Mexico: Our almost 51st State
Mexico, the country to our south is, in fact, a Dependency of the United States. Wait. That can’t be, Mexico is a sovereign nation.
Yet, when you consider Mexico’s three chief sources of income, you begin to see how Mexico fits the definition of a Dependency which is: A subject territory that is not part of the ruling nation. And yes, Mexico also fits under The Golden Rule: We, who have the gold, rule.
Here’s why: Mexico’s number one source of income is the sale of petroleum, mostly to the United States. Mexico’s number two income source is the money sent back to Mexico by both documented and undocumented workers. Tourist dollars – spent mostly by Americans – provide Mexico with its third largest source of income. Those facts make Mexico an economically subject territory of the United States.
Therefore, the health of the U.S. economy has a direct bearing on the health of the Mexican economy. If we were to suffer a devastating blow from weapons of mass destruction sufficient to return this country to the days of The Great Depression, our economic distress would provoke riots in the streets and along the byways of Mexico.
It is, therefore, in the economic best interest of Mexico to cooperate in the War on Terror by helping the U.S. gain control over our common border. By the same token, it is in the economic best interest of the U.S. to have the benefit of relatively inexpensive Mexican labor, primarily in agriculture.
So, how do we balance our need to secure our borders, both north and south, with the need to maintain our symbiotic economic relationship with Mexico and, for that matter, with Canada, as well?
The guest worker program proposed by the Bush Administration is part of the answer. But, to be effective, it must be coupled with the massive effort needed to gain control over our border with Mexico.
Yet the order in which these two steps are accomplished is critical. Mexicans seeking to work in this country must be convinced of the benefits of a documented guest worker program that allows them to come here to work for established periods of time. Mexicans must be convinced that entry for undocumented workers will become virtually impossible and that the life of the documented worker will be far preferable to that of the undocumented worker.
Language differences and illiteracy make this a daunting educational task. But, with the cooperation of the Mexican government, it can be done. If we can plant the seeds of democracy to the Middle East, we can surely get the amazingly clever and adaptable Mexicans to see the benefits of a documented guest worker program that puts dollars in the pockets of their families in Mexico without the physical hazards of harsh desert border crossings.
That brings us to the all-important second step: the application of sufficient human, technological and material resources to control ingress and egress across our common border.
Sealing our borders must come second because if we were to shut down our southern border without holding out the prospect of a guest worker program, impoverished Mexicans would topple their government in a bloody revolution. And, at the cost many American lives, international pressures and humanitarian concerns could force us to send in troops to stop the bloodshed. We could even end up with another Castro-type Cuba on our southern flank.
While the security and economic benefits of an effective guest worker program made workable by border controls that allow us to know who is in our country for what purpose and for how long should be obvious, all this is much easier said than done.
Certainly, the nation that built The Panama Canal can secure its borders. Surely, the nation that created the greatest economy the world has ever seen can figure out how to create and administer an effective guest worker program.
William Hamilton, a syndicated columnist, a featured commentator for USA Today and self-described “recovering lawyer and philosopher,” is the co-author of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2005. William Hamilton.