Increasingly, security issues are further shaping continental integration. The Merida Initiative has provided a platform to deepen U.S.-Mexico relations. This has enabled the U.S. to assume more control over Mexican security priorities and intelligence operations. A U.S. State Department fact sheet entitled United States-Mexico Security Partnership: Progress and Impact proclaimed how both, "governments have built on the foundations of the Merida Initiative to establish four strategic areas to guide our cooperation and institutionalize our partnership: disrupt organized criminal groups; strengthen institutions; create a 21st century border; and build strong and resilient communities." A New Border Vision for the 21st century is, "based on the principles of joint border management, co-responsibility for cross-border crime, and shared commitment to the efficient flow of legal commerce and travel." A U.S.-Mexico declaration issued in May of last year, highlights key goals in strengthening border security. It also established the Twenty-First Century Border Bilateral Executive Steering Committee (ESC) in order to coordinate the implementation of joint initiatives.
In December of last year, the ESC tabled a Bilateral Action Plan. It included initiatives in areas of bi-national infrastructure coordination, risk management, pre-clearance, pre-screening and pre-inspection, along with greater law enforcement cooperation. The ESC also announced other cross-border and pilot projects. They agreed to expand trusted traveler and shipper programs in order to facilitate the flow of people and goods between the two countries. Some of these objectives are similar to those found in the recent Canada-U.S. declaration which lays out a framework to begin negotiations on a new trade and security agreement. It appears as if the newly created Beyond the Border Working Group will function much in the same capacity as the ESC and will also present a joint Plan of Action in the coming months.
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