For the past few years, I’ve gotten into conversations with people about immigration reform. I think people try to start conversations with me on immigration because I have done several cartoons on the subject and I’ve been in several political marches supporting immigrant rights. I’ve learned a lot about immigration issues and realize that it is a complex issue. I’m in favor of immigration reform that allows most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country a pathway to citizenship.
Our current illegal immigration problem can be traced to the passage of NAFTA in the 1990s. When the United States negotiated the NAFTA deal with Mexico, Mexico agreed to get rid of their subsidies to Mexican corn and other farm products. The United States, however, didn’t get rid of its subsidies to American corn. So when cheap subsidized American corn flooded the Mexican market, Mexican farmers couldn’t compete. Over 2 million agricultural workers lost their jobs.
The Mexican government knew that the NAFTA deal would severely affect their agricultural sector. They were betting that the industries that benefitted from NAFTA would be able to absorb the people who had lost their agricultural jobs. This didn’t happen. The displaced agricultural workers instead immigrated to the United States to find work in the agricultural and service industries.
Before NAFTA, illegal immigration was in decline. After NAFTA, illegal immigration went through a steep rise until the mid 2000s.
There is a myth that illegal immigrants have taken away jobs from native born American workers. There are instances of this happening. The vast majority of illegal immigrants, however, have taken jobs that most native born American won’t take. And many illegal immigrants are working in industries that are facing worker shortages. Farmers in Arizona and Alabama, for instance, faced worker shortages after their states enacted strict laws in the 2000s that targeted illegal immigrants.
In 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform bill that I thought addressed both the Democrats desire to help illegal immigrants and the Republican concerns about border security. To address conservative concerns about border security, the bill would’ve added 500 miles of a border wall, invest in drones and other high technology to protect the border, and add 20,000 personnel to guard the border. In exchange, illegal immigrants who are in this country would be given a 13 year waiting period before being given a chance to becoming a citizen. In that period, those immigrants who are here legally and are in a waiting list would be given a first chance to become citizens. After 13 years, illegal immigrants would be given a chance to be a citizen if they speak English and they do not have a criminal record.
When the Senate passed the bill with both Democrat and Republican support, the bill went to the House, where it died due to the extreme conservative Freedom Caucus Republicans not allowing the bill to be debated. If these Republicans were serious about immigration reform, they could have come up with a bill of their own that could’ve addressed any perceived flaws that they saw in the Senate bill. Then they could’ve negotiated with the Senate leaders in the reconciliation process and come up with a compromise bill. They didn’t do that.
The Filipino American community is affected by the immigration reform debate because around 500,000 illegal immigrants are Filipinos. Many of these Filipino illegal immigrants are in the caregiving and nursing professions, both industries that are facing labor shortages. The shortage of caregivers and nurses is expected to get much worse in the coming decades as the Baby Boomers beginning retiring from the workforce. Right now 13% of the population are over 65 years old. In 2030 over 18% will be over 65. The American birth rate is 1.9 children per couple. The ratio of young workers to retired people will shrink. This will create stress to the social programs and the workforce as industries struggle to fill shortages.
Trump’s policy of cutting immigration will exacerbate these problems. Our country could potentially face the same problems as Japan, a country with an aging population, a low birthrate, and an overly strict immigration policy.
I do favor deporting illegal immigrants who are guilty of violent crimes like murder or rape. Most of the 11 million illegal immigrants in this country, however, are not guilty of violent crimes. I think it’s demagoguery to try to stereotype illegal immigrants as being murderers and rapists when the vast majority are not.
I think the 2013 Senate bipartisan immigration bill was a good compromise that tried to address the concerns of both liberals and conservatives. I hope any future immigration reform debate is made in the same spirit of compromise and give and take.
Abby Martin outlines the disastrous effects of so-called “free trade” policy NAFTA, including the ejection of over two million Mexican farmers, a surge in sweatshop labor and the destruction of Mexico’s food sovereignty.
Tim Wise, Policy Research Director at Tufts University, explained why illegal immigrants began coming to the United States after the NAFTA treaty was enacted in the mid 1990s. Subsidized U.S. corn was exported to Mexico at 19% below cost of production, devastating Mexican farmers who were unable to compete
Farming uses a higher number of undocumented workers than any other US industry, and that’s sparking concern about what will happen if the Trump administration presses ahead with its immigration policies. Al Jazeera’s Andy Gallacher reported from Clanton, Alabama.
Wisconsin, like much of the country, is suffering from both a nursing shortage and a nursing faculty shortage. To move Wisconsin forward in excellence in nursing practice, Wisconsin needs nurse educators who advance clinical practice and nursing research.
Created for a SSHRC knowledge Synthesis grant led by Dr Margaret Walton-Roberts this film examines the issue of nursing shortages and the global migration of nurses.