"If 60 percent of our illegal immigration comes from a single country, and another 20 percent comes through that country, logic would say the vast majority of visas should go to the country of origin," [Demetrios Papademetriou, president of the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan think tank] said. "The last thing you would do is create a global temporary worker program, as if somehow we should need Bangladeshis or Russians to pick our fruits and vegetables."The argument, which is quite persuasive, is that we need to focus on making Mexico strong. Their stability is more important to us than most any other nation on earth because we share a border with them. Things aren't so dicey with Canada because they are already wealthy and stable.
The economies of the United States and Mexico are so interwoven that their success is very important to our continued success. The article also points out an important factor in the continuing stabilization of Mexico.
Last year, Mexico received a record $20 billion in remittances from migrant workers. That is equal to Mexico's 2004 income from oil exports and dwarfing tourism revenue.
Arriving in small monthly transfers of $100 and $200, remittances have formed a vast river of "migra-dollars" that now exceeds lending by multilateral development agencies and foreign direct investment combined, according to the Inter-American Development Bank.
The money Mexican migrants send home almost equals the U.S. foreign aid budget for the entire world, said Arturo Valenzuela, director of the Center for Latin American Studies at Georgetown University and former head of Inter-American Affairs at the National Security Council during the Clinton administration.
"Where are we going to come up with $20 billion?" to ensure stability in Mexico, Valenzuela asked at a recent conference. "Has anybody in the raging immigration debate over the last few weeks thought, could it be good for the fundamental interests of the United States ... to serve as something of a safety valve for those that can't be employed in Mexico?"
Obviously whatever policies we implement to control illegal immigration from Mexico, we'll have to consider the economic effect that will have on Mexico and whether the US can afford the fallout of that effect.