Lopez Obrador, writing in his official Twitter blog on Monday, stated that in conversation with US President Donald Trump he proposed a comprehensive agreement between Mexico and the United States that would create jobs in Mexico and at the same time aim to reduce Mexican north-bound migration and improve border security.
Trump stated on Tuesday that until changes are instituted to US migration laws, Lopez Obrador will provide help with the US-Mexico border.
US-Mexico Agreement Will be Effective
Joel J. Feller Research Professor of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland Robert Koulish stated that US investment in Mexican employment would be an effective way to stem migration from the country.
"A 21st-century version of John Kennedy's Alliance for Progress would be a positive step forward in relations between the US and Mexico. Of course, it depends on the details, but US investment in Mexican development projects has the potential to be perhaps the most effective means of slowing undocumented immigration to the US," Koulish said.
Chris Rudolph, an associate professor of international relations at the School of International Service at the American University, stated that such an agreement would be a step ahead of previous statements made by the US administration on creating a wall along the US-Mexico border.
"Taking a broader view of migration processes is certainly a step in the right direction. It is important to move beyond the simplicity of the border wall approach and address migration more comprehensively," Rudolph said.
One of Trump’s signature campaign pledges included calls for Mexico to pay for a wall that would go along the US-Mexico border. As of June 26, Trump stated that he would ask Congress to provide additional funding above the $1.6 billion already approved, and as much as $25 billion to construct the border wall.
Rudolph added that despite the general benefit that such a project could bring, the experience of Mexico with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) could be indicative that such a US-led initiative could encounter problems.
"A US-backed development project with Mexico might help in reducing migration pressures. However, I don't think that this would be the sole answer to solving the immigration issue. First, we must remember that a similar argument was made regarding NAFTA. In short, free trade would spur economic development in Mexico, create jobs and increase wages, and thus, reduce emigration pressures. I don't think NAFTA really succeeded in this sense," Rudolph said.
Rudolph added that it may not be entirely effective to create a border deal solely concerning Mexico, as a large portion of Central American migrants in the United States are from Nicaragua, El Salvador and Honduras.
Trump Will Not Follow Through
Francoise and Edward Djerejian Fellow for Mexico Studies and Director of the Mexico Center at the Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy Dr Tony Payan said that the United States would most likely refrain from making any development aid investments in Mexico.
"There is almost no possibility that the USA would invest a single dime in Mexico or any kind of development in Mexico. I still believe that Mexico will have to think more broadly about Mexico-Central American relations, and perhaps even without the USA, particularly because the USA does not really intend to go into Central America with any kind of development aid," Payan said.
Koulish added that Trump would be much more willing to enforce trade ties with Mexico and that the creation of such development projects would require a greater incentive.
"I think Trump is more interested in a bilateral trade agreement than providing jobs for Mexicans to stay in Mexico. Trump's base is energized by the President's anti-immigrant populist rhetoric, which is to suggest Trump is unlikely to be serious about creating a new Alliance for Progress unless there is something big in it for him," Koulish said.
According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, Mexico is the third largest goods trading partner for the United States, with around $557 billion in goods traded both ways in 2017. The total goods and services trade between the United States and Mexico in 2017 was $616.6 billion.
Oscar Martinez, a professor of history at the college of social and behavioral sciences at the University of Arizona, stated that Trump’s outlook on Mexican migration would not likely lead to US dedication to such a development project.
"The US historically has not backed projects in Mexico that would make a real difference in generating the kind of employment opportunities that Mexico needs. I doubt seriously that the Trump government would assist with any projects since Trump thinks Mexico 'takes advantage' of the US," Martinez added.
While announcing his candidacy for president in June 2015, Trump made remarks that Mexico was not "sending the best" people to the United States, adding that Mexican immigrants bring problems such as drugs and crime to the United States.
Rudolph stated that considering Trump’s rhetoric on Mexican migrants, any bilateral agreement that resolves the issue of the border would likely originate from Trump’s successor.
Tensions to Rise
Lopez Obrador has also stated on his official Twitter blog on Monday that his conversation with Trump was conducted in a respectful manner and that continued conversations on the development project would be undertaken by representatives from both sides.
Martinez believes that Lopez Obrador will seek a fairer relationship between the United States and Mexico than has previously existed during his term.
"Lopez Obrador is a nationalist, but he is pragmatic and will seek to have a positive and fair relationship with the United States on trade, migration, and border security, the major issues that cause friction in the relationship," Martinez said.
Dr. Stephen Morris, a professor at the department of political science and international relations at the Middle Tennessee State University, said that Lopez Obrador’s political ideology would probably escape the grasp of understanding of the US administration.
"While I consider Lopez Obrador a pragmatist, his view reflects a more leftist discourse rooted in the social and nationalistic content of the ideas of the Mexican Revolution. These ideas are little understood by the US government," Morris said.
Moreover, he added that Trump’s penchant for unpredictability could lead to growing tensions in the relationship between the United States and Mexico.
The views and opinions expressed by the experts do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.