Seeking to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador held a massive rally in Mexico City Wednesday to mark the midway point in his six-year term with polls showing that about two-thirds of Mexicans approve of the job he is doing.
López Obrador’s masterful use of televised news briefings, his folksy style and personal austerity have apparently won over Mexicans, despite a number of indicators suggesting the country isn’t doing so well.
In the weeks between the U.S. election and the inaugural, Mexico’s president took several actions that seemed surprisingly hostile to the United States. Andrés Manuel López Obrador (widely known as AMLO) was one of only three world leaders who did not recognize President Joe Biden’s election victory until after the formal Electoral College vote. In December, AMLO oversaw the approval of a new security law that will greatly constrain U.S. anti-drug operations in Mexico. In early January, he offered political asylum to Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who faces felony charges in the United States for publishing classified documents.
Then, in mid-January, his government exonerated a Mexican general and former defense minister, Salvador Cienfuegos, arrested in the United States for collaborating with a drug cartel. (This came after the United States agreed to extradite Gen. Cienfuegos in response to a Mexican demand to preserve effective security cooperation. The Mexican government then publicly released the Drug Enforcement Administration evidence against the general, information provided to Mexico in confidence and protected under the bilateral treaty on mutual legal assistance.)
Economies around the world have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic. In the United States, we have seen a GDP contraction of 9.5 percent, compared with the last quarter, putting an end to the economic boom of the past few years. Europe expects to see its economy contract by 8.3 percent this year, and Japan’s is predicted to shrink by a similar percentage.
Governments across the world have dedicated massive financial resources to keep their economies afloat in the face of a threat that is simultaneously exogenous and endogenous. By doing so, they have inflated their national debts, but have a much better chance of an early recovery from the crisis. For example, the Congressional Budget Office recently announced that new government spending — up from 79 percent last year — will make U.S. government debt surpass the size of the entire U.S. economy in 2021.
President Trump, not happy with $1.38 billion for his border wall, has declared a national emergency so that he can use other appropriated funds. However, the real national emergency is not keeping people out with a wall; rather, it is getting the right people to come to America to counter its very low fertility rate of 1.76, which is well below the required population-replacement rate.
America’s challenge — if it wants to remain a superpower — is not to build walls and restrict migrant flow excessively, as the Trump administration insists, but rather to manage properly a more generous migrant flow so that its population continues to grow, with all the attendant benefits.
In November, the Pew Research Center released data on migration to the United States. The U.S. has more immigrants than any country — about 40 million, making up 13.5 percent of the U.S. population. Among those immigrants, 10.7 million are unauthorized or illegal (23.7 percent of U.S. immigrants). Since 2010, more Asian than Hispanic migrants have arrived each year. Regarding refugees, in fiscal 2017, almost 54,000 were resettled here. The largest number of these immigrants came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, followed by Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Myanmar.
Every day, the same scene plays out in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juárez. Mixed into the flow of students, commuters and travelers are asylum-seeking families, arriving at their final destination, the entrance to the United States port of entry.
The families drop the required 4 pesos into the turnstile to begin their walk up the international bridge that arches over the Rio Grande and connects this part of Mexico to the United States. Yet when they reach the halfway point, demarcated by orange cones, Customs and Border Protection officers are waiting to turn them away from seeking safety in the United States — a right granted to them under American and international law.
Instead, these asylum-seeking families are provided with the same explanation: “We are full.”