Trump’s NAFTA Withdrawal Threats, Deportations Blamed for Increase in Mexicans’ Negative Views of US

By Mark Browne | September 22, 2017 | 12:02am EDT

Mexico City ( – A recent survey of Mexicans’ opinions found a significant jump in the percentage holding a “very unfavorable” opinion of the United States – from six percent in 2015 to 42 percent this year – and also a decline in Mexicans’ willingness to move illegally to the U.S. to look for work.

Immigration advocates and experts attribute a shift to President Trump’s rhetoric, his threat to pull out of NAFTA, and an increase in immigrant deportations.

The Pew Research Center’s survey, conducted last spring, found 65 percent of Mexicans have a negative view of the U.S., more than double what it was two years ago when 29 percent expressed a negative view.

“More Mexicans view the United States unfavorably than at any time in the past decade and a half,” the center said.

Opinions of the U.S. appear to have flipped 180 degrees from a majority positive view in 2015, when 66 percent of those surveyed expressed a favorable view of the U.S.

The survey also found a seven percent drop in Mexicans willing to move to the U.S. without authorization to find work.

“Mexicans express less of a willingness to live and work in the U.S. without authorization than they did in 2015, with only 13 percent saying that they would do so, down from 20 percent two years ago.”

Mexicans’ perception of the economic relationship between the two nations has also suffered.

According to the survey, 55 percent view economic ties between the two countries as being “good” for Mexico, a drop from 70 percent in 2013.

Moreover, only five percent of Mexicans trust Trump to “do the right thing,” the lowest rating of his leadership among the 37 countries surveyed by Pew Research.

Enrique Morales, founder of Border Angels and an advocate for immigrants and Latino issues in the U.S., blamed the sharp increase in Mexicans’ negative opinion of the US on what he called Trump’s “hate speech.”

“He started his campaign for the presidency calling Mexicans criminals and rapists. People heard that,” Morales told

“It’s really sad. I know it will change for the better eventually because people who know us like us. It’s happened throughout history, attacking different groups of people.”

Morales, who was born in the U.S. and has dual citizenship, argued that fewer Mexicans are willing to move to the U.S. without authorization because the economy in Mexico is improving.

“The situation in Mexico has gotten a lot better in most parts, so they are not leaving.”

Most immigrants crossing the border illegally now are Central Americans escaping violence in their home countries, he said.

Mexicans’ opinion of the U.S. started to drop during the Obama administration partly due to an increase in deportations, according to Javier Urbano Reyes, a professor of migration and international studies at the Ibero-American University in Mexico City.

Business leaders and Mexicans aged 15-30 have traditionally had more positive views of the U.S., he said.

But Trump’s threat to withdraw from NAFTA and his rhetoric against Mexicans have turned opinion against the U.S.

“The perception is that the U.S. is not acting like a partner and is treating Mexico as a risk,” Urbano said.

“This has changed the relationship from open trust to one of distrust.”

Mexicans deported from the U.S. have also helped feed a negative view of the U.S., Urbano said.

“Mexicans don’t see a positive future in the U.S.”

Nonetheless, the Pew study also found Mexicans are increasingly unhappy with the situation in their own country.

Seven in ten see the economy there as “bad,” and 85 percent are “dissatisfied with the way things are going in Mexico generally.”

The survey found “only 13 percent of Mexicans are satisfied with the way things are going,” down from 27 percent in 2015.

“Today, seven-in-ten Mexicans view their country’s current economic situation as bad – including 35 percent who say the national economy is very bad, an increase of 10 percentage points since 2012.”

Mexicans’ opinions of their country’s economy are more positive among respondents living within 200 miles of the U.S. border.

While 72 percent said they view Mexico’s economy as “bad” in central and southern Mexico, the percentage dropped to 58 percent among those living nearer the border.

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