U.S. foreign toward its Mexico can be analyzed as driven by promoting free market reforms and enforcing market prohibitions. This means tightening controls over prohibited cross-border economic flows and at the same time promoting a borderless free trade area.U.S. drug and immigration control strategies focus primordially on curbing the foreign supply and secondarily on identifying the sources of demand: consumers of drugs and employers of migrant workers. In a nutshell, US efforts have confronted the demand side of the problem--America's inherent dependence on both.As US scramble to beef up border controls on Mexico, puny efforts are given to tide down the powerful economic forces that drive so many Mexicans to illegally enter the United States. The Border Patrol can only do so much by making life much harder for illegal border-crossers. The underlying push-pull factors that motivate illegal labor migration remain stronger than ever. On the pull side, important sectors of the U.S. economy, such as agriculture and the garment industry, rely on illegal workers. The US government crackdown on employers using illegal aliens is weak, poorly designed, and minimally enforced.The first priority should be to raise and enforce labor standards. Genuine enforcement of existing workplace rules such as the implementation of minimum wages, overtime, and environmental, health, and safety regulations will make it difficult for employers to engage in the exploitation of workers, hence, denying them their most important incentive to hire illegal labor. These efforts should especially target sweatshop employers who are despicable for their abuse of workers and disregard of labor standards. This strict emphasis on raising labor standards by tightening workplace controls would contribute toward addressing the root of the problem than simply tightening border controls.
US domestic efforts on the pull side is combined with initiatives to address the conditions in growth of small-and medium-scale labor-intensive industries in rural regions, where most of the job displacement is occurring. These measures require active state intervention in managing the economic transition in the countryside rather than the current laissez-faire approach. The Mexican government had no strategy for handling the millions of workers who are being displaced as a result of market reforms. However, the United States has a strong interest in cooperating with Mexico to devise and promote development programs and social safety nets that minimize the incentive for workers to cross border to the US.
Multilateral institutions like the World Bank can assist these efforts by including migration concerns centrally into their programs. The IMF and the World Bank have not considered migration issues in their policy management. Indeed, many of the market-based reforms they support end up fueling migration both in the short and medium term. The main goal of the NAFTA is to spur economic development so that migration pressures will be reduced in the long run.
The US can help Mexico manage the difficult process of economic restructuring by helping it cope with the mass displacement of Mexican labor. This requires active government involvement rather than faith in market solutions. The market solution tends to be that of exporting the labor surplus to the United States. For example, Mexico can be encouraged to increase the minimum wage to begin closing the wide wage gap between the two countries. The United States and Mexico can unite to slow down the growth of the border region, since this area has traditionally served as a magnet for northward migration. The United States can encourage Mexico to implement its agricultural reforms to encourage the people to stay in the country. The US can help Mexico through tax incentives and financial and technical assistance.
The Mexico experience shows that the free market reforms can also free up the drug