MEXICO CITY – Three experts, one from Canada, one from Mexico and one from the United States, discussed what impact the outcome of the 2020 presidential election will have on North America.
Dr. Stephen Randall, professor emeritus at the University of Calgary, was the expert from Canada. María-Cristina Rosas, director of the Olof Palme Center for Analysis and Research on Peace, Security and Development in Mexico City, was the expert from Mexico. And Duncan Wood, director of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute in Washington, D.C., was the expert from the United States.
The three got together for a webinar hosted by the Olof Palme Center that was recorded on Zoom and aired live on Facebook. The event was hosted by Rio Grande Guardian editor Steve Taylor. Among the topics discussed were international relations, trade, border security, and immigration.
Here is the webinar:
Discussion on Immigration and Border Security
On immigration, Rosas said President Trump has “pushed” Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) to limit migration from Central America and predicted that would continue under a second Trump administration. Rosas said Biden’s approach to immigration could be affected by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Migration reform? I am not sure this can happen under a Biden administration, mostly because of the economic consequences of the pandemic, because of this nationalism that we have already mentioned in this session,“ Rosas said.
“I believe there is an anti-immigration atmosphere in the U.S. that may work against immigration reform, but they will have to deal with it. Probably, the Democrats will not be as punitive as Trump, thinking about money for a wall as opposed to money for the Merida Initiative. That will be a key issue under Trump or Biden.”
Randall, of Calgary University. said immigration was not as hot a topic for Canada as it is for the United States.
“The pressure on the Canadian border from refugees fleeing the Trump administration has been a pretty major issue over the last three and a half years. But, we are dealing, let’s face it, with minuscule numbers in comparison with the U.S-Mexico border,” Randall said.
“It is an issue. There has been a fairly strong backlash in some respects against refugee claimants but there has also been a high degree of support for those refugees. But, we do have an agreement in place with the United States that we don’t have third party migrants. In other words, you can’t claim refugee status in Canada if you have not done so elsewhere.”
Wood, of the Mexico Institute, said it is inaccurate to say Republicans are hard on immigration and Democrats soft.
“The evidence just doesn’t bear that out. The reason why Mexico instituted its Programa Frontera Sur in 2014 was because of pressure from the United States government and that was the Obama Administration,” Wood said.
“What do a lot of Mexicans who have lived in the United States call President Obama? They call him the Deporter-in-Chief because there were more deportations under him than previous presidents.”
Wood said the political climate in the United States has demanded that presidents of both parties are tougher on migration or immigration than in previous decades. And he predicted that a Biden presidency would continue to push Mexico to strengthen its southern border.
“Look at what happened with the Plan Frontera Sur. As Maria Cristina suggested, it was really about working with the Mexicans to say, you have got to do something about your southern border because there is nothing there. And you need to put in place some infrastructure, some protocols, and we are willing to help you.”
Wood predicted Biden would put money into such border security measures.
“I think that there will be a message from the American administration to say to the Mexican government, keep doing what you are doing in stopping Central Americans from coming through. That was part of the plan under Obama anyway. It just wasn’t nearly as aggressive as we are seeing.”
Wood said it would be tough for Biden to reverse a number of Trump’s migration and border security policies.
“If you move back you are soft on immigration. You don’t have to move it forward but you keep what you have got in place. It is just the same with the wall. You are not going to dismantle the wall. It is there. If you dismantle the wall it is political suicide in this country. So what you are going to do is leave it there and you just won’t build any more of it. Okay. And you say, that is the legacy to your predecessor’s failed attempts to stop illegal immigration.”
Wood said the “big issue” right now is this rising number of Mexican migrants that are coming north, and “whether or not we can see that the AMLO administration is willing to adopt a more expansive fiscal policy.”
A more expansive fiscal polecat would create more employment opportunities in Mexico.”
He said it remains to be seen whether AMLO makes it it is more friendly to investors, whether, national or foreign, to create more jobs.
“If If that is the case, then we might see those numbers (of Mexican migrants headed north) coming down.”
Here is a podcast of the U.S. Elections: Impact on North America webinar:
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