Mexican diplomats sought Thursday to strengthen protection for the rights of Mexico’s citizens who are caught in a new U.S. crackdown on illegal immigration.
Mexican consuls from Texas cities, along with representatives of the Foreign Ministry and National Immigration Institute, met in San Antonio seeking to ensure that rights are not violated under Operation Rio Grande, the federal initiative aimed at plugging border crossings in South Texas.
“We’re trying to increase the capacity of Mexican consulates in this area to offer protection and to demand just treatment for migrants and their families,” Foreign Ministry official Enrique Loaeza Tovar told reporters.
Operation Rio Grande began earlier this week in the Texas border city of Brownsville. Additional Border Patrol agents and equipment have been sent to the area.
While the Mexican government has no quarrel with the right of the United States to implement its immigration policy, it is concerned that “our fellow countrymen might be endangered or put at risk,” Loaeza said.
Another concern is that U.S. authorities often equate crime with migration, and they are two separate issues, Loaeza said in San Antonio.
“The reason why our migrants come to the U.S. is economic,” he said. “They don’t come to the U.S. to break the law; they don’t come to the U.S. to commit crime. They come to work and through their work to contribute to the prosperity of the communities where they reside.”
Just as worrisome to the Mexican government is the growing anti-Mexican immigrant sentiment, particularly in Texas border cities that traditionally have maintained harmonious relations with their neighbors south of the Rio Grande.
“Some of the unintended consequences of some of these measures might be precisely to taint that spirit and to enhance the anti-immigrant sentiment, particularly the anti-Mexican sentiments,” Loaeza said. “That’s one of the side effects we’re afraid of, and we need to preserve the spirit of good neighborliness that exists at the border.”
The diplomat said Mexico seeks an expanded dialogue with U.S. authorities.
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