Immigration and the drug war: alternative viewpoints

Two recent news reports break stereotypes and shed light on solutions for two problems facing Mexico and the United States- the drug war and immigration.

In an article in the New York Times journalist Damien Cave reports that fewer Mexicans are immigrating to the United States illegally. They are a few key reasons. One is that there are increasing educational opportunities for Mexicans to stay in Mexico. The other is that the United States is issuing more visas to Mexicans wanting to come to the U.S. as temporary workers or as tourists.

These are encouraging developments and reinforce what I know from having lived in Mexico. Most Mexicans would prefer to stay at home if given an opportunity to develop some sort of career.

In Guadalajara, I knew many university students and young professionals who wouldn't dream of migrating to the United States. They prefer to stay at home even if that meant earning less than $500 a month as a graphic designer or a teacher.

The other piece was an essay by Jorge Castañeda, the former Foreign Minister of Mexico, who reflected on the drug war in Time magazine. He made several points, including that U.S. consumption for drugs won't ever decline and there is no way to stop the arms flow into Mexico if there isn't gun control in the United States.

Castañeda offers a few interesting ideas, including the legalization of marijuana, creating a national police force in Mexico and helping our southern neighbor reform its judiciary system.

He also pointed out the hypocrisy of some U.S. states allowing medical marijuana meanwhile we fight a war on drugs.

Both pieces offer interesting perspectives on issues that are too often seen in black and white.

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    On June 17, 1971, President Nixon told Congress that "if we cannot destroy the drug menace in America, then it will surely destroy us." After forty years of trying to destroy "the drug menace in America" we still *haven't* been able to destroy it and it still *hasn't* destroyed us. Four decades is long enough to realize that on this important issue, President Nixon was wrong! All actions taken as a result of his invalid and paranoid assumptions (e.g. the federal marijuana prohibition) should be ended immediately!

    It makes no sense for taxpayers to fund the federal marijuana prohibition when it *doesn't* prevent people from using marijuana and it *does* make criminals incredibly wealthy and incite the Mexican drug cartels to murder thousands of people every year.

    We need legal adult marijuana sales in supermarkets, gas stations and pharmacies for exactly the same reason that we need legal alcohol and tobacco sales - to keep unscrupulous black-market criminals out of our neighborhoods and away from our children. Marijuana must be made legal to sell to adults everywhere that alcohol and tobacco are sold.

    "There's something extraordinarily perverse when we're so concerned about preventing addicts from having access to drugs that we destroy the lives of many times more people, either through untreated pain or other drug war damage".

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