A petition that has picked up 15,000 signatures in four days is urging the Mexican government to take an international leadership role and permit the immigration of 10,000 Syrian refugees.
A Texas-based lawyer who studied and worked in Mexico launched the petition at change.org, pointing out that this country “has a long tradition of providing asylum.”
To make his argument, Nelson Olavarrieta points out that Spanish refugees who arrived in the 1930s during the Spanish civil war — more than 100,000 came to Mexico during that period —made a significant contribution to their adopted country.
As one of the top 15 global economies, Mexico should exercise its leadership in the world in a humanitarian way, reads the petition.
The 10,000 Syrians could be transported by the Mexican Navy and given asylum by all 31 states and the Federal District in accordance with their capacity.
Some National Action Party senators have expressed their support for Olavarrieta’s proposal, as has writer and historian León Krauze, according to Olavarrieta.
The Spanish newspaper El País reports that at least 350,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees have sought asylum in Europe in the first eight months of the year. In the four years since civil war began in Syria, an estimated 4 million people have fled the country.
The United Nations refugee agency wants to resettle 130,000 Syrians by the end of next year, but pledges from individual countries have been few so far. Germany has led with an offer to take in 35,000.
On this side of the Atlantic, Canada pledged in January to resettle more than 10,000 Syrian refugees over the next three years, in response to the UN request.
The U.S. has accepted 1,500 and expects another 300 by October, according to the State Department. There are hopes to take more next year, a number expected to be in the low thousands.
In Latin America, Brazil has led the way by admitting more than 1,700 Middle East refugees by relaxing visa requirements. Argentina has accepted 300 Syrian families, Uruguay 100 and Mexico 30.