News Release

Big Picture on Immigration Reform

ROBERTO RODRIGUEZ
Rodriguez writes the syndicated Column of the Americas with Patrisia Gonzales. His most recent piece is titled “What Is It About Illegal You Don’t Understand?”
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OSCAR CHACON
Chacon is the director of Enlaces America, a support center for Latino and Caribbean immigrant organizations based in Chicago. He is co-author of the article “Alternatives to a Wall: How NAFTA, CAFTA, and other corporate-friendly trade policies displace farmers and create mass migration, and how we can do better.” Among his suggestions: “We should work with our neighbors south of the border to strengthen small- and medium-sized enterprises — the sector that employs the largest number of people in Latin America. … We should stop promoting export-oriented agribusiness and instead support small-farmer organizations around the world…”
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JULIO HUATO
Huato is a researcher at the City University of New York’s Howard Samuels Center. He said today: “While the U.S. workers are entitled to — and should — exercise their democratic right to regulate the pace of social change (as opposed to being passive victims of blind economic forces), it must be recognized that no trade policy reform can change the brutal realities that underlie foreign competition: the gigantic disparities in wealth, productivity, wages, and living standards that prevail in today’s world. If the U.S. workers want to exercise a democratic control over the global economic phenomena that disrupt their lives, they need to address the deeper cause: world inequality.”
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SARAH ANDERSON
Anderson is director of the Global Economy Project at the Institute for Policy Studies and is co-author of the book Field Guide to the Global Economy. She said today: “The United States needs a long-term strategy for tackling the foundation of the problem: the inequalities that are driving migration in the first place.

“Europe offers some important lessons on narrowing the gaps. Today it’s taken for granted that citizens of any European Union country have the right to live and work in any other member state. Achieving this ‘open door’ policy wasn’t easy. When Spain and Portugal wanted to join the EU in the 1980s, there was widespread fear in member states that migrants from these poorer countries would flood northward, stealing jobs and straining public services.

“In response, the EU postponed lifting borders with both countries for five years after they were accepted as members in 1986. What happened during that transition is key. Determined to narrow the gaps with their southern neighbors, the richer countries poured in aid for infrastructure and workforce training. They also encouraged Spain and Portugal to strengthen their social safety nets.

“These efforts helped level the playing field so that when borders were lifted, there was no exodus. If anything, the migration flows went in reverse, as thousands of Spaniards and Portuguese who had been working in northern Europe went back home to take advantage of new job opportunities.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167