Yesterday’s PGR arrest of Elba Esther Gordillo on charges of embezzlement marks a bold step forward by the Pena Nieto administration to establish its authority and legitimacy in the eyes of the Mexican public, and to send a message to Mexico’s most powerful unions. The arrest comes after the successful passage of an education reform bill through Congress, earning the government plaudits from international observers, who saw it as a much-needed attack on the power of the teachers union, the SNTE, but receiving a skeptical response from many national critics who believed that the government would not follow through with implementation of the new laws.
In his latest op-ed contribution for Mexico's El Universal, Andrew Selee of the Wilson Center's Mexico Institute discusses immigrant integration in America and the importance of economic integration for the bilateral relationship.
Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has announced widespread changes to Mexico’s federal security forces. As these changes begin to take shape, we spoke with two of Mexico’s leading experts on police reform to discuss the current state of reform efforts and the issues that the Peña Nieto government must address.
Commenting on Enrique Pena Nieto's new crime strategy, Fellow Steven Dudley said, "Certainly this speech was an attempt to check off a number of boxes and differentiate himself from the Felipe Calderon administration, which many widely viewed as a failure with regards to the fight against organized crime... These are incredibly difficult things to resolve. Putting $9 billion towards this would be a great step in a different direction, in a softer direction... However... I don't think we can expect much transparency with regards to how the money is implemented and the results that we will get from those particular programs."
If these assumptions hold true, Wilson says, “144,000 new U.S. jobs could be created due to Mexico's economic growth in 2011.” A modest figure, considering America's jobs shortage right now, Wilson concedes. “But that's with everything else being equal,” he explains. “If we don't do anything else to stimulate trade, we can at least count on the growth rate to create jobs.”
Eric Olson and Christopher Wilson warn lawmakers against setting vague preconditions to “secure our border” before addressing immigration reform, which has sunk reform efforts in the past.
Christopher Wilson, from the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexican Institute, explains that the law, “is something that has been promoted by victim groups,” but “as written, the law could apply to a broad pool of people, and perhaps to those that have not been severely affected.”
Is this finally the year that Congress reforms U.S. immigration policy and provides a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country? It would seem so, given the various encouraging statements from Republican and Democratic leaders over the past week. The policy calculations seem favorable, too, with years of net-zero migration from Mexico and the prospect of reduced migration pressures in the future. However, what remains highly unpredictable is the political calculus on immigration, with dynamics at the national and local level potentially at odds with each other.
“There is an enormous amount of optimism right now in the bilateral relationship, and the reason of that is because there’s an idea that this is a new beginning,” said Duncan Wood, co-author of the Wilson Center report, entitled “New Ideas for a New Era”.
Andrew Selee of the Wilson Center noted that we might see a return of circular migration, which would benefit Mexican communities. "Now people who go to the US without documents know that returning to Mexico ends their options so they stay in the US. With visa options, they may choose to come and go again."