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Mexico Foreign Secretary: Immigrants Not 'Security Concerns'

Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu said the U.S. should “embrace migration as an opportunity,” arguing that migrants are wrongly being portrayed as “security concerns.”

“These narratives are simply unsustainable and these narratives sell among some audiences due to misinformation about the impact of migration,” Ruiz Massieu said at a Migration Policy Institute event.

She also said it is often easier for people to focus on the costs of migration rather than the “countless contributions” immigrants make to their “countries of destination” such as the United States.

“Now imagine this figure: $11.8 billion. This is the amount of dollars that undocumented immigrants pay to state and local governments in the form of taxes in 2012, and the list goes on,” she said.

“We need to embrace migration as an opportunity. We have to change our mindset and adapt to current needs that are anything but static. Today it is even more critical to unmask the stereotypes of international migrants and design solutions tailored to each context, prioritizing the wellbeing of each person who migrates and making sure their fundamental rights are fully respected.”

Ruiz Massieu suggested that governments not work to close off borders or limit migration but instead make “significant efforts” to increase safe and secure migration flows.

Ruiz Massieu told the audience that immigrating to any country illegally from Mexico is discouraged but it is not criminalized.

“Like any other country, we discourage illegal migration but we do not – and that is a very important principle of our immigration law and our policies – we do not criminalize undocumented migration. We try to educate. We try to help. We try to assist,” she said. “We try to help people assimilate into their communities and face the requirements they need to meet, but I do not think any country in the world really encourages undocumented migration.”

She said the Mexican government is ready to welcome Syrian refugees but it “seems they are choosing other destinations.”