For years I have contended that today's mass emigration from Mexico to the U.S. is harmful to Mexico. It encourages the Mexican government to export the people rather than solve the problems here in Mexico. It exacerbates family disintegration and social problems. It distorts local economies. (See my previous article Does Emigration Really Help Mexico?)
For Mexico, emigration is like an addictive drug that encourages Mexicans to escape to the U.S. rather than solve the problems here.
There are actually people here in Mexico who agree with me on this point.
But some Mexicans have recently made the same argument I have been making. It's not that they read my articles, it's just that they looked through the rhetoric and followed the same logic.
Primitivo Rodriguez has been an advisor to the Mexican government, and worked in the U.S. for the American Friends Service Committee. When asked his opinion of the U.S. building a wall on the border, Rodriguez replied:
"It's fantastic. It's the best thing that could happen for migrants, and for Mexico." [ Some in Mexico See Border Wall as Opportunity, by Ginger Thompson, New York Times,May 25th, 2006]
As Rodriguez has pointed out, the U.S. only controls its border in a piecemeal fashion. Said Rodriguez:
"Until now the policy of the United States has not been to close the border to illegal migration, but to detour it. And by detouring it they have caused unprecedented levels of death, abuse and organized crime."
In other words, if you're going to control the border, control all of it. Sounds good to me.
Primitivo Rodriguez thinks that if the U.S. really closed its border, then Mexico would be forced put its house in order. Which is what I've been saying all along.
Another Mexican critic of Mexico's emigration policy is Jorge Santibañez, who is president of the College of the Northern Border. According to Santibañez:
"For too long, Mexico has boasted about immigrants leaving, calling them national heroes, instead of describing them as actors in a national tragedy. And it has boasted about the growth of remittances as an indicator of success, when it is really an indicator of failure."
Amen to that.
As I have pointed out previously, emigration is bad for family life. Some Mexican men utilize it to ditch their families and start over in the U.S.A. (See " Deadbeat Dads Don't Stop at the Rio Grande.")
For a concrete example of how emigration has separated families and harmed local culture, visit the website of the abandoned ladies in the village of Tecalpulco, which has been adversely impacted by mass emigration.
These women's message is:
"Please close the United States border to Illegal Migration. Help us to Keep our Husbands Home with our Families."
Several months ago, Vicente Fox himself spoke about Mexico's maquiladora industries and said that
"Right now, we have a deficit of 100,000 workers in the border maquiladora industries that we need to fill." [ Fox Q & A, Looking Back, and Ahead Business Week Online March 10th, 2006]
Think about it! A deficit of 100,000 workers in a Mexican industry.
That means if the U.S. were to deport 100,000 Mexican illegal aliens, they could immediately find work in Mexico upon crossing the border!
It's common for both proponents of open borders AND immigration restrictionists to portray Mexico as more economically miserable than it really is.
Certainly, Mexico is a much poorer country than the U.S.A.
But by world standards, Mexico is not among the world's poorest nations. According to the CIA world factbook, Mexico's GDP per capita is $10,000. That's only a quarter of that of the United States ($41,800), but it's still higher than the world average of $9,300.
The UN has a Human Development Index (HDI) which calculates countries' quality of life based on life expectancy, educational attainment and adjusted real income.
But hardly anybody compares Mexico to Guatemala or Niger. It's always the U.S. they compare it to.
Mexico's per capita income is about a quarter that of the U.S. This means that Mexicans can make more money in the U.S. than in Mexico. Therefore, they want to work in the U.S. That includes middle class Mexicans, who form a growing proportion of today's immigrants. [ Recent immigrants educated, employed but seek better jobs By Laurence Iliff, The Dallas Morning News,June 6th, 2006]
Even the Mexican government has admitted that many emigrants to the U.S. already had jobs here in Mexico before emigrating.
There is still too much poverty in Mexico. The lowest 40% of the population earns 10% of the income. But emigration isn't solving the problem. In fact, the poorest Mexicans are too poor to emigrate.
A Mexican government that was serious about economic reform could make a real difference. I would suggest they privatize more of the economy, including the energy sector. The taxation system should be improved and de-centralized. It should be made easier to start new businesses. And the highly defective property title law needs real reform. Such changes could make a real difference.
When Vicente Fox was elected six years ago we were told what great things he would do.
Fox did do well with the financial fundamentals. The peso is stable, and that's great.
But Mexico's economy is not growing enough to move more Mexicans from poverty to the middle class. For that it needs economic reform. But Fox was too busy spending his time, energy and political capital on getting Mexicans out of the country.
We can expect the same of Felipe Calderon, Mexico's apparent president-elect, who already has a wish list of what he wants from the United States—both mass immigration and U.S. aid. If somehow Lopez Obrador becomes president, he wants the same.
Certainly, an improvement in Mexico's economy would help the United States. But why should the U.S. have to both provide massive aid for Mexico AND continue to take in immigrants from Mexico? That makes no sense.
The Mexican government is not going to reform its economy as long as we allow mass emigration of Mexicans to the U.S. There simply is no incentive to do so.
What Mexico needs is some tough love from the U.S.A.
We need to cut legal immigration. The U.S. has 300 million residents and doesn't need more workers.
We need to build that border wall. Besides its practicality, it would be a tangible monument that our country was serious about controlling its border.
All these measures would help Mexico. When Mexican leaders see that we've closed the border, they would have to get serious about reform.
That would be better for both our nations.
So let's help Mexico—by Closing the Border.
American citizen Allan Wall (email him) resides in Mexico, with a legal permit issued him by the Mexican government. Allan recently returned from a tour of duty in Iraq with the Texas Army National Guard. His VDARE.COM articles are archived here; his FRONTPAGEMAG.COM articles are archived here his "Dispatches from Iraq" are archived here his website is here.