Mexican Presidential Front-Runner Responds to DACA Decision: Mexico's Doors Are Open

By Kausha Luna on September 6, 2017

On Tuesday, the Woodrow Wilson Center hosted Mexican presidential candidate Andres Manuel López Obrador (commonly known by his initials, AMLO) to discuss Mexico's 2018 election. During a question and answer session the politician was asked to respond to the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. AMLO concluded his comments on the decision with the following, "In Mexico, the doors are open."

The Trump administration announced the cancellation of the DACA program on Tuesday. The program was implemented in 2012 and provided "legal status for recipients for a renewable two-year term, work authorization and other benefits, including participation in the Social Security program."

AMLO, leader of the National Regeneration Movement Party (Morena), opened his remarks regarding the end of DACA by saying, "I do not agree, I say it respectfully. I do not want to look like a meddler; I think it is necessary to give young people opportunities and to encourage talent — everything that has to do with the development of science, technology, knowledge ... not to close the borders." He then moved to praise the United States' process of checks and balances and the value that the rule of law holds in the American government. Given these characteristics, the Mexican politician expressed his confidence in Congress and its ability to "rectify" and "correct" the administration's course of action. He later added, "I hope that this proposal is modified and that it is resolved ... that [people] can come from all over the world to [improve themselves]. ... This country has developed thanks to immigration and it must not be forgotten." While AMLO was generally optimistic about Congress' ability to agree on an amnesty deal for DACA recipients, he assured the audience that Mexico would be prepared to receive its nationals otherwise:

But if the Congress decides that it supports closing the doors to creators, soon — very soon — the doors of Mexico will open to all young people who want to advance in science, technology, and knowledge. In Mexico, the doors are open.

The current Mexican administration has provided its own commentary and laments the DACA decision. A tweet by Mexico's President Enrique Peña Nieto mirrors AMLO's comments on Mexico's readiness to welcome back the so called dreamers. A press release by the Mexican Foreign Ministry, notes that during his fifth state of the union address, Peña Nieto reiterated his appreciation, admiration, and unreserved solidarity with DACA recipients. Moreover, the release indicates the Mexican government has sent U.S. senators and congressmen letters espousing the value of DACA beneficiaries to American society. Additionally, the Mexican government expressed it has a "moral imperative to act ... to actively promote before the executive and legislative powers of the United States a prompt solution to the legal uncertainty that DACA youth now face."

During his speech at the Wilson Center, AMLO also remarked on other immigration-related issues his administration would address. (AMLO unsuccessfully ran for president in 2006 and 2012.) The presidential hopeful briefly highlighted the role of Mexico's consulates in the United States, "the 50 consulates in the United States will take care of the defense of our countrymen and migrants. For practical purposes the consulates will be converted into authentic procurators for the defense of migrants." AMLO added that his migration policy would include a domestic component: "We will defend the migrants, but at the same time we will implement a policy to generate jobs and guarantee Mexicans work and well-being in their places of origin, where their relatives are, their customs, and their culture." The politician concluded that migrants would be able to choose to stay in the United States with the protection of the Mexican government or to return to their country of origin where they will be guaranteed the ''right to work, fair wages, welfare, and security." In reference to migrant workers AMLO also stated: ''We will defend, without condition, the right of our nationals to earn a living anywhere in the world, with their honest work."

AMLO is the current front-runner for Mexico's July 2018 presidential election.