“NAFTA-Land Security”: How Canada and Mexico Have Become Part of the U.S. Policing Regime

Thursday, December 4, 2014
By Paul Martin

By Paul Ashby
Global Research
December 04, 2014

National Guard PFC monitors one of dozens of cameras on the border with Mexico at the Border Patrol’s Communications Center in Arizona (U.S. Army / Creative Commons)

During this summer’s child migrant crisis and the accompanying frenzy around “security” along the U.S.-Mexico boundary, a spotlight was shone on Mexico’s role in protecting the U.S. “homeland.” It helped illuminate what Washington considers the United States’ territorial boundaries: those of the countries associated with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). In other words, the territories of Canada and Mexico are part of the U.S. policing regime, under a regional security framework we might call “NAFTA-land Security.”

Evidence of this emerged in July when a Congressional hearing featured a discussion on, as Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) put it, “what Mexico is actually doing to help us” regarding the unauthorized movement of Central American children. Some lawmakers and officials hinted that insufficient efforts by Mexican authorities made possible the unwanted migrants’ northward movement through Mexico.

In response, administration officials pointed to Mexican President Peña Nieto’s new southern border strategy, one that, as Todd Miller has written, involves the exportation of the U.S. border policing model to Mexico.

The current focus on Mexico’s border with Guatemala and Belize is at once a long-developing story and part of a much larger policy agenda. Partly in response to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, partly the result of security compunctions deepened through the advancement of economic interests by way of North American economic integration, the United States has sought to improve the Mexican state’s policing capacities. In doing so, Washington aims to shape those capacities toward U.S. concerns in order to ensure Mexico’s political economic stability, to better protect the U.S. homeland through “layered defense,” and, in turn, to insulate the highly integrated and strategically crucial North American economic space from internal and external threats.

As Laura Carlsen and I have argued, this aim has underpinned the over $2 billion provided to Mexico under the Mérida Initiative. Ostensibly a counternarcotics aid package, Mérida has in fact been a vehicle for an expansive regional security effort, with roots in the now-defunct Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) and other plans for augmenting U.S. and North American security emerging out of 9/11.

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