Friday, May 27, 2005

bad lands

Today's interview with Charles Bowden on Marketplace has shaken me to the core [1], [2].

Bowden observes that illegal immigration could easily be stopped if employers were fined $1,000/hour for employing undocumented workers. But if immigration stopped, Mexico would "collapse and explode". The only solution to immigration, he says, is to improve conditions in Mexico so that people don't risk their lives for miserable jobs.

This is not only an heroic economic development challenge, it's a labyrinth of political feuds baited with hair-trigger national sensitivities. Jeffrey Davidow's book The Bear and the Porcupine is a trenchant sketch of the grotesqueries of this cross-border stand-off. Bowden notes that there's no Marshall Plan for Mexico - but I take from Davidow that such a plan would be rejected by proud Mexicans as a threat to their sovereignty and an insult to their dignity.

Perhaps this a topic where my affection for Latin American culture can complement my knowledge of policy in a way that would benefit both Mexico and the United States...


[1] Interview:, click on "Part 5"

[2] This is part of a larger project called "The Undocumented War" by Scott Carrier

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