AJC is deeply disappointed by the cancellation of the meeting between President Donald J. Trump and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto. The two leaders were set to meet at the White House on January 31.

It was fitting that among the first heads-of-state to meet with President Trump would have been President Peña Nieto, since the U.S. and Mexico have longstanding, mutually beneficial ties. Countries that share a border and are partners in so many fields should work together cooperatively to advance shared interests and address differences. The security and prosperity of the U.S. and Mexico depend on continued respectful engagement and collaboration.

The vast network of U.S.-Mexico economic and commercial ties, border security, and the flow of migrants are among the key issues that the two presidents were expected to discuss.

AJC has long focused on Latin America and the region’s varied relations with the U.S. Through AJC’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs (BILLA), AJC maintains close relations with top Mexican political and civil society leaders, the Mexican Jewish community, and Mexican American communities in the U.S.

Illustrative of AJC’s engagement with Mexico, then Foreign Secretary Claudia Ruiz Massieu addressed the AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C., last June. “The Mexican-U.S. alliance is unwavering. It has deep, robust roots, and is mature enough to endure any political juncture,” she said.

Border security: Every country has the right and obligation to secure its borders. The most effective way to do that along the nearly 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border is through direct, bilateral cooperation between the two governments. Construction of a new border wall, even should Congress approve funding for such a costly project, may not be the most efficient way of assuring border security. In fact, it may adversely affect the existing robust and extensive economic and other ties between the U.S. and Mexico.

U.S. and Mexican law-enforcement authorities have a productive record of jointly fighting organized crime, drug trafficking, and violence through exchange of information and intelligence. The two countries have redoubled their cooperation on the border, establishing a bi-national security communications network that includes coordinated patrols between the Mexican Federal Police and the U.S. Border Patrol.

Economic Ties: The U.S. and Mexico are vital economic partners, an admirable result of years of productive collaboration. Mexico is the United States’ second largest export market and third largest overall trading partner, with $531 billion in annual bilateral trade. Some 80 percent of Mexico's exports go to the U.S., and 40 cent of Mexican imports to this country has a U.S. origin. The relationship generates nearly 5 million jobs in the U.S.

NAFTA is a critical piece of the intricate economic relationship. AJC has supported this landmark trade agreement since it was signed in December 1992 by the U.S. and Mexican presidents and the Canadian prime minister. Unilateral threats to rescind NAFTA are not helpful, and unnecessarily tarnish U.S.-Mexico relations. AJC urges U.S. and Mexican leaders to work together in considering any possible review and update of NAFTA, taking into full account how revisions or alternative initiatives will affect economic growth in the two countries.

Immigration: The failure to develop and adopt comprehensive immigration reform in the U.S. calls for urgent attention by the new Administration and Congress. Piecemeal, punitive measures against undocumented immigrants in the U.S., or aimed at Mexicans and others from Latin America will not lead to long-term, sustainable solutions to the broken immigration system. Moreover, recent figures demonstrate an extraordinary decline in the number of Mexican immigrants crossing the border.

The U.S. and Mexico are inexorably intertwined through our peoples. An estimated one million Americans live in Mexico, the largest expatriate and retired U.S. community in the world. At least 34 million people of Mexican origin live in the U.S.

In sum, the anticipated meeting between President Trump and President Peña Nieto offered opportunities to jointly advance and strengthen the U.S.-Mexico relationship. AJC urges the two leaders to reschedule their meeting and focus on an agenda to deepen still further the level of communication and cooperation, while addressing policy differences in a constructive manner, as befits friends and neighbors.

Copyright Of: Presidencia de la República Mexicana

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