Mexico, in a statement released on Wednesday, says it will invoke the labor section of the free trade agreement signed with the United States last year, to make sure that its workers in the US have access to the COVID-19 vaccine regardless of their immigration status.
Foreign affairs secretary says the exclusion of Mexican workers from vaccination efforts is a violation of the trade agreement
Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard said in a statement that the exclusion of any Mexican workers from vaccination programs would be considered a violation of the trade agreement.
“It is an established right that the worker must not be exposed to infection. It is also a responsibility of each of the countries to guarantee that all workers, independently of their immigration status, receive the vaccine,” Ebrard added.
Immigrant workers’ access to the vaccine became an issue in Mexico last week following Nebraska Governor Pete Rickett reply to whether immigrants without papers working in the state’s meatpacking plants
Ricketts said: “You’re supposed to be a legal resident of the country to be working in those plants, so I do not expect that illegal immigrants will be part of the vaccine with that program.”
Immigrant advocacy groups concerned illegal migrants will be discouraged from getting vaccinated
Following Governor Pete Ricketts response, some immigrant advocacy groups are concerned that the messaging will discourage illegal immigrants from getting vaccinated.
Ebrard also said he expects US labor unions to support Mexico on the issue. The United States-Mexico-Canada trade pact, known as the USMCA, contains new rules and guarantees for labor rights.
Roberto Velasco, Mexico’s director general of North American affairs, said that “Of course, the first thing we would do is to bring it between us and State Department, bring it up between governments.”
“Eventually, if we saw that it was necessary to start a procedure under the treaty to protest a violation of the rules, it would be a panel proceeding,” Velasco added.