*Latinos will fuel 25% of the U.S. economy by 2020, we will purchase 50% of homes in the next 20 years, we’re increasing in college enrollment when overall enrollment is declining, and they want to talk about brining back the Bracero Program? VL
By Hannah Carfese, PBS Newshour (9.5 minute read)
America and Europe have spent the past year eulogizing free trade agreements. Politicians, and in some cases voters, have become convinced that free trade means free migration, that free movement of goods inevitably leads to free movement of people.
In the U.K., Brexit voters knew that to remain part of the EU’s single market would be to accept the EU’s permissive border policies. In the U.S., President Donald Trump pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and has muddled his way to a similar idea as he pledges to renegotiate NAFTA: the U.S. does not want Mexico’s hombres, and the U.S. does not want Mexico’s goods.
This linking of trade and migration makes sense in the European Union, where the “four freedoms” central to the Union’s founding treaties enshrine free movement of goods and free movement of people.
But the link is less clear in the United States. Our country’s preeminent free trade agreement, the North American Free Trade Agreement, is predicated on the idea that free trade discourages migration — that if countries open their borders to goods, they won’t have to worry about closing them to people.
NAFTA negotiators in the U.S. and Mexico agreed on this point as they crafted the treaty. In 1992, for example, Mexican President Carlos Salinas made clear his country’s aim in joining a North American free trade bloc: “we want,” he said, “to export goods, not people.” During a 1993 signing ceremony for NAFTA, former U.S. President Gerald Ford said much the same: “Defeat NAFTA and there will be a tremendous flow of Mexicans to the United States wanting jobs in the United States. We don’t want that. We want Mexicans to stay in Mexico so they can work in their home country.”