Let’s Welcome the Refugees, in Mexico

In a large part of the border between Mexico and the United States already exists a wall. The construction of a wall that divides the rest of the border, or the reinforcement of the one that already exists, is nothing but an absolute waste of resources that won’t change the migratory trends that have reached a minimum of Mexicans migrating to the United States. So why it bothers us? Why is it politically profitable for Donald Trump? Why does it seem unacceptable, beyond the foolishness of wanting to impose its payment to the Mexicans, the very construction of that wall? For us, the biggest problem is what that wall symbolizes: the distance that Trump’s government wants to build between our countries is a message of racial segregation to the delight of the white supremacists that exist in his political base. It is an aggression more symbolic than practical, but still, it is an aggression.

Thus, this is one of those moments in history where symbols are important and we must learn to face Trump also in that field. Unless at this point someone is still thinking that there is a chance with the new administration, we must assume that we will be face to face and that there are battles that we can overcome: for example, the battle of symbols.

We must begin by acknowledging that our country has debts with its own people, these debts represent the worst of ourselves because many of them are due to negligence, exclusion, and forgetfulness. This is why the symbol that Mexico must send to the world is not only a symbol to the rest of nations but also a message for us. We should not only talk in the foreign context but also take action to turn into the country we want us to be. How we treat different people, people of other nationalities and religions is a starting point for changing the way we treat ourselves. If we can understand and sympathize with the Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran, Nicaraguan and Haitian immigrants who are now traversing our country, we can also show solidarity with Mexicans who today feel excluded and mistreated by our society. If we can understand that people from as far as Syria and Libya have lives marked by the suffering of seeing their homes destroyed and the fear of returning, then we can understand better the Mexicans who are forced to emigrate leaving their home, their family and community. On the other hand, if we assume that these refugees will be an economic burden or if we see them as potential terrorists, then we are no better than Donald Trump.

That is why we urge President Peña Nieto to convene a session of the Mexican Commission for Refugee Assistance so that an Open Door Policy can be put in place to receive the refugees who have been rejected by the United States because of President Trump’s most recent order against refugees from countries with Muslim-religious backgrounds. No matter what country they come from or what religion they are, in Mexico they can be received. If they are going to exclude us from Mexico, we will show that because we are Mexicans, we can receive and include them. As our nationals have demonstrated in the United States, a country is enriched by the economic and cultural exchange generated by migration. We can enrich ourselves, learn more, and understand the world better if we receive those who for the misfortunes of their countries need to leave their country of origin.

It would not be the first time we have sent a message to the world about who we are and who we want to be. We did it before and those who received our support and openness remember it. Today the Mexican mosaic includes the descendants of many Spanish Republicans who escaped from Franco’s fascism, we have a Jew, Lebanese, French and even half a million Americans who call Mexico their home, because now it is. Not to mention the Colombian, Venezuelan, Cuban, Chilean, Argentine, Armenian, Haitian and many other communities with which we live every day in this country. If we have something to feel proud in Mexico since the thirties is that at least we are a country of open borders, although we have not always honored that rhetoric. This is the time to be what we have always wanted to be: a country committed to those who have lost everything in other parts of the world.

But in addition, winning the symbolic battle has practical consequences. Today much of the world is preparing to withstand the attacks of a completely unpredictable and dangerous U.S. government. Certainly, we don’t know to what extent Donald Trump is willing to push forward his isolationist and anti-Mexican policies. We do know that it has been consistent in proposing, representing and carrying out offensive and exclusionary measures. We also know that it is better to have allies than to be alone. Bringing the best we have of ourselves is an example and a way of weaving alliances with those who also want to show the best of them. That is what we have seen so far with the solidarity shown by local rulers and thousands of Americans with Mexican migrants in their opposition to Trump’s decisions. With a clear and strong message to other countries, we weave a wider network of alliances. We call for solidarity by offering solidarity. Mexico is one of the most vulnerable countries facing Trump’s threat, which also makes us a threat to the rhetoric and actions of the Trump’s administration. This is a unique opportunity for us to implement a foreign policy strategy that allows us to see the whole world with honor.

When the whole world is seeing us we can communicate with symbols, not only to say who we are but who we want to be. This is one of those moments in which the world observes Mexico. They observe us with indignation and solidarity by the decision of the President of the United States to mistreat Mexican migrants in the United States and by the construction of a wall that, regardless of how banal it may seem, marks the distance that he wants to impose on our Countries. The countries that observe us also watch us with expectation and hope. They hope to know if Mexico will be the first to resist decisions that represent racism, xenophobia and exclusion. They hope to know if Mexico will hurt the actions of Donald Trump and the group of extremists around him. Let us confirm their hopes.

All the political statements that our political group has published usually end with a definition of who are our political opponents. This time we think it is not a time to define opponents. This time we want to do the opposite: we want to show that what can build ties between those who think and live differently. Those who are willing to make Mexico a country to welcome refugees, who will not be received in the United States because of the decisions of the administration of Donald Trump, will be our political allies.

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