July 22, 2007

The Security and Prosperity Partnership A backgrounder from the Center for Immigration Studies

Posted by D.A. King at 3:23 pm - Email the author   Print This Post Print This Post  

The Security and Prosperity Partnership Its Immigration Implications

June 2007

James R. Edwards, Jr., Ph.D.

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The North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, bound the United States, Canada, and Mexico into a trilateral “free trade” relationship among the three nations of the North American continent. Trade enthusiasts hailed NAFTA as holding great promise to elevate the economies of the three nations. Today, “NAFTA Plus,” or the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership, is gaining more and more attention because it would move well beyond NAFTA and trade per se.

Importantly, “NAFTA was the first major trade pact signed by the United States to bring significant immigration consequences.”1 It set a precedent that moved this country down the path of equating “free trade” with not only the free flow of goods across borders, but also trade in services and the borderless flow of people.

Such trade pacts carry huge implications for national sovereignty. While a “free trade agreement” (FTA) does not have the legally binding power of a treaty, which would require two-thirds approval of the U.S. Senate, an FTA does indeed subject participating nations to certain legal obligations to one another.

As officially characterized, the so-called Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) purports to advance “regional cooperation” toward the three NAFTA partners’ common interests. Primarily, this involves trade and commerce, including both goods and services. However, in addition to the free flow of goods, SPP involves the free flow of people within the three nations’ external borders. SPP also incorporates security and antiterrorism cooperation and integration.

The Security and Prosperity Partnership involves many things, from energy to transportation to customs standards, but this paper focuses primarily on its implications for immigration. Based on the experience of NAFTA and its progeny, the prospects under SPP do not bode well for American self-determination, economic and social stability, or sovereignty.

In short, many view the overarching, ultimate goal of SPP to be near-complete economic integration, similar to the European Common Market, the European Community, or the European Union models. Concerns have been raised about SPP’s implications for continued U.S. sovereignty over such critical policy areas as immigration and homeland security.

Background of the Security and Prosperity Partnership
On March 23, 2005, President Bush joined the heads of Canada and Mexico at a summit in Waco, Texas. There the three leaders jointly launched the Security and Prosperity Partnership. This many-faceted initiative has led to the formation of numerous active “working groups” within the U.S. Department of Commerce, Department of Homeland Security, other agencies, and with the other two countries.

SPP represents the U.S., Canadian, and Mexican governments’ efforts at regulatory and other “harmonization” among the three SPP partner nations. These initiatives relate to such wide-ranging policies as trade, transportation, immigration, national security, law enforcement, and energy. SPP is said to be the further implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The March 23, 2005, joint statement of Presidents Bush and Fox and Prime Minister Martin indicated the SPP’s intent of liberalization in areas related to immigration. The statement said, in part, that the “trilateral effort” would “help consolidate our action into a North American framework” to “[i]mplement common border security and bioprotection strategies[,] . . . a border facilitation strategy to build capacity and improve the legitimate flow of people and cargo at our shared borders[, and] . . . [r]educe the costs of trade through the efficient movement of goods and people.”2

Three months later, trilateral SPP leaders had quickly begun to flesh out the SPP agenda. Among other things, cabinet-level leaders had already signed memoranda of understanding and other documents across a range of policy areas. These included: