In mid-January I went back to Mexico for meetings with clients and academics, as well as colleagues from IBM. As you might imagine, the immigration debates going on in the US are being closely followed in Mexico. The people I spoke to were generally very critical of the Mexican government because it has not done nearly enough to improve economic conditions in the country so that the poor don’t feel the need to go North in search of a livelihood for them and their families.
But, they also had many questions about our actions in the US. I was asked, for example, why, almost twenty years after the dismantling of the Berlin Wall - with all the ugliness it symbolized - here is the winning superpower of the Cold War planning to build a new, even bigger Berlin-style wall. Such questions caused me to reflect back on immigration, and the debates it has ignited in the US.
Immigration is a very complex subject. There is no doubt that the US needs a comprehensive immigration solution that properly takes into account various factors, including the security of our borders, the enforcement of workplace rules and labor demand and supply. We also need to find a practical and decent way to deal with the existing population of illegal immigrants in our country. President Bush made immigration reform a key priority in the 2007 State of the Union. I sincerely hope that this coming year, the Administration, the House and the Senate will engage in a civilized dialogue and come up with a good, bipartisan immigration reform bill.