Shannon K. O'Neil

Latin America's Moment

O'Neil analyzes developments in Latin America and U.S. relations in the region.

Secretary Clinton, Don’t Forget Immigration

by Shannon K. O'Neil Wednesday, March 25, 2009

envio-de-dineroSecretary of State Hillary Clinton’s heads to Mexico today. The main issue on the agenda with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa will undoubtedly be security. The rising power and violence of Mexico-based drug trafficking organizations (DTOs) covers the front pages of newspapers throughout both countries, and is a priority for policymakers in both capitals. Yet as these two nations focus on their mutual security, the United States should not forget about other bilateral issues – in particular immigration. This is an important topic in and of itself, and perhaps the most important issue on the bilateral agenda for Mexico. But it is also intrinsically related to security. Immigration reform would boost U.S. and Mexican efforts to lessen the reach of the drugs cartels’ on both sides of the border.

The drug cartels’ operations are fueled by one thing: money. This money buys guns, buys people, and buys power. The vast majority of this money – estimated at some $15-20 billion dollars a year – comes from drug sales in the United States. These profits are then sent back to Mexico, and fuel the insecurity and violence.
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