Disappointment in Mexico as Obama Says Immigration Reform Will Have to Wait

Obama and Calderón had a bilateral meeting on Sunday in Guadalajara. (Photo: Alfredo Guerrero/Mexican Presidency)

Obama and Calderón had a bilateral meeting on Sunday in Guadalajara. (Photo: Alfredo Guerrero/Mexican Presidency - Click to visit Flickr page)

The summit of the “Three Amigos” (the presidents of the U.S., Mexico and Canada) in Guadalajara brought no good news for Mexicans on the immigration front. The headline in Monday’s Mexico City newspaper El Universal summed it up: “Neither immigration reform nor does Canada eliminate visas.” At a press conference at the summit President Obama said that Congressional action on immigration reform will have to wait until next year.

With a raging drug war south of the border, trade controversies and the U.S. Congress occupied with other matters, Mexican President Felipe Calderón apparently did not even intend to push the issue of immigration with his American counterpart, Barack Obama, in their private meeting on Sunday.

Also at the summit, Canada, which recently started requiring all Mexican visitors to obtain a visa, said it has no intention of going back on that decision, which has incensed Mexicans, already sensitive on the issue.

According to El Universal, Obama told Calderón that the White House has a full plate right now, which makes it impossible to deal with an immigration reform bill.

The Mexican ambassador to the U.S., Arturo Sarukhán, narrated the encounter, saying Obama told Calderón that “if the rest of the legislative agenda in the U.S., in Congress, moves in the right direction, space could open up between November and March. But evidently, right now, the immigration reform bill is not ready at this time to be introduced in Congress.”According to Sarukhán, Obama explained his priority is health care reform, followed by energy reform. That leaves immigration in third place on his list of major bills to be passed by Congress.

While the presidents met one-on-one on Sunday, the actual summit took place on Monday.

Immigration reform, it is expected, will be one of the topics absent from the Summit of North American Leaders,” said Guadalajara newspaper El Informador.

Left-leaning La Jornada lamented in an editorial that “the Obama administration has not made significant progress (on immigration reform) this year, and it is not likely that it will, unless it is done through renewed political and social pressure from the migrants themselves, in the U.S., and a firmer stance from the Mexican authorities.”

In light of the lack of progress on immigration, the Mexican Catholic church criticized the national government for not defending the rights of paisanos who live in the U.S.

Saying that Calderón should have pushed harder for reform in his meeting with Obama, the Archdiocese of Mexico regreted that the government does not carry out “strong actions” for the wellbeing of Mexicans in the U.S. The Mexican administration showed a “lax stance,” it added.

AboutDiego Graglia
Diego Graglia is a bilingual multimedia journalist who has worked at major media outlets in the U.S. and Latin America. He is currently the editor-in-chief at Expansion, Meixco’s leading business magazine.