Re-Imagining the U.S.-Mexico border: Policies toward a more competitive and sustainable transborder region

James Gerber, Francisco Lara-Valencia, Carlos De La Parra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The U.S.-Mexico border region has two important but often overlooked characteristics. First, it is the physical place of most of the integration between the United States and Mexico, including market driven integration such as trade flows, migration, and investment as well as policy driven integration such as security cooperation, infrastructure development, and emergency response. Second, the border region has a growing transnational population that lives, works, goes to school, and participates in family and social networks on both sides of the border. Recent U.S. policy has hardened the border in response to concerns about terrorism, drug and human trafficking, undocumented migration, and arms smuggling. The consequences of these policies include disruption of the on-going economic integration, large external costs imposed on the growing transnational population, and barriers to progress on a number of issues of national importance, including dispute resolution, migration, and environmental management, among others. The paper identifies and discusses the advantages of the three different definitions of the border in current usage: counties and municipios that touch the border; the 100 kilometer boundary first set by the La Paz Agreement and later amended to 300 kilometers in Mexico and 100 in the U.S.; and the ten states that are along the border. The hardening of the border is partly the result of a lack of border institutions and the inability of border residents to speak in a common voice when they talk to their capitals. This is changing, however, as new institutions such as the Border Governors Conference take on a more active role in promoting the interests of border states and border regions. An examination of a recent Delphi survey of border decision-makers shows a high degree of cross border agreement on the goals and needs of the region in key areas such as competitiveness, security, and sustainability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalGlobal Economy Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • U.S.-Mexico relations
  • border
  • economic development
  • planning
  • security
  • sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance(all)


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