President Obama has placed Arizona’s immigration law at the forefront of his talks with visiting Mexican President Felipe Calderon, with both leaders sharpening their criticism of the harsh enforcement policy. But missing from the entire discussion is Mexico’s own terrible record on immigration, with human rights violations of a different order altogether.
In a recent report, Amnesty International details some of the worst abuses that Central American migrants endure in Mexico en route to the US. According to Amnesty, as many as six in 10 women are raped as they pass through Mexico—the victims of both criminal gang members and local authorities. Other violations abound:
[M]any Central American migrants to Mexico accuse Mexican officials of demanding bribes or flat-out stealing their cash.
"Migrants in Mexico are facing a major human rights crisis leaving them with virtually no access to justice, fearing reprisals and deportation if they complain of abuses," Rupert Knox, Mexico Researcher at Amnesty International, said. "Persistent failure by the authorities to tackle abuses carried out against irregular migrants has made their journey through Mexico one of the most dangerous in the world."
Lately, as drug violence has soared, migrants have also been increasingly the victims of kidnapping.
To point out such abuses isn’t to say that the concerns about Arizona’s new law are illegitimate. But if Mexico is going to criticize Arizona’s law—the country has even issued a travel warning for residents headed to the state–it must be willing to look in the mirror. The systemic corruption that feeds the drug violence at the border is also victimizing the migrants who are headed there. And having prioritized immigration and border security issues in his talks with Calderon, Obama needs to press these human rights issues directly with the Mexican president.