The Ultimate Solution to Illegal Mexican Immigration

By Reid, Robert | The World and I, August 2005 | Go to article overview

The Ultimate Solution to Illegal Mexican Immigration


Reid, Robert, The World and I


Amid all of the fuss going on over which policy to pursue to plug America's borders and stem the inpouring of illegal immigrants, there appears to have been no discussion given to one seemingly obvious alternative: effectively doing away with the border.

I don't mean launching a war and annexing our southern neighbor, of course. Instead, we could create a political and economic confederation. We could take as our model the European Union, which has pursued a steady course over the past six decades of greater economic and political integration (excepting the recent hiccup in which French and Dutch voters rejected the proposed EU constitution).

It's a new century and a new era, and we should be thinking in new ways. Such new thinking started, in fact, all the way back at the end of World War II, when the exhausted nations of Europe finally took a clear-eyed look at the egocentrism, chauvinism, and territorialism that had led them to fall over the precipice of war twice in less than thirty years. At long last, they were revolted by what they saw and determined that never again--never again--would they allow national self-interest to divide them and embroil them in conflict. They therefore set about to create an economic and customs union that they called the European Economic Community. It became a reality in 1957 with six nations signing the Treaty of Rome (Germany, France, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and Italy).

In 1973, Britain, Ireland, and Denmark joined what had then come to be called the European Community; in 1981, Greece gained membership; and in 1986, Spain and Portugal joined, bringing the total to twelve member states. In 1992, the Treaty of Maastricht formally created the European Union. Then, in 1995, Austria, Finland, and Sweden entered the Union, and in 2004, with the rapidly improving economic and political picture in the formerly communist Eastern European nations, fully ten more members joined, pushing the total to twenty-five countries. They entered not just for the expected economic benefits but because they had caught the vision of a supranational Europe with its members happily entwined by common interests, laws, resources, economies, and, to some extent, governance. Within such an entity, they reasoned, war would be rendered impossible, and policy disagreements between states would be dealt with in an agreed-upon framework and resolved in an orderly and amicable way.

Member states today are governed by many Union-wide laws, citizens can travel within the twenty-five countries on a common EU passport (internal customs barriers having been done away with), and a common currency, the euro, has been adopted by twelve EU members. Citizens can travel to and live in whichever country they choose.

In North America, things are not nearly so advanced. An excellent step toward closer economic cooperation, however, has already been made with the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement. Even though in practice it has fallen far short of what was envisioned, it sets up a politically and culturally noteworthy free-trade area between Canada, the United States, and Mexico. …

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