“There’s no reason in the world why Mexico should not say what it thinks about what is being legislated in the U.S. when it affects us directly,” Castañeda said. “China and Europe don’t hesitate to say what they think about trade. Israel does the same on matters of security. The notion that Mexico shouldn’t talk about immigration is ridiculous.”
Still, many analysts expect Peña Nieto and other Mexican leaders to take a cautious approach.
“I think, politically, the Mexicans have accepted the fact, the political reality, that border security’s the price they have to pay for getting the other changes in the package,” said Ted Piccone, senior fellow and deputy director for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution.
Mexican leaders have typically demurred on U.S. immigration policy, calling it an “internal matter.” The difference now is that Mexican migration to the United States has dropped to its lowest level in four decades. That has left Peña Nieto in a position to advocate more forcefully — at least in private — for policy changes that would normalize the status of the estimated 6 million Mexicans living illegally in the United States.
Mexico’s economy is growing faster than the United States’, and Peña Nieto, who took office in December, may argue that his trade-driven agenda and broad-based reform efforts, which boost Mexican prosperity, are the best strategy for reducing illegal immigration.
Many Mexicans question whether all the talk in the United States about immigration will lead to legislation.
“What’s happening here is viewed with a lot of skepticism and confusion in the region,” said Carl Meacham, director of the Americas program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “They’ve been brought to the altar so many times by different American administrations that there’s a little bit of a lack of trust.”
Miroff reported from Mexico City.
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