By Earl Anthony Wayne and Sergio M. Alcocer
President Obama will receive Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto July 22 in Washington. This is a critical opportunity to highlight the importance of U.S.-Mexico ties, to underscore the substantial progress in cooperation, and to accentuate how the campaign rhetoric in the United States is out of tune with the reality of relations. With the U.S. election approaching, it is crucial to take steps to preserve the unprecedented U.S.-Mexico collaboration that exists today.
U.S.-Mexico relations touch the daily lives of more citizens of both countries than do ties with any other country in the world. Over 30 million U.S. citizens of Mexican heritage, our interconnected economies, the 1,990-mile border and our shared environment link us uniquely. The two governments have established a comprehensive network of mechanisms that put bilateral relations in the best place they have been in memory. Officials work together to take advantage of mutual opportunities and to solve shared problems across a wide spectrum of issues, with input from “stakeholders” in the relationship.
There is still a lot of serious work to do to address the problems out there and to take advantage of the opportunities of the region. Each government has experienced professional ambassadors and teams in place to help guide the work during the U.S. leadership transition. But, simplistic explanations of the problems or solutions distract us from the good work underway and the hard work still needed to deal with the serious challenges ahead. As the United States prepares for a presidential transition, the two countries should solidify the mechanisms and engagements that are doing the hard, policy and technical work of enhancing both of our nations’ economic and national security. These include the High-Level Economic Dialogue (HLED), the 21st Century Border process, the bilateral Security Coordination Group, and the Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research (FOBESSII). The U.S.-Mexico relationship is too important for both countries not to continue this work.