The United States and Mexico share a border – and much more. The two countries have a robust trade relationship that is growing but also strained by tensions. People, drugs, guns, consumer goods and commodities cross the U.S.-Mexico border every hour of every day. Much of the traffic is legal but much is not. Here’s a look by the numbers.
Of the 10.3 million unauthorized immigrants in the United States, 57 percent are of Mexican origin.
There are nearly one million legal border crossings daily between the US and Mexico.
The number of accidental immigrant deaths during attempted border crossings doubled between 1999 and 2005.
Mexico is America's third largest total trading partner and its second largest export market. Trade between the United States and Mexico exceeded $350 billion in 2008.
Since NAFTA implementation in 1994, U.S. exports to Mexico have risen 223 percent and Mexican exports to the U.S. have grown 396 percent.
In early March, Mexico announced tariffs totaling 2.4 billion dollars and affecting nearly 90 American products. The announcement came on the heels of a congressional action effectively ending a pilot program allowing Mexican trucks access to US roads.
Mexico is the third largest supplier of crude oil to the United States, behind Canada and Saudi Arabia.
Mexican drug cartels play a large role in both the production and transport of illegal drugs. Of the cocaine consumed in the United States, 90 percent passed through Mexico. Mexico is the largest foreign supplier of marijuana in the U.S., and most of the foreign produced methamphetamine comes from Mexico.
Annually, between $17 and $38 billion dollars worth of illegal drugs are smuggled into the United States from Mexico. The U.S. is considered to be the world's largest narco-market.
Joaquin Guzman Loera, a Mexican drug kingpin, made Forbes Magazines annual Billionaires list for the first time this year. With a net worth of a billion dollars, Loera was ranked #701.
Mexico's domestic demand for illegal drugs is on the rise, with as many as 3.5 million people, or five percent of the population currently consuming drugs. Consumption rates are growing quickly among women and teenagers.
Drug violence in Mexico claimed 6,500 lives in 2008. The increase in violence is due in large part to escalating turf wars between rival cartels armed with increasingly sophisticated weapons, some of which have been smuggled from the United States.
Drug related violence has continued this year, claiming the lives of 650 people since the first of the year.
Government action on drugs
The Merida Initiative announced by then President Bush in late 2007 aims to coordinate efforts in the U.S., Mexico and Central America to fight drug trafficking. The total package is $1.4 billion dollars and provides funding for a variety of programs, from drug treatment to law enforcement.
The Department of Homeland Security recently announced plans to beef up efforts aimed at quelling border violence by redeploying 360 agents near the border and in Mexico. The plan will commit $700 million towards this end.
President Obama did well amongst Hispanic voters in the November elections, capturing two-thirds of the vote.
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