Trusted local news leader for Prescott area communities since 1882
Wed, March 20

Letter: NAFTA a major factor in illegal immigration

Regarding your Nov. 12 editorial, "If feds will not act, locals must," in order to understand the "flood" of immigration in the U.S., we must not forget about the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994.

NAFTA created an environment in which U.S. agri-business giants can flood Mexican markets with U.S.-subsidized food products. Small Mexican farmers are unable to compete with these U.S. firms. The farmers lose their land and move to the city. There is no work in the city, and the farmers move here so that they can feed their families. If they can't cross the border legally, then many will do so illegally at the risk of death.

NAFTA allowed Wal-Mart to move to Mexico. Small manufacturers in Mexico cannot compete with the Wal-Mart goods that China created with ultra-cheap labor. The manufacturers lose their shops and move to border towns. There is no work in the border towns, so the manufacturers move here so that they can feed their families.

NAFTA drove down wages in Mexico's border towns by roughly 25 percent, according to a Carnegie Endowment Study. The above-mentioned conditions created an oversupply of workers, which drove wages down, especially within the American-owned Maquiladoras (sweatshops).

NAFTA has not increased the number of jobs, either. Countries such as China offer much cheaper wages. Cheap wages are the biggest incentive for a U.S. firm to relocate to another country. After all, this is what "free trade" colonialism is all about. The British Empire was well aware of this principle in its days of glory.

Until we look at the big picture, we will never stop the resolve of people with hungry families who are looking for work. If corporations can move freely across the border, then so should ordinary people. Let's either make that process a little easier or stop letting our corporations colonize Mexico. American and Mexican business elites owe it to them.

Tom Von Deck



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