Laura Carlsen writes at Common Dreams
and Foreign Policy in Focus
Economic integration under NAFTA has led to job loss and the erosion of job security and quality in the United States, while also increasing unemployment in Mexico. Over thirteen years, the model has confirmed, rather than reversed, Mexicoâ€™s status as the less-developed partner. The rise in immigration to the United States attests to the failure of NAFTA as a development mechanism.
My own comment:
One basic difference between the EU and NAFTA was that when the EU integrated, they worked hard to have infrastructure and human right guarantees in place in the less developed partners before they lowered their movement barriers. Furthermore, the lowering of those movement barriers was always a two way street. The nationals of countries like the UK that got an influx of immigrants also got right to buy vacation and retirement homes in the less developed partners. The nationals of the UK at least got a chance to take jobs in France and Germany. There hasn`t really been much like that under NAFTA. US citizens have faced a reduction in workforce participation(percent of US citizens with jobs)-while there has been high levels of immigration to the US.We need a fundamentally different policy—one that has broad support in both the US and Mexico. I suspect the appropriate formula here will be enforcement(and enhancement) of US immigration laws combined—and reduction of US concentration of wealth- with increased aid to Mexicans-and increased pressure on the Mexican government to eliminate corruption, contain concentration of wealth and respect human rights.With this kind of package, Mexicans will get something real-and so will most Americans. I suspect the wealthy will like the status quo much more-but ultimately, the wealthy just don`t have that many votes.
Just the fact that Common Dreams, the leading progressive site, is publishing articles that aren`t entirely enthusiastic about immigration-and that admit jobs loss in the US is important. There are important Democrats that are ready to junk NAFTA and the WTO agreements. I think those Democrats need to be specifically targeted with research on immigration that focuses on their primary concerns—like job loss and which propose policies that may be in line with their sensibilities.