That Biden Rates as More Decorous than Trump Not Enough
If México wants a healthy and mutually supportive bilateral relationship, it is critical that it implement urgent changes in the way it relates to the United States, regardless of who the president is. Nothing ensures that Biden will make decisions aligned with the interests of México. His economic policy has clear protectionist overtones that could strongly discourage investment in other countries. His platform calls for “bringing home supply chains” and retaining millions of manufacturing jobs in the United States. A rhetoric close to that of Trumpism.
In terms of immigration, Biden has promised comprehensive immigration reform and has been clear that he will reverse Trump's changes. But this is not even remotely enough... And, if the Democrats don't win the Senate, everything will continue like this for the next four years.
The electoral result is good news for Mexico but, above all, it is a warning: No matter which party is in power, it is not the United States that must change, but it is México that needs to modify its way of doing basic bilateral politics to have results. The changes must go in two directions.
First, México must take seriously the work of engaging in politics, lobbying, and mobilization among US congressmen and local politicians. The most important regulatory changes in the United States are not achieved by convincing the current president but by having congresspeople and allied governors who understand the value of implementing a favorable agenda towards México. México must deploy an unprecedented strategy to find and convince US congresspeople of the economic benefits of a flexible immigration policy, of a strict regulation of the sale of arms at the border — a decisive factor in the increase in violence in México — and to invest in cleaning up the environmental mess on the border.
Second, México must move from being a country where bilateral politics is defined in the “room next door” or in closed negotiations between wealthy businessmen and politicians and must become one where ordinary civil society is involved in designing relations between the two countries.
Mexican civil society, organized workers, and migrant groups must find allies in the progressive factions of the Democratic Party to push for policies that foster bilateral relations that raise wages and protect the environment.
Nor is it enough for the USMCA, the new trade agreement between Mexico, the United States and Canada, to protect union organizing (in Mexico). Unions must be reconstituted trilaterally, operating in all three countries and organizing across borders.
We must get serious about persuading US state and local politics to achieve a more balanced relationship between México and the world's greatest power, its neighbor to the north.