November 4, 2006 · Print This Article
The US is getting ready to build a large wall between Mexico and the US in order to better control immigration and cut down on Mexicans sneaking into the country. Most of the Mexicans down here see the wall as being a slightly hostile act on the part of the US. However, some have pointed out that the Mexican government doesn't seem to want to stop their residents from sneaking into Mexico. One told me about a government meeting with the US, where every time the US representatives tried to bring up the immigration problems the Mexican representatives would just laugh about how many of their country men and women were sneaking into the US.
The Mexican government has good reason to keep the flow of Mexicans into the US. Last year the Mexicans in the US sent over 17 billion US dollars back into Mexico. That is in the same ball park as what Mexico brings in from oil each year. For the Mexican government these are people who are bringing in money to the country that the Mexican government doesn't have to take care of. Mexicans in the US aren't using any of the Mexican public services, so they cost the government nothing.
If the Mexican government can't keep their people in the country, then maybe the wall is a good idea right? I don't think so. The wall may be able to keep some people out of the country, but in the end it really isn't going to change things. The wall will only cover a particular area and there are dozens of other ways for people to sneak into the country. The industry built around sneaking Mexicans into the US stands to profit more than anyone else from the wall being built. The contractors picked to build the wall are a possible exception–they will make a very nice profit.
I think the real solution is to make it easier for Mexicans to come into the country, but slightly less desirable for them to stay. If the US was to make it easier for Mexicans to enter legally, there would be less incentive for them to try to sneak across the border. Also if they are here legally it is going to be easier to collect taxes from them because there will be a record of them being here and they won't be limited to working for employers who only pay cash.
Right now many people are concerned that there will be jobs lost to Mexicans if they are allowed in legally. However, this is only true because we've artificially raised the value of certain types of work though minimum wage. Since Mexicans can come to the US, take a job for near minimum wage and still have money left over to send back to Mexico, the minimum wage must be a lot higher than it needs to be.
If the minimum wage was lowered it would allow employers to staff positions that currently are too expensive to fill. This would open up many jobs that don't exist currently or that are handled using technology. The lowered minimum wage would make the move to the US less attractive for many Mexicans and it would achieve something of a balance. Overall a bigger workforce that is willing to work for less pay is a good thing for US businesses and could actually end up lowering prices for certain types of services which means the US dollar would be worth more.
Implementing a change like this would be difficult to plan and execute, but not impossible. Overall the United States would be better served by trying to work with the Mexicans that want to work in the US instead of literally building a wall between the two countries.