North American Union

Working Groups


One way to understand the breadth and depth of progress towards the North American Union is to look at the Working Groups.   Working Groups are committees of 'stakeholders' and government representatives.  Stakeholders are representatives of business, government, special interest groups, and citizens with expertise in the target area - but they are all connected insiders to the agenda. 

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services - Office of Global Affairs

The six Workgroups (1-6 below) that were initiated under the La Paz Agreement are (1) water, (2) air, (3) hazardous and solid waste, (4) pollution prevention, (5) contingency planning and emergency response, and (6) cooperative enforcement and compliance. Recognizing that the environment needs to be considered from a comprehensive perspective, Border XXI integrates three new Workgroups. These are (7) environmental information resources, (8) natural resources, and (9) environmental health.

The Environmental Health Workgroup (EHWG) is lead by health and environmental officials on both sides of the border. For the U.S., Richard Walling, serves as the "health" Co-Chair, and Ginny Gidi is the senior staff member and point of contact for the project within the office. Hal Zenick, Associate Director for Health of the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory of the Environmental Protection Agency serves as the "environment" Co-Chair. Carlos Santos-Burgoa, Director General of Environmental Health from the Mexican Secretariat of Health, is the designated Co-Chair for Mexico.

The Environmental Health Workgroup seeks to increase binational collaboration between environmental and public health entities to improve the health of border communities. These collaborative efforts should improve the workgroup's ability to identify and address the environmental conditions that pose the highest health risks. The goal of the workgroup is to address environmental health concerns in order to reduce exposures and other factors associated with the increase in disease rates along the border.


National Security Working Groups

Efforts are under way on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border to reform the national security relationship between the two nations in response to increased terrorism fears.

Experts agree on two points: the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 signaled a reappraisal of U.S. and Mexican security relations, and the pace of the change is painfully slow and endangered by political sensitivities.

Seeking to protect the interests of both nations, the Department of Homeland Security and its approximate Mexican counterpart, the Investigation and National Security Center (CISEN), formed six working groups in January 2003 to analyze protection of critical infrastructure along their 2,000-mile shared border.

The six groups are divided into sectors: health, energy, water, telecommunications, agriculture and transportation. The goal is to create an inventory of vulnerable systems and prioritize them in terms of risk, according to Mexican and American officials in Washington. The six groups’ steering committee has met on four occasions, the last one in Mexico City in February, a senior Mexican embassy official told National Defense.


In 1983, the federal governments of the United States and Mexico signed the La Paz Agreement for the protection, improvement, and conservation of the environment on the U.S.-Mexico border. The border region was defined as the area within 62 miles (100 Km) on either side of the geographic border separating the two countries. Nine years later, environmental authorities of both countries released the Integrated Border Environmental Plan (IBEP), which involved six workgroups including: Air, Water, Hazardous and Solid Wastes, Pollution Prevention, Contingency Planning and Emergency Response, and Enforcement.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection

BORSTAR Program History

The U.S. Border Patrol has launched specialized efforts to save the lives of agents, undocumented aliens, and the public since the mid-1980s. The Border Patrol's first rescue and response teams were developed during this time in the Yuma, Tucson, and El Paso Border Patrol Sectors. At that time, there was no formal academy for providing rescue training within the Border Patrol. Since then, the concept of the Border Patrol's rescue teams has been revised and expanded.

BORSTAR Expansion -  Binational Cooperation

An agreement to expand BORSTAR along the southwest border was one of the agreements reached during a series of meetings between the United States and Mexico regarding binational efforts to promote border safety. BORSTAR Teams began providing binational training to Mexican officers in the year 2000. In 2001, team members shared basic skills and knowledge with more than 400 Mexican law enforcement officials. Binational training addressed basic search and rescue, first aid, land navigation, basic technical rescue, and aquatic safety techniques. Binational training to enhance public safety near the border has already produced dramatic results: In the last year, 1,200 people were rescued.

BORSTAR Teams are now in place in each of the nine southwest border sectors. BORSTAR is an integral part of making the border safer. The expansion and increased resources devoted to BORSTAR continue to illustrate the Border Patrol's commitment to safety and the preservation of human lives.

State Department

U.S. -Mexico Migration Talks And Plan of Action for Cooperation on Border Safety

Presidents Vicente Fox and George W. Bush, in the "Guanajuato Proposal" issued following their meeting in February, characterized migration as one of the major ties that bind Mexico and the United States. Accordingly, our respective policies should work to create a process of orderly migration that guarantees humane treatment of migrants, provides protection of their legal rights, ensures acceptable work conditions for migrants and also recognizes the right of nations to control the flow of people across their borders....

The initial meeting of the High Level Working Group on Migration occurred in Washington, DC on April 4. The two sides began talks aimed at achieving the goal of safe, legal, orderly and humane migration as set forth by our Presidents in Guanajuato. The binational agenda includes discussion of border safety, the H-2 temporary worker visa program, ideas on regularization of undocumented Mexicans in the United States, alternatives for possible new temporary worker programs, and efforts on regional economic development....

A binational working group met June 6 in San Antonio, Texas, to address border cooperation and safety. A second meeting took place on June 8 in Washington to continue our discussions of all migration-related issues on the binational agenda and to establish a timeframe for future action. As a result of these meetings, we agreed to increase immediately existing efforts to ensure safety on the border and to review our respective border policies in order to develop ways to accomplish our common goal of reducing risks and eliminating deaths of migrants along the border.

These unprecedented cooperative efforts will be guided by a plan of action whose progress and implementation will be subject to regular review and evaluation. We have instructed our respective border authorities to implement immediately the following actions:

  • Strengthen public safety campaigns to alert potential migrants of the dangers of crossing the border in high-risk areas;
  • Reinforce operational plans for the protection, search and rescue of migrants along the border, including the increased aerial surveillance of desert areas on the U.S. side and increased presence of Grupo Beta elements on the Mexican side;
  • Implement a cooperative, comprehensive and aggressive plan to combat and dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations; and
  • Initiate a pilot-program on use of non-lethal weapons by Border Patrol agents.


Homeland Security

The Governments of the United States and Mexico have worked actively since the last BNC to perfect, modernize and expand its many mechanisms devoted to creating a border region that ought to be modern, safe, and efficient. As part of this effort and recognizing the new realities facing both our countries, our Governments decided to rename the BNC Working Group devoted to the border as the Working Group on Homeland Security and Border Cooperation. This group's broader portfolio underscores our mutual resolve to create a border that embraces technology and enhances bilateral cooperation to ensure a humane and efficient management of the border that joins our peoples and our economies. Our two governments recognize that we must facilitate the increasing flow of trade between our two nations and the legal movement of persons while assuring the security of our societies. The Mexican Foreign Ministry and Ministry of Governance and the U.S. Departments of State and Homeland Security co-chair this new working group.


EPA - Border 2012 - Framework  See working groups listed in the Framework pdf

EPA News - Check out the binational projects

Border 2012 is a 10-year, binational, results-oriented environmental program for the U.S.-Mexico border region. The Border 2012 Program is the latest multi-year, binational planning effort to be implemented under the La Paz Agreement and succeeds Border XXI, a five-year program that ended in 2000.  

Trilateral Committee for Wildlife and Ecosystem Conservation and Management

Federal Highway Administration - Binational Planning

1994 MOU - U.S. Mexico Border Transportation Planning (Note: all authorizations were already in place because of the La Paz Agreement) 

Canada - U.S. Transportation Working Groups (link from FHWA)

Steering Committee Action Plan


FHWA - Portal Logo


Latin American Working Groups

The LAWG's unique role is as coordinator, implementer, and catalyst. We bring partners together to plan and implement effective strategies to influence the policy debate. We run strategy sessions, help find the right mix of analysis, media work, grassroots and religious involvement, and seek out new alliances. The LAWG’s specialty is to translate the strengths of a variety of organizations into coordinated, realistic and far-reaching efforts. Please click here for a list of organizations currently participating in the LAWG coalition.

Coalition Partners:

The Latin America Working Group is a coalition of over sixty organizations dedicated to promoting US policies toward Latin America that support human rights, social and economic justice, and sustainable development. Many other non-coalition organizations participate in subgroups and steering committees on specific country issues. Organizations make decisions on a case-by-case basis regarding whether to endorse statements and participate in specific projects.

And this is a good place to bring this out -

Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs     (which this writer believes is unconstitutional because it is a race-based lobbying group imbedded within state government with special links to the Idaho State legislature).  

ICHA Commissioners

Note: The Idaho Commission on Hispanic Affairs is composed of nine(9) board members, two(2) are appointed by the President Pro Tempore and two(2) by the Speaker of the House. Five(5) are public members from the Hispanic community and appointed by the Governor. Ask for By-laws to our Staff.




SPP Working Groups

The La Paz Agreement began the merger of the U.S. and Mexico on environmental issues including health.  The Security and Prosperity Partnership Agreement between all three leaders of the North American countries set into motion the action plan for the integration of our economies and a national security.  (Return to front page for links to SPP historical links).

  • Manufactured Goods & Sectoral and Regional Competitiveness Working Group… will lower costs for North American businesses, producers, and consumers and maximize trade in goods and services across our borders by striving to ensure compatibility of regulations and standards and eliminating redundant testing and certification requirements. Explore new approaches to enhance the competitiveness of North American industries by promoting greater cooperation in sectors such as autos, steel, and other sectors identified through consultations.

  • E-Commerce & ICT Working Group… will stimulate and accelerate cross-border technology trade by preventing unnecessary barriers from being erected (e.g., agree on mutual recognition of technical requirements for telecommunications equipment, tests and certification; adopt a framework of common principles for e-commerce).

  • Energy Working Group…will strengthen North America's energy markets by working together, according to our respective legal frameworks, to increase reliable energy supplies for the region's needs and development, by facilitating investment in energy infrastructure, technology improvements, production and reliable delivery of energy; by enhancing cooperation to identify and utilize best practices, and to streamline and update regulations; and by promoting energy efficiency, conservation, and technologies such as clean coal.

  • Transportation Working Group…will improve the safety and efficiency of North America's transportation system by expanding market access, facilitating multimodal corridors, reducing congestion, and alleviating bottlenecks at the border that inhibit growth and threaten our quality of life (e.g., expand air services agreements, increase airspace capacity, initiate an Aviation Safety Agreement process, pursue smart border information technology initiatives, ensure compatibility of regulations and standards in areas such as statistics, motor carrier and rail safety, and working with responsible jurisdictions, develop mechanisms for enhanced road infrastructure planning, including an inventory of border transportation infrastructure in major corridors and public-private financing instruments for border projects).

  • Food & Agriculture Working Group…will work towards creating a safer and more reliable food supply while facilitating agricultural trade by pursuing common approaches to enhanced food safety; enhanced laboratory coordination and information sharing; and increasing cooperation in the development of regulatory policy related to the agricultural biotechnology sectors in Canada, Mexico and the United States, through the work of the North American Biotechnology Initiative (NABI).

  • Environment Working Group…will expand on cooperative work to improve air quality, including reducing sulphur in fuels, mercury emissions, and marine emissions. Enhance water quality by working bilaterally, trilaterally and through existing regional bodies such as the International Boundary and Water Commission and the International Joint Commission. Combat the spread of invasive species in both coastal and fresh waters. Enhance partnerships and incentives to conserve habitat for migratory species, thereby protecting biodiversity. Develop complementary strategies for oceans stewardship by emphasizing an ecosystem approach, coordinating and integrating existing marine managed areas, and improving fisheries management.

  • Financial Services Working Group…will work towards the freer flow of capital and the efficient provision of financial services throughout North America (e.g., facilitate cross-border electronic access to stock exchanges without compromising investor protection, further collaboration on training programs for bank, insurance and securities regulators and supervisors, seek ways to improve convenience and cost of insurance coverage for carriers engaged in cross border commerce).

  • Business Facilitation Working Group…will identify measures to facilitate further the movement of business persons within North America and discuss ways to reduce taxes and other charges residents face when returning from other North American countries.

  • Movement of Goods Working Group… will lower the transaction costs of trade in goods by liberalizing the requirements for obtaining duty-free treatment under NAFTA, including through the reduction of "rules of origin" costs on goods traded between our countries. Each country should have in place procedures to allow speedy implementation of rules of origin modifications. Increase competitiveness by exploring additional supply chain options, such as by rationalizing minor differences in external tariffs, consistent with multilateral negotiation strategies.

  • Health…will seek to enhance public health cross-border coordination in infectious diseases surveillance, prevention and control (e.g., pandemic influenza). Improve the health of our indigenous people through targeted bilateral and/or trilateral activities, including in health promotion, health education, disease prevention, and research. Building upon cooperative efforts under the International Conference on Harmonization of Technical Requirements for Registration of Pharmaceuticals for Human Use, work towards the identification and adoption of best practices relating to the registration of medicinal products.

Canada - Mexico Working Groups

Canada-Mexico Partnership Working Groups

U.S. - Canada Working Groups

Pacific Northwest Economic Region