Mexico’s President: ‘Anti-American Feeling in Mexico Is Growing’ Because of Public’s ‘Perception’ About Illegal Immigrants

By Edwin Mora | March 4, 2011 | 5:49 PM EST

In this Sept. 24, 2010 photo, Benjamin Reynosa, 49, of Orange Cove, picks table grapes near Fowler, Calif. As the economy tanked over the past two years, the immigration debate has focused on whether immigrants are taking jobs Americans want. Here, amid the sweltering melon fields and vineyards of the nation's top farm state, where one of every eight people is still out of a job, the answer is no. (AP Photo/Garance Burke)

Washington ( - Mexican President Felipe Calderon, during his visit to Washington, D.C., this week, indicated that “anti-American” sentiment is growing in Mexico because of how the people there view Americans’ perception of illegal immigration.

Prior to going forward with immigration reform in the United States, “We need to change the general perception inside the public opinion in America and the public opinion in Mexico,” said Calderon. 

“My most serious concern is that bad feelings are growing on both sides of the border,” he added. “The anti-American feeling in Mexico is growing again.”

Meanwhile, he said, “the anti-Mexican or anti-Hispanic, or Latino, or immigrant feelings are growing here [in the United States].”

“What we need to do is remember each other – that we are neighbors, we are nice, and we are human persons,” said Calderon. “We contribute to each other’s prosperity.”

Unless the public’s perception about immigration, in both countries, changes, “it will be impossible to persuade” people to implement immigration reform, said Calderon.

The Mexican president’s comments were in response to a George Washington University student asking him to comment on what he thought was the “best solution” to deal with illegal immigrants in America. An estimated 13 million illegals are in the United States, many of them from Mexico.

Calderon was questioned during a public forum sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

In answering the student, Calderon said the DREAM Act, which he referred to as “tough comprehensive immigration reform” would have been a good step in the right direction of dealing with illegal immigration in the U.S.

The DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which failed to pass during the lame-duck session of Congress in 2010, would have allowed young illegal immigrants who have been in the states for at least five years to acquire legal status if they pass background checks, attend college or serve in the military for at least two years.