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Can the U.S. and Mexico Come Together on Immigration and Border Enforcement?

Border Enforcement

The Mexican and U.S governments will tell you that they are experiencing a level of collaboration that is unprecedented. This is something that began under the Bush administration and it’s a relationship and a growing sense of trust that they’ve fostered over time and what this translates to is an increase in the sharing of sensitive law enforcement information.

The two governments entered into the Merida Initiative, which provides funding for the Mexican government as well as training in the areas of law enforcement and justice reform. On this side of the border, you have DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and the commissioner of customs and border protection, Alan Bersin, have launched a new vision for the border with the Mexican government that they call a 21st century border which focuses on speeding up the flow-the legal flow-of goods and people across the border, so all of these are good signs.

At the same time, you have events that bring some of the tensions to the front that still exists between these two countries.  Recently, there was a shooting in Ciudad Juarez of a 15-year-old young man by a U.S Border Patrol agent and there was a big outcry in the Mexican media and among Mexican leaders who said that the United States is relying on force and a deadly use of force too much in its approach to border enforcement.

On the U.S side, I think there’s some frustration that there are a lot of criminal groups on the border that are not being contained by the Mexican government. I think also on the issue of migration you see a difference of opinion. The Mexican government sees migration as a human right and believes that people should have the right to cross into the United States legally if they find job opportunities here and the U.S government, on the other hand, sees this as a national policy issue where the Mexican government should not meddle.

I think in the area of law enforcement, specifically the campaign against the drug cartels, the U.S government cannot publicly make any statements that would offend the Mexican government. There’s a growing consensus that President Felipe Calderon’s strategy is not working, that there needs to be a change, that there’s been a gross violation of human and civil rights by the Mexican military. But because the U.S government is publicly committed to helping the Mexican government, it cannot speak up on these issues. So there are some areas in which I think more collaboration would be good and which a bit more sincerity would also be useful.

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