D.J. Tice's "Immigration is foreign policy too, just closer" (Nov. 30) suggested the Obama administration look at the flood of Latin American immigrants as a foreign policy issue rather simply a humanitarian immigration policy. He suggested U.S. military cooperation in Mexico's "drug war" and economic policy freeing up efficient movement of labor and investment across our southern border.

U.S. military cooperation in the Mexican "drug war" is already substantial, in providing military equipment, and we made substantial commitments to the free flow of capital to Mexico in passing the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) under President Clinton in 1994.

One purpose of NAFTA was to facilitate profitable investment in the Mexican economy by agreeing that U.S. businesses could move production to low-wage, low-regulation Mexican labor with assurance that the firms could not be nationalized and that their profit could be returned to the United States. NAFTA also lowered or eliminated protective import-export tariffs on products crossing the border.

NAFTA also assured investment profit by forbidding protections for selected manufacturing sectors, "buy local" policies, or labor, health and environmental actions by trading partners that would reduce expected corporate profits.

One immediate result of NAFTA was the export of cheap, subsidized American corn into Mexico and the consequent bankruptcy of about 2 million individual Mexican maize farmers, who then found poverty-wage work on large Mexican corporate farms, with American companies along the border or, crossing the border, throughout the United States.

Mexican manufacturing — e.g., of farm implements — was wiped out. Real Mexican wage levels in general have declined since NAFTA and 20 million Mexicans now live in food poverty. With the Mexican economy, largely rural, decimated, it became more dependent on the trade of drugs into the United States. The drug cartel money and power now reaches into Mexican government and police — as seen in the massacre of 43 students in Iguala, south of Mexico City.

Since NAFTA in 1994, a half-million jobless Mexicans per year on average have migrated into the United States, and our current trade deficit with Mexico is about $50 billion per year. The general U.S. trade deficit with trade deal partners is about $300 billion per year — i.e., we operate that policy at a consistent, large loss.

Despite the common-sense-expected reduction in American manufacturing, jobs and wages that accompanies trade deal outsourcing of U.S. manufacturing to cheaper countries, the current administration and Congress are trying to push through more such corporate-friendly trade deals with Asian and European countries using a "fast track" up-down vote procedure that avoids public debate that would reveal details upsetting to the American public.

Much of American foreign policy is now led by corporate trade deals like NAFTA, resulting in the free flow of capital, products and cheap labor (often undocumented and with family complications) across borders solely for corporate profit rather than for the well-being of people or their nations.

If the goal is to promote prosperity and stability, it is not advisable that we do more trade deals or related investment in Mexico or any other nation until U.S. trade policy is drastically redirected to those ends.

Richard Patten lives in Minneapolis.