U.S. Immigration Policy

I am critiquing a section of this book that anticipates major social and economic problems arrising between Mexico and the United States between 2060-2090.

To begin, I picked up this book about two years ago.  I found it a very interesting read, but I was not sure if I especially agreed with all of his hypotesis.

However, I think his prediction regarding Mexico is possible, even though his explanations were overly simplistic.  Yet, to his credit, he is writing to a general audience that probably has a minimal amount of knowledge regarding US-Mexican relations.  Entonces todo bien.

What is important is that I criticize a few of his most general conclusions.  First of all, all of these theories are avoidable IF a few smart policies are enacted.  That means politicians and a general public that tries to educate itself through the combination of primary AND secondary sources.

With that being said, this is a “secondary” source, or better yet, a proposed set of theories by George Friedman, not a set of destined events.

His general mentality is that North America has historically had two centers of gravity: Washington & La Ciudad de México.  He explains that centers of power shift throughout the course of history, and now México is becoming more empowered.  He equates the potential shift as that which occured between Spain and France, or what could occur between Japan and China.

  1. His case rests on immigration.  “Immigrants from Mexico will behave differently starting in the 2030s” (225). 
  2. He states that México is the wealthest major country in Latin America.  “México ranks among the developed, if not advanced, economies” (p.231)
  3. He tells us that “the energy sector actually represents a declining portion of Mexico’s economy”.  Services account for 70% of Mexico’s GDP (p.230).
  4. Agriculture only accounts for 4% of GDP.
  5. He uses the “Human Development Scale” as a validation for his arguments (p.233).
  6. Friedman uses the story of the transition of the U.S. Mafia’s illegal money to legitimate investment in Mexican businesses as an indication that Mexico benefits from the illicit and precarious indictament (p.235)
  7. Mexico will be the leading economic power in Latin America (p.236).
  8. Mexico had a grand strategy of regaining the lands lost to the United States, which was never realized only due to their own political destabilization (p.237).
  9. Brazilians will be supportive and sympathetic to the Mexican cause (p.247).

I want to attack each proposal individually.  I will later offer a “more comprehensive solution” for problem #1.

(1) Immigrants from Mexico will feel more empowered because their country is more developed than it was in the past.  They will feel richer.  It is true that the higher strata of the Mexican population will be immigrating to the United States.  It is also true that the poorer populations migrations will see a porportional decline.  Friedman disagrees because he says that by the 2030’s the U.S. will enact a strong immigration incentive program in order to help fill the bottom deciles of its labor force.  He says that the majority of these workers will come from Mexico.  Mexicans will feel closer to home and will maintain their family ties.  (Doesn’t this also ignore the fact that all immigrant groups now have more available means by which to maintain familiar ties?)

(2) This shows his lack of knowledge regarding the Brazilian economy, which just cracked the rank of 7th in the world.  Mexico is currently 13th.  I may be overly optimistic about Brazil, but I definitely think that Brazil has some advantages that Mexico just doesn’t (and will not) have.

(3) How is Friedman measuring the “energy” sector?  Does he include agrofuels in his calculation?  Huge swathes of northern Mexico now produce yellow corn.  (All this corn is not going to feed livestock.)  Also, Guatemala has been experimenting with ecuylptus farms as a “second-tier energy crop”.  [Agrofuels in the Americas; The Institute for Food and Development Policy].

(4) Most of Mexico’s population has historically been labeled as “informal”.  This is reflected in the pressing need to formulate an effective governmental health insurance policy and to these unprotected individuals [PROGRESA].  If farmers are producing for autoconsumption, this is not calculated in the GDP.  If employees are undocumented, there may be an incentive to underreport certain statistics.

(5) Totally irrevelant.  He should of investigated some of the above before resorting to this “fact”.  Romania, Oman, Bulgaria, and Uruguay also have this classification level.

(6) Yes, illegal money eventually ends up in legitimate places.  It helps foster economic growth.  However, as he acknowledges, portions these funds are also invested directly in the United States (instead of in México).  Also, the U.S. could legalize and tax many of these operations.  This would be a wild card and stiffle Mexican illegal profits.  This could also push México back as a raw supplier of primary commodities.

(7) False.  Brazil will be.  If Mexico becomes threathening, U.S. will hedge its bets on Colombia and use it as a counterweight.

(8) Does Canada also seek to annex Seattle?  Does the U.S. want to reoccupy Cuba?  Is Argentina just waiting on the right opportunity to seize Uruguay?  Is Paraguay ready to wage a full out war against Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay for access to the Atlantic.  There are more marginal profits for Mexico if seeks a regional hegemony in the “American Lake” or in Central America.

(9) Investment that goes to México, does not go to Brazil.  Brazil would not like the United States manipulating all over its neighbors to “regain” lost lands (following the argument of Freidman).  Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina or any of the Guyanas might find be suspectible to this counter by American intelligence.

BACK TO (1)

American politicians can enforce SMART IMMIGRATION POLICY towards México.  Supply the positions needed by Mexicans, just be smart about the physical relocation of Mexicans.  The U.S. could (A) completely digest Mexico economically to internalize this threat {NAFTA}; or (B) they could enforce an aggressive immigration dispersion policy.

Housing subsidies can be awarded to Mexican families who wish to stay for more than 5-10 years.  This governmental aid can be granted in only certain states [NOT the area within the red polygon].  The U.S. government can also encourage targeted employment growth and additional subsidies to help certain industries in certain states as apart of a general national security inniative.  Yes, we need agricultural workers, but let’s encourage these influxes towards Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, New York and even Alaska, not towards the area in the red polygon.

Mexican Immigration Alternative

The brewing conflict between the United States and México will occur in the 2060s (according to Freidman).  This will be apart of a general process that is already occuring, due to the shift from unskilled to skilled labor, as a direct consequence of robotics (229).

  1. Replacing scarce labor with cheaper technology
  2. Shift available labor to support robotics
  3. Direct replacement of workers

[p. 229]

The United States will be forced to reverse the tide of immigration.  Once again, creative U.S. immigration policy could push these migrants into Canada, or even to Russia (which will be experiencing a chronic population loss which is already occuring).  It is not that hard to change an incentive policy.
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