Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico en San Antonio and First Data Corporation presented a panel discussion yesterday, November 15, at UNAM. Two panels presented, the first from Mexico, the second from the United States. While both groups stressed the critical need for immigration reform, and while both supported (Samuel P. Huntington be damned) continuing and reformed immigration, it was clear that there are two sets of interests which are not entirely simpatico at this point. I will return to this topic soon, but would like to say now that it looks likely that we will have immigration reform in the U.S. in the next couple of years because now U.S. business is openly advocating for it. This is not a bad thing. What it means is that pro-immigrant advocates have a powerful ally which they should deal with warily but which they should deal with. Let me stress warily. Many of the businesses that want Mexican immigrants are low-pay, low to no benefit tourist and service industries. They must be held to their word that they want Mexican workers to receive same benefits, salary, social security, etc. as U.S. workers. I don't ever see that many U.S. workers cleaning hotel rooms when I travel so I wonder what they would consider equivalent to U.S. worker treatment.
The Mexican panel pointed out quite clearly the problems immigration presents to Mexico: the disruption of the social fabric of pueblos where there are no men; the loss of potential labor, etc. But even more fundamental, they pointed out, were the problems in the Mexican economy which led to emigration. Some of these are problems within Mexico, but many have to do with the marginalized place of Mexico in the U.S. economic picture: we attract their workers to work in our industries because we actually, with some of our policies, severely discourage the development of Mexican industry. The "we" includes not only US production beneficiaries of NAFTA but, for instance Citicorp which owns one of the two major banks in Mexico and does not make available loans for the development of local small business. The other major bank is owned by a Spanish company and if I understood correctly, follows similar practices.
Under Critical Issues: Mexico/La Frontera/Immigration I have put links for some of the U.S. participants in this panel. They are definitely worth checking out.