SACRAMENTO (AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown said Wednesday the arrival of unaccompanied young migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border is more of a humanitarian issue than a political one.
The Democrat said the state “is willing to do its part” but offered no details on what it might do or what actions he might take.
“I see this as not so much a political issue in terms of the underage people coming from Central America,” Brown said. “It’s really a humanitarian question.”
Brown met with Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jose Antonio Meade Kuribrena at a lunch in Sacramento ahead of Brown’s four-day trade mission to the neighboring country next week.
Both say they look forward to extending California’s ties to Mexico by increasing trade, university exchanges and fighting climate change.
The governor said long-term solutions such as trade and cultural exchanges are needed in order to improve the safety and economic well-being of Central American countries.
“In that regard, I think Mexico will play a very important role and I would like California, in its own way as a state, to do whatever it can in a constructive way,” Brown said.
Brown has set a much different tone regarding the California-Mexico border than Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is deploying up to 1,000 National Guard troops in response to what he described as an “assault” on American citizens.
Brown declined to send the California National Guard to the southern border of his state.
Meade told The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial board Tuesday that Perry’s response is unnecessary.
“There’s a need to respond to the upsurge in minors, but I don’t see how the upsurge of minors threatens the security of the U.S. — and I certainly don’t see how it threatens the security of Texas,” the foreign minister said.
More than 57,000 minors have arrived since October, mostly from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala, and tens of thousands of families also have arrived.
Meade said Wednesday that the Mexican government is looking to help fight trafficking of immigrants by tightening control at its Guatemalan border, which is known to be porous.
He said President Enrique Pena Nieto’s government is also looking for ways to stop illegal migrants catching rides on freight trains known as La Bestia.
Meade said both countries need to recognize that the border is an economic engine for both countries.
During Wednesday’s lunch, Meade told California officials and business leaders that Mexico’s trade with California exceeds Mexico’s trade with China.
“Lack of immigration reform is holding all of these prospects back,” he said.
Brown said California’s diversity played a role in his decision this week to nominate Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, a Mexican-born, Stanford University law professor, to the California Supreme Court. Half of California’s school-age children are of Latin descent, he said.
“It’s important that they see all the positions of power with people who they identify with,” the governor said. “I would also point out that this is a very accomplished individual.”