"Mexico Is a Safe Place"

By Kausha Luna on February 4, 2016

During her visit to Arizona on Wednesday, Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs assured that Mexico is a safe place.

Foreign Minister Claudia Ruiz Massieu said, "All countries issue [travel] warnings...These alerts reflect situations in small geographical areas." At the beginning of this month the U.S. State Department issued travel warnings for some cities and tourist locations in Mexico. Massieu reiterated that Mexico was a safe place for investment and visitors. Massieu emphasized, "The fact that each year more U.S. citizens visit us shows that Mexico is a safe place."

The Foreign Minister's statements raise several questions. If Mexico is safe enough for foreign investment and American citizens, is it not safe enough for Mexican citizens? The immigration narrative in the United States has been predicated on the reasoning that immigrants are fleeing from violence, and as such they should be welcomed with open arms. But, as Mexico's Minister of Foreign Affairs suggests, these situations are concentrated in small geographical areas. If this is the case, why do Mexicans not migrate to safer areas in Mexico rather than immigrating to the United States? The answer lies in the administration's grossly generous immigration policies. As witnesses explained during today's U.S. House Judiciary Committee Hearing, illegal aliens choose to come to the United States because they know they will be allowed to stay and receive benefits.

Massieu's comments also raise the question, if Central Americans are fleeing for their lives, why do they not seek asylum in the first safe place they reach? In this case that place would be Mexico. However, the reality is that they choose to continue north towards the United States, because of jobs and family ties. Again, this choice is incentivized by the administration's decision to effectively suspend enforcement of the law for most Central Americans.

In January, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced the U.S. would work with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR) to set up in-country processing centers for asylum seekers from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras in "nearby countries, where migrants would be temporarily out of danger." As this plan comes into fruition, the decision-makers should keep in mind that Mexico is a "safe place" for processing centers and a "safe place" for resettlement. The same holds true for other countries in the region. Also, these are countries that are closer, share similar cultures, and speak the same language – making the migrants' transition to a new place relatively easier. In short, the United States is not the only option.