Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo and Carlos Gutierrez, former U.S. Commerce Secretary, examine U.S-Mexico immigration issues in this op-ed article for the New York Times:
The United States and Mexico have a rich, shared history. For more than a century, people have moved back and forth at the border to work. Their toil and industry could have taken place within a well-regulated and mutually beneficial labor market. But in recent years much of their labor has occurred in a vast black market — harming workers, families, security and public finances in both countries.
There is justifiable disappointment at this outcome. We have watched with frustration, from the highest levels of government on each side of the border, as two neighbors have wasted opportunities to help each other.
Our countries ceased cooperating to regulate labor migration in 1965. They understandably rejected the previous history of flawed “bracero” agreements adopted as early as 1942, which contained inadequate safeguards for workers from both countries. But rather than work to fix those flaws, they have since rejected any genuinely cooperative regulation of lower-skilled labor flows.
The sad result has been decades of rampant illegality. Today, by some reasonable estimates, of the 11.7 million Mexican-born individuals living in the United States, almost half (5.6 million) have no legal authorization. The root cause of this tragedy is that past governments did not jointly enact a well-regulated framework for new and lawful flows of labor.
There is a better way. We believe both countries must now arrive at a lasting, innovative and cooperative solution to reap the tremendous benefits of directing lawful and well-regulated labor migration into activities that complement and enhance the well-being and productive potential of American workers and their families. Think, for example, of the older Americans cared for by Mexican health workers, the American children raised in homes built strong and kept neat by Mexican workers — and the opportunities that this affords Mexican families for transforming their lives, as the ancestors of most American families once did as migrants.
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By Ernesto Zedillo and Carlos Gutierrez for the New York Times
Ernesto Zedillo, the president of Mexico from 1994 to 2000, directs the Yale University Center for the Study of Globalization. Carlos Gutierrez, the United States secretary of commerce from 2005 to 2009, is the chairman of the Albright Stonebridge Group, a global consulting firm. The two lead the Shared Border, Shared Future working group at the Center for Global Development. Its report will be available Sept. 13 at www.cgdev.org.
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