Illegal immigration: A Mexican failure
News W&M News Notes Grayson on immigration
Author: Staff, Source: W&M Notes
Date: Aug 07, 2006
Migrants and the humanities: Students serve farm workers on the Eastern Shore
(George Grayson, Class of 1938 Professor of Government, is a nationally-recognized expert on Mexican politics. When we asked Grayson to sum up Mexicos role in the immigration debate ongoing in the United States, he suggested we consider an essay he wrote earlier in the year for The Christian Science Monitor. Following is an excerpt from that essay. Ed.)
Mexicos leaders have turned hypocrisy from an art form into an exact science as they shirk their obligations to fellow citizens, while decrying efforts by the US senators and representatives to crack down on illegal immigration at the border and the workplace.
What are some examples of this failure of responsibility?
When oil revenues are excluded, Mexico raises the equivalent of only 9 percent of its gross domestic product in taxesa figure roughly equivalent to that of Haiti and far below the level of major Latin American nations. Not only is Mexicos collection rate ridiculously low, its fiscal regime is riddled with loopholes and exemptions, giving rise to widespread evasion. Congress has rebuffed efforts to reform the system.
Insufficient revenues mean that Mexico spends relatively little on two key elements of social mobility: Education commands just 5.3 percent of its GDP and healthcare only 6.10 percent, according to the World Banks last comparative study.
A venal, come-back-tomorrow bureaucracy explains the 58 days it takes to open a business in Mexico compared with three days in Canada, five days in the US, nine days in Jamaica, and 27 days in Chile. Mexicos private sector estimates that 34 percent of the firms in the country made extra official payments to functionaries and legislators in 2004. These bribes totaled $11.2 billion and equaled 12 percent of GDP.
Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization, placed Mexico in a tie with Ghana, Panama, Peru, and Turkey for 65th among 158 countries surveyed for corruption.
Economic competition is constrained by the presence of inefficient, overstaffed state oil and electricity monopolies, as well as a small number of private corporationsclosely linked to government big shotsthat control telecommunications, television, food processing, transportation, construction, and cement. Politicians who talk about, much less propose, trust-busting measures are as rare as a snowfall in the Sonoran Desert.
Geography, self-interests, and humanitarian concerns require North Americas neighbors to cooperate on myriad issues, not the least of which is immigration. However, Mexicos power brokers have failed to make the difficult decisions necessary to use their nations bountiful wealth to benefit the masses. Washington and Ottawa have every right to insist that Mexicos pampered elite act responsibly, rather than expecting US and Canadian taxpayers to shoulder burdens Mexico should assume.