EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – The border migrant crisis is not only stretching El Paso advocacy organizations to their limits, but also putting a strain on Juarez’s resources.
That’s why a Mexican business leader on Wednesday suggested to U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, that the United States issue a large number of temporary work visas to stop people from trying to come into the country illegally – while at the same time keeping ties with their communities, helping improve them with the fruit of their labor.
“This is something that could be a win-win situation for both countries and we could even (include) other countries that are a headache for Juarez and other (Mexican) border cities,” said Jose Contreras, vice president of international relations for the Juarez Chamber of Commerce.
Contreras believes migrants would be happy to get a job in the U.S. for, say, six months, then go back to their countries, open a small business, fix up their home or provide for their children’s education, and be ready to contribute to the U.S. economy on a temporary basis again the following year.
American business owners who have trouble filling vacancies in the construction, hotel, retail and domestic industries would also win with a visa program, he said.
The Juarez business leader said the Mexican federal government has sent very little money to border cities to care for migrants who stay while waiting to possibly cross the river or the desert into U.S. territory.
“It’s become a very expensive situation for border cities in Mexico because you’re getting people from all over the world and you cannot leave them on the streets,” he said. “You gotta give them some kind of shelter and food and other things (like) be able to make a phone call. This is a major problem and I think both countries should work on this.”
Escobar, who met Contreras at an El Paso Central Business Association luncheon on Wednesday, said House Democrats have proposed comprehensive immigration reform to incentivize legal immigration and reduce the need for unauthorized migration.
But that and other immigration initiatives are tied up in a deeply divided Congress, and Escobar said she doesn’t believe a standalone proposal such as a massive temporary work visa program has much of a chance of passing, either.
Contreras is not alone in thinking a massive temporary work visa program is a way out of the migration crisis. Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador earlier this year took a similar proposal to President Biden during a meeting in Washington, D.C., but came back empty-handed.
“We have businesspeople helping out through (civil) foundations with things like food, but this is expensive. We need help from the federal governments in Mexico and the United States because this is a headache for both countries. Let’s face it,” Contreras said.