A US senator has boasted that a new American border security “surge” plan at its border with Mexico would turn the boundary line between the two neighbors into ‘the most militarized border since the fall of the Berlin Wall.’
The remarks were made this week by hawkish Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona in an effort to win support for a newly-approved package of an “immigration legislation” that would place additional federal patrols and hundreds of miles of new wall and fences along the US-Mexico border, prompting strong reaction among Mexicans.
Coming nearly two months after US President Barack Obama praised Mexico’s progress and its significance as a top trading partner, the Senate debate on the Thursday-approved bill and the military buildup proposed by the amendment “has reminded Mexicans that much of the United States views their country warily,” The Washington Post
Mexicans have reacted strongly to the debate among US lawmakers regarding their joint border, heavily focusing on building new walls along the border rather than facilitating wider doors for legitimate trade and migration to get through.
This is while the government of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto had largely kept quiet on the US debate, saying merely that his administration supports the reform effort.
However, the USD46 billion in additional security spending provided by the legislative amendment eventually prompted Mexican officials to break their silence this week, when Foreign Minister Jose Antonio Meade told reporters in Mexico City that “fences don't unite.”
“Fences are not a solution to the migration phenomenon, and they are not congruent with a safe and modern border,” Meade said. “They don’t contribute to the development of a competitive region that both countries are trying to build.”
Texas Congressman Henry Cuellar, whose district includes the busy border crossing of Laredo, also states he has heard similar criticisms from Mexican business leaders disappointed by the “negative connotations” of more barriers between two nations that are doing over one billion dollars in trade per day.
“You tell Mexicans that we need a border ‘surge’ and everyone thinks of the surge in Iraq, as if we’re saying they’re an enemy to overcome,” Cuellar said. “I’m for strong border security, but a fence is a 14th-century solution to a 21st-century problem.”
Moreover, Jorge Castañeda, Mexico’s foreign minister during the administration of former president Vicente Fox, has censured the current government for keeping on the sidelines, describing the recent criticism of the fence as “weak” and “tepid.”
“They should say, ‘This is an important issue for Mexico, and you should take our views into consideration,’ ” said Castañeda, who is currently a professor at New York University.