First 100 Days Memo on U.S.-Mexico Policy

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About the Memo

The Pacific Council has launched its First 100 Days Memo on U.S.-Mexico Policy to be distributed to the incoming Biden administration. The memo outlines policy recommendations on trade, immigration, and diplomacy, as well as how President Joe Biden can strengthen the bilateral relationship from the outset of the next term. Sign up to receive our monthly Mexico Initiative Newsletters to receive updates on this project by filling out this form.

Read the Memo here.

Lea este memorandum en Español.

Michael Camuñez Weighs in on the Vaccine Surplus

Pacific Council Director and Mexico Initiative Chair Michael Camuñez penned an op-ed for CNN laying out the case that the United States' vaccine surplus should go first to Mexico.

"The coronavirus didn’t stop at international boundaries—and neither should the vaccine," he writes.

Read the full op-ed.

Update on U.S.-Mexico Relations

As the Biden administration rounds out its first 100 days in office, the Pacific Council is pleased to recognize the progress that has been made in U.S.-Mexico relations since January 20:

  • In early February, President Biden signed an Executive Order that includes strategies for addressing the root causes of irregular migration and collaboratively managing migration in the region. 
  • Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s first "virtual trip" was to Mexico and Canada, reinforcing the importance of the U.S.-Mexico relationship under the Biden administration. 
  • Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas led a visit by Biden administration officials to the U.S. border with Mexico on March 6.
  • President Biden and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López have connected twice since Biden took office, by phone and video call, to review bilateral cooperation on migration, COVID-19 response and recovery, and climate change.
  • The Biden administration pledged to give surplus vaccine doses to Mexico.
  • Mexico agreed to help with the migration surge at the U.S.-Mexico border.
  • Former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico Roberta Jacobson, now the White House’s lead adviser on the border, Juan González, the National Security Council’s senior director for the Western Hemisphere, and Ricardo Zúñiga, the newly named Special Envoy for the Northern Triangle, met with Mexico Foreign Affairs Secretary Marcelo Ebrard and other Mexican officials this week to discuss immigration and regional development.
  • Vice President Kamala Harris was named the point person for the Biden administration to stem the flow of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. She will also work with El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

These gestures sync with the Council's recommendations to President Biden in our First 100 Days Memo on U.S.-Mexico Policy, which has so far been shared with key leaders in the executive branch, State Department, Department of Homeland Security, National Security Council, and Customs and Border Control.

Project Details

By producing viable, nonpartisan policy solutions and providing suggestions on meaningful U.S.-Mexico engagement, we are directly carrying out our mission by: 

  • Promoting community awareness of civic engagement in global issues
  • Building stronger local leadership on global issues
  • Contributing to better policy outcomes

Throughout this activity, we will engage ideas, projects, people, and organizations that support our experts’ recommendations with the goal of building awareness and improving the U.S.-Mexico relationship.

The Council is also releasing a series of articles about these various policy areas in conjunction with the memo:

Read about U.S.-Mexico Trade Policy: Recovering from COVID and Beyond.

Read about the United States and Mexico: Immigration Policy in 2021.

Read about Public Diplomacy Efforts Between California and Mexico.

Events

All events about Mexico are open to the public. Members of the public may register here.

Friday, April 2 / 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. PT / EMERGING CRISIS AT THE BORDER

Learn more about the growing migration surge at the U.S.-Mexico border from Essey Workie of the Migration Policy Institute. Register here.

Past Events

Monday, March 15 / ROBERT ZOELLICK ON U.S.-MEXICO TRADE, DIPLOMACY, AND BEYOND

A keynote conversation featuring Robert Zoellick, World Bank president (2007-2012), U.S. Deputy Secretary of State (2005-2006), U.S. Trade Representative (2001-2005), and author of America in the World: A History of U.S. Diplomacy and Foreign Policy.

Monday, February 22 / UNITED STATES + MEXICO: POLICY IN THE FIRST 100 DAYS

This policy briefing is the first virtual event of a series of three where experts will share recommendations from the Pacific Council's First 100 Days Memo on U.S.-Mexico Policy as if they are presenting to the Biden administration.

Thursday, February 25 / COVID-19 AND IMMIGRATION AT THE U.S.-MEXICO BORDER

The Pacific Council will host a discussion on solutions to public health challenges faced by migrant communities amidst the pandemic. This event is presented in partnership with International Medical Corps.

Calls to Action

How Attorneys Can Respond to the Migration Surge

During last Friday’s event on the emerging crisis at the border, Essey Workie of the Migration Policy Institute emphasized the tremendous need for low-cost or pro bono legal services at the border, particularly on the Mexican side. Previously, people did not need attorneys in Mexico for their U.S. asylum cases, whereas now children with family and adults who cannot enter the United States need legal services while they wait in Mexico. Children or adults who have legal representation are significantly more likely to experience immigration relief as a result of court proceedings.

Here are two resources for attorneys who would like to donate their time toward this issue:

Call to Action for Concerned Citizens

Essey Workie provided a few actions concerned citizens can take in response to the influx of migrants at the border:

  • Raise money for organizations that provide direct services and material goods as assistance at the border.
  • Donate your time as a volunteer. Volunteers are needed for accompaniment, mentorship, and translating programs.
  • And finally, speak up! Track the national policies and happenings along the border and make your voice heard for what you believe is wrong or right.

Learn More

Check out these articles and insights that dive deep on issues important to U.S-Mexico relations from trusted experts:

Do you have a favorite source for news about the U.S.-Mexico relationship? Would you like to write about U.S.-Mexico relations for our digital Magazine? Let us know at engage@pacificcouncil.org.

Background

The Council’s existing Mexico Initiative aims to promote stronger ties between Mexico and the United States; build awareness among Angelenos of the importance of the U.S.-Mexico relationship; and give influential voices in politics, the press, and the business community a more nuanced understanding of Mexico.

The Council’s previous work on U.S.-Mexico policy and our built-in experience with key regional issues, as well as our geographical location near the U.S.-Mexico border, give us a unique position to make the best possible recommendations on how to move this relationship forward. In addition to an advisory board dedicated solely to U.S.-Mexico relations and serving as a regional secretariat for the Mexico-Los Angeles Commission, we have sent three delegations to Mexico City and one delegation to El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico, to explore the implementation of immigration policy at the U.S.-Mexico border.

We’ve explored topics ranging from the AMLO administration, immigration, border issues, trade, and the economy. Our direct research through delegations and meetings coupled with member expertise served as the bedrock and lens through which our First 100 Days Memo was constructed.

Experts

The First 100 Days Memo on U.S.-Mexico Policy was informed by a group of experts and interested citizens whose experience with Mexico spanned decades, presidential administrations, and fields of work and study. The following individuals participated in group meetings in October and November 2020 to inform the final memo outcome:

Dr. Robert Banks, Clinical Associate Professor of Communication Center on Public Diplomacy, USC and Former Planning and Coordination Officer, Office of Public Diplomacy, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Mr. Gray Beverly, Managing Director, Dittoemes & Company

The Honorable Robert C. Bonner, Former Commissioner, U.S. Customs Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection; Former Administrator, U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency; Former U.S. District Judge; and Former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California

Dr. Richard D. Downie, Managing Director, Delphi Strategic Consulting and Former Director, Department of Defense, Perry Center

Mr. William McIlhenny, Senior Fellow, German Marshall Fund United States, Former Director, National Security Council, and Former Director of Policy, Planning, and Coordination, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs

Mr. Patrick C. Schaefer, Former Senior Vice President, Center for Global Trade and Foreign Investment, Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

Dr. Andrew Selee, President, Migration Policy Institute and former Director, Mexico Institute, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

Dr. Pamela K. Starr, Director, U.S.-Mexico Network and University Fellow, USC Center on Public Diplomacy

Mr. Seth Stodder, Partner, Holland & Knight LLP, Former Assistant Secretary of Homeland Security for Border, Immigration and Trade Policy

Mr. Salvador Villar, President, Mercado Plus

We would also like to thank the leaders of the Mexico Advisory Committee, The Honorable Michael C. Camuñez (Chair) and Ms. Mary Ann Walker (Vice Chair) for commissioning this report and sharing their expertise in interviews and group meetings; and The David and Lucille Packard Foundation for funding the Pacific Council’s efforts to improve U.S.-Mexico relations. Special thanks to Ms. Kimberly Breier, Former Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State; Dr. Abraham F. Lowenthal, President Emeritus, Pacific Council on International Policy and Founding Director, Latin American Program, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and Inter-American Dialogue; and Judge Ashley Tabaddor, Judge, U.S. Immigration Court (interviewed in a personal capacity) for providing their insights in 1:1 interviews.

Get Involved

To learn more about this project, contact Ashley McKenzie at amckenzie@pacificcouncil.org. To write an article about Mexico or U.S.-Mexico relations, trade, immigration, public diplomacy, or other relevant topics for our online Magazine, contact Justin Chapman at jchapman@pacificcouncil.org.

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