Root Causes!

I've started following the blog of John Carlos Frey on Huffington Post lately and I'm surprised that even there on HuffPo there are some rather conservative people who are anti-immigrant and who are not very deep thinkers.  And there's the same kind of tired old arguments that fail to address the real reasons for things.  Even Frey's writing seems to miss  (or avoid?) the big elephants in the room.  After writing a long comment to his latest post and realizing there was a word limit that I went past, I decided to put my thoughts in full here.

John, thanks for your film ("800 Mile Wall" - I haven't seen it yet but I want to. Come to Tucson!) and for your blog post.  I don't disagree with any of what you've said, but I just want to add something that isn't talked about enough in these sorts of discussions.  The flow of migrants north to the U.S. is not just a result of workers being "lured" to jobs there.  It's also a result of 2 areas of U.S. policy that have contributed greatly to the dismal conditions in Mexico and other "developing" countries.  These are trade policy and the drug war, as I'm sure you know but some of your readers here might not be aware.

These are, quite simply, exploitative and unjust actions taken over decades by the U.S. government that have basically destroyed and/or are destroying the economies of the homelands of these immigrants. The biggest example of the way U.S. trade policy has had this role is the way NAFTA has allowed U.S. agricultural products to be dumped on the Mexican market at cheaper than the cost of production, which has put millions of Mexican farmers out of work.  These farmers and their families could no longer make a living the way they had for generations. They had a few choices:  flee to the cities and hope they could get some factory jobs, join the narcotraffickers and grow and smuggle illegal crops, or go north and try to get into the U.S. and get work there. Oh yeah, or they could starve to death with their families.

The factory jobs are getting harder and harder to get.  Most of those maquiladoras (foreign-owned factories) that free trade brought to Mexico and that were supposed to be so great for Mexico (but are actually basically sweatshops and environmental disasters) are now packing up and moving to China because its even cheaper and easier to exploit workers there (the next time y'all buy something and see that "made in China" on the label, think about that - it's not just the result of exploiting China, it's the result of exploiting a bunch of other countries first).  And speaking of narcotrafficking, why is there so much of it, and why are the cartels so rich and powerful?  Because us gringos loves us our drugs!  And because the Drug War is a sham that isn't really doing anything but increasing the prices of those drugs.

This should make it clear that "luring" people to work in the U.S. is only part of the equation.  If it was just that our $7/hr jobs north of the border were alluring, but people were still living well in their own countries, able to stay on their ancestral land and in the culture they were used to, with their extended families, then there wouldn't be that many people wanting to go move to a strange, decadant society where they don't speak the language, and risk rape and murder and dying of dehydration.  

So, before any of these anti-immigrant commenters and complainers complain more about the "illegals" (which is a completely stupid and racist thing to call them, by the way - when someone gets caught for running a stop sign, are they also an "illegal"?) they should examine their own comfort and their own privilege and the complicity that they share with their government in creating, and enjoying, the situation.  The U.S. and other rich nations are rich, and continue to get richer, unjustly, by exploiting the poor nations of the world, and the people of the U.S. continue to be dumb and coddled and comfortable, on the backs of the poor people of the world, and they continue to anesthetize themselves with mood-altering substances drenched in the blood of the poor of the world.

These are the root causes. These are what we should be working on, even more so than comprehensive immigration reform (which is needed, and it's the first thing we should do, for sure, but it's still just a band-aid). No walls, no guns, no drones or landmines or laws or prisons will change those causes or stop people from coming here (and even immigration reform won't stop them from needing to uproot themselves and leave their homes and families and come to a strange new place).  Like  many other of the problems of the U.S. (such as terrorism), this will never be solved by the forceful violent means that so many people think we need to employ.  The way to solve it is simply to stop treating the rest of the world's people like they don't matter. Let them live in peace in their home countries the way they want, let them grow their own food and eat it.  Stop being so greedy and hungry for drugs and other luxuries, and stop making them grow cash crops like sugar and coffee and cocaine and opium for us to gobble up;  stop stealing their resources at gunpoint, and stop telling them what to do and what to believe.  Let them be, and they'll stop trying to "take our jobs" (and blow us up, in the case of the terrorist problem).  It's really not that complicated.  We, as a nation, need to just stop screwing other people over.

And we really don't have to scew them over to get by.  The same rich people who exploit average U.S. citizens DO need to screw over the poor countries, in order to keep getting richer like they want.  But we don't need those rich people. THEY are the problem, not the economic refugees jumping the wall.