Immigration Solution: Allow Free Movement of NAFTA Workers

Monday, 11 Mar 2013 01:06 PM

By Dan Weil

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Paul Cellucci, ambassador to Canada under President George W. Bush, has a novel solution to much of the immigration problem — allow citizens of the United States, Canada, and Mexico to work freely in any of the three countries.

That would be the final logical step of the 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the three countries, he says.

“In one market-based move, which President Obama could negotiate with America's NAFTA partners and submit to the Senate for ratification, the U.S. could solve a huge part of its immigration problem while breathing new life into North American trade,” Cellucci wrote Monday in an op-ed piece for The Wall Street Journal with Stephen Kelly, associate director of Canadian studies at Duke University.

Of the 11 million illegal immigrants now living here, about 58 percent are Mexican, according to the Pew Hispanic Center.

“With permission to work here legally, they could have their status regularized overnight,” wrote Kelly and Cellucci, who also served as governor of Massachusetts. “They would become legal not because the U.S. grants them citizenship but because they are citizens of Mexico, a NAFTA member.”

If the workers wanted to become citizens, they would have to wait in line just like anyone else, the two men said.

“But with this group of more than six million undocumented immigrants taken care of, finding solutions for the remaining illegal population would be far less daunting,” they added.



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