April 2006

Here’s a modest suggestion for dealing with illegal immigration: Instead of everyone looking down at all those impoverished Mexicans coming here for jobs, why not start looking up – focusing on the posh executive suites of corporate America, which have saddled both U.S. and Mexican working families with corporate-written trade and labor policies that knock us all down?

Let’s start with NAFTA. Remember that Bill Clinton, the GOP, and all the corporate lobbyists promised that this trade deal would bring prosperity to Mexican laborers – thus stopping the flow of illegal workers into the USA. Well, 12 years later, real wages in Mexico are lower than before NAFTA was imposed, 19 million more Mexicans have fallen into poverty, and about half of Mexico’s people are struggling to live on less than $5 a day.

This NAFTA economy of a few fabulously-rich families and an impoverished working class was deliberately created by a cabal of arrogance between CEOs in our country, the ruling elites in Mexico, and the political puppets of both. Now, here they come again, fostering xenophobia, proposing an absurd and shameful wall along our shared border, and encouraging a new bracero program to turn low-wage Mexicans into a permanent flow of indentured workers for U.S. businesses.

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Meanwhile, these same corporations and their political puppets have been busting wages here at home, offshoring middle-class jobs, canceling pensions and health care plans, waging war against labor unions, and shredding our social contract.

This is Jim Hightower saying… To deal effectively with illegal immigration, we must renegotiate these corporate trade scams and restore our labor laws so they actually help the workaday majority of people, raising middle-class possibilities here and in Mexico. This problem is not being caused by powerless people, but by the most powerful. It’s time to look up… and look the power elites right in their crooked eye.

“The Taboo Subject at the Heart of the Immigration Debate,” The Nation, April 3, 2006.
“Moment of Truth,” The Nation, March 29, 2006.
“Immigration debate seen skirting root cause,” March 29, 2006.
“The Poor Get Poorer,” The New York Times, April 2, 2006.
“Constructing a North American Community,” October 27, 2005.
“Bush’s proposal for Immigration Reform Misses the Point,” January 8, 2004.

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