Tip Sheets

Migration treaty violations, trade central to U.S.-Mexico-Canada summit

Media Contact

Rachel Rhodes

President Joe Biden will meet Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the White House this week to discuss the continued flow of migrants over the U.S.-Mexico border, trade, labor and other issues.

Gustavo A. Flores-Macías

Professor of Government

Gustavo Flores-Macías, professor of government and the former Director of Public Affairs in Mexico’s Consumer Protection Agency, is an expert on state capacity and Latin American politics.

Flores-Macías says: 

“The North American summit between the leaders of the U.S., Mexico and Canada represents an important opportunity for the three countries to show a united front in finding solutions to big problems affecting the region, including migration, trade, security, and the environment.

“Although the summit intends to tackle migration as a priority, it is also one of the thorniest issues at this point in time, and breakthrough announcements on any of these issues are unlikely. Instead, the three leaders will seek to leverage the summit to counterbalance some of the tensions with other parts of the world, including China, and ease supply-chain bottlenecks holding back the North American economies.”

Ian Kysel

Assistant Clinical Professor of Law

Ian Kysel, professor of law at Cornell Law School, is a founder and director of the International Migrants Bill of Rights Initiative.

Kysel says:

“One burning question is whether Canada and Mexico will continue to tolerate the U.S. violating its obligation to them as parties to the Refugee Protocol treaty in the use of Title 42 to expel asylum-seekers, including Haitians. In a summit like this, silence on Title 42 from Prime Minister Trudeau or President López Obrador would be an unfortunate betrayal of refugees, given the clarity with which the UN High Commissioner for Refugees has condemned U.S. treaty violations. 

“Further, the protection of basic rights doesn’t end with refugees. All migrants have basic human rights and the three leaders should ensure that any agreement to work on ‘migration management’ reflect a commitment to a basic bill of rights for all border crossers. That would require action on the five biggest challenges: ensuring individual rights protections in migrant status determination and aggressively limiting detention; guaranteeing basic rights to all migrant workers; safeguarding the unity of migrant families and child migrants; consistent application of rights guarantees dictating when migrants must be allowed to enter or exit a country; and guaranteeing dignity to migrants upon return.”

Shannon Gleeson

Professor of Labor Relations, Law & History

Shannon Gleeson, professor of labor relations, law and history at Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, studies how U.S. policies impact immigrant workers. She is also a signatory to a letter urging President Biden to create a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants as part of economic and infrastructure packages.

Gleeson says:

“A focus on trade must include a continued commitment to not just labor flows, but also enactment and enforcement of labor protections for migrant workers. As the lesson of the North American Agreement on Labor Cooperation (under the North American Free Trade Agreement), and now the US-Mexico-Canada Agreement, free movement of capital without avenues for free movement of labor with protections for workers is a recipe for ongoing migrant exploitation. This requires national governments to go beyond lip service to multi-lateral accords, and make real investments in their regulatory apparatus, including the panoply of worker protections that have been degraded in all countries over the last several decades.

“The upfront refusal to discuss the Remain in Mexico/Migrant Protection protocol is a failure to fully address a cruel immigration system that puts undue pressure on local communities and civil society. It also reflects a U.S. policy that has undue influence in México and the rest of Latin America, often with devastating human rights consequences.

“The push for Drug Enforcement Administration intervention in México is misguided and dangerous, and likely to further fuel drug wars that push migrants out of insecure communities ravaged by violence and neoliberal policies that provide few alternative sources of support. It also comes without a concomitant commitment to decriminalizing drugs in the U.S., the major consumer and destination for these illicit goods. This has had lethal consequences for both rural white communities impacted by opioid use and urban black and brown communities over policed and incarcerated for the same addiction challenges.

“A commitment to vaccine sharing is essential, and must be paired with real regulation of drug-makers, who have benefited enormously from federal investments in vaccine production. As the U.S. battles an enormous contingent of anti-vaccine holdouts, while others have moved onto their third dose, the refusal to compel companies to release their patents is a root cause of the global justice around health access during this and no doubt future pandemics. In an increasingly global world, where migration is an inevitable reality, a reliance on voluntary vaccine charity will be woefully insufficient and lethal.”

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