Donald Trump is actually giving Mexican workers more reason to head to the US, not less. In Mexico it is known as “el efecto Trump”: a barrage of taunts and tweets that rattle the economy and hammer the peso. For the new president, it is part of a strategy to pressure companies to move jobs back to the United States. Mexico’s job will be to suck it up, accept the millions of people Trump has promised to deport, and pay for the proposed border wall.
Reality may soon disrupt this vision because Donald Trump, in one of the first great ironies of his presidency, has given impoverished Mexicans more reason to migrate to the US.
The peso’s slump against the dollar has dramatically driven up their cost of living, fuelling angry protests and steeling the resolve of some to sneak across the border.
“You’re going to see a lot more people from the south coming up here to cross,” said Paulino Hernández, 38, seated in a Catholic-run migrant shelter in Tijuana, on the border with California. “People are feeling bad. Everything has become so expensive. The dollar now goes a lot further.”
Hernández, a construction worker who has lived illegally in San Diego since 2000, recently visited relatives in Oaxaca, in southern Mexico, and found young people clamouring to join him on his trip back to the US. “They want to go north.”
Trump stormed into the White House on vows to end an “invasion” of “illegals”, deport millions of undocumented immigrants, and seal the border.
The numbers trekking north had dwindled over the past decade as the Mexican economy improved, and the US economy struggled, but the mood now was bleak, and dreams of life in the US glowed anew, Hernández said. “My nephew begged to come with me. He doesn’t see a future in Mexico.”
Mexico’s former president Felipe Calderón recently tweeted a warning to America’s new president: “The more jobs you destroy in Mexico, the more immigrants the American people will have. Think a little!”