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."
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"While places like Ciudad Juarez have become safer, other places in the country have seen violence spike up," said Christopher Wilson, an associate at the Washington-based Mexico Institute. "Acapulco is one of the areas, and in fact, the entire state of Guerrero is one of the places, where there's been more violence recently."
Associate Director Eric L. Olson gives The New York Times his views on the future of Mexico-U.S. relations.
Mexico Institute Director Duncan Wood spoke to The Christian Science Monitor about last week's Pemex blast. “More recently opinion polls have suggested there has been a significant softening of those attitudes,” he said. “What all this really depends on is how ambitious the government wants to be.”
A higher education initiative between the U.S.- Mexico governments can improve the relationship between the two countries. By creating a bilateral program that can facilitate the exchange of top students and professors from both countries, Mexican students could benefit from prestigious math and science programs in the United States, while American students could benefit from recognized language and cultural programs in Mexico. In the long run, this initiative could create a generation of more competitive professionals in both countries.
In a recent paper published by the Washington-based think tank, Wood said that it is “widely expected” that the Peña Nieto government will present an energy reform initiative to the Mexican Congress early in 2013. “While it is still unknown how ambitious that reform proposal will be, it is thought that the government will present an initiative that will aim at opening the sector to greater levels of private participation in refining, petrochemicals and even in exploration and production.”
“Mexico is trying to be careful in terms of how it gets involved in the immigration debate,” said Christopher Wilson of the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. “It will talk about border security, trans-migration, issues like that, but Mexico will weigh its involvement in immigration very carefully.”