued that the only way Mexico can hope to survive natural disasters in the future is by ensuring that strict laws are followed and corruption stamped out. Jorge Fernández Menéndez echoed his sentiments, writing that Mexicans must be vigilant and ensure that reconstruction is carried out properly – legally – and that corruption and poor planning do not continue to endanger lives in the wake of natural disasters. Sergio Aguayo also addressed corruption, saying that Mexican politicians routinely deny the prevalence of corruption in our country, and that clearly we cannot begin to solve a problem if we don’t acknowledge it first.

Scholar Denisse Dresser addressed abortion and gender equality in her column in Reforma. She stated that in most parts of Mexico, being a woman means not having the right, or the agency, to make informed decisions about your own body, health, or future. She argued that as long as Mexican women continue to be systematically denied their reproductive rights, Mexico will continue to be a nation plagued by gender inequality and discrimination.

Jorge Chabat wrote that the time has come to closely re-examine Mexico’s federalist system. Federalism is failing in certain parts of the country – the current crisis in the aftermath of Ingrid and Manuel makes evident that many state and local governments are weak, corrupt, mal-funded, and incapable of serving the needs of the Mexican people.

María Amparo Casar commented on the mounting pressure on the EPN government, saying that his government faces increasing complications, and that as time passes, it becomes obvious that what he promised to achieve in this legislative session was too ambitious. She writes that there is simply too much to discuss, alter and approve, too many people to appoint and too many crises to deal with. The future of the Pacto por Mexico is also uncertain, particularly given the leadership change in both the PRD and PAN which will occur in December. In addition to this, EPN faces resistance from the business community, who are displeased with how the fiscal reform will impact them if it is passed. The middle class, hit hard in the latest tax reform initiative, is also unhappy. And the lower classes are yet to benefit from social programs, greater government spending on services, and decreasing unemployment rates. Ultimately, she asked who the government can count on.

Later in the week, Jorge Castañeda, called for the decriminalization of marijuana in Mexico City, saying that it will reduce the number of people who are in jail or who may be put in jail for drug possession charges, that it may also shift public opinion in the capital, and that is may help to de-stigmatize the subject. José Woldenberg, reiterated his support of the fiscal reform in Los impuestos y la luna, and Lorenzo Meyer argued that Mexican leaders should not create more spaces in which the country’s national interests could clash with those of the U.S., and Mexico’s sovereignty could be compromised. Opening up the Mexican oil sector to foreign investment will further limit the nation’s sovereignty, he asserted.


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