Immigrant Groups Warn Fast Track/TPP Could Cause More Migration North

Dave Johnson

Dave Johnson Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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.


This has been reposted from the Campaign for America's Future.

Johnson also is a fellow at the Commonwealth Institute and a Senior Fellow at the Institute for the Renewal of the California Dream. Follow Dave Johnson on Twitter:

Posted In: Allied Approaches, From Campaign for America's Future

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.


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