Since security concerns are rising, the US and Mexico are continuously looking for a solution to protect their border without disrupting the prospering trade.
Protecting Borders in the 21st Century: A look at Mexico – US Security Cooperation
Covering 2,000 miles of terrain, Mexico and the United States share one of the longest land locked borders in the world. From trade to immigration, rising security concerns, effective cooperation between the US and Mexico is vital in protecting both countries’ national interests. The rise of organized crime and violence, troubled economies, and vicious cycles of undocumented immigration, the US and Mexico’s policies and resources are interwoven with the potential to contain or exacerbate border relations. The difficult task of securing the border without disrupting the vitalities of trade and commerce has led to several initiatives, agreements, and political campaigns creating the unique border situation today.
In recent years the efforts to effectively secure the border have focused around strengthening transnational cooperation between the US, Mexico, and other Latin American countries. Major cooperation agreements such as the “Mérida Initiative” and its successor “Beyond Mérida” work not only to curb violence and drug trafficking, but also to strengthen Mexico’s civilian police and justice systems, and tackle social and economic factors that contribute to violence through reform and support from the US government. Starting in 2007 and 2010 respectively both initiatives have sought to improve cooperation while fighting issues beyond border violence such as drug dependency, corruption, funding, illegal arms flows, and money laundering.
Why does it matter?
Despite well structured programs to increase cooperation, shared technology, and resources to protect citizens on both sides of the border, violence continues to rise at an alarming rate. Both countries are also in presidential election mode where border issues have turned into decisive issues, leaving the door for continued cooperation between the US and Mexico wide open. As both countries face troubled economies; businesses profiting at the border through violence and drug cartels also offer a unique outlook into the extent and effectiveness of border cooperation. To put this into perspective from 1990 – 2008 trade tripled between the United States and Mexico, making Mexico the US’ second largest trading partner. Elements of trade in combination with organized crime, a rising death toll, and an ever increasing controversy over safety and the effectiveness of programs at the border, it remains to be seen how the US and Mexico can effectively move towards a modern security cooperation taking into account not only political issues, but trade, violence, and security issues that define a 21st century border.
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