Harsh anti-immigrant laws have been passed in various states from Arizona to Georgia. U.S. Congress seems unable to muster the votes or the will to pass immigration reform.
The xenophobic climate has Mexican lawmakers worried about immigrant rights and reform in the United States. So much so that they announced Tuesday they’ll bypass Washington D.C. and take their case for immigration reform directly to state leaders.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t seem to be the disposition of the U.S. Congress to pass immigration law but meanwhile laws are being passed in many states,” said Senator Carlos Jimenez Macias, a member of the Mexican Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. “We think we can have better success in the states where legislation has been stopped.”
The group of Mexican senators met in Washington D.C. Tuesday with academics and journalists at a workshop on immigration reform at the German Marshall Fund, a nonpartisan public policy institution. They were there to promote Mexico’s sweeping new immigration reforms that were passed into law last May.
Frequent criticisms by U.S. politicians about Mexico’s antiquated and draconian immigration laws were one of the major catalysts for reform, said the three senators in attendance.
“We can’t demand respect for our migrants in other countries if migrants have no rights in our own country,” said Senator Humberto Andrade Quezada. “We lacked the moral right to demand justice from the U.S. government.”
Another motivation were the mass abductions and massacres of Central and South American migrants passing through Mexico to the United States. “The new law guarantees the human rights of migrants without considering the status of their documentation,” Quezada said.
Before the passage of the new law, any undocumented entry into the country was considered a felony. This prevented many migrants from seeking help, he said.
Beginning next month, the Mexican legislators plan to meet with state lawmakers in several states where anti-immigrant laws have been passed, including Georgia Alabama, Arizona, South Carolina and Utah. They hope to persuade state leaders about the importance of immigration to the global economy and to remind them that Mexicans are not the only immigrants living in the United States. “We don’t want the problem of anti-immigrant laws” to be “Mexicanized,” said senator, Ruben Velazquez Lopez.