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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Money, not Minutemen”

    Last spring, members of the Minutemen militia made headlines when they assembled a caravan of ragtag RVs to drive to Washington, D.C. to protest lax immigration policies. “”Cowards need not apply!”” was their rallying cry.

    It might have been business as usual here in Arizona, but if you consider what it must have looked like from south of the border, it’s hardly surprising that Mexican businesses are wary of bringing their business to the Grand Canyon State.

    According to a recent report in the Tucson Citizen, Arizona suffers from an image problem; whenever the state makes headlines in Mexico, it’s over issues like “”border fences, desert deaths and Minutemen.”” That’s unfortunate, especially considering the fact that there’s no mention of the $4 billion worth of goods that Arizona exports to Mexico every year.

    So it’s a good thing that Gov. Janet Napolitano went to Mexico this week to meet with newly inaugurated President Felipe Calderon. Her trip might provoke outcries from immigration fanatics, but the Mexican economy is expanding – and Arizona should want a piece of the pie.

    According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Mexico is responsible for at least 50,000 non-retail jobs in Arizona, and that number can only increase if Napolitano (and the rest of the state’s politicians) pursue more open trade with our neighbor to the south. If students still need convincing, think of it this way: More Mexican trade means more jobs for UA students once they graduate.

    Of course, courting foreign investment means changing the way Mexicans perceive us. It starts with brand image: Instead of scoring cheap political points by bashing Mexican immigrants, Arizona politicians should take the lead and push the federal government to adopt a guest-worker program in line with President Bush’s vision. Meanwhile, the UA should do its part by expanding its collaborative ties with Mexican universities and by funneling more resources into luring Latino students to the UA.

    Granted, becoming more attractive to Mexican investment cannot overrule security concerns. In fact, Gov. Napolitano rightly fears that crackdowns in Texas and California will only push more drug smuggling to the Arizona border. More drugs means more animosity (and more Minutemen), resulting in nothing but poor trade and bad blood.

    But there is a solution. Multilateral collaboration between the Mexican government and the governments of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas can ensure that regional immigration and trade policies do more help than harm (and simultaneously promote an image of a cooperative and enthusiastic Arizona).

    To truly take advantage of the growing Mexican economy, Arizona ought to be perceived as a friend of our neighbors to the south. Only then can Mexico and the American southwest benefit from Mexican investment – and the fruits of our labor will be jobs and security, not another ridiculous “”caravan”” to D.C.

    Opinions Board

    Editorials are determined by the Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. They are Justyn Dillingham, Allison Hornick, Damion LeeNatali, Stan Molever, Nicole Santa Cruz and Matt Stone.

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