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To Mexican Senators Visiting Sacramento, California Feels "Like A Home"

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

A delegation of Mexican senators speak at a lunch with business leaders at the Mexican consulate in Sacramento on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

Andrew Nixon / Capital Public Radio

Foreign delegations routinely visit the California state Capitol. But with Mexico and America at odds, this week’s visit from a half-dozen Mexican senators carries added significance.

So much has changed since this trip was scheduled, when a delegation of California lawmakers visited Mexico before last fall’s presidential election.

Yet despite President Trump’s call to pay for a border wall by taxing Mexican imports, and federal immigration raids potentially ramping up, Senator Marcela Guerra Castillo says she feels no different setting foot in America now compared to before.

“I don’t feel different, because I’m human being,“ she told Capital Public Radio in an interview Wednesday at the Mexican Consulate in Sacramento. “I’m Mexican, you’re American. But we have a history to share.”

She singled out California for allowing immigrants living in the state illegally to obtain driver’s licenses and offering health care to undocumented children.

“In California,“ she said, “we feel like a home, because it’s a state, very progressive state.”

And she seemed to take President Trump’s positions on Mexico and immigrants in stride.

“Mr. Trump is more nationalist. It’s like Mexico was 30 years ago,“ she said. “For us, we don’t want that. We want to be more open.”

Senators held meetings to discuss obvious topics like immigration and trade – but also climate change. Mexico has signed agreements with Gov. Jerry Brown to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to work together on goals like improving air quality and reducing wildfire risk.

Senator Víctor Hermosillo y Celada, who represents Baja California, says he wants to learn how California will regulate recreational marijuana, which voters legalized in November.

“We need to know what you are doing about taxes, the limitations, how you’re going to control,“ he said. “Because it’s able to have great (repercussions) in our relationship. What will happen if you start producing your own marijuana? Then the drug lords in Mexico, they say, well, we don’t have a market anymore.”

The delegation’s two-day Sacramento visit includes meetings with the governor, Democratic legislative leaders, members of California’s business community, and a group of “dreamers” – young Mexican immigrants living in the state illegally.

Ben Adler

Capitol Bureau Chief

Capitol Bureau Chief Ben Adler first became a public radio listener in the car on his way to preschool – though not necessarily by choice. Now, he leads Capital Public Radio’s state Capitol coverage, which airs on NPR stations across California.  Read Full Bio 

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