Building Bridges or Building Walls?

Building Bridges or Building Walls?

By: Patricia Houston

Did you know

  • That San Diego and Tijuana are partners in a cross-border international airport serving passengers from both countries?
  • That Thomas’ English Muffins, Sara Lee, Orowheat, and Entemen’s are brands owned by Mexico’s Grupo Bimbo?
  • That UNAM (the iconic Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) has a presence right here in Tucson?
  • That burgeoning corporate, individual and municipal collaborations for economic development between Mexico and the US are bringing prosperity to depressed regions, cities and towns in both countries?

Just as “Spanglish” is the natural and inevitable linguistic reflection of the fusing of cultures and even economics, it is also a metaphor for the realities of the deep cultural and economic fusion that continues to connect and bond the United States and Mexico.

There is no doubt that relationship between Mexico and the United States is complicated. But there is no denying that as close neighbors, the ties that bind us culturally and economically are deep and strong.  Andrew Selee, founder of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center, and now president of the Migration Policy Institute in Washington, DC, is an expert in US -Mexico foreign policy, and in migration issues worldwide. This June, he will be in Tucson to launch his latest book, Vanishing Frontiers, hosted by the Southern Arizona Council for International Visitors.

According to Andrew, “There has been a dramatic change in the way Mexico and the United States relate to each other, but few Americans have noticed the depth of this change….The US-Mexico border is a seam that weaves together the two economies and cultures, not a barrier between two radically different societies.”

“Vanishing Frontiers is the story of the cultural and economic intertwining of these two countries. Beloved US Brands like Sara Lee and Thomas’ English Muffins are owned by Mexico City-based Grupo Bimbo.  Forty percent of the manufactured goods that flow across the border with Mexico are products that US and Mexican firms assemble together n shared supply chains. As immigration from Mexico reaches an all-time low, a million Americans—retirees, job seekers, and more—live in Mexico, almost as many expats as live in all the countries of the European Union combined.  Meanwhile, more than a tenth of all Americans now trace their heritage to Mexico, and they are among the fastest-growing consumer segments for everything from prime-time television programs to the Super Bowl.” (excerpt from pre-publication

The questions to be answered with the help of Andrew Selee’s insights: should we continue to build economic, social, and cultural bridges with Mexico? Or, per political rhetoric, continue to build walls?

Join the Southern Arizona Council for International Visitors, Ricardo Pineda Albarrán  of the Mexican Consulate in Tucson, and Virginia Staab of the US Consulate in Sonora to welcome Andrew Selee to Southern Arizona and to hear more about our strengthening ties to our neighbor—and partner—Mexico.

Cross Border Xpress (CBX) (San Diego/Tijuana International Airport Partnership) 


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