Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Be Aware of Thy Neighbor...

In this election, all of the hot button issues seem to be present: the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and even gay marriage. However, compared to the last presidential campaigns, one of the main issues of contention is missing. Illegal immigration. Some may mistakenly assume that the problem has been ameliorated by construction of a new 700 mile fence. Many may argue that there has been a stem to the flow of immigration into the US because of a weakening economy, since landscaping and construction jobs have vanished with a failing housing market. Perhaps, the candidates fear ostracizing legal Latino voters in key states like Florida. Regardless of the reasoning, one thing is for sure. Illegal immigration is still a very sensitive topic for many Americans and will continue to be so for years to come. Though the candidates may not have to tackle the issue while on the campaign trail, it will inevitably be on the agenda in the Oval Office.
Mexican president Felipe Calderón’s crackdown on drug trafficking and organized crime has sparked a wave of violent attacks throughout the country. Reports of deadly shootings in the border cities of Tijuana and Juárez make international news on a seemingly weekly basis. On September 15th, Mexican Independence Day, two grenades exploded in Morelia, Michoacán, killing 8 and wounding at least 100 people. These proclaimed “terrorist attacks” are rumored to be connected to the crime networks that Calderón has been using military power to suppress. A great illustration of the rise of violence and fear within the country can actually be found in a swank boutique in the nation’s capitol. A store named Miguel Caballero has recently introduced a very popular line of bulletproof clothing, from polos to tuxedo shirts.Though dressing in bulletproof garb may sound a bit extreme, it is a sign that things are looking a bit stark south of the US border.
At the moment, it may not be necessary to argue about amnesty of illegal immigrants or increased border control, but the US does not need to disregard its neighbor. Immigration reform, drug trafficking controls, human rights issues on the border, and the rise of organized crime and drug related terrorism are not issues that can be put on the back burner of the US agenda. Obviously, illegal immigration is not the only item of business in a US/Mexico policy program. Americans, Mexicans, Conservatives and Liberals will undoubtedly have to deal with these issues in the near future, regardless of what side of the fence they are on.

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