Trump’s wall: What’s next for Mexico-US relations?

As Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has canceled his upcoming visit with President Donald Trump what do you expect for US-Mexico relation? It seems that with the wall idea it is pretty hard to find a common ground. Read few comments.

Tony Payan, Director of the Mexico Center, Baker Institute, Rice University

Clearly, Mr. Trump is practicing a new kind of politics, introducing the politics of bullying on a grand scale. Mexico I an easy prey. The relationship has always been complicated–sometimes warm and sometimes very cold. But for the last thirty years, and founded over a free trade agreement–NAFTA, the relationship had actually been very stable and the two countries had seen each other as complementary. Mr. Trump has a different view of the world. Everything for him s zero-sum–someone’s gain is someone else’s loss. And Mexico happens to find itself at the end of that rhetoric.

The wall is technically complicated, strategically unnecessary, very expensive, and symbolically difficult to understand at a time when undocumented migration is actually going down. But it appeals to the worst fears of Americans, who see a more globalized world in which there is much more competition. History shows that walls do not work and eventually end up as historical ruins. But for now, the idea of a wall is comforting. Mexico will have to live with a wall. Americans will pay for this expensive project and its maintenance, which over time will cost more than the wall itself. And Mexico may be punished for it, and for not paying for it, but forced to live with it and look forward to retooling its own economic, political and diplomatic systems for a new era, one that will last at least four years and perhaps eight. It will end, however, and the two countries will have to accommodate each other again. History tells us that there are ups and down, and to every down there is an up.

Miguel LevarioAssistant Professor, Department of History, Texas Tech University

In regards to your question, there are several factors at play regarding the logistical problem a wall poses considering that there is nearly 700 miles of barrier already in place along the United States’ southern border.

Trump’s insistence on Mexico paying for a wall between the two countries has already strained relations between the two trading partners. Mexico’s president Ernesto Pena-Nieto has repeatedly stated that his country will not pay for a wall and will contest the construction of a wall shall it infringe on their sovereignty. Moreover, former president of Mexico Vicente Fox has continuously voiced his opposition to a wall and continues to publicly attack Trump. Although Mexico and the United States have a cordial political and economic relationship, history tells us otherwise. Mexico has distrusted the United States since making war with Mexico to acquire its northern territories now the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California in the mid-nineteenth century. Land, mining, manufacturing, and water disputes continue to strain the diplomatic relationship between the two. It can be considered that the relationship between the two is a fragile one but very much a co-dependent one as well. In other words, without Mexico the U.S. economy and especially those of Texas and California would suffer tremendously. Altered or severed economic trade agreements with Mexico can cost the United States upwards to 5 million jobs or 1 out of 29 American jobs depend on an economic relationship with Mexico (Mexico Institute at the Wilson Center).

Trump must first get over the road blocks here in the United States before he can even address the issue of Mexico’s role in covering the cost of its construction and maintenance. Remember, it isn’t a one-time bill but a continuous financial drain with maintenance and labor costs. Some experts are already putting the cost near $14 billion.

Julie Weise, Associate Professor of History, University of Oregon

Tensions over U.S. cultural and economic influence in Mexico have been present for more than a century, but more conservative regimes in Mexico have generally welcomed this influence while more liberal leaders have generally rejected it. What I find new and notable about this moment is the unity of Mexican leaders from all parts of the political spectrum rejecting Donald Trump and his plans for a border wall. Mexico’s conservative ex-president Vicente Fox, who had very warm relations with U.S. President George W. Bush, is now tweeting #Fuckthewall and other extremely anti-Trump statements and applauding Peña Nieto’s decision to cancel the binational meeting. Unsurprisingly, the Mexican Left is horrified by Trump as well. It seems the one thing that unifies Mexican politicians across the spectrum is a hatred for Trump. Meanwhile, Mexico has relationships with other countries now, most notably in Asia, and can turn its attention there if the United States is no longer an attractive economic partner. The U.S. is no longer Mexico’s only option for economic relationships, as Donald Trump is soon to find out.

Néstor Rodríguez, Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin

I think the US-Mexico will be chilling for a while and perhaps freeze over. What Trump is asking, for Mexico to pay for the wall, is impossible for Mexico to accept. We need to wait to see if a more moderate voice in the new Trump administration will step in to help cool the US side down. But already this morning top State Department officials have resigned rather than stay as part of the Trump team.

John Hart, Professor of History,University of Houston

Mexico needs the U.S. market desperately. I don’t think they have much room for maneuver. The actual agreement, however, will be made behind closed doors after pleas have been made. If I had to guess –I would think that the U.S. will build the wall and spend about $10 billion for it. Then there will be an import tax which will be announced with great publicity but probably will only pay a small part of the overall cost.

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2 Responses

  1. Obviously, the wall will have adverse ramifications for US-Mexican relations. Nothing quite like pissing off your neighboring country, absolutely brilliant (sacarasm). However, my concerns really are revolving around the practicality of the wall. First off, odds are the citizens of the US will be the ones to pay for this wall. As a fiscal conservative, I can not condone such spending from the federal government. Also, it is naive/boardline moronic to believe this walk is going to completely stymied illegal immigration. If you really want to do something, there is always a way to circumvent any obstructions.

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