April 28, 2006



Don't look down at immigrants, look up
by Jim Hightower

Here's a modest suggestion for dealing with illegal immigration: Instead of everyone looking down at all those impoverished Mexicans coming here for jobs, why not start looking up — focusing on the posh executive suites of corporate America, which have saddled both U.S. and Mexican working families with corporate-written trade and labor policies that knock us all down?

Let's start with NAFTA. Remember that Bill Clinton, the GOP, and all the corporate lobbyists promised that this trade deal would bring prosperity to Mexican laborers — thus stopping the flow of illegal workers into the USA. Well, 12 years later, real wages in Mexico are lower than before NAFTA was imposed, 19 million more Mexicans have fallen into poverty, and about half of Mexico's people are struggling to live on less than $5 a day.

This NAFTA economy of a few fabulously rich families and an impoverished working class was deliberately created by a cabal of arrogance between CEOs in our country, the ruling elites in Mexico, and the political puppets of both. Now, here they come again, fostering xenophobia, proposing an absurd and shameful wall along our shared border, and encouraging a new bracero program to turn low-wage Mexicans into a permanent flow of indentured workers for U.S. businesses.

Meanwhile, these same corporations and their political puppets have been busting wages here at home, off-shoring middle-class jobs, canceling pensions and health care plans, waging war against labor unions, and shredding our social contract.

To deal effectively with illegal immigration, we must renegotiate these corporate trade scams and restore our labor laws so they actually help the workaday majority of people, raising middle-class possibilities here and in Mexico. This problem is not being caused by powerless people, but by the most powerful. It's time to look up... and look the power elites right in their crooked eye.

Jim Hightower is the best-selling author of Let’s Stop Beating Around the Bush, on sale from Viking Press. For more information, visit www.jimhightower.com


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