Mexican Ambassador : Economics Drives Emigration

Mexican ambassador: Economics drives emigration

Mexico's ambassador said reforms will not end illegal immigration until Mexico's economy improves. And he said time is running out for Congress to pass immigration reforms.


Even if Congress approves a comprehensive reform legalizing millions of undocumented immigrants later this year, the law itself is unlikely to end illegal immigration from Mexico, the Mexican ambassador to the United States said in Miami Thursday.

In an interview with The Miami Herald, Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan also said that if Congress doesn't pass immigration reform by Labor Day, legalization efforts may not be revived until a new American president takes over in 2009.

''Supposing that tomorrow we got the most ambitious, rosiest, peachiest comprehensive immigration reform deal on the [Capitol] Hill, that would not solve the problem of Mexican migrant flows across the border,'' Sarukhan said.

He said the only way to bring about a solution would be for more development in Mexico, particularly in the regions from where the majority of undocumented migrants originate.

''Comprehensive immigration reform in the United States must begin in Mexico,'' Sarukhan added. “Mexico must be able to create jobs, economic growth, well-paid jobs, to minimize the factors that generate the departure of Mexican migrants who cross the border.''

Sarukhan said targeted foreign and Mexican investment, along with job-creation programs and construction of new highways, bridges and electric grids in migrant-rich areas of south and central Mexico eventually could help keep most Mexicans from heading north without papers.

While Mexico hopes a legalization law will be approved, Sarukhan said the ''window of opportunity'' for Congress to act was tight.

''It is between now and the [congressional] return from the Labor Day recess,'' Sarukhan said. “If after Labor Day there are no . . . approved bills . . . it would be very difficult to secure immigration reform until a new administration takes office at the White House in 2009.''

Sarukhan is in Miami to attend a University of Miami conference on Latin America and to be on hand at the Port of Miami-Dade for the scheduled arrival today of the Mexican Navy's training sailing vessel Cuauhtmoc. The ship will be open to the public Sunday, Monday and Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the port's Terminal H.

Immigration reform, he said, remains a priority for the Mexican government — but he acknowledged that his country no longer is seeking a separate immigration deal with the United States as it was prior to 9/11.