SACRAMENTO Calif. (Reuters) - The growing network of cross-border ties with Mexico, including trade equaling $1 million every minute, is threatened by the lack of progress toward immigration reform in the United States, Mexico’s foreign secretary said on Wednesday.
The remarks by Jose Antonio Meade before members of the California Chamber of Commerce came in advance of a trade mission to Mexico next week by Democratic Governor Jerry Brown.
“We are looking ahead to a time when Mexico and the U.S. will benefit not just from allegiances but from an increased network of cross-border ties between our societies,” Meade said. “Lack of immigration reform is holding all of these prospects back.”
Meade spoke against a backdrop of growing economic relations between the United States and Mexico, and rising tensions from the flow of thousands of undocumented children from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras into the United States from Mexico along the Texas border.
The influx has intensified the debate over immigration reform and overwhelmed U.S. authorities, who have been hard-pressed to find temporary housing for the young migrants as they await deportation proceedings.
In California on Tuesday, planning commissioners in the San Diego suburb of Escondido rejected a proposal to open a temporary shelter for some of the children.
President Barack Obama has pledged to take executive action on immigration reform after Republican leaders in Congress said they would not allow a vote this year on reform legislation including a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.
Meade, who addressed the Chamber of Commerce along with Brown, said Mexico was working with the three Central American countries to secure its borders while providing health and other services for the young migrants fleeing poverty, gangs and drug violence.
He said Mexico would treat the children with compassion and respect their human rights.
Brown said he viewed the border-crossings as a humanitarian problem, not a political one.
In addition to discussing economic matters on his visit next week, Brown said he would also bring up the migrant children.
“California will do its part,” he said, although he did not specify what actions the state would take.
Reporting by Sharon Bernstein; Editing by Peter Cooney