Ethical Borders

Ethical Borders: NAFTA, Globalization, and Mexican Migration

Bill Ong Hing
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Ethical Borders
    Book Description:

    In his topical new book,Ethical Borders,Bill Ong Hing asks, why do undocumented immigrants from Mexico continue to enter the United States and, what would discourage this surreptitious traffic? An expert on immigration law and policy, Hing examines the relationship between NAFTA, globalization, and undocumented migration, and he considers the policy options for controlling immigration. He develops an ethical rationale for opening up the U.S./Mexican border, as well as improving conditions in Mexico so that its citizens would have little incentive to migrate.

    InEthical BordersHing insists that reforming NAFTA is vital to ameliorating much of the poverty that drives undocumented immigration and he points to the European Union's immigration and economic development policies as a model for North America. Hing considers the world-wide economic crisis and the social problems that attend labor migration into homogenous countries, arguing for a spectrum of changes, including stricter border enforcement and more effective barriers; a path to citizenship for undocumented migrants; or a guest worker program.

    Hing also situates NAFTA and its effects in the larger, and rapidly shifting, context of globalization-particularly the recent rise of China as the world's economic giant. Showing how NAFTA's unforeseen consequences have been detrimental to Mexico, Hing passionately argues that the United States is ethically bound to address the problems in a way that puts prosperity within the grasp of all North Americans.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-926-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: A Time to Think Broadly
    (pp. 1-8)

    The vitriol and hate rhetoric directed at undocumented immigrants in the United States is as palpable as ever: “They are lawbreakers!” “They take our jobs!” “They don’t learn English!” “They commit crimes!” “They run up costs of schools, medical care, and public services!” “We should place the military at the border!” “They should all be deported!” With this level of rancor, is it any wonder that the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country have become the victims of increased enforcement efforts?¹

    However, the stepped-up efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents to round up undocumented immigrants...

  5. 1 The NAFTA Effect
    (pp. 9-28)

    The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) of 1994, vigorously endorsed by the political leaders of the United States, Mexico, and Canada, was supposed to fix the problem of undocumented Mexican migration into the United States.¹ NAFTA would be the permanent solution. The idea was that economic development in Mexico would be enhanced under NAFTA and that development would create jobs in Mexico, encouraging Mexicans to stay home.² In fact, NAFTA as a method of reducing undocumented migration failed miserably. Even though the agreement coincided with a new border-enforcement regime, illicit border crossings from Mexico continued to rise. The militarization of...

  6. 2 Revolutionary Mexico: A Brief Economic and Political History
    (pp. 29-62)

    To understand the U.S.–Mexico immigration dynamic, policymakers must examine Mexico through a complex series of lenses. Obviously, Mexico’s economic and political history directly affects its residents and thus the flow of immigrants into the United States. Certainly, the reasons that many Mexicans come to the United States to work are varied and not always simply because of a poor Mexican economy. However, without a doubt many Mexicans look to the north when jobs and wages in Mexico are suffering.

    The rapid increase in immigration from Mexico to the United States over the past twenty years reflects a complex and...

  7. 3 Canadian Stability and Responsibility
    (pp. 63-78)

    In contrast with Mexico, Canada, the other NAFTA partner of the United States, has done well, benefiting from the agreement. Even in the face of the recent global economic crisis that has presented severe challenges to the United States and the rest of the world, Canada’s economy has stood out as remarkably strong. Given its strategic alliance with North American countries as well as its partnership with the United States in NAFTA, Canada also shares a special responsibility for assisting Mexico in its path toward political and economic stability. Understanding Canada’s strengths helps us understand its ability to help with...

  8. 4 The European Union Strategy
    (pp. 79-95)

    In contrast to the failure of NAFTA to incorporate labor migration and development assistance to poor members in its vision, the European Union (EU) evolved with rigorous commitment to the economic stability of all members and freedom of travel. The EU approach permits open labor, engages in development assistance to poor nations to reduce migration pressures, and maintains border control.¹ The EU approach appears to be working without massive flows of workers from poor nations to wealthy nations. In fact, poor nations do not seem so poor any longer. For those reasons, looking to the European experience for instruction—or,...

  9. 5 Celtic Tiger: The Irish Example
    (pp. 96-115)

    Taking a closer look at Ireland gives us a good sense of the benefits of the European Union’s investment approach to a formerly poor, emigrant-exporting country. Ireland developed into an economically successful country that attracted immigrants. While the analogy between Mexico and Ireland may be imperfect, important lessons can still be retrieved from this example.

    Not long ago, Ireland was an immigrant-sending nation. That changed when Ireland became part of the EU. The Great Famine of 1848 launched a century of continual emigration, culminating in more than four hundred thousand nationals fleeing Irish shores in the 1950s. The vast departure...

  10. 6 The Failed Enforcement Approach: “There Ain’t No Reason to Treat Them Like Animals”
    (pp. 116-132)

    Instead of addressing the contemporary causes of undocumented Mexican migration that are linked to NAFTA and globalization, the United States has addressed the symptoms of the challenge by adopting an enforcement-only approach. That approach has failed miserably, because the social and economic forces behind undocumented migration are stronger than even the militarization of the border can withstand. Instead of trying to understand why the flow persists, the phenomenon has been answered with more fencing, expanding the Border Patrol, and stepping up U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids.¹ While more border crossers have died and more families have been separated...

  11. 7 Contemplating North American Integration and Other Alternatives
    (pp. 133-160)

    The failure of the current immigration enforcement strategy and the role that NAFTA has played in putting more pressure on Mexican migration demands that we look for alternative approaches to the challenge of undocumented Mexican migration. The enforcement-only approach to immigration that fails to address visa demands and a trade policy that has helped to dry up work for poor workers in Mexico are essentially working at cross-purposes. Understanding the effects of NAFTA and other aspects of the globalized economy provides us with the foundation to develop a better approach to the flow of Mexican workers to the United States...

  12. Epilogue: The Ethical Border: Thinking Outside the (Big) Box
    (pp. 161-186)

    The U.S. immigration system is broken, and enforcing that dysfunctional system has led to troubling results. Hundreds of border crossers have died each year for many years now as a result of Operation Gatekeeper, which pushes migrants to attempt to enter at the most treacherous parts of the deserts and mountains. Anti-immigrant ordinances and laws fomented by resentment over undocumented workers have been proposed and enacted in states and towns across the country, causing great division in those communities. Gestapo-style U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids have disrupted workplaces and surrounding communities, leaving witnesses (and, in some cases, victims)...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 187-218)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-230)
  15. Index
    (pp. 231-237)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 238-238)