AMLO lashes out over Texas immigration law

Migrants are apprehended by Border Patrol after wading across the Rio Grande River into Eagle Pass, Texas, U.S., December 22, 2023. REUTERS/Cheney Orr

REYNOSA, TAMAULIPAS.- Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Wednesday condemned a Texas law that would give state authorities broad powers to arrest foreigners suspected of illegally crossing from Mexico into Texas.

After a day of back-and-forth court decisions that had left the law in effect for just hours, the Mexican president labeled the Texas statute “dehumanizing” and “anti-Christian.”

He declared that Mexico would not accommodate the return by Texas officials of any migrants to Mexican territory — a stance that calls into question how the state law would be enforced if it is cleared by the courts.

“We would not accept deportations … from the government of Texas,” López Obrador said in his regular morning news conference, backing a similar statement a day earlier from Mexico’s foreign ministry.

The Texas law would make illegal entry into Texas a state crime, directing judges to order undocumented migrants to return to Mexico.

On Tuesday the Supreme Court cleared the way for Texas to enforce the law while its constitutionality is challenged, but hours later a three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, issued an order that effectively put it on hold.

The panel heard arguments Wednesday on whether the law known as SB 4 should be allowed to take effect, if only temporarily. That panel is scheduled to hear arguments on the merits of the case on April 3.

It’s unclear when or whether the Texas law will go into effect, and it likely will make a second trip to the Supreme Court.

The Mexican president declined to elaborate on how exactly Mexico would react should the law be enforced, but said: “We won’t sit with our arms crossed.”

He didn’t predict any deterioration of relations with Washington, noting that the Biden administration is challenging the Texas law.

Mexico said international migration should remain a strictly federal matter — which is what the Justice Department is arguing in its efforts to have the Texas law declared unconstitutional.

“Mexico is not going to have a negotiation at the state level about a theme that is clearly federal,” said Eunice Rendón, a columnist with El Universal newspaper in Mexico City who follows immigration issues.

The law could cause future conflicts with Texas, she noted, but it was unclear how the controversy would play out — especially since the law’s future remains in the hands of the courts.

López Obrador labeled the GOP-backed measure the product of “anti-immigrant, anti-Mexican” sentiment and lashed out at Texas’ Republican governor, Greg Abbott, without naming him.

The president compared the situation to the idea of the Mexican state of Tamaulipas — across from Texas’ Rio Grande Valley region — targeting Texans.

“It’s as if the governor of Tamaulipas applied a law against Texans who were visiting Mexico or passing through Tamaulipas,” López Obrador said. “According to our constitution, anything that is related to foreign policy is not the responsibility of state governments.”

The president’s comments were the latest in a litany of condemnations from Mexican officials. Many pointed out that the law has the potential to harm millions of people of Mexican ancestry — be they citizens, legal residents, or undocumented — who reside in Texas, where about 40% of the population is Latino, mostly of Mexican descent.

The foreign ministry said the law could “give rise to hostile environments in which the migrant community is exposed to hate speech, discrimination, and racial profiling.”

Foreign Minister Alicia Bárcena excoriated it as “anti-immigrant, xenophobic, discriminatory.”

Some in Mexico viewed the state law and its widespread Republican support as an omen of how U.S.-Mexico tensions could rise should Donald Trump be elected to a second term as U.S. president.

Source: El Financiero

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