La Jornada – Regularizing Migrants, a Billion Dollar Vein For The Economies Of The US And Mexico

New York. Comprehensive immigration reform in the United States could bring billions of additional dollars to the GDP of the United States and Mexico, according to new research, but in the short term, the most urgent bilateral issue for the Joe Biden government is the support of the southern neighbor to control the flows of people on the move, as they could trigger another crisis at the border and a political nightmare for the White House.

If the comprehensive reform proposed by Biden on his first day in Washington and now submitted to Congress – the United States Citizenship Bill of 2021 – is approved and implemented, it will generate enormous economic benefits for both nations.

The analysis prepared by the Center for North American Integration and Development (NAID) of the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) concludes that the proposed Citizenship Law would generate more than 3 trillion dollars in additional GDP to the over a decade, as a result of an increase in productivity and income provided by the regularization and naturalization of the undocumented immigrant population (about 11 million) plus the new flows of people in regulated mobility.

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Dr. Raúl Hinojosa-Ojeda, director of the NAID, pointed out in an interview with La Jornada that the preliminary report (the final one will be presented in the Senate in Washington in a couple of weeks) indicates that only with the regularization and citizenship of the so-called “workers undocumented essentials, it would generate 1.5 trillion in additional GDP over 10 years. Of the total 7.8 million undocumented employees, 77 percent are officially “essential workers.”

At the same time, added Hinojosa-Ojeda, the investigation calculated that remittances to Mexico and the three countries of the so-called Northern Triangle of Central America (Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras) as a result of the higher incomes of the beneficiaries of a reform, which includes both regularization and new immigrants with documents, it could total more than a trillion dollars over the course of a decade.

If used with financial inclusion programs in savings and investment programs, it could generate about 100 billion dollars of investment in the communities that send migrants.

However, the priority at the current juncture for the Biden government in the binational relationship is the control of undocumented migratory flows. Although migration was addressed in the meeting between Presidents Andrés Manuel López Obrador and Joe Biden on Monday, no further details have been offered about what was discussed on that topic (like others), beyond that word so repeated that no longer it is known what it means: “cooperation”.

Official sources in Washington and experts have stressed that Biden’s great immediate concern is to avoid a migration crisis at the border, which served as a pretext for the Donald Trump government to promote its anti-immigrant policies that the new government tries to dismantle.

There is a dramatic increase in people detained at the border – according to official data from the Customs and Border Protection agency – reaching the highest levels in a decade, some 78,000 in January. Of them, 80 percent have been expelled.

Although the Biden government is dismantling the so-called Stay in Mexico program for asylum seekers, it has canceled the construction of the wall, seeks to reduce the number of deportations from the interior of the country, and is promoting its program to reunify families who were separated under orders. Trump, is still using the mogul’s measure that allows almost immediately to expel all illegal immigrants intercepted while crossing the border under the pretext of controlling the pandemic.

However, unlike the previous government, it is not using that measure to expel unaccompanied minors. But that is creating another problem about what to do with the dramatic rise in the number of those minors who are crossing the border – hundreds every day – and thousands more are expected, most of them arriving from Central America. In fact, it is reported that the government is contemplating that space is required to house 20 thousand more minors.

But by reopening some facilities to house minors, the Biden administration faced a chorus of criticism for using the old detention centers again, although now they are not called the same and apparently have been improved. The US authorities have insisted that they do their best under the conditions they inherited while trying to dismantle Trump’s “cruel” policies, and reiterate that all this will take time and therefore asks for “patience.”

However, to stop or at least reduce these flows, especially those from Central America, Biden needs Mexico to continue with some of the border control policies that it was forced to implement under pressure from Trump, including the deployment of troops from the National Guard to the borders. Both governments said Monday that addressing these issues requires greater “cooperation.” Exactly what it represents is not yet announced.

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