US Economic Policies Regarding Mexico: Notice a Pattern?

2009, Allen Smith

2009, Allen Smith

The North American Free Trade Agreement began on January 1, 1994 between the United States, Mexico and Canada.  This enacted lower custom barriers that promoted a free market among the three nations; however, it also produced negative consequences that we are currently experiencing today. Specifically in Mexico, the lowered custom barriers affected many independent farmers in Mexico, particularly those involved in the corn industry. Indeed, U.S. exports of agricultural products amounts to a total of $31.4 billion in 2010 while out of that amount $1.7 billion is due exporting fresh vegetables (North American Free Trade Agreement ). Although the purpose of this agreement is to provide an open space for free trade and promote economic growth, the agreement failed to take into account the social consequences and primarily focused on the possible economic fruits it could potentially bear.

In Oaxaca, a state of Mexico, 40 million people live in poverty rendering it the nation’s second-poorest state. Oaxaca is a state that was strongly affected by the NAFTA. Bacon renders this as “a result of Mexican economic developments who was pressured to enact the agreement’s policies by the International Monetary Fund, a DC institution. The consequence was an emphasis to the unequal distribution of wealth and the loss of jobs among the farmers whose main source of income is based primarily on the only skill they have invested, which in this case would be growing vegetables. Such as David Bacon describes in his book, Illegal People, “it became cheaper for large Mexican corn growers to buy U.S. corn and resell it than to grow it themselves.” As a result whether it’s legal or not, migration meant survival for many of Oaxacans. However, given a better financial circumstance, they would not see migration as desirable choice Yet, a flow of migration to either northern Mexican states or to the United States is inevitable if left with no other choice regarding economic disparity and living conditions (Illegal People).

What the US needs to do is to step back and learn from the NAFTA agreement in terms of migration. Considering unlawful migration to the United States is such a contested issue, we need to rethink our policies and keep in mind not only short-term benefits but long-term effects both regarding domestic and foreign issues.

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