Sunday, January 07, 2007

No Place like Home

Americans often overlook the fact that, despite how nice life can be in the U.S., most people have a natural inclination to prefer to natal homes. This article from the Washington Post examines the possible effects globalization on immigration as the final provisions of NAFTA are enacted. In the next two years, Mexico's markets will be opened to poultry imports from the U.S. Mexican farms will have to compete with American agribusinesses. Most chicken farmers in Mexico expect that this provision will effectively eliminate chicken farming in Mexico. If Mexico imports cheaper American poultry, thousands will lose their jobs. After that, what would be their next best alternative? Why, immigrating to the U.S., of course.

Ironically, Americans have consistently failed to see the link between globalization and immigration. Opening the international border for trade purposes by necessity opens it to just about everything else--communication, culture and labor. Thus, as trade routes open through treaties like NAFTA, so too do immigration flows.

Another interesting, and often overlooked, fact highlighted in the article: Mexicans who have not yet immigrated are necessarily interested in moving their lives north. Life in Mexico is certainly not as extravagant as life in the U.S., but it is rich in culture and community. If you take a look at the San Miguel Fieldwork Diary (see link on the right), you will see that thousands of Americans give up their lives in the U.S. for the same reasons. Life in Mexico is good, even more so for those who have lived their entire lives there.

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