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Trump's Fake Trade Deal

Trump's "new" NAFTA is the old NAFTA. What we need are policies that benefits migrants, their home communities, and working people in the U.S.  And we need a national policy that limits U.S. military and economic interventions abroad.

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Unions blame NAFTA for massive job loss in the United States and worsening conditions for workers in Mexico. , Photo courtesy of AFL-CIO

The Trump Administration has announced an agreement on Aug. 27,2018, on some issues of trade between the U.S. and Mexico.  At present this is not a significant trade agreement. It is not a new NAFTA.   It is the old NAFTA with a few new agreements. Trump calls the new partial agreement the U.S.- Mexico Trade Agreement.   There has been no progress on the environment, on labor rights, on special international tribunals for dispute resolution, nor on migration.   Without resolution on these issues, the Trump claim is merely fake news

 Why should trade deals include migration ?

Since 1994 trade agreements  have led to the massive increase of trade across our borders.  Imports and capital have moved freely in both directions.  At the same time the movement of workers has been severely restricted and the border enforcement police have grown from 5,000 to 20,000 and continue to grow.  Relatively free trade for goods and capital while restricting movement of workers and thus their ability to organize to protect their own interests has produced additional poverty,  crises, and inequality  in each society. 

We are currently experiencing a major restructuring of the global economy directed by the transnational corporations to produce profits for their corporate owners.  The impoverishment of the vast majority of people in pursuit of profits for a small minority has pushed millions to migrant in search of food, jobs, and security. Global capitalism produces global migration.  Along with wars,  NAFTA  and other “Free Trade” deals each produce  new waves of migration.  When workers faced with impoverishment and starvation of their families try to move looking for work, they are persecuted, arrested, and often deported.

In spite of the economic boon for the wealthy, working people in the U.S. have yet to receive a significant improvement in their standard of living for over 30 years.  At the same time, democratic forces are once again confronted with anti immigrant campaigns- this time fostered and promoted by a President of the U.S. 

As socialists, we stand with and among the US working class in opposition to the rule of the transnational corporations and their exploitation of the economy and their despoliation of our lives, our society and our environment. 

Socialists support the rights of working people to organize, to form unions, and to protect their rights and to advance their interests. Unions have always been an important part of how socialists seek to make our economic justice principles come alive. Working people- gathered together and exploited in the capitalist workplace-are well positioned to fight their common exploitation.

Current immigration laws and practices, imposed upon us all by the corporations and their control of our government, often prevent working class unity by dividing workers against each other and  by creating categories of workers with few rights to organize and  thus to protect  their own interests. 

The  neoliberal capitalist economic system now being advanced by the relentless merging of the world's  markets also  impoverishes the majority of U.S. workers.  The average U.S. worker has experienced a decline in their real wages since 1979.  Quality industrial jobs have moved to low wage, anti union areas in the U.S. and to Mexico, China, Singapore, Vietnam,  India and other nations. At present the U.S. has no significant controls on capital flight. Indeed, the US  government subsidizes some corporations to move jobs to Honduras, El Salvador,  and  the Caribbean.

The economic restructuring of Asia, Africa, and Latin America has pushed millions to migrate to the U.S. and Europe in search of a decent standard of living.   At the same time in both Europe and the U.S., among others, we see an intensification of narrow economic nationalism and the blaming of immigrants for the economic troubles of capitalism. 

U.S. economic policy (called neoliberal capitalism)  promotes the movement of capital and goods across borders to increase profits while at the same time  it increases barriers to worker mobility .  Since 2004 there has been a militarization of the US- Mexican border, an attempt to build a wall, and the significant increase in in arrests and internal enforcement threatening immigrant labor. The result is a situation in which workers on both sides of this border and around the world have been disempowered and impoverished.  Working families are subjugated and terrorized by the immigration police forces.

In the current era the economic forces of global corporate capitalism (neoliberal capitalism) are unrestrained.  Corporations encourage the movement of capital, and thus jobs, to low wage areas. When workers attempt to exercise their power against these conditions via  forming unions and organizing to withhold labor, their efforts are easily undermined by repression and  the ever-looming threat of factories moving overseas.  Labor unions and even local governments lose their power to hold capital accountable and all workers are forced to accept ever worsening wages and working conditions.

Current border enforcement increases exploitation  by dividing the global working class into competing sectors and thus inhibiting the possibility of  building a united working class movement. 

As socialists, as internationalists, we know that rather than building walls and more  prisons, what would really help workers to raise wages and improve living  conditions is much stricter enforcement of worker protection and anti-discrimination laws including the right to form democratic unions.   When negotiating trade conditions, worker protections and migration processes should be included. 

Threats by employers who use immigration status to keep workers from organizing unions or protesting illegal conditions should be a crime in each of the signatory countries.   When there's no punishment for violating labor rights, workers have no rights.  We should prohibit use of ICE and immigration enforcement during labor disputes or against workers who complain about illegal conditions.

The problem with our economy is not immigration; the problem is our broken immigration laws that allow business to exploit workers who lack legal status, driving down wages for all workers. If every immigrant were allowed to participate in our system, pay their dues, and become a citizen, we could block the corporation’s exploitation and eliminate the two-tiered workforce while building a united labor movement that raises wages and living standards for all workers. 

In the end, we need an immigration policy that brings people together  instead of pitting workers against each other.  We need an immigration policy that benefits migrants, their home communities, and working people here in the U.S.  And we need a national policy that limits U.S. military and economic interventions in other parts of the world. 

[Duane Campbell is Co-Chair, Immigrant Rights Committee, DSA]