Thursday, November 15, 2007
Inland activists head to immigration summit in Mexico.
Several Inland immigration-rights advocates are heading to Mexico City to participate in a first-ever summit Friday and Saturday between U.S.-based activists of Mexican ancestry and members of the Mexican Congress.
The Mexican Congress last month called for the "parliament," which will include up to 500 delegates, to discuss immigration-related issues.
"It is important they hear what is really going on" in the U.S. among people of Mexican origin, said delegate Gilberto Esquivel, president of Hispanos Unidos, a Riverside-based advocacy and assistance group. "We're the ones living through this situation. They need to get off their duffs and do something."
Participants will discuss proposals for the Mexican Congress to fund programs to help immigrants in the United States and defend their rights, and to pay for an organization that would lobby the U.S. government on immigration policy. The Mexican government has previously lobbied in the United States, as have other countries.
Delegates will also discuss ways that people on both sides of the border can work together on immigration-related issues.
Delegate Armando Navarro, coordinator of the Riverside-based National Alliance for Human Rights, said he would also urge the Mexican government to institute wage increases, job-creation programs and other policies to reduce the extreme poverty that causes many Mexicans to leave for the U.S.
Delegate John Rodriguez said the parliament is necessary because of anti-immigrant attitudes in the United States that have affected even U.S. citizens like him. For example, Rodriguez said that when he voted in his Moreno Valley precinct last year, he was asked to show identification -- but white voters were not.
People of Mexican ancestry make up 45 percent of San Bernardino County's population, and 41 percent of Riverside County's, according to the U.S. Census.
It is unclear how many members of Mexico's Congress will attend the meetings or how much influence the parliament's decisions will have on the Congress. A Mexican congressional spokesman did not return phone calls for comment.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies, which seeks greater limits on immigration, said the meeting was another example of the Mexican government interfering in internal U.S. politics.
"The problem is we have permitted Mexico to view our immigration policy as a bi-national matter," Krikorian said. "The Mexican government now views itself as having a role in U.S. policymaking."
Yet Navarro said foreign countries regularly lobby within the United States, and the U.S. regularly tries to influence other countries' policies.