Posted on November 5, 2004

Bush Victory, Passage Of Prop. 200 Worry Mexicans

Chris Hawley, Arizona Republic (Phoenix), Nov. 5

MEXICO CITY — Mexicans expressed dismay at President Bush’s re-election and passage of Proposition 200 in Arizona, saying they fear the votes show the United States becoming more conservative and anti-immigration.

“People in the United States don’t realize how much their elections affect the rest of the world,” said Guillermo Escamilla Gonzalez, an office manager at an accounting firm in Mexico City.

“They should be thinking more about stabilizing their economy, which affects us all down here in Mexico. With Bush, it’s all war, war, war,” he said.

Bush is widely disliked in Mexico, which opposed the invasion of Iraq and watched with frustration as the United States tightened border controls and postponed action on promised immigration reform after Sept. 11, 2001.

During the weekend, protesters set up a Day of the Dead display with an anti-Bush theme outside the U.S. Embassy. They spelled out “Peace — Stop Bush” with flowers on the sidewalk. Signs saying “Embassy of Death” and pictures of prisoner abuse in Iraq hung from the security barrier in front of the building.

Mexican President Vicente Fox congratulated Bush on Wednesday in a written statement issued during a visit to Panama, but he urged the American president to get moving on immigration reform. He also invited Bush to attend a meeting Monday and Tuesday aimed at reviving binational efforts.

At an election-night reception, U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza said immigration reform is still a goal.

U.S. rules aimed at immigrants remain the most important issue to most Mexicans. Arizona’s Proposition 200, which requires people to present proof of their citizenship when registering to vote and applying for public services, is widely seen as anti-Mexican.

The Mexican foreign ministry issued a statement criticizing the measure and hinted at legal action, saying it would work with Proposition 200 opponents “in order to follow up on the process by which the corresponding legal institutions could review the constitutionality of the proposition.”

“The Mexican government regrets that the proposition passed and expresses its complete opposition to the measure, as it discriminates against individuals based on their ethnic profile and limits their access to basic health and education services,” the ministry said in a written statement. “The measure does not help to address the challenges presented by migration between Mexico and Arizona.”

Many Mexicans said they are afraid it signals a bigger backlash against immigrants.

“It worries me a lot, those people are the working class up there and they deserve to be treated better,” said Roberto Aragón Figueroa, 38, a building manager.

A few, however, empathized with Americans’ efforts to crack down on undocumented immigrants.

“It’s better that way. Let (the Mexicans) come back to their country,” said Alfredo Martínez Espinoza, a 39-year-old teacher in an adult-education program.

“The immigrants always want things easy. The ones that go there, what are they going to do? Sell hamburgers, take care of children? Well, you can do that here, too. There’s work here.”

Some, too, were hopeful that Bush will make good on promises of immigration reform in his second term.

“Think of all the people who die because they’re trying to get to the United States illegally,” said Rocio Maldonado, 61, a retired secretary. “I heard on the radio that he is promising something to help them. If he does, that would be a good thing.”