Join Active Minds for an in-depth look at Mexico. We will cover Mexican history and recent events as we seek to understand how this country fits in the regional puzzle of North, Central and South America. We will examine key issues in Mexican relations with the U.S. such as violence associated with drug trafficking, trade agreements and immigration.

Key Lecture Points

  • The 1,958 mile border between Mexico and the United States continues to be a point of debate. Thousands of Mexican laborers cross the U.S. border each year pay (some paying $3000 or more to coyotes who guide illegals across the border). These immigrants help staff the agricultural, service and construction sectors of the U.S. economy and are an important component of the Mexican economy with their estimated $20 billion in remittances each year. But they also place a significant financial burden upon the state and local governmental infrastructures in the US. Increasing drug-related violence along the border and even further into the US is a growing concern.
  • The flood of Mexican labor into the US should be read as a result of the dynamics of the Mexican experience. Since the time of Spanish colonialism, Mexico has been characterized by a sharp disparity of income from the richest to poorest. 40% of Mexicans live below the poverty line and 25% are underemployed, while Carlos Slim Helu was just declared the world’s second richest person The divide has widened, particularly since the 1994 passage of NAFTA which has undermined the Mexican agricultural economy and driven poorer farmers out of work and over the border.

Exploration Questions

  • Other countries are fighting drug trafficking (Afghanistan, Colombia). What is similar with Mexico? What is different?
  • The Mexican War of 1846-1848 was a pivotal event for both the US and Mexico. Why?
  • What are the major issues in the immigration debate from the US and from the Mexican perspective?

Reflective Questions

  • Have you ever lived in or visited a border city—either with Mexico or Canada? How would you describe the commercial and social interplay of moving across international borders?
  • What do you think it would be like to start a new life as an emigrant in a different country? What would be challenges? What would drive you to immigrate to another country?

More to Explore

  • General information about Mexico Click here
  • News releases and reports about Mexican current events Click here
  • University of Texas at Austin Mexican map collection Click here

Books for Further Reading

  • Dugard, Martin. The Training Ground: Grant, Lee, Sherman and Davis in the Mexican War, 1846-1848. Little, Brown and Company, 2008.446 pages. This book tells the story of a group of West Point graduates, including Grant, Lee, Sherman and Davis, who fought together in the Mexican War and against each other in the US Civil War.
    Click here to order
  • Gaynor, Tim. Midnight on the Line: The Secret Life of the U.S. Mexico Border. Thomas Dunne Books, 2009. 304 pages. Gaynor shows the realities of life along the border—from the perspective of the Mexican families crossing the border and the Border Patrol agents patrolling the border.
    Click here to order