Monday, April 14, 2008

Finally, some clarity on the Mexican immigration issue

The following paragraphs are excerpts from a thoughtful Houston Post article that should be required reading for all Americans, Mexicans, and Canadians that are part of the NAFTA agreement:

Unlike their NAFTA counterparts, the architects of the European Union
understood that economic integration of unequal partners was
unsustainable, since workers would migrate from the poorer to the
richer countries. Thus, when Greece, Spain and Portugal joined their
more developed neighbors in an expanded European Economic Community,
the member countries created an ambitious Regional Development Program
to help improve the education and infrastructure of the newest (and
poorest) entrants.

NAFTA governments must do the same. Undocumented, treacherous and
divisive migration is not going to disappear, regardless of the height
of the walls that we build. Unless NAFTA governments cooperate and
begin to address the deficiencies of Mexico's public infrastructure —
everything from roads and schools to sanitation, water and power —
these elements will continue to hinder the development of not only the
country but also the 1.2 million Mexicans who enter the Mexican job
market each year.

The time has come to explore the creation of a North American Regional
Development Fund to help spur economic development. Such an entity,
funded by contributions from all three countries, would provide needed
infrastructure development (including education and worker training) in
the poorest regions of the North American continent.

Historically, the U.S. government has ignored issues of Mexican
poverty. Our annual foreign aid of $30 million to Mexico represents
only one-fifth of the total investment we make in Bolivia. The greatest
source of U.S. foreign aid to Mexico comes from Mexicans themselves:
the $24 billion in remittances returned home by Mexicans working in the
United States. Eliminating these funds (a possible outcome under some
of the draconian immigration policies being debated in our election
year) would collapse the Mexican economy.

The economic contraction in the USA is being felt down here in Mexico. Tourism is off and many parts of the Mexican economy are feeling the effects of smaller remittances.