Immigration And The Right To Stay Home

With eleven to twelve million undocumented immigrants in the United States, immigration and comprehensive immigration reform is a major socio-economic-political issue confronting America.

The American people feel uncomfortable about how to personally relate to undocumented immigrants. Congress debates proposed immigration reform bills. Questions are raised about whether or not we have an obligation to care for, educate, and provide necessary services to undocumented immigrants in their moments of need.

David Bacon, labor organizer, immigrant rights advocate, and photo-journalist, has written an excellent book that addresses the reasons why people have to migrate and the inequality and exploitation they face when they do. Bacon is particularly concerned about the people and workers in and from Mexico. right to stay home

The book is entitled The Right To Stay Home: How US Policy Drives Mexican Immigration. It has been published by Beacon Press (2013).

I have begun reading The Right To Stay At Home and have just finished the first chapter, From Perote to Tar Hill. In this chapter, Bacon shares about farmers and family members from Veracruz, Mexico who have lost their homes, farms, and jobs and have migrated to find work in the Smithfield Foods meatpacking factory in Tar Hill, North Carolina. The chapter also contains information about the North American Free Trade Agreement and immigration enforcement in the United States.

Here are several quotes from the first chapter that speak about NAFTA’s force and impact on governments and people and its benefit to international corporations:

“The centrality of foreign investment in the Mexican economy creates a climate where transnational corporations with large investments can exercise coercive power over government agencies at all levels.”

“The penetration of capital led to the destruction of the traditional economy, especially in agriculture, and produced a huge labor reserve in Mexico. People had no alternative but to migrate. The system helps corporations make profit, which is relocated to the United States. And it produces displaced people, who are needed by the US economy.” (Juan Sandoval, National Institute of Anthropology and History, Mexico City)

” … rather than a free-trade agreement, NAFTA can be described as … a mechanism for the provision of cheap labor. Since NAFTA came into force, the migrant factory has exported {millions of} Mexicans to the United States.”

” … US immigration policy is largely shaped by the desire of US employers for labor …. ”

” … can’t people have a choice between immigration and staying home in healthy communities in their countries of origin? Or must displacement and migration be geared to supplying labor …. “

The North American Free Trade Agreement has been good for international corporations and the advancement of a global neo-liberal agenda, but bad for the people of Mexico.

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