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Legal Migration and Free Trade in the NAFTA Era: Beyond Migration Rhetoric

This study analyzes the variation of legal migration flows between Mexico and the United States (U.S.) from the entry into force of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As a product of the asymmetry in the size of the U.S., Canadian and Mexican economies, migration flows, both from Canada and Mexico, have the U.S. as their primary destination. This essay focuses primarily on legal economic migration linked to highly skilled jobs, particularly on migrant workers with L-type visas, for intercompany transfers, and TN-type visas, for professionals. Both of them created since NAFTA. The research hypothesis of this study is that, since the entry into force of NAFTA, legal migration flows have increased as a result of the intensification of the economic relationship between the two countries, particularly as a result of the intensification of free trade.


About the Author

Miguel Angel Jiménez

Wilson Center – COMEXI Scholar;
Ph.D. London School of Economics.
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Mexico Institute

The Mexico Institute seeks to improve understanding, communication, and cooperation between Mexico and the United States by promoting original research, encouraging public discussion, and proposing policy options for enhancing the bilateral relationship. A binational Advisory Board, chaired by Luis Téllez and Earl Anthony Wayne, oversees the work of the Mexico Institute.   Read more