Pathway to Citizenship

Every resident of the US should have a comprehensive pathway to citizenship, and be afforded the rights to due process and a fair hearing that the Constitution guarantees to all.

From Runaway Inequality: An Activist's Guide to Economic Justice

So why did NAFTA – and the Better Business Climate model in general – lead to more immigration to the U.S.? NAFTA left workers in all three countries defenseless against the decisions of profit-seeking corporations and investors. For instance, it allowed large, highly mechanized American farming conglomerates to move into Mexico, annihilating small-scale Mexican corn farmers who could not compete. Approximately 1.3 million Mexican farmers lost their jobs. Here’s how one report put it:

The majority of these farmers have limited education and cannot transfer their skills to the newly created jobs. Essentially, many of these people were “abandoned.” In desperation, a great number of men emigrate to the U.S. in search of better jobs, increasing the number of female-headed households. Immigration increased from Mexico from approximately 350,000 per year in 1992 to approximately 500,000 per year in 2002 – 60 percent are undocumented. Data shows that they are coming from the rural agriculture sector. This can also be correlated to an increase of poverty in female-headed households as they were left with limited job opportunities and households to run without a male bread-winner.

So neo-liberalism, plus NAFTA, caused economic hardship for the poor in Mexico, and this accounts for the dramatic rise in immigration into the U.S. Then came the War on Drugs, which further undermined living conditions in Mexico.

Leopold, Les. Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice (p. 154). Labor Institute Press. Kindle Edition.

Even the most anti-immigrant politicians understand that deporting all undocumented workers is impossible without turning America into an even bigger police state. Enforcement at the Mexican border is increasingly costly, and yet it still hasn’t stopped the flow of unauthorized immigrants. Providing immigrants with a path to citizenship is the logical and humane course of action. And it would lead to increased wages and benefits for these workers, upholding standards for us all.

Leopold, Les. Runaway Inequality: An Activist’s Guide to Economic Justice (pp. 159-160). Labor Institute Press. Kindle Edition.