By Joshua Burciaga
The signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1993 and other trade deals are one of the leading causes of mass migration from Latin America into the United States.
The relationship between the United States and Mexico explains our current migration patterns quite well.
In the past, countries such as Mexico put tariffs in place in order to protect their economic institutions of competition from richer industrialized nations like the U.S.
However, NAFTA eliminated tariffs between the U.S. and Mexico, allowing only our highly subsidized U.S. agribusiness to outcompete Mexico’s farming and business sectors.
In the podcast, “Wave of Illegal Immigrants Gains Speed After NAFTA,” Ted Robbins, Supervising Editor of Arts and Culture at NPR, explains how Mexico’s corn industry collapsed once U.S. manufactured corn flooded into Mexico’s market.
“75,000 Iowa farmers grew twice as much corn as three million Mexican farmers at half the cost,” Robbins said.
In the last 24 years, NAFTA has not only destroyed Mexico’s economy, but has now devastated the economies in other Latin American countries.
While corrupt government officials in Latin America have benefited greatly from our trade agreements, their working class population suffers tremendously.
Faced with no jobs and economic turmoil at home, many Latin Americans are faced with no viable alternatives.
Immigrants either migrate to the U.S via Mexico in search of better economic opportunities, or they remain in their home country and experience poverty.
Rufino Dominguez, former director of the Oaxacan Institute for Attention to Migrants, shares the same sentiment towards NAFTA.
“There are no jobs and NAFTA forced the price of corn so low that it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore,” Dominguez said. “
We come to the U.S. to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.”
In response to the influx of immigrants, lawmakers enacted the Merida Initiative in order to ensure that immigrants fleeing violence stay away from America’s southern border.
The U.S. Congress has spent $2.5 billion of taxpayer money since 2008 on the Merida Initiative.
Their objective is to prevent the flow of immigration from Latin American countries into Mexico’s southern border, and eventually into the U.S.
America is highly frowned upon for the high number of people they deport back to Mexico.
However, Mexico is guilty of perpetuating similar behavior towards Central and South American immigrants fleeing the same poverty NAFTA has brought onto Mexico.
According to the newspaper El Pais, Mexico deports more immigrants found in their country compared to the U.S.
Immigrant rights activist Cristóbal Sánchez interprets the situation very accurately.
“Mexico is doing the United States dirty work; that is what it was tasked with, and it is fulfilling its mission perfectly,” Sánchez said.
American investors, businesses and politicians have become rich by exploiting developing nations for their own gain.
If America wants to reduce the flow of immigration, then the U.S. only needs to do one thing. They need to stop contributing towards it.
People should not be punished for crossing our borders in order to escape the poverty caused by American corporations and trade deals.