Free Trade and Criminalized Migration: Both Sides of the Same Coin

Author David Bacon spoke in D.C. last night at the AFL-CIO about his new book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants. Lividsnails from Citizen Orange nicely summarized his argument as this:

People migrate (both within and across borders) for the same reasons: economic necessity.  The same globalization (of neoliberal economic policies  --embodied in treaties like NAFTA) that causes folks in rural Mexico to have to migrate to the cities and/or cross the U.S. border is also responsible for workers in Michigan losing their jobs when their factories close down and move overseas.  Indeed sometimes those workers become migrants themsleves moving within the U.S. in search of better economic opportunity.

The globalization of neo-liberal economic policies has spelled economic disaster for poor people in impoverished countries as well as for working people in this country.

These economic realities will have to be addressed if we really want to reduce illegal immigration to the U.S.

It is absolutely vital that Americans understand how our economic policies influence immigration to our country. Most nativists or anti-migrant sympathizers love to use the argument that migrants come here "expecting a free ride" and that they are "not our responsibility". The reality is that many of our policies have caused them to leave the country they know and love, risking everything, to come here and work themselves ragged just to survive. A free ride? Give me a break.

Theres also the argument that migrants should "stay at home and work on making their own country better" - as though it is just a lack of will on their part that is keeping their homeland poor. The reality is that much of the legislation that we push through here in the states works to keep these countries impoverished.

If we are going to even begin to solve the issues of migration, we MUST begin with these economic policies. Otherwise, any possible solution will only be partially successful.