What’s Wrong With Mexico?
April 28, 2010 1 Comment
What is it about Mexico that so many of its people are willing to risk breaking the law to leave? According to Migration Information Source, one-tenth of the entire population of Mexico has fled the country in order to live in the United States. 75% of these immigrants are working-age adults. In 2006, more than half of unauthorized immigrants in the United States were from Mexico.
A few years ago, when Congress was debating a proposed immigration reform package, I met an individual that had received amnesty under the administration of Ronald Reagan. Like many who have entered the United States illegally, he is originally from Mexico. Not surprisingly, he felt that those in the country illegally now should receive the same kind of amnesty that he did. I asked him why he thought so many people were striving so hard to leave Mexico, and he told me it was for economic opportunity. I then followed up this question by asking him why Mexico does not offer the same kind of economic opportunity as the United States.
“Mr. Amnesty” said it was because of corruption in the Mexican government. I kept pressing the issue by asking him why he thought there was so much corruption in the Mexican government. The answer: because they have been bought off by businesses and politicians in the United States!
So in this man’s line of reasoning, the reason his native country of Mexico is so bad off, is because of the country that he and many of his countrymen are working so hard to immigrate to. Forgive me for saying so, but I don’t follow this line of reasoning.
He had some valid points, like the fact that the U.S. demand for illegal drugs was funding a large criminal element in Mexico. However, this still does not explain why many Mexicans are willing to risk their lives to try and get a job in the United States. The lack of economic opportunity in Mexico has a great deal to do with the Mexican government not providing a climate that business people would want to invest in.
Incredibly, Mexico has set up a restricted zone where foreigners may not own property. This is written into the Mexican Constitution. (See this website, which has a section on Buying Property In Mexico). Since the 1990′s, Mexico changed its laws to allow foreigners to buy commercial property in the restricted zone, but it must be done through a trust set up by a Mexican bank. While the relaxing of government restrictions like these can be seen as a positive move, it seems clear that they historically have not helped the Mexican people in attracting businesses, jobs, or other economic opportunity.
Border states like Arizona, which are receiving a disproportionately large number of illegal immigrants, are struggling to provide services like public schooling, emergency room access, government housing, food stamps, medicaid, welfare payments, and more. The state legislature has recently enacted a new, and controversial, law, that declares that being in the United States illegally will now be considered a crime under their own state laws. This will allow their state and local law enforcement personnel to take actions against those in the country illegally. They did this, because the neither the United States government, nor the Mexican government, are dealing with the situation. They also can not afford to continue to provide these services that are mandated by the federal government, and that are attracting so many many to cross the border from Mexico.
The Mexican government has decided to blame the state of Arizona for passing the law. (See this Associated Press article: Mexican gov’t slams Arizona immigration law)
In my humble opinion, Mexicans should take responsibility for the sorry state their country is in. Blaming the United States will not make Mexico a more desirable place to live. Historically, the United States has had a limited government, which allowed for businesses to grow and flourish. This created the very jobs that so many Mexicans are leaving their nation to try and get. It is called capitalism, and it is a good thing.
The United States federal government needs to address the border situation, so that states like Arizona are not forced to try and deal with the situation on their own. The Mexican government also needs to take responsibility for the violence and corruption along the border, and find ways to create economic opportunity for its own people. For many Mexicans, the grass is greener in Arizona, and other parts of the United States. Until the Mexican government addresses the reasons why its people think so, the situation will continue to be addressed by governments outside of Mexico.