May 27, 2005
Jackson lashes out at Mexican President

The Rev. Jesse Jackson has criticized Mexican President Vicente Fox’s comment, that Mexican immigrants to the United States take jobs “that not even blacks want to do.”

Jackson called the remark “a spurious comparison” with “ominous racial overtones that were unwitting, unnecessary, and inappropriate.”{{more}}

The Mexican president’s office issued a statement on Saturday May 14 which emphasized that Fox has “enormous respect to minorities whatever their racial, ethnic, or religious origin may be.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Derbez defended Fox, and stressed that his comments were interpreted negatively, and his statement was not meant as an insult. Derbez said, “The president didn’t make a declaration in the racist sense; of course there are those who interpret it in that way.”

According to Derbez, Fox was making the point that Mexican migrants are making great contributions in the United States and that their role is a positive role. “They’ve been able to improve the conditions of life not just for themselves but also for the communities in which they settle and, by the same token, the president made the comment in this context to say that a large quantity of the jobs taken by Mexicans are jobs that in the U.S. society aren’t being filled.”

The Foreign Relations Secretary further stated, “I think that what we have to be very clear about is that the statement made by the president was in no way motivated by racism.”

Rev. Jackson however told CNN in a telephone interview that Fox “should not confuse the need for sound legal immigration policy between the two countries, which is important, and the border disputes between the two countries, with a spurious comparison. The comparison is diversionary from the issue of a workable immigration policy between the U.S. and Mexico.”

Jackson said that he has worked “for the citizenship rights of immigrants and Mexican Americans” and wants steps taken to avoid making the United States “hostile toward immigration policy.”

Jackson, who said he has never met Fox, planned to call the Mexican president, said Fox’s comment about “blacks” seemed to be about a stereotype but that most poor Americans are not black, they’re white.

Fox made the controversial comment on Friday May 13 to a group of Texas businessmen meeting in Mexico. He criticized recent steps the United States has taken that the Bush administration said were aimed at curbing illegal immigration. Fox discussed the role that many Mexican immigrants occupy in the U.S. economy.