Donald Trump has garnered headlines by publicly strong-arming companies choosing to locate factories in Mexico. This sounds like a good deal for the American worker, and certainly for some workers it is. But consider it from a broader perspective.
In the 20th century, Americans internally migrated from the South to the North in search of higher paying jobs. The agricultural jobs they left behind couldn’t compete with the high-wage manufacturing jobs in the North. Today, the same economic reality – low-wage agriculture – is driving Mexican peasants to cross the border, in search of higher wages.
If factories locate in Mexico, job prospects in Mexico will improve, and there will be fewer reasons for an impoverished campesino to cross the border in search of higher wages. Private and public dollars invested in Mexico can have returns for us. We don’t need or want a failed state on our southern border, and to make sure that doesn’t happen we need good jobs on both sides of the border.
Chris G. van Hasselt
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