As the rhetoric continues that somehow the Mexican government is instructing people to come to the U.S., that the Pope is doing the Mexican government's dirty work, I must share what I saw and heard from the Mexican people and local governments in Guerrero (my home state).
In January, the Guerrero government held a convening in Taxco, where state and local officials, and most importantly thousands of citizens gathered to discuss migration and what can be done to PREVENT it.
Stories were shared of once thriving communities turned into ghost towns. Towns where only children, women and the elderly live because all the men have gone north to seek work. The stories of children growing up without fathers, of fathers and mothers who take their last breath without ever seeing their sons again were many and each of them broke my heart.
The Mexican people do not want their sons and fathers to leave their homeland. On the contrary, they yearn for opportunities in their own land. They demand that the Mexican government does more to improve the economy so that they don't lose generations of men. As far as I could tell, the government officials who were there were listening and proposed several initiatives to keep more Mexicans in Mexico.
More than 50% of Guerrero's economy is made up of remittances-- money immigrants in the U.S.A send home. That is unacceptable. The road ahead for reversing migration patters is tough and long, but I am glad that solutions are being discussed.
In the meantime, I will continue to remind everyone that no one risks their lives to come to the U.S.A and get on welfare. We do it because our children's, our mothers's and father's lives depend on it.