One week after Donald Trump’s election as the next U.S. president, Mexico has issued a message of support for Mexican immigrants living in the United States: “We are with you.”
On Wednesday, the Mexican government instructed its embassy and consulates in the U.S. to step up measures to protect Mexican immigrants. The measures include a 24-hour hotline that will allow people to report harassment and immigration raids, as well as the expansion of deportation-defense work at 50 consulates.
“These are uncertain times,” said Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu in an online video introducing the new measures. “The government of President Enrique Peña Nieto and all Mexicans are with you. We are going to be closer than ever.”
Ruiz urged those living in the U.S. to contact Mexican consulates to find out whether they might be targeted for deportation after Trump takes office next year.
Trump’s vows of mass deportations have caused deep anxiety among those living in the U.S. illegally, about 5 million to 6 million of whom were born in Mexico. His repeated criticism of Mexico has also put millions of legal Mexican immigrants on edge.
The new measures introduced Wednesday illustrate the level of concern that is also felt south of the border over Trump’s immigration threats.
While Mexican officials have been seeking ways to defend Mexico against Trump’s pledge to impose stiff tariffs on Mexican goods and tear up free trade agreements, his threat to ramp up deportations could devastate the Mexican economy.
Mexico, whose peso has been faltering since news of Trump’s victory, is highly reliant on the billions of dollars in remittances it receives each year from immigrants living in the U.S. And experts say it would be difficult for Mexico to absorb large numbers of new deportees.
Already, Mexican officials have been struggling to integrate the roughly 200,000 Mexicans who are repatriated annually by U.S. immigration authorities. Many returnees lack the proper Mexican documents to find work, and many come with their children, some of whom are U.S. citizens who don’t speak Spanish. Nearly half a million U.S. citizen children are enrolled in Mexican schools, according to government statistics.
As part of its Trump-related action plan, Mexico says it will make it easier for Mexicans living in the U.S. to obtain proper Mexican identity documents and will intensify a campaign to register as Mexican citizens children born in the U.S. to parents who are Mexican nationals.
A statement released by the Foreign Ministry on Wednesday titled “We Are With You” also pledged to “strengthen dialogue with state and local authorities.”
While immigration laws are enforced by federal officials, increasing numbers of local and state municipalities have taken steps to limit collaboration on deportations. It is “local policies that determine, to a large extent, the daily lives of Mexicans in the United States,” the statement said.
The statement called on Mexicans living in the U.S. to avoid “situations of conflict” that could lead to jail time and eventually a deportation order. Ruiz echoed that sentiment in her video. “Stay calm,” she said.