Thursday, February 26, 2009
Illegal Immigration is NOT a Problem in the United States!
Former Republican presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo, The American Legion, Lou Dobbs, the Minutemen, and Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Phoenix AZ might try to tell you differently, but illegal immigration into the United States is not actually a problem. It is a symptom of the underlying problem: economic injustice. Estimates suggest that 12 million undocumented immigrants live in the U.S. Something pushed them out of their home countries. Something drew them here. To understand where the real problem lies, consider the push/pull factors.
Economic desperation pushed these people to the U.S. out of their own homes and countries and far from their loved ones and families. Free trade agreements like NAFTA contribute to the problem in North America. Yes, NAFTA created a half million Mexican manufacturing jobs. However, at the same time, it displaced 1.5-2 million workers. When there is no work, there is no food, no livelihood; workers must migrate to live. According to the World Bank, 53% of Mexico's population live on less than $2 a day and closer to 24% live in extreme poverty, less than $1 a day.
Thus enters the "pull" factor. In fact, Mexicans and Central Americans are willing to risk death for a chance to find employment, and they continue to take increased risks to cross borders. Once in the U.S., they will work at low paying jobs that no one else will fill.* Because they're willing to work at the most dangerous jobs, one immigrant a day will die in the work place. They will work for lower wages and for minimal or no benefits. They are, as the 2006 film title suggests: "Dying to Live."
Illegal immigration to the U.S. is not a problem to U.S. employers who maximize their profits on the backs of desperate people. Illegal immigration is no problem to the U.S. Social Security Administration that receives perhaps $7 billion annually due to contributions from undocumented workers who will never receive any benefits back from that system. And because the U.S. politicians want to ingratiate themselves with business and keep Social Security afloat, illegal immigration is no problem to them either.
Illegal immigration into the U.S. is not a problem. Rather it is the symptom of a much bigger problem. The real problem is economic injustice.
* From Pew Hispanic Center statistics: These industries have more than twice the representation of unauthorized workers than the whole labor force: Landscaping services 26%; Animal slaughter & processing 20%; services to buildings & homes 19%; Dry cleaning & laundry 17%; Cut & sew apparel mfg 16%; Crop production 16%; Private households 14%; Traveler accommodation 14%; Restaurants & food services 11%; Construction 10%; Groceries and related prod. 8%