Victor Davis Hanson

There is no chance of Mexico being absorbed by its neighbor as East Germany was by the West. America will not create a continental union as happened in Europe and which so benefits Spain. Nor can even we count on complacent Mexican elites to believe they can become richer by deregulating their economy and competing in the global marketplace as has happened in China. Apprehensive Chinese leaders, after all, changed their rules only because they thought they had no choice after seeing the Soviet Union fall.

So what can the United States do?

Offer both help and tough love.

Granting Mexico favorable trade incentives is cheaper in the long run than dealing with the social problems caused by illegal immigration and the economic consequences of billions of U.S. dollars being sent southward from Mexican workers. The North American Free Trade Agreement, however controversial, has probably helped decrease Mexico's general poverty rate and increase its gross domestic product.

By closing the borders, the U.S. would stop subsidizing Mexican failure. At present, workers come to America not only because of higher wages, but also on the assumption that their cash income will often be untaxed and augmented by subsidized state health care, housing and education.

Tax evasion and American entitlement help to free up workers' dollars to be sent back to Mexico. In economic terms, that translates to the United States economy subsidizing millions of the unemployed in Mexico through $20 billion annually in cash remittances. This money weakens the incentive of millions in Mexico to seek employment or to demand government reform.

Finally, we need honesty about the problem. Mexico masquerades as a revolutionary socialist state, replete with flashy radical slogans that date back to the old days of Emiliano Zapata and Pancho Villa.

In truth, Mexico City's creed is elitism and a fossilized cronyism. Its privileged few have hurt millions of their hardworking citizens who deserve far more humane treatment — and sometimes find it only here in America.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.