Motives for Emigration to the U.S.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
Translated and edited by Walter Lippmann.
The determining ideology in the “First World” defends the free movement of goods and capital but emphatically excludes the possibility of the labor force enjoying that same freedom. It condemns all governmental action in poor countries to protect their products from the effects of an unequal confrontation in the external market. However, it rejects the possibility of the international displacement of labor according to the same law of supply and demand that they claim for their own goods, capital and other factors of production.
In conditions of absolute freedom of movement of goods in the world market, the winner is the one who produces at the lowest cost.This can only be achieved with higher productivity, which is always the one to which the large corporations of developed countries have access through more efficient technology born of their financial superiority. This leaves the poor countries with cheap labor as their only resource to compete.
A genuinely liberal economic globalization, which upholds the principle of competitiveness and fixes in the market the possibilities of all parties, should include the freedom of movement of all factors of production. This would include the labor force, but this possibility is not even mentioned in neoliberal discourse.
In Latin America, the fundamental receiving pole of commercial exchanges, the United States, closes its borders to spontaneous immigration promoted by the laws of the market. It projects programs aimed at attracting immigrants with specific qualifications or political refugees (real or supposed) that suit its political purposes of domination, ignoring the obvious fact that the economy of the United States objectively needs labor, especially unskilled labor.
Such inconsistency reflects the will to avoid conflicts derived from competition between immigrants and their own workers, without forgetting the manifestations of xenophobia and discrimination against minorities that are manifested in that society, due to multiple historical factors.
From the point of view of the U.S. business which exploits immigrant labor, although their interests in the legal prohibition of immigrant income are affected, the continued income of undocumented workers – with depressed rights – solves their needs. The big losers are the undocumented, persecuted, mistreated and super-exploited immigrants. Emigration to the United States becomes the dominant fact of the regional migratory panorama.
But since the last decades of the 20th century, the Latin American and Caribbean migratory process, which from the time of the conquest until then had left a positive balance, has become negative. That is to say, more emigrants than immigrants.
In the 1980s, with the rise of neoliberalism promoted by Ronald Reagan’s government in the United States, Latin America, like the entire Third World, entered a new period. It is characterized by the effects of an unpayable foreign debt that hindered its development, aggravated by the rise of corruption, embezzlement and the discrediting of traditional politicians.
The collapse of the Soviet Union and the socialist system in Eastern Europe deprived the world’s underdeveloped countries of an alternative of economic and technical assistance, as well as relatively safe and advantageous markets.
The rich countries took advantage of the conjuncture to impose a neoliberal orientation on the objective trend towards globalization that technological advances determine for the economy of nations. They then reduced development assistance, forced the weakening of state apparatuses, the de-statification of natural resources and the privatization of state enterprises, preferably through their acquisition by U.S. corporations.
Thus, Latin America, which for centuries was a recipient of migration, became a region of emigrant outflow. Tens of millions of Latin Americans have been forced to emigrate in the last twenty years. All this has led to a sharp increase in inequalities and the concentration of wealth in a small number of people and entities in Third World countries.
England, when its fleet was the largest and most efficient in the world, demanded freedom of the seas without protection measures that would raise the competitiveness of the fleets of other countries. Today, the highly developed countries demand freedom of movement fpr their goods and capital, without barriers that protect the production of countries with less economic development. But they do not include that freedom for the workforce.
September 16, 2019. This article may be reproduced by quoting the newspaper POR ESTO as the source.