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Is U.S.-Mexico Cooperation on Migration Possible?
Over recent months, the number of Central American migrants apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, presenting a critical challenge in the relationship between the two neighboring countries. President Trump has accused Mexico of doing nothing to stop illegal migration, while the Mexican government is emphasizing the need to address root causes in Central America driving human movement. After President Trump’s threat to “close the border” if the Mexican government did not do more, tensions between the two countries appeared to subside. However, these tensions—and the rising number of unauthorized crossings at the border and of asylum seekers in both countries—has put the issue of migration front and center in the relationship between the two countries again.
In fact, migration patterns between the two countries have changed dramatically over the past decade. While there is still considerable legal migration from Mexico to the United States, illegal immigration has dropped to a fraction of what it was only 15 years ago, and the overall number of Mexicans living in the United States is actually dropping. Meanwhile, the number of Americans living in Mexico continues to rise and may well be over 1 million, making it by far the largest U.S.-citizen community anywhere in the world. The two countries face shared migration flows from Central America, Venezuela, and other parts of the world, which they increasingly need to find ways of managing in collaborative ways, and both face important challenges for integrating immigrants into the labor market, schools, and society at large.
Can Mexico and the United States find common cause around migration or are the perspectives and interests of the two countries too different to make cooperation possible? How will the two governments respond to the current change in migration flows from Central America? And what creative thinking is possible in the future?
This discussion of the current trends and future possibilities—with experts from a Study Group on U.S.-Mexico Migration convened by El Colegio de México and the Migration Policy Institute (MPI)—examines migration from the Northern Triangle of Central America and other regions, as well as ways to improve U.S. and Mexican asylum systems, create new approaches to labor migration, address smuggling networks, and modernize border management.
Alan Bersin, former Assistant Secretary for Policy and former U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner, U.S. Department of Homeland Security; and Policy Consultant, Covington
Silvia Giorguli, President, El Colegio de México
Carlos Heredia, former Mexican Congressman, and Associate Professor, Department of International Studies, Center for Research and Teaching in Economics (CIDE)
Roberta Jacobson, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico and former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs
Claudia Masferrer León, Professor, Center for Demographic, Urban, and Environmental Studies, El Colegio de México
Doris Meissner, Senior Fellow and Director, U.S. Policy Program, MPI
Gustavo Mohar, former Mexican Undersecretary of Migration, Population, and Religious Affairs
Andrés Rozental, former Mexican Deputy Foreign Minister and founding President, Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (Comexi)
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