A coalition of anti-illegal immigrant advocates with a goal of halting American tourism to Mexico are distributing fliers along the San Ysidro border that accuse the country of being aggressive and hostile to the United States and disrespectful of its laws.
Americans United to Halt Tourism in Mexico – formed by Minutemen groups across the country and local groups such as Huntington Beach-based California Coalition for Immigration Reform – is urging Americans bound for sun and fun south of the border to instead visit the U.S. Southwest.
“Do not give your tourist dollars to Mexico!” the fliers say.
Aside from passing out the fliers along the border, some advocates say they plan to distribute them soon at college campuses in Orange County.
“With Americans going down … it would be contributing to the economy of a country that is hostile to the United States of America,” said Barbara Coe, a Huntington Beach resident and leader of California Coalition for Immigration Reform. “Mexico has constantly tried to interfere with immigration policy.”
However, some Mexico-U.S. relations experts and the Mexican Consul in Santa Ana say they don’t believe the fliers will have much of an effect, especially on tourism. About 22 million people visit Mexico every year, experts say.
“Tourism to the border region and Mexico is a huge phenomenon,” said UCI political science professor Louis Desipio, who specializes in immigration and U.S.-Mexico relations. “The effect of a handful of people passing out fliers” will be minimal.”
Mexican Consul Carlos Rodríguez y Quezada disputes the fliers’ claims that Mexico urges amnesty, is violent and is a bad neighbor.
“We’ve always been good friends and good neighbors,” he said. “We’re not demanding amnesty but immigration reform.”
Still, he said he’s not too worried about the fliers.
“I think people have enough sense and information to know to not pay attention to this,” he said.
Coe says a few people from her group have helped in the effort, passing out fliers along the border.
The next stop, she said, will be the college campuses.
“I think it’s important to be on the campuses in hopes that we can give a little dose or reality to some our kids,” Coe said.
UCI spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon wouldn’t comment on the content of the flier but did say campus officials respect the distribution of pamphlets on campus as long as there is no language advocating violent action.
“UC Irvine is a public university where everyone, regardless of opinion or background, enjoys the rights and protection of the First Amendment,” she said.
Some say the campaign could backfire.
“I think it’s really counterproductive if the idea is to have a dialogue between two countries,” said Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda, a professor of Global Studies at UCLA. “I think it’s extremely important we set up a renewed tone for dialogue, rather than single finger-pointing.”