Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

About

Victoria is Assistant Dean at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a contributor to MSNBC and Telemundo. Her areas of expertise in the domestic policy landscape include immigration, Latinos, women and childcare, and economic equity. more→

Research

Victoria brings an interdisciplinary lens to understanding policy development and its intersection with institutional and political contexts. Underlying her academic work is the applicability of rigorous research to on-the-ground policy realities.

Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto
Dr. Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto

Recent Media

This post originally appeared on NBCLatino.

Drugs.  Whether we want to admit it or not, any discussion revolving around the U.S. and Mexico must start and end with drugs.  However, these next two days President Obama and Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto will do everything in their power to dance around the issue and ignore the elephant in the room.

The official theme of President Obama’s trip to Mexico centers on economics.  In a press conference earlier this week the president said,

A lot of the focus is going to be on economics. We’ve spent so much time on security issues between the United States and Mexico that sometimes I think we forget this is a massive trading partner responsible for huge amounts of commerce and huge numbers of jobs on both sides of the border. We want to see how we can deepen that, how we can improve that and maintain that economic dialogue over a long period of time.

The issue of economic integration and bilateral trade should indeed be an important topic.  After all, both countries share a two-thousand mile border and Mexico is the United State’s third largest trading partner, while the United States is Mexico’s number one trading partner.

There is also the economic issue of the movement of people, or immigration.  Mexicans make up the largest group of immigrants (both legal and illegal) in the United States.  The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that over 11 million Mexican immigrants currently reside in the United States.  And beyond demographic impact there is the economic impact of immigration for both countries, but especially for Mexico where immigrant remittances represent the largest source of direct foreign investment.

However, there can’t be a fruitful dialogue on either free trade or immigration until the issue of drugs is addressed.  The scope of Mexico’s drug war is so large and so encompassing that not starting there renders all other discussions irrelevant. (more…)