This is the first in a series of essays on U.S.-Mexican cross-border relations titled The Anatomy of a Relationship, which the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute is releasing over a period of months. It contains stark, frank revelations regarding the post-9/11 ambitions of the U.S. national security bureaucracy. The two authors, senior officials at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security writing in their personal capacities, describe their agency’s redefinition of its mission vis-à-vis Mexico, moving away from simply securing a “line in the sand” and toward a deep penetration into Mexican territory. Under this expansive security paradigm, the DHS’ power, budget, and personnel have vastly increased. At the same time, the DHS has embraced more efficient “risk-based” methodologies that save time and money and promise a better balance between security and economic goals. Looking to the future, the authors foresee a “North American Century,” not with European-style shared sovereignty but rather with “trinational conceptions and tripartite associations.” The authors also wish to expand the security perimeter beyond Mexico, writing that “the long-term benefits of integrating Central America (and the island countries of the Caribbean) economically into North America are self-evident.”
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