Oct 22, 2011

Immigration Realities: Disposable Workers - Immigration after NAFTA and the Nation's Addiction to Cheap Labor

This paper analyzes the issue of migration from a different perspective by focusing on the root causes of migration. First, it examines the consequences that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had on the Mexican economy and how it drastically displaced people. I link economic indicators such as a decline in working wages and opportunities in Mexico to an increase of north-bound migration, all of which coincided directly with the ratification of NAFTA. On the flip side, the United States experienced an economic expansion, creating a demand for workers, in particular cheap, exploitable workers, which also contributed to a huge migration in the last two decades. Unfortunately, as anti-immigrant rhetoric increases and anti- immigrant legislation grows nation-wide, these vulnerable workers are forced deeper into the shadows, compounding the unhealthy, co- dependent relationship of Mexican workers and U.S. corporations.

The paper concludes by suggesting several changes that should be enacted simultaneously—revise NAFTA, assist Mexico to stabilize its economy, and adopt comprehensive immigration reform—and suggests unions as a structure that could serve as a source of labor protection for undocumented workers.

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