If all of these Republicans, both nationally and in Utah, want to raise such a ruckus about immigration, maybe they should take a careful look at the roots of the problem. Jim Hightower explains.
The question that policy makers have not faced honestly is this one: Why do these immigrants come? The answer is not that they are pulled by our jobs and government benefits, but that they are pushed by the abject poverty that their families face in Mexico. That might seem like a mere semantic difference, but it’s huge if you’re trying to develop a policy to stop the human flood across our border…
…Because in the last 15 years, Mexico’s longstanding system of sustaining its huge population of poor citizens (including small self-sufficient farms, jobs in state-owned industries and subsidies for such essentials as tortillas) has been scuttled at the insistence of U.S. banks, corporations, government officials and “free market” ideologues. In the name of “modernizing” the Mexican economy, such giants as Citigroup, Wal-Mart, Tyson Foods and GE – in cahoots with the plutocrats and oligarchs of Mexico – have laid waste to that country’s grass-roots economy, destroying the already-meager livelihoods of millions.
…In our national imbroglio over Mexican immigration (yes, some illegal migrants come from elsewhere, but more than three-fourths are from Mexico), our “leaders” have set us up to look down at impoverished working people forced to leave their homeland and risk death in order to help their families escape poverty.
…Instead of coming down on them, why not start looking up – up at the executive suites on both sides of the border. Up is where the power is. The moneyed elites in those suites are the profiteering few who have rigged all of our trade and labor policies to knock down workers, farmers and small businesses, not merely in Mexico but in our country as well.
Immigration reform cannot be separated from labor and trade reform. We can’t fix the former without dealing with the other two.
…We must stop the exploitative NAFTAfication of such aspiring economies as Mexico and instead develop genuine grass-roots investment policies that give people there an ability to remain in their homeland. Then we must enforce our own labor laws – from wage and hour rules to the NLRB – so as to empower American workers to enforce their own rights.
…America’s immigration problem is not down on the border, it’s in Washington and on Wall Street.