The US Border Fence between Mexico and the USA is advancing in the US Senate. Personally, I think that US Border fence is a wrong concept. My idea is that US should look at what Europe has done in terms of immigration and copy our model.

Mexico, USA and Canada have made something equivalent to the European Union, it is called NAFTA. Still there is a fundamental difference. In Europe we allow free movement of goods and people, within NAFTA goods move, but people stay behind. Interestingly, what Europe has found is that by creating job opportunities throughout the EU migrations inside Europe have actually been reduced. There was a time that Spaniards migrated to Germany in search of jobs. Now there are more Germans migrating to Spain than the other way around.

In my opinion USA should embrace Mexico and Canada and move border control to the South of Mexico (eskimo control does not seem to be a problem in the North NAFTA border…). Doing this and improving controls at a South Mexico, border with Guatemala and Belize –which is controlled jointly by all of NAFTA members– while allowing instead free movement of people between Canada, Mexico and USA is the way to go. To me, a gigantic wall with Mexico is exactly the wrong message to send to Mexico and to the world. It´s a failure of civilization.

Moreover, if Mexicans could move easily back and forth between USA and Mexico many less of them would stay in USA. Many workers stay simply because if they leave they can´t come back. Many in America wrongly believe that the whole world wants to move to the States. There are 450 million Europeans now who don´t even need a visa to visit the States, for example, but illegal immigration from Europe is just not a problem. Indeed, at Fon, the company that I manage, we have the opposite problem: it is easier for us to get visas for Europeans to go over to the USA than to get papers for the Americans who want to work for us in Spain.

I think that Americans have a seriously wrong view of how many foreigners in general and how many Mexicans or Canadians in particular would actually move to America and stay there if they had open borders inside NAFTA. When Europe had the Berlin Wall people would die trying to cross into Western Germany, but when the wall came down the surprise was that most people stay put. Building gigantic fences is the wrong way to go, improving conditions on both sides of the border is the right approach. Strengthen NAFTA, don´t build a wall.

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Andreu on September 29, 2006  · 

If Europe is that great, why new members have huge restrictions to free movement of people?? Maybe the economic differences betwen the average european and “new europeans” are similar to those between US americans and Mexicans. Not to talk about the african countries…

Sadly Europe has its own walls.

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Zach Skyles Owens on September 30, 2006  · 


This is a really interesting concept… Do you know of any US political leaders who are pushing for this as an answer to “immigration reform” and “border security”? Have you heard Bill Clinton talk about this especially since he was involved with NAFTA?

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Antoin O Lachtnain on September 30, 2006  · 

Who exactly do the Americans think they are going to get to build their 1000km fence for them?

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Sarunas on September 30, 2006  · 

In fact, none of the new EU members have visa-free regime with the United states. So substract 80 million from the 450 you quote.

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pablo on September 30, 2006  · 

Tenés toda la razón.

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Mexicano on September 30, 2006  · 

Yeah !! I agree with you!!!

I am glad to hear of you this concepts, they are really advanced.

When are you coming to Mexico. You will be Welcome!!

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Dabis Camero on October 1, 2006  · 

Border fences are always two sided knives. The ones building them do not know exactly when it would be wishful not have them… Perhaps too much pride make them blind….- Dabis

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Martin Varsavsky on October 3, 2006  · 


As many of the ideas I have, sometimes other have them as well, but I have not heard of anyone proposing that Mexico, USA and Canada link their labor markets and move the controls to the Southern Border of NAFTA.


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Jack on October 5, 2006  · 


I like the idea you’ve posted but I was just reading in the October Esquire magazine that Mexico has something like 9 million emmigrants a year and most of these go to the USA. With this number of persons involved, would your idea still be viable? What is the number of migrants which Europe has annually?

Perhaps the numbers might not affect the eventual outcome of the policy, but they would at least affect some people’s interpretation of the problem.


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Martin Varsavsky on October 6, 2006  · 


If Mexico had 9 million emigrants a year in less than 10 years all its citizens would be gone. What Europe has shown is that when people are free to move within an economic zone with level playing rules they end up moving much less than before. If all Mexicans were allowed to move freely in and out of the States there would be so many Mexicans that would move South knowing that they can come back that I don´t think there would be 9 million moving North. Moreover when it is easy to move back and forth many times only one family member moves and then frequently travels to visit rest of the family. I know it´s hard for Americans to believe that most people don´t want to emigrate, but it is simply the case.

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Jack on October 6, 2006  · 


I should have done the math! ;-(

A seemingly authoritative report at puts the emmigration figure at possibly 5 million per DECADE. (This seems much more realistic).

There’s also an interesting analysis of the Mexican/US migration problem at


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Elliott on October 12, 2006  · 

I drove on vacation through southern New Mexico and Arizona [If you haven’t been there, it makes for a great vacation, but make sure you bring your US passport with you] within sight of the border earlier this year during the spring. Even at that time of year, let alone in the long summer, the heat and desert terrain present more difficult obstacles to immigration than a fence will ever provide. People emigrate because they believe that not only their current condition, but also the future for themselves and their children is untenable. Over 80 years ago both my grandfathers left their wives and children in eastern Europe [people have been leaving eastern Europe continuously for over 100 years so the outlook for the Mexican / US situation is not promising] to come to the United States. Consider what a journey of over 5,000 miles and family separation for 5 years waiting for US citizenship [so they could bring their families over] were like in the early part of the twentieth century and you will realize the strong driving force to leave countries that do not provide for their citizens or subpopulations.

Unfortunately, the long term solution has nothing to do with more or less border control or US regulations. Mexico has to provide a better economic and social climate for their citizens so that they can provide for themselves and their families in Mexico. Mexico has oil, arable land, industrious citizens and is contiguous to the largest market in the world, but is unsuccessful. Canada has oil, arable land, industrious citizens and is contiguous to the largest market in the world and has been very successful due to these attributes.

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ivan on October 30, 2006  · 


Have you heard of what NAFTA has done to the Mexican economy, the arable land, the oil, and industrious citizens?????

Martin is on the money!!! With the signing of NAFTA came the direct competition between Canada, USA, and Mexico. Although this can be painted majestically, you surely must realize that the technology available to Americans, and to an extent Canadians as well, shatters any profitable arable land production i Mexico. Technology is helping America profit through NAFTA. That’s why you see Mexican immigrants moving north and mostly doing jobs that they know how to do; worling arable land.

The huge amounts of oil that Mexico has must be sold to their neighbor to the north to compensate for a poor economy that was once dependant on arable land. Selling oil to USA at a price well bellow the norm is keeping Mexico alive. Mexico sells oil to USA because of the geography, it’s cheaper and more profitable to move oil the least amount of distance.

The industrious citizens are comprised of a well educated citizenry (college education is a right of all Mexicans, hence it’s free of charge) but with a declining economy for reasons stated above no job growth is possible. With mouths to feed these citizens emigrate north to do mostly blue and pink collar jobs.

I agree that the fence is not the solution. But the trickery of politicians is amazing, How much of a coincidence is it that this fence bill was passed near re-election time? It’s merely a political stunt that will not ressolve the problem, but will surely secure Republican control of the senate. I wouldnt be surprised to see Haliburton build it. The only way Mexico can help provide better conditions for its people is to get out of NAFTA, and consider a fair trade alternative. However Mexico is in a deep hole which right now will not allow it to even consider any change without digging itself deeper. It’s a position that banefits America, so you have nothing to worry about.

The solution could be a guest program, one that allows free movement of workers. Mexicans can come work here for the crappy wages companies offer them, but have the freedom of moving themselves and their money back and forth to Mexico. Remember that dollars feed more mouths in Mexico than in the US. Immigrants arent stupid, they will much rather be better off in Mexico sending their families money, than in the US starving from bellow minimum wages.

Good neighbor’s dont build fences, they help and embrace their neighbor.

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