Mexican legislators are hard at work trying to reach an agreement on the best way to reform the country’s energy sector. And if foreign investors respond favorably, the agreement could have a meaningful impact, providing the assistance needed to tap shale and deepwater reserves and reversing years’ worth of declining production. It also could work wonders for the country’s economy. Texas Gov. Rick Perry believes energy reform across the border will not only create a massive array of new jobs in Mexico but also could resolve illegal immigration. Speaking to The Dallas Morning News, Perry said he believes that opening up the Mexican energy market could change the immigration dynamic in the US. “The whole immigration debate I will suggest to you is going to change drastically in the next 12 to 24 months,” Perry said in the Nov. 8 article. “The net migration into the US from Mexico last year was zero.” But with energy reform in Mexico, “You’ll have a mass migration of those that came here to work who will go back into Mexico and pursue those jobs,” Perry told The Dallas Morning News, adding it could leave the US scrambling to fill positions. “There will be a really interesting dynamic in that [the US] Congress will be starting to be asked to take a look at immigration policy, but it will be immigration that identifies people who can legally come here and work and fill the jobs that we need instead of the very caustic conversation that occurred in the last few years.” Mexico is on the verge on its own energy revolution. It has more than an estimated 481 Bcm (17 Tcf) of proved gas reserves and more than 10 Bbbl of proven oil reserves, according to the US Energy Information Administration. The reform would allow foreign companies with technical expertise to enter and help Mexico develop its deepwater and shale assets. Look at how technology transformed the US energy landscape and contributed to the nation’s economy. The use of hydraulic fracturing, horizontal wells, and other technology has pushed North America to lead the world in shale gas production, and the US now produces more oil than it exports. A study conducted by IHS revealed unconventional gas production – shale gas, tight sands, and coalbed methane – supported more than 1 million jobs in 2010, and that number is expected to rise to nearly 1.4 million jobs by 2015. Mexico could undergo a similar transformation. However, whether that transformation is big enough to resolve illegal immigration is another story. There are other factors that may deter people from going to Mexico. Ongoing gang violence is among them. That stated, Perry could be right in that a large number of jobs could be created in Mexico, prompting some workers in the US to leave. If certain deals are struck with certain companies, the skill sets of some oil and gas workers in the US could be needed in Mexico. But a “mass migration” might be far-fetched and wishful thinking on Perry’s part. The energy sector is a powerful economic engine, but it will take more than energy reform to alleviate the illegal immigration issue. Only time will tell the impact of energy reform in Mexico and how many jobs it will create, if legislators are successful in pushing through with changes. Contact the author, Velda Addison, at vaddison@hartenergy.com.