US-Mexico border: Arizona’s open door

12/17/2015 Financial Times

mexico-usa-flag-montageMany people in the US today look towards the country’s border with Mexico and tremble. So great are the fears about illegal immigration and the possible infiltration of terrorists that Donald Trump has vaulted to the top of the Republican presidential field by vowing to build a wall between the two countries and make the Mexicans pay for it.

So it may come as a surprise to learn about the economic ideas now emerging from Arizona, a solid red state — having voted Republican in 15 of the past 16 presidential elections — that sits cheek by jowl with the Mexican state of Sonora.

Arizonan movers and shakers have started to think that bringing in more Mexicans is a good way to stimulate growth. To make people from south of the border feel more welcome, county planning organisations, municipal officials and business leaders are lining up behind a proposal to transform their entire state into a “free-travel zone” for millions of better-off Mexicans with the money and wherewithal to qualify for a travel document that is widely used in the south-west, but little known elsewhere — a border-crossing card, or BCC.



New Publication: Lessons from the Development of Binational and Civil Society Cooperation on Water Management at the U.S.-Mexico Border

Anatomy of a RelationshipBy Carlos de la Parra and Carlos Heredia

Mexico and the United States are partners in a number of agreements that imply joint management of natural resources and have had a long and productive history of sharing water resources. The two countries share water resources in the Colorado and Tijuana river basins, and in the Rio Grande basin; the joint utilization of their waters is defined by the Treaty of February 3, 1944 and its Minutes.

The authors argue that -since ecosystems do not respect national boundaries- binational cooperation on cross-border environmental issues is a must. Environmental issues must be seen as an integral part of border affairs and border management. Economic, security and environmental issues are all interrelated and must be addressed as such. Further, the authors believe that civil society activism and inter-governmental cooperation have played mutually reinforcing roles in improving the way that the two countries manage natural resources and moving towards a truly regional approach in a binational context.

The essay analyzes binational and civil society cooperation on cross-border environmental issues, with a special focus on water management. The piece looks at binational water management from a holistic perspective, arguing that the growing involvement of civil society has improved policy outcomes.

The above text is an excerpt from the introduction to the essay. This essay is part five of our seriesThe Anatomy of a Relationship: A Collection of Essays on the Evolution of U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Border Management.” We are releasing the essays individually throughout 2015 and will publish them together in early 2016. 

Read the essay here.

Bridge crosses big divide between Mexico and US

12/8/2015 Financial Times

A small fence separates densely populated Tijuana, Mexico, right, from the United States in the Border Patrol’s San Diego Sector.  Construction is underway to extend a secondary fence over the top of this hill and eventually to the Pacific Ocean.

Fly into Tijuana, a Mexican city synonymous with tequila, sex and marijuana, in the words of singer Manu Chao, and the first sight that greets you is a metal wall along the road outside. Welcome to the US border.

The fortified frontier, the busiest land crossing in the world, looms large in both countries. Fears about its fragility have been whipped up by Donald Trump, the Republican contender, who wants a wall built along the length of the border.

Only in October, US and Mexican officials discovered marijuana worth $6m in a small-scale railway tunnel running the length of eight football fields between warehouses in Tijuana and San Diego.

The sibling cities, whose people and businesses are already highly interconnected, are going in the direction of greater integration. On Wednesday, their airports will open a cross-border bridge enabling passengers to walk into the US or Mexico.

Read more…


California’s Newest Airport Terminal Extends to Mexico

12/7/2015 Huffington Post 

airplane on runwaySAN DIEGO (AP) — The U.S.-Mexico border is one of the world’s most fortified international divides. Starting Wednesday, it will also be one of the only that has an airport straddling two countries.

An investor group that includes Chicago billionaire Sam Zell built a sleek terminal in San Diego with a bridge that crosses a razor-wire border fence to Tijuana’s decades-old airport. Passengers pay $18 to walk a 390-foot overpass to Tijuana International Airport, a springboard about 30 Mexican destinations.

Target customers are the estimated 60 percent of Tijuana airport passengers who come to the United States, about 2.6 million last year. Now they drive about 15 minutes to a congested land crossing, where they wait up to several hours to enter San Diego by car or on foot. The airport bridge is a five-minute walk to a U.S. border inspector.

Read more…

Faces from the Border: Choosing Friends

11/25/2015 The New Yorker

This is the third in a three-part series, “Faces from the Border,” about Mexican-American agents on the border between the United States and Mexico. The series was produced, with funding from the Ford Foundation, as part of a research project on migrants and migration policy by the Division of International Studies and the Journalism on Public Policy Program at the Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE), in Mexico City.

Today, about half of the guardians of the border—U.S. Border Patrol agents—are Hispanic, and many have roots in both countries. Consider agent Yesenia León, aged thirty-three. She was born in a small town in the northern Mexican state of Chihuahua and came across the border legally when she was four thanks to her father, a U.S. citizen. León, the youngest of six children, was raised in El Paso.

She graduated from Bowie High School, which back then, she says, was known as “La Bowie” because the south-central school had a reputation for its cholos, or gang members. It was also known as the place that had, through a 1992 federal lawsuit, changed the way the agents operated in border cities. The Border Patrol agency routinely stopped and questioned Hispanics near the high school, located just a few feet from the border. The lawsuit brought by Bowie students and staff successfully made a case against racial profiling that has had a major impact on Border Patrol procedures throughout the Southwest.

Read more…

Syrian refugees surrender to immigration agents at US-Mexico border

11/23/2015 The Guardian

Border - MexicoFederal officials said on Sunday another group of Syrian refugees had turned themselves in at the US-Mexico border.

The Department of Homeland Security confirmed that the group identified themselves to border agents in the South Texas town of Laredo on Friday. It said the group consisted of a family of three along with two other men.

They were held to check their identities against national security databases and then turned over to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for temporary detention.

The refugees’ arrival came after two Syrian families identified themselves on Tuesday to border officials in Laredo. In each instance, the men were taken to one detention facility and the women and children to another.

Read more…

Pew Research Center releases new report on Mexican immigrants returning to Mexico from the U.S.

11/19/2015 BY  

Pew_Research_Center_logoMore Mexican immigrants have returned to Mexico from the U.S. than have migrated here since the end of the Great Recession, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from both countries. The same data sources also show the overall flow of Mexican immigrants between the two countries is at its smallest since the 1990s, mostly due to a drop in the number of Mexican immigrants coming to the U.S.

From 2009 to 2014, 1 million Mexicans and their families (including U.S.-born children) left the U.S. for Mexico,according to data from the 2014 Mexican National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (ENADID). U.S. census data for the same period show an estimated 870,000 Mexican nationals left Mexico to come to the U.S., a smaller number than the flow of families from the U.S. to Mexico.

Read the report…