Sunday, November 18, 2007

Calderón to candidates: Don't use immigrants as talking point

Calderón to candidates: Don't use immigrants as talking point
Mexican president calls on hopefuls not to use immigrants in speeches
08:40 AM CST on Friday, November 16, 2007

MEXICO CITY – Mexican President Felipe Calderón took the unusual step Wednesday of injecting himself into U.S. presidential politics, calling Mexican migrants "thematic hostages" of the race and urging candidates not to use them as a talking point.

Speaking at a conference here, Mr. Calderón criticized what he called "the growing harassment" of Mexicans in the United States and said his administration will finance a media campaign to underline immigrant success stories.

He made his remarks one day before his environment minister, Rafael Elvira Quesada, is scheduled to release a report concluding that a U.S.-Mexico border wall is damaging the environment.

Mr. Calderón's statement on the U.S. presidential race caught many people here by surprise. Addressing delegates at a conference sponsored by the Mexican government agency that assists migrants, he said: "It is my duty to make a respectful but firm call to the candidates of the various political parties in the United States for them to stop using Mexicans in that country as thematic hostages of their speeches and their strategies."

He has frequently criticized U.S. immigration policy, as do many Mexicans. But it is unusual for a Mexican president to make such a direct comment about U.S. presidential campaign strategies.

Immigration has emerged as a hot-button issue in the 2008 presidential contest, consistently ranking high on the list of voter concerns and figuring prominently in debates. Immigration also tops a list of issues that voters in the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses want candidates to address, according to a CBS-New York Times poll released Tuesday. And 44 percent of caucus-goers want illegal immigrants to lose their jobs and leave the country, the poll said.

A poll by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press released two weeks ago found that 65 percent of Republican voters and 50 percent of Democratic voters ranked illegal immigration as a "very important" issue.

Republican candidate Fred Thompson has proposed taking federal grant money from so-called sanctuary cities in the United States that do not report illegal immigrants to the federal government. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., has run television ads saying migrants cross the border "to take our jobs."

Given the national focus on immigration, it is very unlikely that candidates would heed Mr. Calderón's call, said Michael Dimock, associate director of the Pew Research Center.

"Good luck," Mr. Dimock said of Mr. Calderón's plea. "It's a potentially powerful voting issue for a significant segment of the electorate."

Manuel Roig-Franzia, The Washington Post

1 comment:

jose antonio said...

la postura de calderon me parece correcta, sin embargo incongruente. es correcta porque todos sabemos que en las campañas politicas el discurso es siempre muy distinto a lo que finalmente ocurre cuando se llega al poder es como dije tambien incobgruente ello porque parece olvidar que el mismo utilizo a los que ahora llama "rehenes" de los discursos de las cmpañas como un tema de propaganda cuando compitio por la presidencia. me parece que lejos de reclamar a quien seguramente no le escuchara, deberia escuchar los reclamos que se le hacen aqui, repecto a nuevas fuentes de empleo que detengan el fenomeno migratorio