Obama Can Solve Illegal Immigration—Bail Out Mexico

New America Media, Commentary, Bill Ong Hing Posted: Apr 16, 2009

The White House announcement that it will tackle comprehensive immigration reform this year is good news for the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and their supporters. However, if the package does not include at least the first steps toward helping Mexico improve its economy and infrastructure, undocumented Mexican migration will not be solved permanently.

As the White House was making its announcement on reforms, however, the Border Patrol reported increased migrant border deaths along the southern border, in spite of a decrease in arrests. In other words, migrants keep coming in spite of the militarization of the border and immigration raids. While Mexicans are not the only undocumented immigrants in the country, they make up almost 60 percent. To understand undocumented migration, we have to look beyond the simple explanation that many cross the border looking for work; we have to ask why they cannot find what they want in Mexico.

Comprehensive reform no doubt will include much-needed proposals for increased family and employment-based visas. Expanding those categories is necessary and will help reduce the pressure that leads to unauthorized border crossings. But at the end of the day, reducing the substantial flow across the southern border will require the expansion of the economy and job growth in Mexico, so that more Mexicans will be able to stay home. Obama recognized this a year ago when he stated: “To reduce illegal immigration, we also have to help Mexico develop its own economy, so that more Mexicans can live their dreams south of the border.”

In 1994, we were told that NAFTA would solve the undocumented problem because jobs would be created in Mexico. But NAFTA contributed to huge job losses in Mexico. Mexican corn farmers could not compete with heavily-subsidized U.S. corn farmers, and now Mexico imports most of its corn from the United States. Because of globalization, 100,000 jobs in Mexico’s domestic manufacturing sector were lost from 1993 to 2003.

Where do those out of work farm workers and manufacturing employees look for work? El Norte.

When the European Union experienced its own push to expand its ranks to include poorer nations, member countries faced similar concerns. Because membership includes the right to open labor migration for all nationals of EU countries, the wealthier countries worried that as soon as membership was granted, there would a flood of workers from poorer nations into the wealthier ones. Beginning with the 1973 EU enlargement to include Denmark, Ireland, and the United Kingdom, the British insisted on an approach to aid poorer regions. When Greece (1981), and Portugal and Spain (1986) were added, all three nations, as well as Ireland, received infusions of capital and assistance with institutional planning.

The approach worked. Their economies transformed, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain, who were all emigrant-sending nations prior to EU membership, now are net immigrant-receiving nations. Today, only 2 percent of EU citizens look for work in other EU countries.

Likewise, the United States needs to consider the EU model and include investment – with close monitoring of that investment – in Mexico as part of comprehensive immigration reform. Reducing undocumented migration is in Mexico’s interest as well; the persistent loss of able-bodied workers needed to build its infrastructure and economy cannot be good for Mexico.

At the end of the day, economic investment in Mexico is what’s needed to solve the undocumented migration challenge.

Bill Ong Hing is a professor of law at the University of California, Davis. His new book, Ethical Borders—NAFTA, Globalization, and Mexican Migration, will be published this year by Temple University Press.

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User Comments


Stephen on Apr 22, 2009 at 13:46:08 said:

The US is bankrupt and people are still calling for the US to "bailout" Mexico? Are you out of your mind? Mexico isn't a poor country by any means. It has a government that has routinely passed on helping average Mexican citizens. Much better to urge the poor, uneducated and undesired to immigrate to the US. This is unacceptable and will no longer be tolerated. The American people are tired of being taken advantage of by these poor immigrants trying to improve their lives at the expense of the US taxpayer. Americans are losing their jobs and homes, yet we are expected to bailout Mexico? Are you stupid or what?


Nezua on Apr 22, 2009 at 13:09:17 said:

People like "Goddard" and "nativessaysno" get on here and say absolutely nothing that is true. Just lay down lie after lie and paint it with their own small mind. Fear, greed, hostility. I'm so glad that a few losers online are good at freaking themselves out, but reallllly wish they'd get on some meds or something. Ignorance might be a nice high, but see, it's a cheap one kids. Hold out for doing the right thing. The golden rule, the Christian thing, you know. All those words that = Decent Human Being. The high from that one lasts much longer. You sad sacks are basically pulling the moral and social equivalent of huffing glue in a bag and then shouting out your hallucinations into the public square, you're damn embarrassing without even the self-awareness to realize it.


Raquel on Apr 18, 2009 at 09:11:12 said:

I have been living in Mexico as a citizen would be, not as a tourist. The country does not have monetary wealth, but it does have beatiful land, great weather, delicious food, and friendly people. These are the same people who have ancestors that were the wonderful Aztecs. We in the USA have developed a "give back" to our Indians as a right that somehow their ancestors were here first and our ancestors as Eurpoeans had wrongly treated and took their land. They now receive government grants for college and other benefits because their "ancestors were here first". If you want to live in the past, than BE SURE to take it way back to when you are actually being real about it. Mexico has a beauty that you will never understand with that black heart. The people here go to America for a few jobs that no American wants to take because they have welfare and credit cards. Dont fool yourself into thinking that the economy is all the fault of the Mexicans, please. Look around you, watch the news, there is more to it, and usually the big "faults" lie within the hands of a few men who are in control of the economy. If the USA bonds with Mexico, do you realize the benefits that could prosper? Or do you only think of the bad. The drug problem is only an issue at the border. Only becasue of the money difference. It is cheaper for the Americans to buy in Mexico, and the Mexicans welcome the money. I have been here for 2 years and never see drug use like it is in the USA, NEVER. Instead of gathering up your information from sitting in front of the TV or computer, or from whatever article that someone like yourself (opinionated) wrote, than actually get involved, go to Mexico check it out. Listen to the "other side". Listen to the millions of American children that are separated from their families because of border issues. Let your guard down and open your thinking to what the real life stories are, and then, and only then, will you have a clue. Yes the USA has money problems. Do you ever think that maybe 20 years ago when everyone was out buying those huge unneeded houses spending money like their was no tomorrow, driving hummers, wasting everything, that that could be some reason to the economic problem. Lets place the blame on who actually did it. God says everything in moderation, be thankful, and do not waste.
Learn from others and change is good. LET OBAMA HELP.


Raquel on Apr 18, 2009 at 08:37:05 said:

What makes your needs more important than others. There are AMERICAN CHILDREN and adults living in Mexico for the fact that people like yourself are guarding the border like a bunch of greedy spoiled children. What makes you more important than us. I was born and raised in PA. I am in Mexico with my 3 children, also American, because we are waiting for immigration reform to give permission to my husband to come with us to the USA, WHERE the rest of my family is waiting for our return INCLUDING my elderly parents, AND MY 2 TEENAGE CHILDREN...ALL Americans the same as you.. Is it fair that we are separated?Where are our rights? BE Careful of the decisions being made about the border. There are MANY Familys being separated. Think beyond the spoiled, greedy, egotistical mind frame that some of us in America have developed as "our right" and remember that we all go to the same place when we die. In the meantime, lighten up and give some people a chance to try to fix this. Trusting the government is difficult after Bush, but correcting the separation of families NEEDS to be issued. Do not think that you will slide it under the rug for a later generation to handle it. My children do know the difference between the USA and Mexico as well as other children growing up in Mexico because they are not "allowed" to enjoy the fruits of the USA as you are right now sitting in your homes. One day they will grow and what kind of opinions do you think will be developing with them. There are children in the USA as well that are separated from family, like my 2 children in the USA who cannot see their American mother and siblings because of these border issues. They are very intelligent children, learning in the USA school system, growing up with the knowlege that a simple law is keeping their family south of the border away at Christmas, Easter, and their birthdays...all memories that are gone now. EVENTUALLY the laws will change, so stop being so guarded with no purpose. Give strength to this beautiful reunion of countries, rather than hate. Mexico is a wonderful country with wonderful people and culture. Learn from them rather than shun them. Lets work to blend rather than separate. They do not need to be "undereducated" like you say. The children love school and love to learn the same as in the USA. We need to start somewhere....
And to the middle aged woman that needs a job. Perhaps you should try looking. If you were actually looking than you would find one. dont be so picky and be happy with what you can get. Make lemonade from lemons. Forget about the past when you had a husband or whatever that helped you, it is up to you to make it, do not think the fault lies with making jobs available, trust me you do not know what poor is. Have a lemonade stand with cookies and stop crying.


Goddard on Apr 17, 2009 at 22:51:45 said:

I have tracked our progress (or lack of) in this country to control illegal immigraiton, primarily from our southern border. Whereas morally and idealy, illegal immigraiton from Mexico should be stopped, it is indeed an invasion and like any other invasion should be dealt with according, it will not.

Obama is going to use the drug war in Mexico as reasoning to ban guns, possibily just some types of guns in America, although it has been proven time and time again, the US is not the source for the types of guns used in Mexico by the drug lords. Our great Sec of State, Hillary sang the same song. It's our fault Mexico has guns and produces drugs because the Americans sell them the guns (not true in the majority of cases) and American's want the illegal drugs. So, this is political postering for what Obama has always wanted, the demilitarization of America, from the military standpoint by decreasing budjets, and from the citizen standpoint by banning some types of guns. So, there's that issue. As for illegal immigraiton, Obama promised the advocates of illegal immigration that he would enact comprehensive immigraiton reform. Notice he did not promise the American ciizens he would enforce our immigration laws, but formulate new ones to his and the advocates liking. This will result in millions and millions of latio people living legally in this country. Bye bye diversity. It is expected if he gets his way engneers who study the environment say by 2026 we will indeed be running short or out of completely some natural resources, like water. The millions that Obama and his buddies agree to make legal in this country will then be able to bring millions more of their family members into this country for citizenship. Again, bye bye diversity.
America will over a short period of historic time become a latino nation with under educated people running the show in DC based on their voting numbers alone. They seem to sort of like socialism because that system makes up the difference between their min wage jobs necessary to support perferred large families. So as much as I would like to think we can control the illegal immigration problem, Obama made his promise, those that voted for him knew this and all who listened knew this was coming. Brush up on your Spanish, plan on supporting millions of people who cannot afford health insurance, educational programs and need food and housing assistance. Those who voted for Obama should take the financial responsibility for this mess, but ah, in a democracy mob rule prevails and we will all see our housing values decrease and pay out of pocket for the democrats to remain in socialist power.


Goddard on Apr 17, 2009 at 22:02:17 said:

I have tracked our progress (or lack of) in this country to control illegal immigraiton, primarily from our southern border. Whereas morally and idealy, illegal immigraiton from Mexico should be stopped, it is indeed an invasion and like any other invasion should be dealt with according, it will not.

Obama is going to use the drug war in Mexico as reasoning to ban guns, possibily just some types of guns in America, although it has been proven time and time again, the US is not the source for the types of guns used in Mexico by the drug lords. Our great Sec of State, Hillary sang the same song. It's our fault Mexico has guns and produces drugs because the Americans sell them the guns (not true in the majority of cases) and American's want the illegal drugs. So, this is political postering for what Obama has always wanted, the demilitarization of America, from the military standpoint by decreasing budjets, and from the citizen standpoint by banning some types of guns. So, there's that issue. As for illegal immigraiton, Obama promised the advocates of illegal immigration that he would enact comprehensive immigraiton reform. Notice he did not promise the American ciizens he would enforce our immigration laws, but formulate new ones to his and the advocates liking. This will result in millions and millions of latio people living legally in this country. Bye bye diversity. It is expected if he gets his way engneers who study the environment say by 2026 we will indeed be running short or out of completely some natural resources, like water. The millions that Obama and his buddies agree to make legal in this country will then be able to bring millions more of their family members into this country for citizenship. Again, bye bye diversity.
America will over a short period of historic time become a latino nation with under educated people running the show in DC based on their voting numbers alone. They seem to sort of like socialism because that system makes up the difference between their min wage jobs necessary to support perferred large families. So as much as I would like to think we can control the illegal immigration problem, Obama made his promise, those that voted for him knew this and all who listened knew this was coming. Brush up on your Spanish, plan on supporting millions of people who cannot afford health insurance, educational programs and need food and housing assistance. Those who voted for Obama should take the financial responsibility for this mess, but ah, in a democracy mob rule prevails and we will all see our housing values decrease and pay out of pocket for the democrats to remain in socialist power.


Valigator on Apr 17, 2009 at 17:19:18 said:

Now I have heard it all..bail out Mexico...talk about throwing good money after bad..thats would be the definition.

No I dont think so and if "give to me whats yours" society noticed the uprising here on the 15th of April, "they aint seen nothin yet" if people start talking about giving our tax dollars to Mexico..I would say the would be the straw that would break the camels back for the Average American Citizen. The outrage is about to rear its ugly head about aid to Pakistan and its underbelly of bombers..Mexico No bad bad bad Idea..


Jack on Apr 17, 2009 at 03:56:19 said:

What happened to the comments function at ImmigrationProf Blog, Prof. Hing? Gone for good?


Questioning on Apr 17, 2009 at 01:58:53 said:

WE WANT YOU TO LINE US UP AND SIGN US IN TO START WORKING NANCY. MIDDLE AGED AMERICAN WOMEN WITH COLLEGE DEGREES.


Questioning on Apr 17, 2009 at 01:52:32 said:

WHAT ABOUT SOCIAL SECURITY FOR AMERICAN WOMEN, NANCY AND BARACK?

HEY NANCY, I SAW MY 80 YEAR OLD FEMALE AMERICAN NEIGHBOR AT THE SUPERMARKET TODAY. SHE WAS SPLURGING ON ONE CAN OF SOUP.

HOW MUCH DO THE EDITORS MAKE HERE AND WHERE ARE THEY FROM?

HEY ICE -- I KNOW YOU'RE NOT HIRING MIDDLE AGED AMERICAN MOMS WITH COLLEGE DEGREES EITHER.


Questioning on Apr 17, 2009 at 01:45:31 said:

WE WANT A JOBS BILL FOR MIDDLE AGED AMERICAN WOMEN.


Questioning on Apr 17, 2009 at 01:41:11 said:

WOMEN CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVES -- WHERE ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES FOR THE MIDDLE-AGED SINGLE MOTHERS -- COLLEGE EDUCATED WOMEN WHO PUT YOU WHERE YOU ARE TODAY? I'M TALKING TO YOU NANCY PELOSI. ALONG WITH SOME OTHERS. NANCY -- YOU WERE GOING TO PUT HEALTH CARE FIRST, BEFORE YOU STARTED BAILING OUT WALL STREET.


Questioning on Apr 17, 2009 at 01:37:04 said:

I'd like to see a heckofalot more jobs for Americans in my category (definately not immigrant enough for the immigrants and not native enough for the nativists) before an immigration bill goes through. Plus HEALTH CARE.


Questioning on Apr 17, 2009 at 01:33:06 said:

I notice this website does not push for a National Health Insurance Act. What happened to all the press about health care? Congress was saying that an immigration bill wasn\'t going to happen for a while because of the economy, and Obama was going to do health care first.


Norski on Apr 16, 2009 at 22:05:02 said:

At last someone wants to talk sense! Stop the exploitation mill that is Illegal Immigration and replace it with investment in Mexico that allows the whole country a shot at being as well off as the US and Canada. If each American only invested one dollar per day in a business in Mexico it would increase the GDP of Mexico by 14%, employ over 3 million people and really get things rolling. But of course this means a big fight with the Illegal Immigrant profiteers - Big Business and those who see a gold mine of political power in legalization.


Delaware Bob on Apr 16, 2009 at 18:54:29 said:

Maybe we should just borrow another TRILLION and give it to Mexico. Better yet, let Mexico get it off the drug dealers. We got out problems here. Get the 20 million ILLEGAL ALIENS out of this Cuntry and let them go back to their own Country and build it up. They are tearing this Country down.

It's time for ZERO TOLLERENCE with these ILLEGAL AIENS. ENFORCE THE LAW1


nativessaysno on Apr 16, 2009 at 12:59:44 said:

....The White House announcement that it will tackle comprehensive immigration reform this year is good news for the roughly 12 million undocumented immigrants in the United States and their supporters...................................VERY bad news for average citizens that oppose this swindle!

NAFTA NAFTA NAFTA...the buzzword for: "you OWE us".....MExico is a very rich country pretending to be hapless and poor; -this gambit require us to do all their heavy-lifting and accept their rural uneducated poor en masse....tens of millions!! Gratitude anyone?

Mexico has a built-in tolerance for corruption, violence, and graft...that is their internal problem to fix themselves; not ours. I see no hope of their interest to changes in their political agendas which export all of the worst of what they have to offer us as our Southern neighbor.

All the onus on Obama? Good way to bring his candidacy downwards...for the sake of bunch of non-citizen's welfare and concern-non-citizen's that demonstrate very little interest in what WE want.

He owes it to us to put us first......not non-citizen's!


If he pushes this beyond this term...I will back another party....75% or more actual citizenss DO NOT WANT THIS NOW OR LATER regardless of articles like this that tout this mostly unpopular POV.

Bill, how did the book sell? Your 8ish paragraph piece is pure false rhetoric and propoganda

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