The best kind of political compromise provides benefits to all sides. Is it possible to find such a compromise on a subject as divisive as the President’s proposed border wall? Perhaps so, with some creative thinking.
Imagine a large section of the wall that is split into two parts, forming a neutral bubble between the two countries: the southern part extends a few miles into Mexico, and the northern part extends a few miles into the US. Inside this bubble is the Zocalo, a section of international commerce, hospitality, and diplomacy accessible to both sides. The US controls access through the northern entrance to the Zocalo, and Mexico controls access through the southern entrance. Both nations provide police that work together to keep the peace inside the Zocalo.
As a place of commerce, citizens of either country can set up small businesses—duty free—to sell locally produced goods and services: crafts, farm produce, artwork, translation services, schools, hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and whatever else can be imagined. It’s a place of trade and cultural exchange, where families divided by the border freely visit each other; entrepreneurs from both sides meet to plan joint ventures; diplomats and immigration services negotiate policies and resolve disputes; law enforcement agencies coordinate to keep the border secure and their citizens safe; and those seeking asylum or immigration can plead their case and receive a fair and public hearing.
It’s easy to imagine how such a joint effort by Mexico and the US could enhance the lives of the citizens of both countries, provide new jobs and new opportunities, promote mutual understanding, and defuse the tensions between our nations. A small tax on goods and services might provide the revenue needed by both countries to maintain the Zocalo and keep the border safe. The promise of mutual benefit gives everyone an incentive to make the border a place of cooperation instead of conflict.
Age-old problems cannot be solved with age-old thinking. New ideas and a spirit of cooperation are the keys to turning the world toward solutions that work. Let the US and Mexico show the world that peace and prosperity can triumph over enmity and violence. Let’s be an example of the greatness that we believe human civilization can aspire to.