Immigration in Mexican President's State of the Union Address

By Kausha Luna on September 3, 2015

On Wednesday Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto delivered his third state of the union address. (Here is the Spanish transcript and the video. There doesn't appear to be an English translation available.)

Immigration and border issues were not at the forefront, as he has other headaches. But he did touch on them a number of times.

He said, "Mexico's commitment to human rights is also reflected in a comprehensive migration policy, respectful of people's dignity." He praised humanitarian efforts by programs such as "Somos Mexicanos" (We are Mexicans), which work at the northern border to help "fellow countrymen return to the country safely and with dignity," referring to illegal immigrants deported from the United States. The president also called attention to the 41.6 percent decrease in homicides at the border Mexico shares with the United States.

As a result of a "substantially transformed" bilateral relationship with the United States, the president said the two countries have been able to develop joint border infrastructure projects such as the International Railway Bridge between Matamoros and Brownsville and others. This renewed bilateral relationship has also resulted in increased international cooperation. Through the program "Proyecta 100,000", in 2014, more than 30,900 Mexicans studied in the U.S.

President Pena Nieto also spoke of the progress achieved at the nation's southern border. He claimed improvement in security and development in the region. He said his administration has issued more than 270,000 Regional Visitor and Border Worker cards to citizens of Guatemala and Belize, which are on Mexico's southern border. These cards have allowed the entrance of people in a "controlled and orderly manner; with respect for human dignity...avoiding the unworthy and degrading treatment, trafficking and abuse of migrants in our country." He also spoke of improved care for unaccompanied migrant children.

Additional achievements claimed by the president included "increased protection and assistance to Mexicans abroad." He offered the example of the consular network in the United States and its modernized services which have reduced wait times by 80 percent. He also referred to 90,000 Mexicans abroad who, as a result of a new printing system, have received certified copies of their birth certificates, without having to return to their place of origin.

President Pena Nieto made no reference to the ongoing immigration debate among U.S. presidential candidates.