Under the auspices of the Pacific Council for International Policy (PCIP) and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI), thirty distinguished businessmen, civic leaders, and former government officials from Mexico and the United States committed themselves to devising ways to improve management of our common border.
The 1,952-mile land boundary between the United States and Mexico is the place
where the most contentious and difficult issues in the bilateral relationship play out –
from undocumented migration and contraband trafficking to the allocation of water in
a thirsty region. Nevertheless, the border region remains poorly understood – both by
policymakers in distant federal capitals and by the public at large. Most people who do
not live along the border or cross it frequently are unaware of the challenges of border
management or of the ways in which Mexico and the United States are attempting to
meet those challenges. Changes on the ground – and local responses to them –
frequently outpace both national policies and public perceptions.
The conjunction of a technologically advanced, capital-rich society and a
modernizing, labor-exporting country creates the potential for both synergy and strife.
The challenge confronting Mexico and the United States is to mitigate the conflicts that
inevitably arise from this dichotomy while seizing all potential opportunities the
We envision a system of border management that moves people and goods between
the United States and Mexico far more quickly and efficiently than the present
arrangement but that also enhances the security of both nations. This new system
would facilitate trade, encourage the emergence of regional economic clusters,
promote wise stewardship of shared natural resources, and enhance efforts to preserve
ecosystems that cross the national boundary. Perhaps most importantly, it would invite
communities that dot and span the frontier to exploit opportunities for mutual benefit.
Ultimately, the border should be as “thin” and transparent as technologically and
politically possible for those engaged in legitimate travel or commerce but difficult to
penetrate for those engaged in criminal activity or unauthorized transit. Management
of this shared boundary should serve as a model for binational collaboration in
confronting shared challenges.
This Task Force Report provides analytically informed prescriptions for the U.S.-Mexico
border region in six areas: (1) public safety and security, (2) facilitation of legal transit
and commerce, (3) economic development, (4) water management, (5) the
environment, and (6) migration. Because some problems at the border are merely
visible manifestations of phenomena that extend far into the interior of each country,
the Task Force’s recommendations inevitably touch on those root causes. Collectively,
these recommendations offer a long-term strategy for managing the border, based on
the notion of cooperative solutions to common problems.