Now that President Donald Trump has retreated on his intention to imminently close the border with México, and is “giving” the neighboring country a year to stop not only the flow of migrants but also narcotics, to the United States, it is worth reflecting on the economic-migratory reality of one of the largest zones of commercial trading and human movement on the planet.
Generally speaking, along the 1,951 miles that make up the borderline between México and the United States resides a population in excess of 10 million people. The four U.S. states (Texas, New México, Arizona, and California) and six Mexican ones (Tamaulipas, Nuevo León, Coahuila, Chihuahua, Sonora, and Baja California) share a certain cultural, historical, and economic relationship that accommodates, at its 56 ports of entry, the crossing of at least one million people daily, as well as approximately 300,000 vehicles and 70,000 trucks carrying various products.
In this constant coming and going are some 1.7 million products from businesses and factories, not only edible goods but also automotive. In conservative calculations, experts say that closing the border, even partially, would lead to the loss of between 1.5 and 2 million dollars every day.
In conservative calculations, experts say that closing the border, even partially, would lead to the loss of between 1.5 and 2 million dollars every day.
That is a reality that surpasses any authoritarian pretension to modify its historic and economic course; a reality that is even above any political agenda or the now-insufferable electoral strategies in which a truckload of xenophobia along with another bunch of racism and spewed anti-immigrant rhetoric no longer combine to trick those who have realized his real plan.
It is a fact that those billions of dollars that flow from one side of the México-US border to the other are a plunder that no one wants to lose, not only because they guarantee a juicy tax haul, but also because they maintain afloat the economic livelihood of one of the most strategic geographic zones in the world.
Evidently, Trump and his team had to take this under advisement in order to modify his original position on closing the border, since shooting himself in the foot yet again would not only be inconvenient for him, politically speaking, but would go against an economic system in which the greatest haul is the principal objective, a system that millions of people live off of, and on the basis of which all kinds of programs are created and international agreements are signed, such as the recently modified commercial treaty between Canada, the United States, and México–pushed, curiously, by President Trump himself.
This shows us that one anti-immigrant campaign tantrum, in which he attempts to close the border to block the passage of undocumented immigrants, is no longer a convenient strategy to win applause and, by extension, the easy and little-analyzed vote. Making México responsible for a situation that has bedeviled all of the countries involved, on the other hand, also cannot work because the root of problems causing the migrant exodus all over the orb remains unresolved and, above all, there is no real multilateral agreement to solve them.
Over the years, much has been said about strategies to end poverty, without shrinking it sufficiently in order to avoid new migrations. Moreover, local and regional investments have been proposed but, in the majority of cases, have failed because of corruption, just like the international aid to vulnerable nations. In the midst of this, population growth and by extension, human needs, have converted the future of this generation of humans that inhabit the planet today into a vicious circle and for various reasons they have had to relocate themselves to more-affluent locales–a reality that has been constant in all of human history. There is no secret in it.
In the end, Trump has threatened to impose tariffs on the Mexican automobile industry in one year if the country does not stop the flow of migrants and narcotics to the United States. It’s a fact that he will not do it for the simple reason that this sector also produces billions of dollars in earnings and no one–not even him–wants to lose out in this convenient equation.
But it is also a fact that he will tirelessly harp on this threat as one of his campaign slogans. We just have to be patient to see how he decides to soften the situation and “explain” that he didn’t say what he said.
And then he will begin to look elsewhere for another solution to his latest threats. But for now, the historical and economic reality of the border has prevented its closure, not Trump.
David Torres is a Spanish-language Advisor at América’s Voice and América’s Voice Education Fund.
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