Monday, August 01, 2005

on Mexicans and the USA

Op-Ed Contributors (Forum/Message Board) - The New York Times

This is in response to an op-ed in today's NYT by Matt Dowd that reads, in part:

WITH nearly six million Mexicans living illegally in the United States, some Americans, particularly those in border states, are greatly worried about the costs of illegal immigration and have demanded that more be done to stem it. Modern-day "minutemen" patrol the border. Voters pass measures limiting the rights of illegal immigrants, and senators debate legislation to establish guest-worker programs. Certain elected officials and pundits focus on the perils of illegal immigration to score political points.

But chances are that there will be a substantial decrease in illegal immigration from Mexico in the next 20 years, and it won't be because of civilian border patrols, laws being passed, pronouncements by politicians, or as some would like, "building a wall on the border." Instead, the cause will be demographic trends within Mexico itself, trends that have been largely ignored in the debate over immigration.

The aging of the population in Mexico coupled with Mexico's economic expansion mean that jobs in Mexico will be more plentiful, thereby prompting fewer young people to come to the United States in search of work. Studies have shown that as the population growth rate in countries worldwide slows, migration drops. This is especially true for an expanding economy like Mexico.

As these trends become more apparent to the public, politicians running on an anti-Mexican-immigrant platform will be seen as out of step. While these politicians may seem successful in the short term, by the next decade the facts will definitely get in their way.

Does the United States need to continue to worry about border security and terrorism? Absolutely. Do we as a society need to figure out how to handle illegal immigrants and their families already living and working in the United States? Of course.

But legislators and government agencies should spend more time and resources addressing the problems of immigrants already here and our direct security needs, and much less time on prescriptive laws aimed at stemming illegal immigration from Mexico. We should be aware of the historic transformations occurring in Mexican society so that we aren't fighting a war that is already ending.

Matthew Dowd, who was the chief strategist for the 2004 Bush-Cheney campaign, is the senior adviser to the Republican National Committee.


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