Border security cooperation between the United States and Mexico has waxed and waned over the past three decades, evolving from near nonexistence in the early 1990s to a complex array of programs and policies that have been inconsistently applied across administrations, with widely varying results. Two major themes emerge from a consideration of this recent history: the unstable nature of U.S.-Mexico cooperation as a result of major policy reversals brought on by political changes in both countries, and the corruption and incompetence of Mexican elites.

Key Points

  • U.S.-Mexico security cooperation has been unstable and inconsistent for decades, in part because of a lack of institutionalization of cooper- ative programs and policies.
  • The corruption and incompetence of Mexican elites has made consis- tent cooperation on security issues difficult and unstable.
  • Despite these challenges, a few avenues for cooperation are still open. The recently passed United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) might be leveraged for greater cooperation on trade and security issues.
  • A number of viable policies and programs that have been a part
    of the Mérida Initiative might be re-branded and introduced as part of a broader cooperative scheme tied to USMCA.
  • The training and professionalization of Mexican security forces might be accomplished under a NATO-like arrangement with Mexico and Canada, or a bilateral agreement with Mexico.