Today’s immigration crisis started 24 years ago with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which lowered Mexican tarrifs on agricultural imports, leading to a flood of cheap U.S. corn and other basic food staples into the Mexican economy that forced millions of small Mexican farmers out of the market.
Those farmers and their families had no choice but to migrate. This was the first big wave of migration from Mexico.
Then the same failed policies of destroying national small-scale production in favor of large corporate-led agricultural-exporting schemes were applied to Central American countries with the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) in 2006.
Failed economic policies have also plunged Mexico and Central America into dependence on extractive industries, like mining projects that push people off their lands.
Now those families fleeing deteroriating conditions and major new threats to the environment are being maliciously detained instead of being taking as refugees.
What we are seeing today at the border is the very small tip of an enormous iceberg that has been there beneath the surface for more than three decades.
We need to reunite the families immediately. But we also need trade agreements that put an end to the destructive race to the bottom and increase living standards of workers in the U.S., Mexico, Central America and throughout the world.
The governments of the United States, Mexico, and Central American countries need to confront the root causes of migration and allow migrants the basic rights afforded to them by international laws.