Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has unveiled a new plan to curtail illegal immigration to the United States by focusing on creating economic "free zones" along the U.S.-Mexico border.
López Obrador, a leftist, announced the Tax Incentive Decree for the Northern Border Region which will create free zones near the border that are over 15 miles wide and will reportedly encompass approximately 2,000 miles. The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the free zones will:
- reduce income taxes from 30 percent to 20 percent
- slash the Value Added Tax for goods coming into the country from 16 percent to 8 percent
- boost the minimum wage 100 percent to 176 pesos ($8.80), and
- make fuel prices the same as those in the the U.S.
"It’s going to be the biggest free zone in the world," Lopez Obrador said. "It is very important to project for winning investment, creating jobs and taking advantage of the economic strength of the United States."
"Proponents of the president's 'free zone' plan believe it would reduce the incentive for Mexicans to migrate to the U.S. and increase competition among local businesses," Fox News reported. "But others fear that Mexican companies, attracted by low taxes, might move to the free zone and create an overall loss of tax revenue for the country as a whole."
Following his election victory, Lopez Obrador was reportedly considering creating a border force to stop illegal immigration and stem the tide of drugs and illegal guns entering Mexico. Alfonso Durazo, Lopez Obrador's future chief of public security, made the revelation in an interview with Bloomberg. "We’re going to create a border police force that will be highly specialized," Durazo told Bloomberg. "They need to apply the law."
Lopez Obrador and the left-wing party he formed in 2014 won a landslide victory in last week’s election after voters disgusted with rising crime, corruption and poverty kicked the nation’s established parties out of power. AMLO, as he’s known, also got a boost from pledges to protect Mexicans against an immigrant crackdown by U.S. President Donald Trump. Now he’ll be faced with the unenviable task of securing the nation’s own untamed southern border, while avoiding the hard-line tactics he has criticized Trump for.
Lopez Obrador also announced after his victory that he planned to "travel without armed guards and claim[ed] that the people will protect him, even as the country has been rocked by scores of political assassinations over the past several months." The Daily Wire reported:
President Enrique Pena Nieto reportedly offered Lopez Obrador federal protection until he takes office, but he declined, saying, "The people will protect me. ... He who fights for justice has nothing to fear."
Lopez Obrador, who is commonly referred to as "AMLO," also told a large crowd of supporters: "You’ll all be watching out for me."
Etellekt, a risk analysis firm, reported in July that over 130 politicians were killed in the approximately nine months leading up to Mexico's presidential election.
Lopez Obrador now has to face President Donald Trump and the mounting pressure the Trump administration is placing on Mexico to stop the flow of illegal immigrants coming to the U.S.