A new face of undocumented workers

Elvira Arellano has become the new face of undocumented workers from Mexico. She moved out of a church in Chicago where she was hiding out to avoid deportation and separation from her 8 year old son by the Department of Homeland Security. In a moving speech this week, she said that she came to America to work. Why? Aren't there jobs in Mexico? She stated that since the inception of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement), she could no longer support her son with a living wage. So in desperation, she came to America to feed her young boy.

Is what she claims about NAFTA true? Studies show that it most certainly is. If you haven't read the section on this site about Economic Morality you should do so to understand the difference between "free trade" of goods and services and "free trade" of labor markets and forces. At the end of last year,
the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) released a report of the effects of NAFTA on Mexico. Here is some of what they said:

"national manufacturing production capacity has been dismantled and the agricultural industry destroyed."

"The main beneficiaries of the Agreement are the big transnational companies, while the effects on employment and wages have been deeply detrimental to Mexican workers. Indeed, the main competitive advantage of Mexico in the context of the NAFTA lies in the maintenance of low wages and precarious working conditions..."

"The report shows that the destruction of the agricultural industry has driven Mexican families to the urban areas, where they now live in conditions of extreme poverty. Women and children under the age of 16, hired by transnational companies to work in maquilas, in exhausting conditions, and for extremely low wages, are the first victims of this situation."

(to read the rest of the report click here)

So, how many Amercians understand this worsening situation? All Amercians should ask themselves, if they had children and were Mexicans, would they try to cross the border as undocumented to work here? Of course, most would. Unless we can see the world from their perspectives, we can't hope to understand why they do what they do. It easier to just call them "illegals" so we don't have to consider their humanity as equal to ours but rather see them as law-breakers that don't deserve the same respect as any other human being. To see clearly, we must first understand how American econimic policies affect poverty and economic systems around the world. Now that workers (labor forces) are considered a commodity, they can now be treated like big business treats the earth now: as another natural resource to be exploited until we've drained all the money we can from it.

Elvira Arellano was arrested today after speaking out. The government has now separated her from her American born son and will deport her back to Mexico.