In a restaurant grill in Mexico City that could have been in Austin, Texas, a group of Mexicans and expatriates toasted whenever Republican candidate Donald Trump or Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton said “Mexico” or Trump promised once again to deport the bad guys.
With 200 people gathered Wednesday night to watch the final U.S. presidential debate, there was reflection on how their northern neighbor affected their lives. There were bingo cards with quotes from the candidates, and beef ribs and brisket served from the window of a silver caravan to enjoy at picnic tables.
Nonetheless, the campaign seems to have a real impact on Mexico, where citizens have seen polls in recent weeks affecting the value of their currency and have received a constant barrage of news about the campaign.
“It is affecting us right now,” said Alejandra Cárdenas, video director in Mexico City. “Our economy is clearly linked, so we are all gathered here.”
But the impact goes beyond Mexico. Colombian postdoctoral student Guevara Natalia Jaramillo spoke about being against Trump’s stigmatization of immigrants.
“What happens in the United States directly affects the entire continent and much of the world,” she said.
Trump’s comments on immigration have been especially severe.
It set the tone when he announced his candidacy last year in a speech in which he said that Mexico sends their “rapists” to the United States. His attacks on Mexico have only increased since then, and he has accused the country of stealing jobs and filling the United States with heroin.
During a stretch of Wednesday’s debate focused on immigration, Trump explained once again how to stop all illegal immigration by building a wall along the border with Mexico and deporting those who live in the country without residence permits, including “bad hombres” or bad men.
“I think that Trump’s language since the beginning of the campaign, describing them as rapists, as criminals, has not changed,” said Mexican Santiago Betancourt. “Trump perhaps echoes or uses arguments that exist in a class of U.S. citizens that he thinks will make him president. But I think it’s not … presidential language.”
“We saw today in the debate, he is talking about the wall, he is talking about immigration, and the only thing he can think to say at the moment is that in the United States there are ‘bad hombres’ and that they need to be removed from the country,” he added.