Mexico has been a punching bag in the United States election campaign this year. Rather than hitting our neighbor with insults and threats, however, we should be cementing partnership with Mexico to strengthen our economy and security. The American public has been fed misleading explanations, factual distortions, and bad solutions. A number of the proposed actions regarding Mexico would harm the United States rather than address the challenges we face in creating good jobs, making our economy more competitive, and enhancing border security.
U.S. trade with Mexico supports a net 4.9 million American manufacturing and service jobs spread widely across the United States, according to the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute. Those jobs exist because, under NAFTA, Mexico has become the second largest purchaser of U.S. exports in the world, with Canada being the largest. We trade over a million dollars a minute with Mexico, and the breadth of U.S.-Mexican cooperation is unprecedented, covering trade, public security, immigration, energy, the environment, international affairs, and much more.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump has talked about new tariffs and other potential punitive actions against Mexico, but there has not been serious discussion of the potential repercussions for the 4.9 million U.S. job holders, and their family members, supported by sales to Mexico or for the broader cross-border networks in which 57 thousand U.S. companies sell to and buy from Mexico. The Peterson Institute for International Economics projected a potential loss of millions of jobs if Mr. Trump’s threatened actions against Mexico and China were taken. Mexico’s peso has already been buffeted significantly by the campaign rhetoric.
Immigration from Mexico has been another campaign theme, but more Mexicans have been returning home than coming to the United States for years. There are 1.1 million fewer undocumented Mexicans in the United States today than in 2007, according to the Pew Research Center, and Mexico is working with the United States to manage the increasing flow of migrants from Central America. Reducing those immigration flows will require that the United States, Mexico and others work together to address the causes that lead families and unaccompanied children to take the dangerous journey north.
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