What If the US Treated Mexico Like Europe Treated Spain?

by John Sides on April 13, 2008 · 4 comments

in Immigration

For Spain, the EU adopted full economic integration as the preferred goal, and substantial resources — equivalent to tens of billions of U.S. dollars — were made available to modernize Spanish institutions and infrastructure so they would harmonize with conditions in the north. As these investments were made, Spanish out-migration to the rest of Europe not only did not increase; it stopped, despite a continuing income gap between Spain and the rest of the EU.
In the U.S., in contrast, authorities chose not to pursue full economic integration, instead negotiating terms that were exploitive of Mexico and protective of the U.S. And since the signing of NAFTA, migration from Mexico to its northern neighbor has continued unabated as efforts to increase border enforcement have backfired, encouraging Mexican migrants in the U.S. to remain and actually increasing net undocumented migration.

That is Douglas Massey, writing in the new magazine, Miller-McCune. Here is the article. Here is an overview of the magazine’s mission. Here is the Miller-McCune Foundation’s website. I look forward to more from them.

{ 4 comments }

Robert L. April 13, 2008 at 10:35 pm

Let’s see, another academic who says Europe is good and America is stupid and bad, what a refreshing and novel point of view!

You cannot equate Spain and Poland with a country that has to call in the Army to fight for control of a major city with drug gangs in terms of government or economic infrastructure. The idea that the US could pay $20 Billion to re-engineer Mexico is ludicrous on its face and any effort to do so would be greeted with screams of colonialism from both sides of the border. If Massey wants to talk about US immigration policies, which are a mess, he should do so directly instead of using NAFTA as a stalking horse.

Oh the irony April 14, 2008 at 3:06 pm

“with a country that has to call in the Army to fight for control of a major city with drug gangs”

Yes, but you fail to note this is so mostly because of the incredibly high US demand for illegal drugs.

So what you identify as a Mexican failure is, to a considerable extent, a negative externality generated by the current US policy on drugs (which generates black markets, and which mostly “exports” the violence associated with this black market to countries where illegal drugs are produced or transported… as opposed to consumed).

Mexico would not have a major problem with drug gangs… if the US didn’t have such a high demands for illegal drugs.

Mexico would have a far easier time achieving good government and curtailing corruption were it not for the extra-normal profits associated with that most profitable black market – that of illegal drugs.

So, before you berate Mexico, you may want to rethink some of what lies behind Mexico’s challenges.

I am an investment banker with a PhD in finance. My employer (a big American firm) could not, after 2 years, get me an H1-B visa, due to the ludicrous US immigration regime for both skilled and unskilled immigrants. End result – I now work for them in London, as the UK has a sensible immigration regime with no arbitrary quota on skilled immigrants.

Funny, as I thought the US was a nation of immigrants, a nation keen on free movement of factors of production, and a nation keen on markets in general.

John Sides April 14, 2008 at 3:19 pm

Robert L.,

Even if $20b is not enough, one could still ask, what’s the marginal value of a dollar spent investing in Mexico vs. a dollar spent investing in border control?

Robert L. April 14, 2008 at 9:49 pm

I’m not defending US border/immigration policies or the ‘war on drugs,’ both are horrible and appear to be getting worse. They are, however, distinct from NAFTA/CAFTA.

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