fresh voices from the front lines of change







On a media call today, several immigrant rights leaders talked about the relationship between "NAFTA-CAFTA-Style" trade deals and the number of people forced to immigrate north to the U.S. They worry that the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) will move jobs from Mexico and Central America to lower-wage Asian countries like Vietnam.

Negotiators are in DC this week trying to finalize the TPP, and Congress is currently considering adopting the Fast Track process that essentially passes trade bills before Congress even reads them. In spite of a near-blackout in the U.S. media these negotiations are being met with protests. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle are voicing opposition to the Fast Track process, because it involves Congress agreeing to give up its Constitutional responsibility to examine and fix trade deals.

Today, another group rose up to voice opposition to the TPP. This time the opposition is based on an unintended consequence of the NAFTA and CAFTA trade deals. While these deals costs jobs and factories in the U.S., they also devastated small farms in northern Mexico, causing a massive forced migration northward. This has resulted in tension in the US over immigrant rights. The proposed TPP could displace an estimated 1.2 million workers in the CAFTA countries and Mexico, resulting in more migration northward.

On the media call were Maria Elena Durazo, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO; Brigid Hall, Development Director of the Workers Defense Project; Angelica Salas, Executive Director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and Gustavo A. Torres, Executive Director of Casa de Maryland and Casa de Virginia. These and other groups have issued a statement (Espanol) asking that our country's trade policies “come to grips with its impact on our trading partners and the unintended consequences of forced migration.”

On the call the representatives said that an unintended consequence of corporate-oriented trade deals is to accelerate forced migration to the US. They said NAFTA and CAFTA devastated the Mexican rural economy and caused tremendous loss of farming jobs. These trade policies have created massive displacement of farmers from northern Mexico and other areas into the US.

"Now the same politicians favor fast track agreements to push deals that only favor the wealthy." "They are selling TPP with the same glossy promises." On speaker asked, "Why don't we have 'Fast Track' procedures for jobs bills and immigration reform?"

Immigration to the US more than doubled after and as a result of NAFTA as small farms were wiped out by subsidized US corn and other agricultural products. Please see this fact sheet: How U.S. Trade Policy Has Contributed to Mass-Migration to America.

The speakers asked that we do not repeat trade policy mistakes that could force another mass migration to the US.

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