The Rev. Jesse Jackson on Saturday criticized Mexican President Vicente Fox’s comment that Mexican immigrants to the United States take jobs “that not even blacks want to do.”
Jackson called the remark “a spurious comparison” with “ominous racial overtones.”
The Mexican president’s office issued a statement late Saturday disputing the negative interpretation of his comments, saying Fox has “enormous respect to minorities whatever their racial, ethnic, or religious origin may be.”
A Mexican official defended Fox later in the day, saying his description was not meant as an insult.
“The president didn’t make a declaration in the racist sense; of course there are those who interpret it in that way,” Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Derbez told a reporter in the Mexican state of Jalisco.
According to Derbez, Fox was making the point that “Mexican migrants are making great contributions in the United States and that their role is a positive role.”
“They’ve been able to improve the conditions of life not just for themselves but also for the communities in which they settle and, by the same token, the president made the comment in this context to say that a large quantity of the jobs taken by Mexicans are jobs that in the U.S. society aren’t being filled.”
“I think that what we have to be very clear about is that the statement made by the president was in no way motivated by racism.”