Monday, February 28, 2011

Anti-Immigrant Laws Won't Solve Mexico's Economy

The Arizona Senate Appropriations Committee has cleared the way for a host of bills targeting undocumented immigrants. SB 1611, Senate President Russell Pearce's latest effort to punish the state's immigrant community with harsh sanctions and restrictions, was one of them. This comes on the heels of legislation introduced a couple weeks ago in the Arizona legislature attacking birthright citizenship of children born to undocumented parents.

Everyone agrees that we need immigration reform. For years, Congress has attempted to strike a principled balance between greater enforcement and a fair way to adjust the status for the 10 to 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country. However, even immigrant rights advocates must acknowledge that legalization will not solve undocumented migration permanently. An expansion of visas will certainly help, but if the package does not include at least the first steps toward helping Mexico improve its economy and infrastructure, undocumented Mexican migration will continue, and the tension over undocumented migration will resurface down the road. To truly understand undocumented migration, we have to do what Americans have thus far been unwilling to do: Look beyond the simple explanation that migrants cross the border in search of work. We have to ask why they cannot find what they want in Mexico. In 1994, we were told that NAFTA would solve the undocumented problem because new jobs would be created in Mexico. But NAFTA ultimately contributed to huge job losses in Mexico. Mexican corn farmers could not compete with heavily-subsidized U.S. corn farmers, and now Mexico imports most of its corn from the U.S. Because of globalization, 100,000 jobs in Mexico's domestic manufacturing sector were lost from 1993 to 2003. Where do those unemployed workers look for work? El Norte. Read more...


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