Follow the money

David Frum follows the money in understanding Mexico’s posture in the illegal immigration debate. He finds:

In 2005, Mexicans in the United States remitted some $20 billion home. That’s 3% of Mexico’s entire national income. Remittances have. . .emerge[d] as the country’s top single source of foreign exchange. For the 6% of Mexican households that receive remittances, these funds can mean the difference between extreme poverty and an income roughly in line with the Mexican average.

This income flow also can mean the difference between a collapsed Mexican economy and one that, on the surface, is scraping by. That’s why Mexican President Vicente Fox is pressing George W. Bush so hard for amnesty and guest-worker programs. But it doesn’t constitute sufficient reason for Bush to accede. As Frum explains:

Today, almost one-fifth of all living Mexican-born people now make their homes in the United States. You have to go back to the Irish potato famine to find a parallel. But Mexico is not suffering famine: It is suffering from a comprehensive failure of political and economic leadership.

Ultimately, then, we do Mexico no service by enabling it to export Mexicans in order to avoid correcting its failed economic policies.


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