The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167

Immigration Debate 'Ignores Causes'


Associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, Perez-Rocha has been critical of trade deals like NAFTA. He said today: "It is worrying that discussions about immigration in the U.S. tend to ignore its causes. Most people do not migrate to this country because they want to live their 'American dream' as it is sometimes supposed, but because their livelihoods are destroyed by economic policies that benefit only the elites in their home countries.

"These policies -- known as the 'Washington consensus' -- include the elimination of support mechanisms to local producers while allowing transnational companies to import cheaper products into their countries through 'free trade' agreements, as well as the elimination of millions of jobs in the public sector. Often these are applied by force, like in Honduras, where a departure from the Washington consensus and the adoption of more popular policies led to a coup d'etat in 2009 that replaced a democratically elected government with one that represents business interests better."

Author of the book Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, Bacon recently wrote the piece "Another Immigration Policy Is Possible." In it, he criticizes the proposals made by Representative Luis Gutierrez and Senator Charles Schumer, and the support for them by President Obama in his recent speech on immigration reform. Bacon's article states: "Grassroots groups don't like the proposals for new guest worker programs. They have been fighting raids, firings and increased immigration enforcement for years, and are angry that the Washington proposals all make enforcement heavier. They want the border demilitarized. And they believe any rational immigration reform must change U.S. trade policies that displace people in other countries."

Bacon added today: "People working without papers will be fired and even imprisoned under their proposals and raids will increase. Vulnerability makes it harder for people to defend their rights, organize unions and raise wages. That keeps the price of immigrant labor low. This will not stop people from coming to the United States, but it will produce more immigration raids, firings and a much larger detention system.

"Grassroots immigrant rights groups want an alternative immigration bill that would end trade-related displacement. The proposals made in D.C. do nothing about the root causes of forced migration while criminalizing migrants. We need a human rights policy that ends corporate displacement while protecting the rights of migrants."

A nationwide consortium, the Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA) represents an unprecedented effort to bring other voices to the mass-media table often dominated by a few major think tanks. IPA works to broaden public discourse in mainstream media, while building communication with alternative media outlets and grassroots activists.