State of the Border Report: A Comprehensive Analysis of the U.S.-Mexico Border

US-Mexico Border

A new report examining the state of the U.S.-Mexico border has been released by the Border Research Partnership, comprised of the Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, el Colegio de la Frontera Norte, and Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies. The document, State of the Border Report: A Comprehensive Analysis of the U.S.-Mexico Border, “seeks to provide a comprehensive yet accessible look at the state of affairs in border management and the border region, focusing on four core areas: trade and economic development, security, sustainability, and quality of life.”

“For those charged with negotiating the matrix of political and pragmatic challenges that make up the gauntlet of border policy, there are precious few axioms. Even the landmark North American Free Trade Agreement cannot quite frame the entirety of the U.S.-Mexico relationship. Through a historical process of trial and error, the two nations have arrived at, yet not fully implemented, two key concepts that can guide interaction at their shared border: coordination and collaboration. At the border, the United States and Mexico must manage complex transnational problems and remarkable shared opportunities. Watersheds and wildlife pay little attention to national boundaries, and transnational criminal groups actively seek to exploit regulatory and jurisdictional divides. But with a half-trillion dollars in bilateral trade powering the national economies throughout both countries, border management has implications that extend far beyond the border region itself.”

Here are a few highlights from the report:

  • Over one billion dollars in goods cross the border every day
  • The border region’s increasing population along with the advent of water intensive methods of drilling for oil and gas heighten the urgency for transboundary groundwater resources to be addressed proactively and binationally
  • The overall quality of life on the border has improved in the last ten years, though there is still much cross-border asymmetry
  • The two governments should push key security issues away from the border as much as possible to avoid an overconcentration of resources in the region, which can potentially distract from a more strategic distribution of security resources throughout the two countries
  • The potential for renewable energy in the region is significant, but its development is currently limited

As stated in the report: “A more efficient border holds the promise of helping spur economic growth and create jobs in both countries both in the border region and far beyond. Improved public security, diminished criminal activity, and more secure flows across the border will enhance the well-being of citizens throughout both countries. And a wise management of natural resources will help us preserve the planet for the generations that come. These are challenges that border residents from the United States and Mexico must face together, but also that all citizens in our two countries must-face together.”

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