With antagonisms that run deeper than anything between
Getting into the European Union is a desirable thing and the old democracies use this leverage to impose a set of conditions whereby the community can be joined, and then make it tough to say no with promises of money, infrastructure and assistance.
In 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed. Its goal was also economic integration, but some "sidebars" were added to ensure an even application of environmental regulations and protections for labor.
The integration has made lots of money for companies with the juice to set-up overseas operations. The environmental protections and labor rights guarantees have not done so well.
Swelling waves of desperate immigrants from the south, the topic of this forum at "Kiko's House," may be the result.
Martin Navarrette of the San Diego Union-Tribune noted in a column that immigration is a "binational" problem and that no legislation worked up on this side of the border can work, "unless
Navarette is not talking about a bigger fence in
The columnist is laying some responsibility at
In his regular job, the Highway Scribe is assigned to covering the U.S.-Mexico border and witness to efforts on solving the region's problems jointly.
A frequent visitor to the
In fact, it's not uncommon to meet a Mexican who made the trek to the border only to find a good job before crossing the dividing line became necessary.
The Scribe's simple idea would be to amplify this trend and "soften and widen" the border through economic prosperity. A modest and practical first step; eliminate the borderland with a happy "bufferland."
So the task is to empower the NAFTA sidebars for application at the border, where its effects have been most dramatic. Ensure that workers can unionize and improve wages and working conditions. Apply California-style environmental standards upon companies on the Mexican side.
NAFTA set up an infrastructure for such things. The tri-national Commission on Economic Cooperation (CEC), for example, does good work on issues confronting the three countries, approaching them from a continental understanding of shared watersheds, air corridors, and the idea that pollution doesn't respect the border.
In covering a CEC session in
With all it's flaws we have an old democracy with a lot of ingrained and healthy civic habits. We should export them instead of doing what the administration did on that particular day, which was fail to send a representative.
That takes all the air out of the effort.
We can't change a country, but we can affect the quality of life along the border, reduce the opportunities for criminal behavior by decreasing – not increasing – the enforcement presence and allowing the border region to capitalize on the action NAFTA has brought, but cleaning up the money and the industry associated with it.