- By Ruby MellenRuby Mellen is a fellow at Foreign Policy with a background in TV, print, and digital journalism. Before coming to FP, she covered the 2016 election as a news associate at CNN in Washington, D.C., working on State of the Union with Jake Tapper. Prior to that, she was a politics fellow at the Huffington Post. She was born in New York and is a dual citizen of Belgium and the United States.
President Donald Trump’s immigration policy is pushing him out of favor with Mexicans, but it’s not making them any less eager to move to the United States.
A new Pew Research Center study has found that Mexicans view the United States less favorably than they have in over a decade, but they still think America would offer them a better life, though they are less inclined to immigrate illegally.
The report comes as the Trump administration advances its hardline approach to immigration issues. The president ran a campaign rife with anti-immigrant vitriol, promising voters a border wall between the United States and Mexico. Since taking office, Trump has backed legislation that would largely slash the number of immigrants allowed into the United States while also rescinding DACA, an Obama-era executive order meant to protect undocumented children from deportation. He’s also vowed to renegotiate a trade deal with Mexico and Canada.
The survey, conducted among 1,000 respondents in Mexico from March 2 to April 10, says 65 percent of Mexicans have a negative opinion of the United States — it was 29 percent in 2015 — with 94 percent of them opposing Trump’s proposed border wall and only 5 percent having confidence in the president himself.
But while Mexico’s disapproval of the United States is the lowest it’s been in fifteen years, the numbers could be seen as a win for the administration’s crackdown on illegal immigration. While a third of Mexicans say they would move to the United States if given the opportunity, only 13 percent said they would do so without authorization, a 7 percent drop from 2015.
The report also paints a dark picture of Mexico’s domestic affairs, with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s favorability at an all-time low as the country gears up for elections in 2018. (He can’t run for reelection at any rate.) Faith in the national economy has dwindled, as has hope that government corruption can be stymied. Overall 85 percent of Mexicans are dissatisfied with the general state of affairs in their country.
In Peña Nieto’s last state of the union address before elections he vowed to defend Mexico’s “dignity” and expressed support to the young “dreamers” of the United States, a commonly-used reference to the children DACA protected.
While the two presidents engage in a battle of words, not all arms of the U.S. government are raining blows on its neighbor. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is scheduled to visit Mexico Friday for the country’s independence day. The Pentagon has provided advice and equipment to Mexico for its crackdown on drug cartels.
“Secretary Mattis’s visit to Mexico reaffirms our commitment to the bilateral defense relationship and to the North America community,” said Pentagon spokesman Army Lieutenant Colonel Jamie Davis.
Photo credit: JUSTIN SULLIVAN/Getty Images