The Senate Has Delayed Confirming an Ambassador to Mexico. America Needs One Now.

11/5/2015 The National Interest

By Duncan Wood and Andrew Selee, Wilson Center

mexican-flag1The U.S. Embassy in Mexico City has been without an ambassador since July. It’s not all that unusual for an embassy to be vacant for a few months, but then again, this is not a usual relationship. Not only is this one of the largest U.S. embassies in the world, but it is the hub for managing one of our country’s most complex and important relationships, and one that has tangible value for millions of Americans in their daily life.

To begin with, Mexico and the United States trade over a half-trillion dollars’ worth of goods and services a year, or more than a million dollars a minute, only slightly behind Canada and China as America’s third-largest commercial relationship. What’s more, Mexico is the United States’ second-biggest export market, ahead of China, and people in twenty-seven states—from Texas and Arizona to Nebraska, Iowa, Michigan, and even New Hampshire—depend on Mexico as the first or second destination for exports produced in their state. Around six million U.S. jobs are closely tied to exports to Mexico.

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New Publication | Managing the Mexico-U.S. Border: Working for a More Integrated and Competitive North America

By Sergio Alcocer

Anatomy of a RelationshipThe border between Mexico and the United States is one of the most dynamic in the world. The United States and Mexican border states together represent the world’s 4th largest economy, see more than $500 billion dollars per year in bilateral trade, and house 56 crossing points where nearly 300,000 vehicle crossings take place on a daily basis.

Our countries have always had a complex and intertwined relationship and have established different and successful mechanisms to manage border matters. At present, the level of cooperation between Mexico and the United States on border issues is the highest testament of the maturity and strength of the bilateral relationship. Positive synergies are now in place, our common values and cultural ties are nowhere more visible than at our shared border, benefitting both societies.

This essay aims to offer a holistic approach and view of the border region. It focuses on the key aspects that comprise it, and also explains the mechanisms established by Mexico and the United States, describing the strong collaboration that has been accomplished by both countries.

The above text is an excerpt from the introduction to the essayThis essay is part two of our series “The Anatomy of a Relationship: A Collection of Essays on the Evolution of U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Border Management.”

Read the essay here. 

EVENT TOMORROW | Innovation in Colonias on the Texas-Mexico Border: Building on Border Assets

man_w_social_media_0WHEN: TOMORROW, Tuesday, October 27, 9:00-11:00am

WHERE: 5th Floor Conference Room, Woodrow Wilson Center

Click here to RSVP.

The Wilson Center’s Urban Sustainability Laboratory and Mexico Institute, along with the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, are pleased to invite you to the event, Innovation in Colonias on the Texas-Mexico Border: Building on Border Assets.” While public discussion often focuses on the challenges facing low-income communities living on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, the region’s assets can be leveraged to advance local economic development. A panel of experts will discuss opportunities to promote  development, entrepreneurship and job creation for the colonia populations living along the border. Panelists will discuss how policies for affordable housing, infrastructure, education, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and health can be integrated with efforts to build an inclusive economy and strong community networks and cooperation. On-the-ground innovation in the border region and in the colonias offers important new models for development in underserved communities.

A recent report by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, “Las Colonias in the 21st Century: Progress Along the Texas-Mexico Border”, provides context for the discussion. Texas colonias, home to an estimated 500,000 people, represent one of the largest concentrations of poverty in the U.S. This report offers a comprehensive profile of Texas border colonias, assessing the opportunities, successes, and challenges facing these communities.

Click here to RSVP. 

NEW ESSAY | Homeland Security as a Theory of Action: The Impact on U.S./Mexico Border Management

By Alan D. Bersin and Michael Huston

Anatomy of a RelationshipThe terrorist attack on 9/11 in effect closed America’s borders.  The drawbridges were raised, airports and seaports shut down and cross-border traffic at land ports of entry was reduced to a trickle.  Defense and security and enforcement became the exclusive orders of the day.

The U.S. reaction generally and particularly on the Southwest Border was understandable, though it remained more instinctive than considered.  We had experienced a new vulnerability in our “homeland,” a concept that seemed foreign, strange and distant before 9/11.  Reflexively we retreated behind our borders and hunkered down behind the boundaries of Fortress America.

It soon became evident that the costs of “hunker down security,” i.e. the impact of closing the borders, would deliver an unacceptable, catastrophically self-defeating blow to our economy.  The events of 9/11, accordingly, initiated a wrenching turn in the way Americans viewed globalization and the manner in which their government understood and practiced internal security and external defense.  Policymakers were compelled to formulate new theories of action and respond to a dramatically altered threat environment.  Specifically, policy makers grappled with the challenge of how to secure the homeland in a world that was increasingly borderless.  The evolving policy and operational results may be the lasting legacy of September 11, 2001.

This paper examines these developments from the perspective of the relationship between Mexico and the United States and their shared management of a common border.  Although the emergence of a U.S. homeland security doctrine has significantly affected all trade and travel to and from the United States, it has had special importance for and a distinctive impact on U.S. – Mexico bilateral relations.

The above text is an excerpt from the introduction to the essay. This essay is part one of our series “The Anatomy of a Relationship: A Collection of Essays on the Evolution of U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Border Management.” 

Read the essay. 

NEW SERIES | The Anatomy of a Relationship: A Collection of Essays on the Evolution of U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Border Management

Anatomy of a RelationshipThe conventional wisdom among those who study the border is that following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States unilaterally imposed significant additional security requirements on the management of the U.S.-Mexico border, and that the measures taken to meet these requirements have made the border more difficult to cross for not only illicit but also licit traffic, including the trade and travel that is the lifeblood of cross-border communities. There is much truth in this interpretation, but it largely portrays Mexico as a passive receptor of U.S. policy, which could not be further from reality.

Rather, the increasing relevance of transnational non-state actors—terrorist groups, organized crime networks—posing border and national security threats in the region have demanded increased international cooperation to monitor and mitigate the risks. At the same time, the U.S. and Mexican economies have become ever more deeply integrated, causing significant growth in cross-border traffic and placing the efficient management of the U.S.-Mexico border as a first-order national interest for both countries.

The post-2001 border management framework has pushed away from the traditional understanding of the border as a line in the sand and moved toward an approach that seeks to secure and (in the case of licit travel and commerce) facilitate flows. This focus on transnational flows has expanded the geographic scope of what were traditionally border operations and thus required an internationalization of border management, the development of partnerships and cooperative methods of border administration.

Over the past decade and a half, the United States and Mexico have transitioned from largely independent and unconnected approaches to managing the border to the development and implementation of a cooperative framework. With contributions from government officials and other top experts in the field, this collection of essays explores the development of cooperative approaches to the management of the U.S.-Mexico border. The essays will be released individually throughout the fall of 2015 and published as a volume in early 2016.

Visit the Series. 

Abbott’s meeting with Mexican president stresses the positive as trip wraps up

8/9/2015 Dallas News 

Bernardo Montoya/Reuters
Bernardo Montoya/Reuters

MEXICO CITY — President Enrique Peña Nieto welcomed Gov. Greg Abbott to the presidential mansion Tuesday and vowed to work with Texas to improve border security and generate more jobs through the energy sector, but he also reminded his guest of the contributions made by Mexicans in the Lone Star State.

The two men exchanged pleasantries and gifts — a jersey from Mexico’s national soccer team for Abbott, a crystal vase with the Texas seal for Peña Nieto. Abbott also invited the president to visit Texas in the coming months. But beyond the warm welcome, prickly issues — largely avoided through a carefully controlled agenda during the three-day visit — didn’t disappear completely.

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Texas Gov. Abbott to Visit Mexico to Mend Fences, Talk Trade Amid Strained Ties

8/25/2015 The Dallas Morning News

Greg_Abbott_by_Gage_SkidmoreGov. Greg Abbott is expected to visit Mexico City on Labor Day weekend, his first trip abroad as governor, and will lead a delegation of Texans eager to move forward amid turbulent times between once-solid neighbors, The Dallas Morning News has learned.

The agenda is still being fleshed out for the first trip to Mexico by a Texas governor since 2007, but people familiar with the matter say the visit is aimed at mending fences and underscoring the economic, cultural and political integration between Texas and its southern neighbor, an important trading partner.

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