Until such changes take hold in Mexico, the U.S.
will continue to face huge (and, to many, uncomfortable) numbers of immigrants from and through the
South. Acknowledging this, and engaging simultaneously both in the effort to change the circumstances
that fuel migration and in the equally difficult task
of managing the bilateral migration relationship in
a sensible and coordinated manner, may be the only
way out of this policy conundrum.
Looking at the issue from the U.S. perspective,
successful migration management cannot be focused
exclusively on controls, although robust controls
must be in the mix and are a key tradeoff that Mexico will have to buy into in return for greater open-ness to migration. To be truly successful, however,
managing the bilateral migration relationship must
demonstrate the patience to stick with these commitments through good and bad economic times.
Third, it must assume responsibility for making and
carrying out the painful choices that the coordinated,
even joint, management of a rules-based U.S.-Mexico
migration relationship requires. Most notable among
them is the requirement to deeply and meaningfully
discourage migration outside legal channels.
Only then can the economic growth that trade
agreements and other economic policy initiatives
can deliver stand a chance to lead to a future where
migration represents mostly a choice and an opportunity, rather than a dire necessity.
The only viable solution to fundamental disagreements over migration in the foreseeable future lies
in bilateral and, gradually, regional cooperation. By
THE U.S. IS AFFECTED BY
AND WORLD ECONOMIES THAN NAFTA.
also acknowledge and accommodate the demand for
greater permanent and temporary work visas in both
countries, as well as for more visas for immediate
family members to be able to (re)unify. Put differently, immigration policy must be more closely aligned
both with market forces and human nature—while
also muscularly enforcing the new rules needed to
guarantee the integrity of the resulting system.
The Mexican government must also commit to
steps to reduce the flow of unauthorized Mexican
workers to the U.S.
To do this, Mexico must make strategic investments in its social and economic development. ( The
U.S. and the international financial institutions in
which the U. S. has considerable influence can play a
much larger role than they do now in this regard.)
Second, the Mexican government must
making such cooperation more viable, NAFTA-like
exercises can become down payments on long-term
investments in “habits of cooperation.” In this conceptualization, trade agreements should not be seen
as the last word on either bilateral or regional relationships across the board, but as part of an ongoing
process of engagement.
To borrow loosely from Winston Churchill’s
frequent ruminations about the promise of a united Europe, greater “integration” among neighbors
is a “living thing” that grows and adapts. Regional
trade agreements can thus make important contributions by setting the stage for further cooperation
on migration and other deeply divisive issues. Such
cooperation may be central to what will ultimately
distinguish policies that stand a chance to succeed
from those destined to repeat past failures.