Vanishing Frontiers

The Forces Driving Mexico and the United States Together


By Andrew Selee

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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.



Intimate Strangers

One of Demetrio Juárez’s proudest moments was when Joe Maddon came in to his restaurant to order food. In some ways the two men couldn’t have more different lives. Juárez, born and raised in Atzompa, Puebla, a hamlet of roughly three hundred families in the mountains of central Mexico, came to the United States as a migrant worker in the 1980s, at the beginning of a new wave of Mexican migration northward. After living in New York City for many years, he settled in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, a small city in the breathtaking Pocono Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania, where job opportunities were increasingly plentiful and rent was cheap.

Maddon, on the other hand, was raised in a large, boisterous Italian American family in Hazleton, only a few blocks from where Juárez lives today. He went on to play major-league baseball and eventually become the manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he won two American League Manager of the Year awards. He was later recruited as manager of the Chicago Cubs, where he led the once hapless team to its first World Series win in over a century, breaking the curse—real or imagined—that had hung over it.

Maddon has stayed connected to Hazleton, and much of his family still lives here. But Maddon wasn’t in town to see his family or talk baseball the day he came into Juárez’s restaurant, El Mariachi. As on many of his visits to town these days, he was there to try to heal a city torn by divisions between longtime residents and newcomers.

A century ago, Hazleton was a magnet for people leaving poor, isolated pockets of Ireland, Italy, and eastern Europe. The city still has a wide variety of ethnic restaurants, along with churches of every denomination imaginable, from Italian and Romanian Orthodox to Welsh Primitive Methodist. Hazleton once even boasted the nation’s only Tyrolean Catholic Church, which catered to a small population from the Italian and Austrian Alps, as well as the Western Hemisphere’s first Slovak Catholic congregation. “Hazleton is like a miniature Brooklyn, a diverse urban landscape in a semirural, mountainous region,” says Charles McElwee of the Greater Hazleton Historical Society. “In the city, the past remains visible in the present.”

Over a decade ago, in 2006, Hazleton found itself at the center of the national debate about illegal immigration and America’s relationship with Mexico. Faced with a new influx of immigrants, many from Mexico, it became the first city to pass local ordinances that banned hiring or renting to unauthorized immigrants. The city became ground zero for protesters against immigration, and national news cameras camped out in the city for weeks to follow the debate. Protesters were fond of shouting “Go back to Mexico” to express their outrage at the growing Spanish-speaking population in town, and Juárez remembers getting angry phone calls at the restaurant telling him to go home.

The courts eventually struck down the local ordinances; yet the conflict over who should live in the city continues to smolder beneath the surface, as it does in many cities and towns around the United States. Hazleton, almost 2,000 miles from the border with Mexico, became a bellwether for many of the tensions Americans feel in their relationship to the country next door.

Today the debate about Mexican immigrants that tore at the seams of Hazleton has become a national one that increasingly touches on the larger issue of America’s relationship with Mexico. Donald Trump won the presidency in part by promising to deport unauthorized immigrants, renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) that ties the Mexican, American, and Canadian economies together, and build a “big, beautiful wall” on the border between Mexico and the United States.

Polls show that these positions are not actually popular with most Americans—majorities register positive opinions of Mexico and even more so of immigrants—but they do appeal to a quarter to a third of citizens. That’s still a large percentage of the country, and it’s the source of Trump’s most passionate support, some of it in places like Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and its surrounding towns. And while most Americans may not share these specific positions, deep down many do harbor doubts about the country next door and how we should relate to it.

But if Hazleton and much of the rust belt are at the center of Trump’s rise to power, they have also been at the center of two equally surprising changes going on in the relationship with Mexico. The first is the dramatic drop in Mexican immigration, which actually started a decade ago in 2007. Since then, the number of Mexicans crossing the border illegally has slowed to a trickle, and the number of Mexicans in the United States without documents has fallen dramatically. It’s hard to tell this from the current debate on immigration policy, since our frameworks for understanding what’s happening haven’t yet caught up to reality.

Mexicans continue to enter the country through the visa system—increasingly many of them with college degrees—but the age of mass Mexican migration across the border appears to have ended. And Chinese and Indian immigrants now actually outpace Mexicans in new arrivals.

In Hazleton, too, the number of Mexicans has stayed steady or perhaps dropped a bit over the past decade, but new groups of Dominicans and other Latin American immigrants, as well as Puerto Ricans, many of whom had been living for years in the New York area, have moved in.

The other change—perhaps even more unexpected—is that just as Mexican immigrants stopped flowing north, another flow took its place. Mexican companies started investing north of the border, and financial capital started flowing from south to north.

Bimbo, a Mexico City–based company, now owns two major plants in Hazleton. Few Americans have ever heard of Bimbo—the name is a play on the Italian word for child, bambino—but we all know its popular brands, like Entenmann’s, Stroehmann’s, Friedhoffer’s, Sara Lee, and Thomas’ English Muffins. Bimbo is now the largest baked goods company in the United States—and in the world—and makes over a quarter of the fresh bread we consume in the United States.

About ten minutes from Hazleton in Mountain Top, another Mexican-owned company, Mission Foods, has set up a major plant making corn and wheat tortillas. And Arca Continental, a midsized Mexican company, owns Wise Foods, the makers of Cheez Doodles and Wise Potato Chips, in nearby Berwick, Pennsylvania. Since Arca Continental acquired Wise Foods, the company has expanded operations and hired more workers. Its chips have also become the “Official Potato Chip” of both the New York Mets and the Boston Red Sox, a fascinating connection between Mexican investment, American workers, and America’s national sport.

As it turns out, more and more of the products Americans depend on are made by Mexican companies in the United States using American workers. These include not only bread, tortillas, and potato chips but also hot dogs, lunch meat, milk, and yogurt. And Mexican companies also provide much of the cement and nails that anchor our buildings, the cell coverage that connects us, and the commercial ports that bring goods into the country. These companies, which hire American workers to produce goods in the United States, dominate or are among the top two players in each of these industries, but this trend has gone almost completely under the radar in American life.

And it’s not the only hallmark of change underway in the relationship between the two countries. Today it would be almost impossible to ride in a car, plane, train, or bus in America that doesn’t have parts made in Mexico, the United States, and Canada, since almost all vehicles sold in the United States are assembled in nearly seamless production processes involving the three countries.

While it’s true that some jobs making American cars and car parts went to Mexico, other jobs actually came to the United States when German, Japanese, and Korean car companies decided that it was more cost-efficient to build their cars in North America, sourcing parts and assembling vehicles across the three countries. Auto production in the United States—as well as in Mexico and Canada—has actually increased over the past two decades at a time when most people predicted a long decline for the American auto industry.

Energy too is flowing like never before. Mexico is the fourth-largest source of crude oil for the United States, but it also buys more than half of America’s exports of natural gas, using it for electricity generation. Both countries are now collaborating on renewable resources to supply increasing electricity demand in communities on both sides of the border.

Silicon Valley too has developed its own close ties in Mexico, sourcing talent and placing some of its operations south of the border. And Mexican tech companies have taken off, often with the backing of American venture capital, and they frequently service markets on both sides of the border.

Even the film industries in the two countries are tied together. Movies popular in Hazleton and across the United States—such as Gravity, The Revenant, Miracles from Heaven, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Hellboy, and Pacific Rim—have been made in Hollywood by Mexican filmmakers, while others, like Night at the Museum, Brokeback Mountain, the Twilight saga, and Spy Kids, have been filmed by Mexican cameramen. And for true cinephiles, there’s no missing that some of the most celebrated independent films seen at American and international film festivals are coming out of Mexico these days.

Near the border between the two countries, these connections are often quite visible. Tijuana and San Diego, for example, now share an international airport—on the Mexican side of the border—and they have developed a common blueprint for their future together as a shared metropolitan area. San Diego city leaders, including the Republican mayor, regularly refer to the two cities as a “single region,” one that’s large enough to compete with Los Angeles and San Francisco and one day might host a binational Olympics or World Cup.

Further from the border—in places like Hazleton and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Poplar Bluff, Missouri, and Knoxville, Tennessee—the cooperation between the two countries is often harder to see, but it’s no less important for the day-to-day life of average Americans and Mexicans. This book chronicles the irresistible changes that have redefined the relationship between the two countries and made Mexico part of our daily lives—even though that relationship is not always visible on the surface.

On the day that Joe Maddon came into his restaurant, Demetrio Juárez had been impressed not by the star power of the city’s most famous resident but rather by what his own teenage son, manning the cash register that day, had said when Maddon asked where he was from. Juárez’s son replied matter-of-factly, “I’m from Hazleton.”

At that moment, Juárez, watching from the kitchen, knew he’d achieved what he always wanted. His children, who had been born in the United States and grown up in Hazleton, knew exactly where they were from. They might still love Mexico—he took them back there once a year to Atzompa, and they reveled in the attention of grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins—but their home was here in the Pennsylvania mountains, and the United States was their country.

Maddon burst out laughing and said, “We should make a T-shirt out of that: ‘I’m from Hazleton.’” Maddon is known for capturing phrases he hears and putting them on T-shirts—one of the many quirks that are part of his persona as a successful baseball manager. Juárez has no idea if Maddon ever made that T-shirt, but his comment captured a moment of understanding between the new and old Hazletons, between the young son of Mexican immigrants, who was born there in the 1990s, and the grown grandson of Italian immigrants, whose family settled there almost a century ago.

Since 2010 Maddon has been on a crusade to bring the older and newer residents of his hometown together. That year he spent Christmas in Hazleton and was shocked to find the city he had grown up in so angry and divided. The next night he joined his cousin, Elaine Curry, a local community leader, for dinner with one of the Spanish-speaking families in town. He remembers thinking that his experience that night was just like what he remembered from their family dinners when he was a child, where there were always three or four generations present, children running around, and two languages spoken. “My god, this is exactly what my house used to look like in the fifties and the sixties,” Maddon has said. And he realized that night that history was repeating itself—that the immigrants who had come to his hometown were there to revitalize it in the same way his grandparents’ generation had done a century ago when they arrived from Europe.

But by the 1990s that Hazleton—the dynamic city that had once boasted a thriving downtown with restaurants, a theater, and a streetcar and had been among the first three in the United States to get electric street lights—had become a shadow of what it once was. When the mines closed in the 1950s, the city had entered a long slide, shedding jobs and losing population steadily for decades.

Then, in the mid-1990s, the city hit a home run. A group of business leaders, calling themselves CanDo, built three industrial parks and began attracting major national and international companies to put warehouses and factories there. State tax breaks and a successful marketing campaign convinced the companies that Hazleton was strategically located on two major highways and had a competitive workforce.

Amazon built a major distribution center in Hazleton. Cargill built a slaughterhouse. Bimbo Bakeries took over the old Stroehmann’s bakery facility and then built a new, even larger one for its many other products. By the early 2000s, the city’s economy—and its population—were expanding again for the first time in decades.

But the companies weren’t from Hazleton, and many of the workers weren’t either. Mexicans and later other Latin Americans living in New York and New Jersey moved in to take some of the jobs. They were attracted by the steady wages and the city’s low housing costs. In 1990 only 4 percent of the city’s residents identified as Hispanic or Latino in the census, but by 2010 it was 37 percent, and today it’s around half. It was a massive wave of change, not unlike what the city had experienced a century earlier when Italian, Irish, and eastern European immigrants poured into the city to take the expanding mining and textile jobs.

And the newcomers did not come to work only in the factories and warehouses. Many took their savings and started small businesses, often Mexican restaurants, Dominican grocery stores, Puerto Rican bodegas, and even a Peruvian American-run newspaper, alongside the few pizzerias, diners, and retail stores that remained. Hazleton’s old business corridor, Wyoming Street, mostly boarded up at the end of the 1990s, sprung to life again with small shops and eateries that had Spanish names. When developers restored a few of the stately old buildings on Broad Street, the city’s main artery, most of the new commercial tenants were enterprises with Spanish names. After all, immigrants drive much of the growth of small businesses across the United States, since they are more than twice as likely as native-born Americans to start a small business.

And even the largely shuttered Alter Street Business Corridor, a few blocks away, came back to life with ethnic markets and restaurants, including Demetrio Juárez’s restaurant El Mariachi. When Juárez first rented the building, he found old movie posters in the basement—John Wayne, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra—his own personal connection to the past of his new hometown. It turns out that the boarded-up building he had just rented had been a thriving movie theater during better days.

But the backlash came quickly. After the killing of a young man born in Hazleton, apparently by two Dominican immigrants, the mayor at the time, Lou Barletta, decided he would take action. Partnering with national advocates who were trying to restrict immigration, the city council passed this century’s first municipal ordinance aimed at outlawing anyone from renting to or hiring someone who lacked legal papers. Some residents would later question why he focused on immigrants rather than crime, but Barletta was clearly channeling a deeper sense of unease running through the community.

Crime usually drops in communities when immigrants move in, and national statistics suggest that immigrants—and Mexican immigrants in particular—commit far fewer crimes than native-born Americans. In fact, they have incarceration rates only a fifth to a tenth that of native-born Americans, according to some studies. But Hazleton was a bit unusual. Many of the immigrant families moving in had children born and raised in New York City, and they brought big-city ways to the small town in the mountains. Crime rates never became particularly high in Hazleton—and they were always below the average for the state as a whole—but they did go up for a few years in the early 2000s before dropping back again recently, and the increase was enough to raise legitimate concerns in the community.

Violence was a two-way street, as it turned out. Soon after the killing that sparked the local legislation, a group of white teenagers, in 2008, beat a twenty-five-year-old Mexican immigrant to death in the small town of Shenandoah, right next door to Hazleton, while yelling, “Go back to Mexico.” For both sides, real violence, not just economic and cultural fears, defined the rocky encounter between longtime residents and newcomers and left deep scars that have only now begun to heal.

Over the past decade, Hazleton has evolved, and the two sides have begun to encounter each other in new ways. Joe Maddon and his cousin Elaine Curry, with her husband, Bob, played a major role in this change. After the fateful night when Maddon understood the forces tearing his community apart, he and the Currys, convened a group of residents—some native-born and others immigrant—to create the Hazleton Integration Project (HIP) to build bridges in the community. “In the middle of a city that was torn apart by racial tension,” says Bob Curry, “we needed to do something.” He adds, “If not, this city is going to die, it’s going to blow away.”

Today HIP runs a community center for children and youth in what was once an abandoned school building. After school each day, young people gather there for science classes, computer training, and basketball games. And when in town Maddon holds occasional gatherings that bring together old and new residents of the city to celebrate “unity”—the rallying cry of the Hazleton Integration Project. Occasionally he brings other baseball greats, like Cal Ripken Jr., to these meetings to attract the city’s residents. One year HIP even sponsored a Unity Walk through the city, drawing one of the most diverse groups of town residents ever to come together.

Still, a huge gulf remains. Newcomers and longtime residents mostly eat in different restaurants, often shop at different stores, and attend different church services. Even at a recent HIP celebration, the distance was visible: mostly white residents gathered to watch a folk singing group, while three blocks away a Mexican dance troupe performed for a mostly Latino audience on the steps of the Catholic Church. Amilcar Arroyo, a member of the HIP board and publisher of the city’s Spanish-language newspaper, says that Hazleton today is “like a river that seems calm on the surface but has strong currents below.”

But beneath the surface things are changing too gradually. A few eateries, like Frankie’s Pizza, a local institution, have figured out how to cater to both newcomers and longtime residents. The owners have a new Spanish-language menu, which has helped draw in a new clientele and boosted business. El Mariachi too is filled with both English and Spanish speakers every day, and Demetrio Juárez notes with pride, “Even city council members eat here.” And the schools, the local YMCA, and even the annual Hazleton Day celebration have increasingly become key spots where new and old residents find themselves in the same place, if not always truly together.

Most longtime residents of Hazleton recognize that the city is growing again—both in population and economically—for the first time in decades, but they are not always comfortable with the way it is changing. It may be more dynamic now than before, but it’s not the same city they grew up in, and they often find themselves in the minority when they walk down the streets. Perhaps the original settlers of Hazleton, themselves the descendant of German and English immigrants, didn’t feel much different at the beginning of the twentieth century when the Italians, Irish, and eastern Europeans arrived. History may not repeat itself, but often it rhymes.

Something similar is taking place across the United States. Many of the country’s small cities and towns are now growing thanks to the influx of immigrants and their American-born children. Almost all population growth outside of metro areas in the 2000s came from the arrival of foreign-born residents and their families. This may help reverse the decline of these cities and towns, but it doesn’t guarantee that the growth will take place without stresses and strains between older and newer residents.

In Hazleton city leaders are still trying to figure out how to harness the city’s diversity—the heritages and cultural traditions of both its older and newer residents—as an asset that will attract investment. The Downtown Hazleton Alliance for Progress, a relatively new nonprofit supported by CanDo, several other civic groups, and private companies, is now leading a revitalization of downtown, hoping to attract new retail shops, university programs, high-tech companies, and creative professionals. So far it has attracted sixty small businesses to the downtown area in five years, a good start. Alliance director Krista Schneider notes that the city’s mix of old and new diversity is part of its calling card for the future.

The city hopes, in particular, to attract businesses in the innovation economy. So far, it’s been a hard sell, but one high-tech company has set up shop in Hazleton already, and it’s run by a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, Francisco Torres-Aranda. He and his late father, a Mexican businessman and chemist, patented a process to make environmentally friendly sealants for oil and gas pipes, and they’ve hired three dozen local residents to manufacture the product. Torres-Aranda lived most of his life in Mexico, but he and his family chose to move to Hazleton because it was close to the Pennsylvania hometown of Francisco’s mother, and they found a beautiful place to build a house on a mountain top just outside the city.

Torres-Aranda has now become a major proponent of Hazleton’s development and the benefits of bringing its newer and older residents together. And he’s convinced that economics will eventually do what goodwill alone can’t accomplish. “The barriers you can’t break through with human interaction are sometimes broken by the wallet,” he says knowingly.

Even with economic breakthroughs such as these, Maddon and the leaders of the Hazleton Integration Project still believe it is crucial to keep working on the power of human interaction. They are betting that the more people get to know each other across ethnic and linguistic boundaries, the more they will see themselves as part of the same community and recognize similar goals for their future together.

Their latest project is to build a park for the city’s young people to learn about gardening and the environment, something that children of new and old families can do together.

And perhaps in a sign of things to come, the donation for the park came from one of the city’s largest employers, Bimbo Bakeries, the US subsidiary of the Mexican bread maker.

Demetrio Juárez feels lucky to have made his home in Hazleton and that his children are truly American, but he also can’t help feeling a twinge of pride when he thinks back to his brothers and sisters in Mexico. Most still live in Atzompa, the rural village of three hundred homes where he grew up, or in one of the other small towns nearby, but all of them lead lives they could barely have imagined when they were growing up.

Back then, Atzompa was an isolated rural village, connected to the slightly larger town of Tulcingo De Valle by dirt roads that were hard to cross on a good day and almost impassable when it rained. Located in the verdant mountains of the Sierra Mixteca, which join the states of Puebla, Guerrero, and Oaxaca, this was—and still is—one of Mexico’s poorest regions.

Juárez remembers that he first understood how poor his family was on the day that his mother sent him to the store to buy rubber flip-flops, the most rudimentary footwear, because she couldn’t stand going barefoot on the dirt roads any longer. He had to buy them on credit because they didn’t even have money for such a basic item.

By then Juárez’s father had already left for the United States, crossing the border to wash dishes and deliver food for a diner in New York City. Mexicans from states further north had long been crossing the border to work in America, but Juárez’s father was one of the first pioneers from his hometown to do so in the early 1970s. By the 1980s and 1990s, a slow outflow had turned into a flood of desperate men and women heading north to try their luck in the United States in order to help their families.

Juárez had managed to finish high school by sleeping on the floor of a school a few towns away, and he wanted to go to college, but, as the oldest son, he realized that he could only realistically help his family get ahead by joining his father.

It was a risky bet, but it paid off. Juárez shared a cramped apartment with his father and a dozen other men in New York and worked long hours delivering food on Manhattan’s streets, but he learned English, discovered a passion for food, and eventually was able to send money home by working as a cook in a string of small restaurants.

During a fortuitous encounter, the owner of a restaurant he had once worked for in New York invited him to come open a new diner with him in Hazleton, two hours away. Juárez leapt at the chance. In Hazleton he could afford to rent an entire house for a fraction of the price that he had paid to share a small New York apartment. He was now married to his childhood sweetheart, and they would be able to start a family. And small-town Hazleton even reminded him of Atzompa.

But by then Atzompa was changing too. The success that Juárez and his father enjoyed north of the border was beginning to pay off for the family back home. The money they sent year after year enabled every one of Juárez’s brothers and sisters—six in all—to finish high school and five of the six to go to college. The family now includes a lawyer, an accountant, two orthodontists, a dental assistant, and a doctor, his youngest sister, who chairs the surgery department at a regional hospital. It’s a gigantic leap in the space of a single generation.


  • "[A] welcome perspective on migration."—Reuters
  • "Engaging.... While the intractable anti-Mexican minority in the U.S. retains its power to influence elections, their leaders really ought to read this book. So should the president."—Wall Street Journal
  • "A painstakingly even-handed portrait of the US and Mexico at a pivotal moment."Financial Times
  • "An evenhanded, reasoned contribution to an overheated discussion."—Kirkus Reviews
  • "Andrew Selee brilliantly chronicles the forces that have redefined our relationship with Mexico over the past quarter century, covering trade, immigration, security, and so much more. His intimate knowledge of Mexico and its people shines through as he tells the story, in a highly readable fashion, of why Mexico matters to the well-being of our nation. As our government is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, Vanishing Frontiers is a must read for all Americans, who will find it a book once started, very hard to put down."—Carla Hills, former US traderepresentative and secretary of housing and urban development
  • "While some politicians talk about walls, Andrew Selee tells us about the bridges that bind Mexico and the United States together. Few relationships will define our future as much as the one we have with the country next door. From energy and innovation to film and food, this book captures the many linkages that tie us together and shows why Mexico truly matters for our future."—Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico, US ambassadorto the United Nations, and secretary of energy
  • "Drawing on his deep bicultural background, Andrew Selee narrates in colorful and fascinating detail how economic integration and demographic change are blending Mexican and American societies. Given the ongoing and heated public debate about NAFTA and US-Mexican relations, this is a most timely work."—John Negroponte, former USambassador to Mexico, deputy secretary of state, and director of nationalintelligence
  • "In nativist times, Andrew Selee's Vanishing Frontiers is a spot on, vivid, extraordinary, ground-level view of the key players quietly building bridges between the United States and Mexico. This wide-ranging, painstakingly well-researched, and sharply written account provides a much-needed human face to grasp the seismic changes sweeping both countries. Vanishing Frontiers adds much needed context and splendid insight to today's complex conversation. Selee takes us on a personal journey and bluntly reminds us why walls are obsolete and ties inevitable. You cannot understand the future of both countries without reading Vanishing Frontiers."—Alfredo Corchado,border correspondent, Dallas Morning News, and author, Midnight in Mexico
  • "This beautifully crafted work is an extraordinary account of the deep and complex relationship between Mexico and the United States, sharing the same qualities as Richard Reeves' bestselling American Journey: Traveling with Tocqueville in Search of Democracy in America. Like Reeves and Tocqueville, he has travelled throughout the United States, speaking in-depth with Mexicans and Americans from all backgrounds and ages, in order to shed light on the degree to which the two countries have become integrated economically and culturally, presenting fascinating stories of successful individuals whose professions range from restaurants to film, sports to journalism, and technology to politics. Their personal experiences are woven deeply through the fabric of both societies, allowing readers to identify and clearly understand numerous trends in their deepening integration. The degree to which Selee effectively combines fascinating personal accounts with in-depth recent data revealing significant trends in the relationship will appeal to and deserves the broadest readership."—Roderic AiCamp, Philip McKennaProfessor of the Pacific Rim, Claremont McKennaCollege, and author, Politics in Mexico
  • "Vanishing Frontiers offers fascinating insights into the ways that ordinary people-and some extraordinary human beings-continue to shape US relations with Mexico. Outside the glare of politics, citizens of both countries are bringing their nations together in myriad ways. Selee's optimism is more than wishful thinking; it is based on years of personal observation and empirical research. And it offers a welcome corrective to the anti-Mexican rhetoric exuding from Washington DC these days."—Peter H. Smith, distinguished professor emeritus, University of California, San Diego,visiting professor, University of Denver, and author, Talons of the Eagle:Latin America, the United States, and the World
  • "In this fascinating collection of fact-based stories, Andrew Selee draws on his deep and personal knowledge of both the United States and Mexico to reveal to us how, underneath today's choppy waters, the strong combined currents of economy, geography, demography, and culture are inexorably driving our two countries together into a synergistic production and social platform and a closely interwoven destiny, transforming both countries along the way. This is a must read for anyone interested in learning more about an indispensable and strategic neighbor and in visualizing and harnessing the shape of things to come in North America."—Jose L. Prado, chairman and CEO, Evans Food Group, and former president, Quaker OatsNorth America
  • "Selee offers a timely antidote to Trump's dark vision of the bilateral relationship....he shows how deepening integration has expanded beyond economics, as lasting individual and cultural relationships have formed across the border."—Americas Quarterly
  • "A welcome antidote to the poisonous diatribes and factual distortions that recur in the US debate on Mexico....stimulating, well-written."—International Affairs

On Sale
Jun 5, 2018
Page Count
336 pages

Andrew Selee

About the Author

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.

Learn more about this author