Castaneda Blasts Border Fence

Wants More Work Visas for Mexicans

By Jerry Kammer, June 30, 2013
Wants More Work Visas for Mexicans

In an interview broadcast Sunday on Univision's "Al Punto" program, former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda sharply criticized the just-passed U.S. Senate bill's provisions to lengthen the border fence and limit the number of temporary worker visas. His comments, together with those of Univision anchor Jorge Ramos, contradicted the claim by many advocates of the Senate bill that emigration from Mexico is declining rapidly.

Ramos joined Castaneda in criticizing the Mexican government's position that it will not lobby Congress because it wants to respect the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other countries. Ramos said the Mexican government has been "extremely passive", especially given the fact that in the Senate bill "the number of visas is so low that the number of undocumented is certainly going to continue to rise."

Here are excerpts from Castaneda's comments.

On the Border Fence

It is very adverse for Mexico. ... All the Central Americans who come from Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, fleeing from violence, pass through Mexico. If they're not able to cross the border, what are they going to do? Are they going to return to their countries. No. They're going to stay in Mexico, creating a burden for us that we have to carry. ... I think Mexico should raise its voice much more clearly and forcefully to say that if the United States wants a wall, it needs to have more doors in this wall, with more bells at these doors so that Mexicans and Central Americans can enter the United States with papers.

On Why Mexico Should Lobby House Republicans to Increase the Number of Temporary Work Visas

This is something that the Republicans in the lower house want. They want there to be more visas for more low-wage, low-skill workers. They want them to work in agriculture, in the hotel industry, in restaurants, in construction, in hospitals, nursing homes, etc. [There need to be] more visas for Mexicans in order to not create a new universe of the undocumented. That is the great danger of this reform, that in five or 10 years from now there will be three, four, or five million Mexicans living with fear in the shadows.

On the Temporary Worker Provisions in the Senate Bill

It begins with just 20,000 visas per year. That is extremely few. ... Many experts calculate that 200,000 Mexicans continue going [to the United States] every year, maybe 250,000. That is more or less the number of additional visas that would be needed. Some come in the agricultural part of the immigration reform. ... Some come in others. But at least 150,000 to 200,000 visas, and not just for Mexicans. Because remember, they aren't just for us. They are for all those who come with relatively low levels of wages, education, and skill.