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Hing Examines Mexican Migration and U.S. Immigration Policy in New Book

May 10, 2010

In his new book, Ethical Borders: NAFTA, Globalization, and Mexican Migration (Temple University Press, 2010), Professor Bill Ong Hing examines why undocumented immigrants from Mexico continue to enter the United States and proposes a policy for U.S. investment in Mexico that would improve conditions so that Mexican citizens would have little incentive to migrate.

"The militarization of our borders hasn't helped," Hing said. "People still come because they need to feed their families and they don't have job opportunities in Mexico. We have a lot to gain by investing in Mexico."

Hing points to the approach of the European Union to stem undocumented immigration as evidence of the effectiveness of adopting economic development policies as part of immigration reform. "The rich countries in the E.U. have invested heavily in the poorer countries," he said. "That has opened up jobs and as a result there has been very little movement across borders."

In the wake of the passage of a controversial immigration law in Arizona, Hing's book offers a nuanced look at the root of the immigration problem. He insists that modifying the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is vital to ameliorating much of the poverty that drives undocumented immigration. Hing also argues for a spectrum of reforms, including a new vision of border enforcement; a broader view of the visa system; a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants; and consideration of a guest worker program.

Hing is a 1974 graduate of the USF School of Law and a professor emeritus at UC Davis. His five published books include Defining America through Immigration Policy and Deporting Our Souls: Values, Morality, and Immigration Policy. Hing was co-counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court asylum case INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca. He is the founder of the Immigrant Legal Resource Center and serves on the National Advisory Council of the Asian American Justice Center.

Hing says he hopes the book will appeal to those on both ends of the political spectrum.

"Conservatives want there to be less immigration from Mexico, and I am proposing a way to give Mexicans a choice of where to work and live," he said. "We all have a shared interest in Mexico doing well economically."