Ending NAFTA: One Answer to Reducing the Flow of Illegal Immigration

Flikr | photocredit: Border Explorer

Flikr | photocredit: Border Explorer

NAFTA kills. It kills jobs, it kills growth, and it kills the livelihood of workers. However, none of this is a concern for the United States, who for over 18 years have been hailing NAFTA as a major success for the US, and are now trying to implement a similar trade agreement with Pacific Asia. NAFTA kills the Mexican economy, and can hardly be appropriately called a “free” trade agreement. It may be free for the US who are the main beneficiaries to the agreement, and Canada second, but it has come at a cost for the Mexican government. It’s also beginning to cost the United States.

The North American Free Trade Agreement was signed between Canada, the United States and Mexico in 1994, and marked the first trade agreement between the northern states and Mexico. The main purpose behind NAFTA was to eliminate trade barriers between the countries, which would help increase the flow of trade, and strengthen relations. According to the Democratic Peace Theory, countries that have economic trade and dependence will not fight each other. Although it is hard to imagine the states ever attacking each other, the trade agreement was one way to enforce the triangular alliance. The trade agreement at the time seemed like a major breakthrough for Mexico; it increased its exports by 23% from 1993 for the first few years, and were finally importing goods that were now affordable for the average household. However as the years would pass, Mexico would begin to realize that the phasing out of all tariffs on American exports would begin to have a dire impact on the Mexican economy.

The United States has one of the most robust economies and highest GDPs in the world–Mexico on the other hand is quite the opposite. In order to better compete with Mexican farms and imports, the American government began providing subsidies for American agricultural goods which allowed the US to sell the goods at a lower cost than Mexico. As the forces of supply and demand shows, people went for the cheaper American goods over the Mexican ones. The Mexican government did not have the luxury of competing with its American neighbor however. As shown in the award-winning documentary “The Other Side of Immigration“, Mexican farmers began losing their jobs as a result of NAFTA. With poor educational opportunities in Mexico, and a agricultural sector that could not adapt quick enough to the shock that NAFTA brought, Many Mexican workers were forced to cross the borders to find work, since it was no longer available in their own country. Following the signing of NAFTA, the US faced a spike in illegal immigration over the Mexican border into the states.

Twenty years later, NAFTA is as strong as ever, have been repeatedly ratified without hesitant by the United States, and without the repercussions of the agreement being well known to the public. While the average American may be unaware of the impact NAFTA has really had in North America, the Hispanic community is all too familiar with it. At any immigration rights protest you see, there’s bound to be a group of people protesting NAFTA. Americans should know more about NAFTA. Although it has increased GDP (as any increase in exports will do), the increase in imports and growing number of offshore production hurts the American workforce. Nonetheless, if Republicans really want to make slowing down illegal immigration their number 1 priority for the upcoming new year, then they will have to look elsewhere than demanding an increase in deportation and border security to do it (which Obama, a Democratic President, has deported the most amount of undocumented immigrants in American Presidential history, as well as spent the most on border security). Turning toward reforming NAFTA, and rebuilding the Mexican economy may be the best answer to curbing the flow of illegal immigrants into the United States.

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