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Is That Really How You See Us? A Mexican Response to US Election Season

Carlos Bravo Regidor - Econo Times
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October 10, 2016

How Donald Trump discussed Mexico was strikingly different between his announcement speech last June and his trip to Mexico in August. (CNN)

During the 2012 US presidential election, Mexico – or rather, the idea of Mexico – wasn’t an issue. Romney and Obama may have mentioned it during discussions on immigration reform, the border separating the two countries, or drug policy, but this was in passing, offhand.

Mexico itself as a country was not a topic of conversation. Back then, some of my compatriots lamented the irrelevance of Mexico in the political platforms and public debates of their northern neighbor, sad to see that Mexico – indeed, seemingly all of Latin America – had simply fallen off the US radar.

Looking back from 2016, maybe irrelevance wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

Over the past year, Donald Trump has made anti-Mexican sentiment a primary driver of his presidential campaign. He has characterised Mexican immigrants as criminals and rapists and proposed the construction of a border wall that would stop “illegals” from entering the US.

He has threatened to roll back the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to stop Mexico and Mexicans from “killing us on jobs and trade.”

Trump’s assertions aren’t just offensive - they’re also empirically wrong. On the connection between immigration and criminality, for example, it turns out immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than those born in the US. In fact, immigration may actually contribute to reducing crime rates and have a positive effect on economic growth.

What’s more, the supposedly unstoppable flow of “illegals” across the border has actually been declining for several years. In fact, the migratory balance between Mexico and the United States is now negative: more people are returning to Mexico than emigrating to the US.

But what about free trade? Well, it’s complicated, but factually, not all the benefit has gone to Mexico. Nor are the bulk of US jobs lost since the 1990s attributable to NAFTA but rather to competition from China and other factors. How Mexico is portrayed in and by the United States is, to me, a rich subject.

Read the rest at Econo Times

Related: Mexico's Problem Goes Beyond US Elections, Straight to the American People (Worldcrunch)

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