Student Term Paper

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[. . .] S. government estimated that 120,000 American workers lost their jobs to cheap Mexican labor, a number that jumps right out at one, even though an equal number of skilled jobs were also created. Critics have claimed that in the first four years of NAFTA more than 400,000 jobs were lost. According to Perot, "When you've got a seven-to-one wage differential between the United States and Mexico, you will hear the giant sucking sound,"

Border towns along the Rio Grande were especially impacted. El Paso lost more jobs than any U.S. city, nearly 7000. Most of those jobs belonged to hispanic women, many who had waded across the river to get that work in the first place.

The events of the past year have not helped free trade propoenents gain support. The threat of terrorism has made the U.S. especially border conscious and mistrustful of other nations, particularly those that are perceived as backwards and third world. While 53% of the Mexican population believes the U.S. is the rousing winner in the NAFTA agreement, only 33% of us citizens believe it has created a positive impact on the their country, while 24% believe it has had a most definite negative impact.

An even hotter topic than the movement of agriculture products across borders, is the movement of people. While most U.S. citizens don't have a problem with having an open border with Canada, they have a very different attitude towards Mexico. Mexico on the other hand, believes that there is nothing wrong with having a fluid border between the two countries. According to a Canadian study, 89% of Mexicans believe that people in Mexico Canada and the U.S. should be allowed to work in whichever country they choose, only 39% of U.S. citizens share that viewpoint. According to that same study from Novemeber of 2000 to February of 2002, the number of U.S. citizens who feel there are too many foreigners living in the country has increased from 45 to 51%.

Of course the wildcard in all of this is the psychological impact of 9-11-01 which has made U.S. residents much more sensitive about their borders. One of the ways NAFTA would help ease border tension was by improving job situations in Mexico. Many argue whether this has happened or not. While jobs have been created, the widening of the gap between reich and poor has been happening in M. exico just as it has in the U.S. And many people use the same figures to argue whether real wages in Mexico are up or not. But all this is not happening in a vacumm other factos besides NAFTA have been at play including the whole down turn in the world economy.

While the United States and Mexico had been moving towards an opening of borders, at present this is not an easy sell in the United States. What the president has to his advantage is the fact that he is a Texan, and perceived as being a favorite son of that state which shares more border space than any with Mexico. Being respected in the Latino community, he can take leadership on this issue and build a consensus. It's important that in talking about homeland security that he not create any kind of blanket statements that questions all immigration policies and relations with all our neighbors. While Mexico may not agree entirely with U.S. foreign policy with regard to Iraq and terrorism, Bush must make sure that it is not perceived as an enemy. More terrorists find egress to this country through Canada than Mexico, and probably one could make the case that such is true with drugs as well, as the Canadian borders are much more loose. President Bush needs to make a habit of visiting Mexico and visiting the border towns where the impact has been high, much like Mexico's President Fox has done. Ultimately, he will have to be willing to do some unpopular things, much like his father did, by forcing NAFTA on the American people. Congressional leaders are presently looking at packaging immigration laws that relax Mexico's border with homeland security measures.

Perot, Ross, H. Save Your Job, Save Our Country: Why NAFTA must be stopped - NOW!

New York, Hyperion Books. 1993

Staten, C.L. The Mexico/USA Border; The Gathering Storm. May 28, 1997. Chicago, IL.

November 11, 2002 [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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