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The Current State of U.S.-Mexico Relations

Actualizado: 27 abr 2023

The relationship between Mexico and the United States is one of the most important international relationships in the world.

Due to the geographic proximity, economic exchange, and cultural collaboration between both countries. For example, the U.S. accounts for 39.3% of all foreign direct investment in Mexico, almost triple that of Canada, Mexico’s second-largest investor. However, the Southern border between Mexico and the United States is a topic of interest, given the recent political tensions, the flow of immigrants, and the security challenges that it presents. This paper aims to provide and target an overview of the current state of the relationship between Mexico and the United States, and the Southern Border.


The relationship between Mexico and the United States has a complex history that dates back to the 19th century. The two countries have had diplomatic, economic, and social interactions for over a century, with both positive and negative consequences. This relationship is unique due to the role that Mexico played in both the independence of Texas and the United States in the 1800s. In recent history, the most significant event of this relationship was the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed in 1994, which significantly boosted bilateral trade, investment, and economic integration between the two countries (Garza, 2017). Another major event has been the beginning of the construction of the wall that separates the countries at the southern border. This created a literal and metaphoric divide between the two countries

Current State of the Relationship

In recent years, the relationship between Mexico and the United States has faced significant challenges, mainly due to immigration policies and border security. The Trump administration's immigration policy aimed to reduce illegal immigration and prioritize the deportation of undocumented immigrants, which led to tension between both countries (Tuckman, 2019). The Biden administration, on the other hand, has proposed to reverse many of these policies, signaling a change in the relationship between the two countries (Associated Press, 2021).

Economic ties between Mexico and the United States have remained strong, despite the political tensions. Mexico is the United States' third-largest trading partner, and the United States is Mexico's top trading partner (Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2021). NAFTA has played a significant role in increasing trade between both countries, with over $600 billion in two-way trade in goods and services in 2020 (Office of the United States Trade Representative, 2021).

The Southern Border

The Southern Border between Mexico and the United States has been debated and controversial in recent years. The flow of undocumented immigrants from Mexico to the United States has been a persistent issue, with estimates suggesting that there are around 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States (Krogstad, 2021). The Trump administration's policies aimed to reduce this flow by building the aforementioned wall along the border, increasing border security, and implementing stricter immigration policies. The Biden administration has proposed an approach that focuses on improving the living conditions in Central American countries, services for immigrants, and implementing a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants (Associated Press, 2021). The state of society regarding the southern border is mixed. This is due in part to the locationality of the border. For example, those living in Montanan may have a different view of how to address the southern border versus those that live in the Rio Grande Valley. This is because the experience of the border is felt and seen in different ways due to how individuals would handle the challenge based on how and where they live. This doesn’t make one idea worse or better than another, frankly, this makes for a very deep and rich discussion and debate around the issue of how to tackle the challenges at the southern border. Additionally, this will be seen when voters head out to vote in the next and subsequent election cycles.


The relationship between Mexico and the United States remains weak to some and strong to others. The political tensions and tensions with bordering states create an unstable environment that could lead to volatility between those entities. The economic ties between both countries have continued to grow, while the immigration policies and the Southern Border remain contentious. The Biden administration's proposed policies signal a shift in the relationship between both countries, which is to be expected due to the shift in style from the previous administration's approach. Americans still remain divided on how to solve the border crisis but they all agree that something must be done very soon. The future of the relationship between Mexico and the United States remains uncertain, but it is crucial to continue working toward a mutually beneficial partnership that keeps economic ties strong and fair, Mexico and American citizens safe, and a relationship that is built on collaboration and alignment.

Recommendations for Policymakers

  • Open channels of communication with your Mexico or American counterparts to start the dialogue to discuss major issues facing both countries.

  • Consider legislation that fortifies the relationship between the two countries, not legislation that perpetuates tensions and attacks.

  • Consider supporting legislation that supports legal and fair immigration practices.

  • Work with your media partners to compel good and positive stories about the other country.

  • Work with agencies and nonprofit partners to get real-time stories and data about immigration, human and drug trafficking, and the impact of legislation.


El Paso Inc. (March 27, 2023). A Reset for U.S.-Mexico Relations. A reset for U.S.-Mexico relations | News |

Associated Press. (2021, February 18). Biden's Border Policy: What's Changed Since Trump?

Garza, R. (2017). Mexico and the United States: a historical overview. Handbook of US-Mexico relations, 1-14.

Krogstad, J. M. (2021, February 18). Key Facts About Unauthorized Immigrants Enrolled in DACA.

Thomas McGregor

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