The president of Mexico defended the right of his countrymen to migrate to the United States and to be treated with dignity, no matter whether they arrive legally or not.
In a speech Thursday, Felipe Calderón told the governors of both U.S. and Mexican border states that immigration is a “natural phenomenon (that is) socially and economically unavoidable.”
“I would also say it is advantageous for the United States’ economy,” Calderón said at the annual Border Governors Conference.
The Mexican president said the two countries have complementary economies. “The U.S. economy is capital-intensive,” he said, while the economy of Mexico is labor-intensive.
To prove that point, he said it will be only a few years until there are 70 million retired U.S. citizens. At the same time, Calderón continued, most Mexicans are younger than 30.
He also rejected arguments that Mexican nationals are taking jobs from U.S. citizens.
“Mexican workers in the United States are a complement to workers, not a substitute,” he said. “Mexican workers deserve dignified treatment.”
Calderón also told the governors he has not given up trying to find economic opportunities to allow people in his country to work there. He said Mexico needs to do that to keep its best people at home.
“The most strongest and daring people are those who migrate,” he said. “They are willing to face death for the survival of their families.”
Gov. Janet Napolitano said, however, that the need for foreign workers has to be filled only through legal means.
“One of the problems that we have ... is we need to lift the visa caps in the United States so that more legal immigration can occur,” she said.
“There is always going to be legal migration between our countries, and we need to recognize that,” she said. “But it does neither of our countries any good to have massive illegal immigration going back and forth.”