My guest is Andrew Selee. In his new book, Vanishing Frontiers: The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together, he argues that there may be no story today with a wider gap between fact and fiction than the relationship between the United States and Mexico. Wall or no wall, deeply intertwined social, economic, business, cultural, and personal relationships mean the US-Mexico border is more like a seam than a barrier, weaving together two economies and cultures.
Mexico faces huge crime and corruption problems, but its remarkable transformation over the past two decades has made it a more educated, prosperous, and innovative nation than most Americans realize. Through portraits of business leaders, migrants, chefs, movie directors, police officers, and media and sports executives, Andrew Selee looks at this emerging Mexico, showing how it increasingly influences our daily lives in the United States in surprising ways--the jobs we do, the goods we consume, and even the new technology and entertainment we enjoy.
From the Mexican entrepreneur in Missouri who saved the US nail industry, to the city leaders who were visionary enough to build a bridge over the border fence so the people of San Diego and Tijuana could share a single international airport, to the connections between innovators in Mexico's emerging tech hub in Guadalajara and those in Silicon Valley, Mexicans and Americans together have been creating productive connections that now blur the boundaries that once separated us from each other.
Andrew Selee is president of the Migration Policy Institute and former executive vice president of the Woodrow Wilson Center, where he founded and directed its Mexico Institute. For five years in the 1990s he lived in a shantytown in Tijuana, Mexico, helping to start a community center and home for migrant youth. In the quarter-century since, he has witnessed firsthand the dramatic transformation of this city specifically and the country as a whole. Dr. Selee writes a regular column for Mexico's largest newspaper and has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times.