By BRIAN MELLEY, Associated Press
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Mexico’s president spoke of the need for U.S. immigration reform on a two-day visit to immigrant-friendly California, saying those who reject diversity and inclusion will ultimately be proven wrong.
“We want to be a factor of cohesion, not division, with full respect for the sovereignty of the United States,” President Enrique Pena Nieto said Monday. “This, at the end, is about — and only about — a matter of justice for those who contribute so much to the development of the American society.”
Pena Nieto was welcomed by Gov. Jerry Brown, who played up his immigration credentials in a speech that highlighted the close cultural and historical ties they share across borders.
“It wasn’t very long ago that the governor of California was outlawing driver’s licenses for people who were undocumented from Mexico,” Brown said. “That’s not the law anymore.”
Brown signed a bill into law last year that will enable immigrants to get driver’s licenses next year. He said he got the message after a visit to a Monterey artichoke field where the workers yelled “licencia, licencia.”
During an upbeat speech embracing the ties between Mexico and California, Brown didn’t entirely gloss over a relationship that has, at times, been fraught with tension and he referred to past ethnic problems.
California voters in 1994 passed Proposition 187 that sought to ban immigrants who are in the country illegally from access to social services including health care and education, though it was reversed by the courts.
Hispanics have now become a force to be reckoned with in California. They now make up the largest of any racial or ethnic group in the state, though their voter registration numbers still lag behind whites.
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