Briefing Papers Number 11, January 2011

Number 11,  January 2011 briefing paper Laura Elizabeth Pohl Development and Migration In Rural Mexico by Andrew Wainer Key Points • To comprehensively reform immigration policy, the United States must acknowledge the links in Latin America between poverty, inequality, and migration, and work with migrant-sending countries to address the sources of unauthorized immigration.‡ • As the source of 60 percent of all unauthorized immigration to the United States, Mexico—and particularly rural Mexico—presents a unique environment to implement U.S. foreign assistance projects that promote development with the aim of reducing migration pressures. • U.S. foreign assistance agencies working in migrant-sending regions should integrate analysis of migration issues into development projects. Projects that seek to reduce migration deserve increased attention from U.S. policymakers, including support for pilot projects and evaluations. • Rural development projects in migrant-sending communities can increase their impact though partnerships with small farmer organizations. Strengthening independent small farmer groups creates on-the-ground advocates that influence the Mexican government to support policies and leverage public resources that help small producers. Andrew Wainer is immigration policy analyst for Bread for the World Institute. Bread for the World Institute provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. The Institute educates its network, opinion leaders, policy makers and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad. Abstract The immigration debate, while focused on domestic issues, largely overlooks some of the principal causes of unauthorized migration to the United States: poverty and inequality in Latin America. The U.S. government identifies Latin America as the primary source (80 percent) of unauthorized immigration, but its responses internally, at the border, and through its foreign assistance to migrantsending countries is focused on enforcement. Border enforcement fails to impact the causes of unauthorized migration in Latin America and U.S. foreign assistance to Latin America typically doesn’t take into account its impact on migration pressures. U.S. policy toward migrant-sending countries in Latin America mirrors its enforcement-focused domestic policy. Assistance to Mexico is dominated by the Mérida Initiative, which emphasizes aid to Mexico’s security agencies. This report analyzes a project in rural Mexico that was designed with an awareness of the connections between development and migration. The project is analyzed in this report to inspire discussion and action linking development and the reduction of migration pressures. Projects that make these connections deserve increased attention in order to broaden the immigration policy discourse to include options for reducing poverty and migration pressures at the source.