Mexicans Protest U.S. Immigration Policy
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
In the United States, there is this fierce debate over the detention of thousands of migrants and the separation of migrant children from their parents. In Mexico, there is condemnation. That nation is set to elect a new leader on July 1, and all the candidates have expressed outrage, and members of Mexico's congress are calling to stop immigration and security coordination with the United States. Joining us now is Lulu Garcia-Navarro. She's the host of NPR's Weekend Edition Sunday, and she's been reporting from Mexico City this week. Hi, Lulu.
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: Hi.
GREENE: All right. So Mexican politicians are speaking out. What is the reaction in that country in general, with everything we've been reporting on here?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, David, there's an enormous amount of outrage. They take it very personally here. In editorials, in newspapers, commentary on the radio, it's garnered a huge amount of attention, as well. We went to a protest outside the U.S. Embassy yesterday. Take a listen to what they were chanting.
(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)
UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Speaking Spanish).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, they're chanting no to children in cages, children need to be in classrooms, stop kidnapping our children, let our people go.
GREENE: And they use the term kidnapping. That's...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: They use the term kidnapping. And here's protester Gabriela Contreras, who was crying when she spoke to us.
GABRIELA CONTRERAS: (Through interpreter) A baby doesn't deserve to suffer what they're suffering, in a cage as if they're an animal. A dog doesn't deserve that cage, much less a baby without their parents. It hurts a lot. That's why we're here.
GREENE: Wow. Well, Lulu, let me just ask. I mean, the Trump administration obviously had a lot of different messages about the zero tolerance policy. But, at times, officials said it was in part to be a deterrent, that the hope was that migrants might change their mind about coming to the U.S. illegally. Is that happening?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, President Trump's zero tolerance policy is having real blowback here, David. Migrants with children especially feel trapped in Mexico because, of course, this is where they transit towards the United States coming from Central America. And they're afraid of going to the border and losing their kids or being prosecuted. We visited a shelter yesterday, and it's more than doubled its capacity, and they expect even more migrants to sort of wait it out here. But, you have to remember, Mexico's in the midst of its own crisis of violence, and officials say it doesn't have the capacity to take people fleeing from Central America in. And, you know, we interviewed a woman yesterday. She's got two kids. She's pregnant. She fled Honduras because her ex-partner beat her and threatened her, and he basically tracked her down to Mexico, she told us. And she says she's not safe here and she's terrified, but she doesn't want to go to the United States right now and have her kids taken away so she doesn't know what to do.
GREENE: How much is the United States playing in terms of being a factor in this presidential election that you're covering?
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, this election is not about the United States and Trump. It's about violence and corruption. But Mexico's relationship with the United States looms large. Mexicans are extremely unhappy about how the current Mexican government has dealt with President Trump, and it feels that it's been doing a lot. It already stops half of all Central American migrants from getting to the United States.
GREENE: Lula Garcia-Navarro is the host of Weekend Edition Sunday. She is in Mexico City covering the run-up to the presidential election there. Lulu, thanks.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.