Throughout the election process and now as President, Donald Trump has viciously and relentlessly attacked Mexico and its people over trade and immigration. In reality, Trump’s attacks are baseless and contrived.
First, there is no rational basis to blame Mexico for the NAFTA trade agreement involving the US, Mexico and Canada. Mexico did not initiate NAFTA, and it did not coerce the US government to sign the trade agreement.
The Reagan administration initiated negotiations with Mexico to expand the global economy, the negotiations were concluded with Mexico and Canada during the G. H. W. Bush administration, and NAFTA was approved by the Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1993.
Besides expanding the global economy, NAFTA was intended to improve the Mexican economy and increase US agricultural exports to Mexico. The initial expansion of US agricultural exports into Mexico and the penetration of big box stores, like Walmart, into the Mexican economy displaced farm workers and destroyed innumerable Mexican small businesses. Lacking jobs, millions of displaced Mexican workers illegally entered the US to survive and seek jobs.
Theoretically, US immigration laws should have thwarted illegal immigration, but they failed, due to their inherent flaws and the bipartisan failure of the US government to improve them and to vigorously enforce them. Although life has been hard for illegal Mexican immigrants in the US, most have survived and many have thrived. Many have taken jobs that Americans will not do, but others are competing for jobs with American citizens.
Since production costs are cheaper in Mexico than in the US, many US and foreign manufacturers have built new factories or moved their factories to Mexico to meet Mexican demand and to export their products duty-free into the US and Canada and to other counties, because Mexico has many free-trade agreements.
NAFTA and illegal immigration into the US have created pressures on the US economy and US workers. The US economy has grown more slowly, because factories have left the US or new ones are being built elsewhere. US workers face increased competition for low-skilled jobs, driving down wages and opportunity. Although many illegals pay taxes, others do not. Also, many have low paying jobs and pay lower taxes; nevertheless, their families use US hospitals and their children attend US schools, increasing the burden on governmental services.
Although NAFTA and our immigration laws may have hurt the US economy, it is hypocritical and deceitful to blame Mexico and its people for our mistakes.The US created the global economy, NAFTA and our poorly written and enforced immigration laws.
Furthermore, Trump’s accusations of increased criminality of illegal immigrants, compared with US citizens, are not supported by the facts.
Trump’s misdirected attacks on Mexico and its peopleplay to our darkest, selfish interests and, for a fewAmericans, their racial/ethnic prejudices, as well.Mexico has no ethical or contractual obligation to build a wall that it neither wants nor needs.
If the USgovernment wants to reform NAFTA or build a wall, then weshould admit our mistakes and take steps to develop a treaty that will be more equitable to the US and, at the same time, fair to our trading partners. That is what great nations do.
Lastly, the desire of Trump and many Americans to deport all undocumented immigrants, including those brought to the US as children, is inconsistent with our professed religiosity and American values.
The US allowed undocumented immigrants to remain in the US during President Reagan’s administrationin the 1980’s. That policy, accompanied by real immigration reform and enforcement, is still the most sensible, humane option.