By Mason Krohn
Of the many groups president Donald Trump has targeted in this past election cycle, one was America’s favorite snack: the Oreo. After finding out that Mondelez, the company that produces Oreos, invested $130 million in an existing plant south of the border instead of pursuing production in Chicago as an alternative, he launched his own form of a boycott through Twitter claiming, “I’ll never eat them again” . In a similar criticism, Trump called out Ford Motor Co. for its plans to expand factories throughout Mexico. When the corporation pulled out of the proposal following Trumps demands and cancelled the $1.6 billion Mexican investment, Ford’s stock rose close to 4% . Given the complete sway that Trump’s social media presence has over a company’s value, there have even been speculations of companies reaching out to insurance companies in order to cover the risk of a Trump supported boycott or tweet . Preceding his presidency, Trump’s heaviest weapon against outsourcing to Mexico was Twitter. However going into the future of our economic and sociopolitical relations with the Mexican people, Trump’s vision and the trend of inter-governmental distrust toward the country can only translate to a decline in our partnership.
Beyond threatening tweets, under the current American presidency, America’s strong economic ties with Mexico will come under fire due to opposition towards the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). First, Trump has thrown several tariff plans up in the air regarding Mexico as a tool to pay for his border wall plan. In January, Trump suggested laying out a 20% tariff plan to gather funding for his wall and divert imports from Mexico who he has deemed as an industrial enemy to the United States. This will no doubt prove to be problematic for both nations if Trump follows through given that the US’s trading with Mexico is incredibly intertwined. The trading connection is so vital that Mexican exports to the United States contain about 40% US content . If the tariff is ever put in place, it is sure to backfire, but nonetheless it will leave our relationship with Mexico tarnished. Trump’s disdain for NAFTA has echoed throughout Congress, and bipartisan opposition to NAFTA has taken hold. On May 11, 37 Democrats and 45 Republicans confirmed Robert E. Lighthizer acs the United States’s new trade representative. Despite all the clashing and gridlock in today’s Congress, on both side of the aisle, there was support for a man who wishes to renegotiate and hamper NAFTA. Isolation against our southern neighbor has become the new norm no matter party affiliation.
While economic stances are deteriorating Mexican American relations, America’s cultural change against Mexicans is causing even deeper cuts. Election rhetoric included calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists which was followed by Trump accusing a Mexican judge for being bias because of his heritage. By claiming that this judge was biased because of his descent, Trump has essentially confirmed that his statements were racist. Nonetheless, even before Trump was thinking about taking office, prejudice against Mexicans has been on the rise. In 2012, according to the National Hispanic Media Coalition, more than one third of non-Hispanic Americans believe that half or more of the American people with Hispanic heritage are illegal immigrants with a lack of education . On the other hand, these racial issues will be brought even further into the limelight with America’s rapidly expanding Mexican population. By 2050, only 47 percent of Americans will identify as white, while Hispanics, the majority of which are Mexican, will surge to 28 percent of all of the United States’s population, up from 19 percent in 2010 . Either white Americans will push against this ever growing minority, expanding already existing prejudice, or the integration of Mexican-Americans throughout American culture will nullify racism because of increased exposure. Hopefully we will see the latter, but only time will tell.
While these economic and social issues continue to swirl, they are worsened by the dropping of communications between the American president and Enrique Peña Nieto. In January, Peña Nieto cancelled a planned visit to initiate conversations with the White House. Ironically, Peña Nieto announced the cancellation on Twitter because of Trump’s intentions to bring up the wall at the meeting. Directly afterward, Peña Nieto tweeted a video of him reaffirming his commitment to uphold the interests of the Mexican people demonstrating that a meeting with Trump would be a contradiction to what the Mexican people want. The toxic relationship between the two presidents only serves to raise antagonism between the two nations, meaning a more hostile connection between the US and Mexico going into the future.
Despite these conflicts, it is important to remember that a president does not entirely represent his or her nation. America is not Donald Trump and Mexico is not Enrique Peña Nieto. While the American Mexican political relation may be in turmoil, the American people have protested against Trump’s racist rhetoric. The deep rooted history between Mexico and America does not end here or tomorrow or frankly ever. The border between these two nations is slowly becoming a chasm and few politicians are willing to reach across.