Mexico’s President Enrique Pena Nieto encouraged Americans to embrace immigrants and provide justice “to those who contribute so much to the development of the American society” during a two-day visit to California that marked his first official trip to the U.S. since he was sworn in nearly two years ago. Pena Nieto was in California for trade talks with Gov. Jerry Brown, who has sought to create close ties with the state’s increasingly influential Mexican population.
Pena Nieto was scheduled Tuesday to address the California Legislature and attend a luncheon in his honor hosted by Brown in Sacramento. Pena Nieto’s visit comes after Brown traveled to Mexico City in July and signed nonbinding agreements on trade and education, as noted by the Associated Press. During his visit, Pena Nieto had strong words for U.S. leaders who have taken a tough stance on illegal immigration.
“There are still states that have not evolved so much as California, that still skimp on recognition and, even worse, the rights of immigrants,” the Los Angeles Times quoted him as saying. “Those who still believe and bet for the exclusion and discrimination or the rejection of diversity ... I only have one thing to say: the future, and a very near future, will demonstrate your ethical mistake. Time will show we’re right.”
Latinos represent the largest racial or ethnic group in California, while Hispanics represented 17 percent of the U.S. population in 2013, according to Census Bureau data. Brown said it was important for California, the most populous state in the U.S., to establish close ties with Mexico. “In so many ways, together we advance,” he said in a statement released by his office.
While in Mexico last month, Brown met with religious and government leaders from across Central America to discuss the ongoing immigration crisis in the U.S., including the influx of unaccompanied minors crossing the border.
“The problems of the border can’t be solved at the border alone, and political divisions will not be a source of solutions,” he said at the time.