InternationalPolitics

United States Policy Towards Mexico

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The newly elected President of the United States of America, Donald J. Trump, made border security with Mexico a signature issue since his first day in the Oval Office. Building a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border has remained a prominent slogan of his presidential campaign alongside the designs of mass deportations of undocumented immigrants and beefing up border security using all means. After unswerving refusal of the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto, to pay for the border security wall as proposed by Trump, the new POTUS has vowed to find other ways, such as through a possible border tax, to make Mexico pay. Meanwhile he has asked Congress to earmark funds for the wall which he believes will stop illegal immigrants to enter the American land. United States Policy Towards Mexico. 

Regional political environment of the American continents has experienced a paradigm shift after Trump’s entry in the White House and scope of this change now tend to envelope the trade aspect of the region as well. In the first few months of his presidential tenure, Trump called for an end to North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Also, he pledged to make it rough for American companies avaricious for cheap labor to relocate across the border. However, he later moderated his stance after telephonic conversations with the Canadian premier, J. Trudeau, and Mexican president, E.P. Nieto, stating that instead of terminating NAFTA he would rather favor the idea of renegotiating the deal.1 On the other hand, Mexico will be having its presidential elections in the coming year where one of the leading candidate, A.M. Lopez Obrador, is running with an anti-Trump campaign. Strong rhetoric on both sides of the border may affect development on important issues such as border security, drug trafficking and weapon smuggling. 

United States Policy Towards Mexico

The spectrum of opinions is broadly variable among stakeholders as well as decision-makers on whether America should continue with its plan to build a wall alongside its southern border or not. Nevertheless a balanced analysis can only be created by calculating the pros and cons of this venture. US Representative Peter T. King, while talking in favor of the wall, not only rejected the notion of building an extensive border on the south as an insignia of racism and increasing bigotry in the US but dubbed it as an absolute necessity for greater peace in the US. Nanci Pelosi, on the other hand, not only conceptualized the construction of border wall as an immoral, expensive and unwise endeavor but also termed it a display of sign of weakness. While opposing the idea of building a wall, she echoes the importance of demographic aspect of this issue reiterating the need to understand that particular part of the country where a community lives with a border going through it. She and, according to her, other Democrats do not underestimate the issue or undervalue the responsibility to control borders but refuse to take ‘wall’ as an answer. 

Regional political environment of the American continents has experienced a paradigm shift after Trump’s entry in the White House

But is building a wall feasible? The border covers a 1,954 mile stretch containing about every sort of terrain one can imaging – valley, mountain, desert, river, state property, private land etc. – whereas erecting concrete in the middle of national parks and wildlife inhibited areas is inadvisable and thus nearly impossible. The involvement of environmentalists, civil society activists as well as now weakened EPA will further slay the probability of this project. Moreover, no one seems to know what the wall is actually going to cost. Building a fence – a much cheaper option than wall – is expected to range from $1 million per mile to $15 million per mile depending on the terrain, and at that price the project would cost between $2 billion and $30 billion. 

The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) answers the above enumerated concerns with the help of statistical data accumulated through various surveys and reports. Basing their logic on the repercussions of increased migration trend as well as emergence of new threats, they argue that walls are an integral tool for securing borders as they cut unauthorized routes, urging the migrants to enter the country through proper channels. As much as 65 countries of the present world have secured their borders through similar settings.3 FAIR, while computing the gains and losses, proclaims that regardless of which approach is pursued, securing the southern border is a sound investment. Even mere 5% reduction in the loss – amounting to $113 billion – that American pocket bears annually will compensate the construction and maintenance cost on the wall in roughly six years. 

Daniel Horowitz, Senior Editor of Conservative Review, in his article, compare Trump’s wall idea of security to Israel’s contemporary precedence of installation of security fence across the Israel-Palestine border while attempting to curtail suicide bombers from infiltrating Israel. The security fence – a double-layered barrier with a security zone in the middle – caused suicide attacks rate to decline by well over 90% in Israel.4 The article claims that it is an achievement unlocked, and that if a fence can stop the most determined Hamas militants, who are willing to die for their cause, it can also hamper the determination of illegal immigrants seeking job prospects or drug running and human trafficking in the US. 

Others, in contradiction to the aforementioned arguments, believe that all a border wall will block is common sense. They are certain that the wall idea has the potential of becoming a subject of historic ridicule.5 Like rivers, human migration flows tend to find ways when they hit an obstacle. The wall will not be able to stop people or goods from moving to and fro over the southern border. Discovery of new routes and methods by smugglers will further undercut the confidence in effectiveness of hard borders. And, in addition to that, the disturbed circle will also cost America environmentally. There is a fair chance that the ecological aspect of this development may emerge in the limelight with impacts much broader than anticipated.6 

Donald Trump’s proposed wall can do little against illegal immigration from Asia, especially to reduce the trend of entering USA from airplanes and not leaving, which by estimates accounts for as much as half of the undocumented population.7 In the other hand, the wall will not only keep immigrants at bay from entering the country but also pen 11 million undocumented immigrants inside America who, unsure of the chances of their return, will just resign themselves to putting down roots and staying on this side of the border. 

Donald Trump’s proposed wall can do little against illegal immigration from Asia

Countries need to secure their borders, however, there is no escaping the fact that illegal migration is a rather complex phenomenon. Walls, fences and heavy militarization are not simple solutions to problems as complex as this.8 Where the environment costs of such mega structures are very significant, the human costs of separating communities and families are also non-quantifiable. Regularization programs and legal migration channels, on the other hand, can provide better and cost-effective solutions. 

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Junaid Rana

Junaid has earned his expertise in International Relations & Affairs from National Defence University Islamabad after graduating from the University of Balochistan with majors in Politics and Journalism. A realist in life but liberal in thoughts, the writer keeps a keen eye on Pakistan's local politics and changing internal dynamics while analyzing its impacts on the country's role as an international actor.

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