Social classes exist in international travel, too. A handful of us Mexicans belong to the trusted traveler program Global Entry, which allows us to enter the United States in less than a minute, skipping the line by plugging our personal information into a computer at one of the country's main airports.
In contrast, undocumented Mexican migrant workers in the United States are trapped north of the border, unable to visit their families in Mexico and return to work. Gone is the circularity in immigration that existed until the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The same is happening to the Dreamers, those who study in the U.S. but were born elsewhere, whose immigration status puts them in the vulnerable situation of being deported at any moment.
North America has a task at hand: the free mobility of people through Canada, the United States and Mexico.
In 2008, irregular Mexican immigration fell in relationship with the state of the U.S. economy. At the same time, authorized immigration went up. Today, the North American Free Trade Agreement is moving more and more toward shared production in industries like automotive and aerospace, causing an unprecedented exodus of Mexican professionals and engineers to the United States and Canada.
We are in the midst of a demographic tsunami. The Latino population in the United States will have gone from 4.5 percent in 1970 to 25 percent by 2030. Mexico, for its part, is aging quickly and will stop sending undocumented workers to the United States around 2028 simply because there will be a scarcity of Mexicans of working age.
The case to be made for labor migration is not about altruism, but about business and productivity. It's about thinking regionally to compete globally. Our labor markets are more and more integrated and valuable brands that cross borders.
The economy of the 21st century requires that North America have a strategy to recognize the integration of its labor markets, prepare its work force, and take strategic advantage of the talent and merit of its youth. President Obama is proposing that 100,000 Latino students attend U.S. colleges in the next six years. To counter, President Pena Nieto has launched "Project 100,000 - Toward a Knowledge Society," which looks for more collaboration from the United States in the newly formed Bilateral Forum on Higher Education, Innovation and Research.
It may seem naive to talk about improving students' and workers' mobility, when deportations under the Obama administration are reaching unprecedented highs, and racism and discrimination are running rampant in the United States and Mexico. How are we supposed to convince students in Texas and California to come study in a Mexico devastated by organized crime?
Be that as it may, there is a new generation of bilingual, bi-cultural, bi-national young people emerging in the United States and Mexico. New, transnational ways of thinking will soon replace the current unilateral immigration policies. Young people are creating new networks and ways of crossing borders. They show us how our two countries are becoming more and more mixed demographically, economically and culturally, all in good time.