The New York Times

For some legislators involved in the immigration discussions in Washington, Mexico is an adversary of sorts, its border towns and cities regarded as staging grounds for migrants poised to sneak into the United States, as hide-outs for criminals running human- and drug-smuggling operations, and as drop-off points for people that the United States deports.

One of the reports, part of an analysis by Arizona State University’s North American Center for Transborder Studies and the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Institute, due for release in May, paints a different picture. It found that transnational family ties are the glue that binds neighboring communities even though they are divided by a fence.

Its author, Francisco Lara Valencia, made his point by citing local economic indicators: an increase of 10 percent in the activities of maquiladoras, or manufacturing plants, in Mexican border cities that translates into a rise in employment on the United States side through expanded production, transportation needs and retail trade.

“Many new businesses in U.S. border towns are being created by Mexican entrepreneurs,” said Lara Valencia, an assistant professor at the School of Transborder Studies at Arizona State. He added that “the retail sector in these places depends critically on Mexican cross-border shopping” like the discount stores that dot the downtown here.