Mexican Officials Keep Meddling In Red States’ Efforts To Crack Down On Illegal Immigration

April 23, 2024 3:18 PM ET

The Mexican government is publicly opposing bills passed or being considered by states that seek to crack down on illegal immigration, and becoming directly involved in efforts to squash them.

In response to what they describe as a failure of the Biden administration to handle the ongoing border crisis, a number of states have passed legislation that gives their own law enforcement officials the means to tackle the issue. Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbot recently signed into law SB4, a bill that allows local and state officers to engage in immigration enforcement. Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, also a Republican, is considering legislation that would give local and state law enforcement the ability to arrest those they suspect of being in the U.S. illegally.

Texas’ SB4 makes it a state crime to cross the Texas-Mexico border between ports of entry. If a local or state officer suspects that an individual crossed into Texas unlawfully, they could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor, and serve up to six months jail time. Harsher jail times are handed down for repeat offenders.

However, the Mexican government has become intimately involved in opposing these bills, continuing a growing trend in Mexican President Andre Manuel Lopez Obrador’s administration of attempting to intervene in American politics.

“Undocumented migrants are not criminals and they do pay taxes. They work really hard. They are here without papers, that is true. That is unfortunate,” Edurne Pineda, the top Mexican diplomat in Oklahoma City, said Monday about the state’s immigration bill, according to local media.

“So criminalizing them is not going to solve anything, neither is it fair,” Pineda said.

Pineda met directly with Stitt and Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall to voice her opposition to the legislation. Stitt, for his part, has not yet declared publicly if he will sign the bill should it reach his desk. The bill has passed the state house and still needs to clear the state senate.

Over in Texas, lawmakers already passed their SB4 and the governor signed it into law, but a federal judge in February blocked it from taking effect. A federal circuit court is currently weighing whether it’s constitutional.

Mexican Foreign Secretary Alicia Bárcena has voiced strong opposition to the law, saying publicly that her government is “very concerned” should the courts allow it to be implemented.

“SB4 is not in effect, but we need to be prepared as to how we will protect our migrants, our immigrants who live in Texas and in states that are contemplating similar laws,” Bárcena stated, according to Border Report.

“We believe it’s a law that discriminates, that is anti-immigrant.”

Bárcena on Sunday completed a statewide tour where she met with every Mexican consular office in Texas, a campaign that was centered on opposing SB4. The foreign secretary said she believes “these types of issues” will fade out once the U.S. election concludes, according to Texas Public Radio.

Bárcena also vowed that the Mexican government would not accept any migrants Texas attempts to repatriate back to her country.

Migrants of different nationalities pray in front of anti-riot agents of the Texas National Guard who prevent passage towards their border line, as seen from Ciudad Juarez, state of Chihuahua, Mexico, on April 16, 2024. (Photo by Herika Martinez / AFP) (Photo by HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Mexico’s opposition to SB4 isn’t limited to public press conferences. Their government filed an amicus brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals in March, arguing that the law “negatively impacts” Mexican communities and the bilateral relationship with the U.S., according to the amicus brief.

While the fate of Oklahoma’s and Texas’ legislation are currently being fought out, this is not the first time in recent memory that Lopez Obrador’s government has assumed direct opposition to hardline immigration proposals.

Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis in May 2023 signed into law an immigration bill that made it a crime to knowingly transport illegal aliens into the state, requires hospitals to obtain patient’s immigration status, authorized Florida to use $12 million for a program that few migrants out of the state, among other provisions.

In response, Lopez Obrador called on U.S. citizens to not vote for DeSantis, then a Republican presidential candidate.

“I ask the Hispanics in Florida not to give one single vote [to Ron DeSantis]. Do not vote for those who persecute migrants,” he said during a May press briefing.

Nearly two months after those comments, Lopez Obrador called on Mexican-Americans to not vote for Abbott or other Republicans after he erected a floating barrier of buoys along the Rio Grande River in Eagle Pass, Texas.

“We don’t have to do much, just tell our compatriots not to vote for the governor of Texas or for lawmakers of the Republican Party who support these measures,” Lopez Obrador said during a press conference at the time.

The Mexican embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation.