February 10, 2015
By Christopher Wilson and Erik Lee
For years, the United States’ southern border with Mexico has provoked a range of fears, from terrorism and drugs to overwhelming numbers of unauthorized immigrants, prompting a security-first and often security-only approach to border management. Fear-based rhetoric may resonate in the echo chambers of Washington DC, but it feels wholly out of touch to most (though not all) residents of border communities.
Thankfully, with U.S.-Mexico trade at historic highs and growing faster than trade with any other major trading partner, it is increasingly difficult to ignore the importance of safe and efficient border management to the regional economy. U.S.-Mexico trade is now valued at well over a half trillion dollars per year, 80 percent of which crosses the U.S.-Mexico land border. This trade supports around six million U.S. jobs, and systems of co-production in manufacturing allow companies to combine the comparative advantages of the United States and Mexico, boosting the competitiveness of North America as a whole.
These trends are leading some political leaders to the realization that many in the border region have known for years: the border itself creates a lot of economic opportunity for both nations. And these folks in the border region—popularly imagined to be barely hanging on in a hail of gunfire, even on the sleepy U.S. side—are careful observers of what works and what does not work in terms of trade and economic development. Knowing this, we joined several other organizations in a year-long deep dive into the inner workings of the U.S.-Mexico border economy. But then even we were surprised by the sheer number, variety and magnitude of ideas emanating from this enormous, misunderstood and underappreciated region.
February 4, 2015
2/3/2015 U-T San Diego
Rich in potential, the U.S.-Mexico border’s economic future can be strengthened through measures such as educational exchanges, renewable energy clusters, binational planning efforts, and improved connections among economic development groups on both sides of the border, according to a report released Tuesday.
“The U.S.-Mexico Border Economy in Transition” focuses on the opportunities and challenges that face border communities in both countries. For all their differences, these communities face many common needs, the report states, chief among them the need for more fluid border crossings.
The 141-page report resulted from a collaboration among the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C., the North American Research Partnership, the Border Legislative Conference and the Council of State Governments-West. Many of the recommendations incorporate issues raised during four regional competitiveness forums conducted last year in San Diego; Rio Rico, Ariz.; and Laredo and El Paso, Texas.
Download the report here.
February 3, 2015
The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute has released a new report, “The U.S.-Mexico Border economy in Transition.” The report provides insight into day to day life and commerce along the border, and provides a series of recommendations to strengthen competitiveness. We spoke with Mexico Institute Senior Associate, Chris Wilson, to learn more about both the unique process behind the report and also about some of the best ideas emerging from the year-long project. That’s the focus of this edition of Wilson Center NOW.
February 3, 2015
Edited by Erik Lee and Christopher Wilson
The Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, the North American Research Partnership and the Border Legislative Conference, a program of the Council of State Governments West, are pleased to share with you this comprehensive report with recommendations aimed at strengthening the economic competitiveness of the U.S.-Mexico border region.
Throughout 2014, our coalition of organizations held a series of four U.S.-Mexico Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums in order to engage border region stakeholders in a process to collectively generate a shared vision and policy recommendations to strengthen economic competitiveness.
This report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development, compiles the many innovative ideas developed at the forums, and weaves them into a series of policy recommendations that draw on the experiences of those who understand the border best: the individuals who live in border communities and who cross back and forth between Mexico and the United States as a part of their daily lives.
Download the report here.
February 2, 2015
WHEN: TOMORROW, Tuesday, February 3rd, 9-11am
WHERE: Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Click here to RSVP.
The Mexico Institute is pleased to invite you to the launch event for our latest report, The Border Economy in Transition. At the event, three members of Congress representing districts on the U.S.-Mexico border will discuss the challenges they face in overcoming misperceptions about the border in order to promote the economic competitiveness of the region. In addition to the members of the U.S. House of Representatives, we are delighted to host Acting Assistant Administrator for the Latin America and Caribbean Bureau of USAID, Elizabeth Hogan; Chair of the Border Legislative Conference and member of the Nuevo León State Legislature, Imelda Guadalupe Alejandro de la Garza; Antonio Ortiz Mena, Head of Section for Economic Affairs at the Mexican Embassy; and Sue Saarnio, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State. The report will be presented by authors Christopher Wilson, Senior Associate at the Mexico Institute, and Erik Lee, Executive Director of the North American Research Partnership, as well as Edgar Ruiz, Executive Director of the Council of State Governments-West.
The report lays out the major issues involved in border region economic development and presents 27 policy recommendations to create a more competitive border region. The innovative policy ideas were developed by stakeholders at the series of four Regional Economic Competitiveness Forums held along the U.S.-Mexico border in 2014.
*A live webcast will be available. For more information, click here.
January 30, 2015
1/27/2015 National Journal
Rep. Michael McCaul’s Secure Our Borders First Act will be voted on in the House next week, and it requires the Homeland Security Department to construct 400 miles of new roads and more than 100 miles of new border fences. It deploys new technology such as a biometric exit system at ports of entry and directs more air power to track migrants. It also requires DHS to disclose more data on how safe the border is.
But as the House risks putting divisions within its own ranks on display and goes head-to-head with the Obama administration, it’s worth asking: How secure are the 2,000 miles that stretch from California to Texas today to begin with?
There’s only one problem — nobody can tell you.
January 8, 2015
1/6/2015 The Christian Science Monitor
When President Enrique Peña Nieto sits down with US President Obama on Tuesday, the scandal-plagued Mexican leader will be under intense pressure to ensure that their discussion – which will touch on security, immigration, trade, and economic issues – produces tangible results.
Both Mexicans and the international community originally expected Mr. Peña Nieto to bring much-needed change to Mexico. But that image has been dramatically undercut by outrage over the poor handling of a case in which 43 students went missing after being handed over to police, as well as several recent political scandals. Now, Mexicans are watching to see if he can work effectively with his powerful northern neighbor in a way that could compensate for his growing political and economic woes.
“It seems like now would be the right moment to double down on those goals that were introduced in the Merida Initiative,” says Christopher Wilson, a senior associate with the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, noting that the initiative, which was originally negotiated between former presidents Felipe Calderón and George W. Bush, has yet to be formally updated by Peña Nieto.