Immigration Issues

Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America (SPP) (2008)

The governments of Canada, Mexico, and the United States announced in March 2005 the formation of the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America to, "enhance the security of North America while at the same time promote the economic well-being of our citizens and position North America to face and meet future challenges."

According to the information provided on its website (www.spp.gov), the SPP builds on, but is separate from, long-standing trilateral trade and economic relationships. It focuses on other areas of cooperative relations, such as the protection of our environment, our food supply, and our public health. The SPP has also spun off a North American Competitiveness Council to fully incorporate the private sector into the SPP process.

In effect, this framework is an institutionalization of an already existing series of trilateral meetings among the leaders of the three North American countries. After the September 11 attacks on the United States, these meetings took on a new impetus to coordinate measures designed to promote national security.

At their March 31, 2006 joint news conference in Cancun, Mexico the presidents of the three countries announced the creation of a spin-off organization, the North American Competitiveness Council (NACC). According to a statement at that meeting by Canadian Prime Minister Harper, "The [NACC] is made up of business leaders from all three countries, to advise us on ways to improve the competitiveness of our economies. They will meet with our ministers, identify priorities, and make sure we follow up and implement them." While the three leaders were meeting, their activities were accompanied by private sector representatives from the three countries. President Bush commented to the press in Cancun, "I want to thank the CEOs and the business leaders from the three countries who are here."

Apparently, a regional private sector organization (Council of the Americas - see below) was actively involved with the U.S. administration in the formation of the NACC. That organization on its website provides the information that the NACC is composed of representatives of: Campbell Soup Company, Chevron, Ford, FedEx, General Electric, General Motors, Kansas City Southern Industries, Lockheed Martin Corporation; Merck; Mittal Steel USA; New York Life; United Parcel Service; Wal-Mart; and Whirlpool.

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)

The Council on Foreign Relations has existed as an independent, national membership organization since 1921. It produces and disseminates ideas regarding the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other governments.

Public concern has been expressed that the CFR is advancing a framework aimed at the integration of the three North American countries in a fashion similar to the European Community. This concern has been heightened in part because of a plan elaborated by a CFR Task Force that worked with related elitist, non-governmental policy groups in the other two countries to develop a long-range blueprint for economic integration.

The CFR plan promotes the concept of the free movement of people among the North American countries as well as the establishment of extra-national bodies such as a dispute-resolution tribunal. The CFR proposal goes far beyond the governmental, tripartite SPP framework. The CFR states on its website, "The Council-sponsored Task Force applauds the announced [SPP] but proposes a more ambitious vision of a new community by 2010 and specific recommendations on how to achieve it."

Council of the Americas (CoA)

The Council of the Americas is a business oriented association founded in 1965 by David Rockefeller and other business people based on the belief that free markets and private enterprise offer the most effective means to achieve regional economic growth and prosperity. It includes over 200 blue chip companies that represent the majority to the United States private investment in Latin America.

The CoA also is actively engaged in attempting to influence the current immigration debate in the United States. In a press release on May 16, 2006, the CoA commented, "…the Council of the Americas and the North American Business Committee actively support a temporary worker program as a practical means to address many of the issues inherent in the immigration debate."

The CoA also has an agenda aimed at increasing North American integration. In April 2005, a CoA standing committee - United States Council of the Mexican- United States Business Committee - published a plan for promoting economic integration. The plan is available at their website. (PDF)

Among the proposals recommended in this plan is one that would allocate a share of the Social Security earnings assigned to the Suspense Fund of the United States Social Security Trust Fund for economic development projects in Mexico. This proposal is based on the reasoning that a share of these SSA contributions that result of 'no-match' Social Security numbers are the result of Mexicans illegally working in the United States who will never be able to benefit from drawing United States Social Security benefits.

Can the CFR and CoA Integration Plans be Adopted?

Any change in immigration policy to implement the CFR or CoA agendas would require a major revision of our immigration laws. The expansionary immigration bill passed in the Senate in May 2006 fell short of an open borders agenda and it clearly would be opposed in the House of Representatives based on the House's refusal to include increased immigration in the legislation it passed in December 2005. Nevertheless, because the CFR and CoA initiatives include the active participation of numerous former and current policymakers and influential business leaders, their agendas and their activities should be carefully monitored for efforts to translate their concept into reality through the legislative process. Similarly, the SPP activities merit careful scrutiny.

However, even without any new policies affecting immigration or other aspects of the relationship among the North American countries, a process is already in motion which will result in changes that will affect the American people. Although it is not generally recognized by the public, the NAFTA Treaty in 1994 included a framework for an increased flow of workers among the three countries. As part of that agreement, Mexicans and Canadians from a long list of professions immediately became eligible to obtain visas to work in the United States without limit on a reciprocal basis, but there was a time delay of ten years before the provision became fully available to Mexicans. There were more than 66,200 of those foreign workers admitted to the United States in fiscal year 2004, but only 2,100 of them were Mexicans. Now that we have passed that ten-year delay, NAFTA rules do not limit Mexican professionals from coming to the United States to work here. When data become available for 2005 and later, we can expect to see the number of NAFTA visas for Mexicans increase significantly

Supplemental Reading:

Carlsen, Laura, "Deep Integration"—the Anti-Democratic Expansion of NAFTA,” May 30, 2007

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Updated March 2008