Uprooted: The Impact of Free Market on Migrants

Rufino Dominguez, coordinator of the Binational Front of Indigenous Organizations (FIOB, Frente Indigena de Organizaciones Binationales) says there are about 500,000 indigenous people from Oaxaca living in the U.S. – 300,000 in California alone. Economic crises provoked by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and other economic reforms are uprooting and displacing Mexicans in the country’s most remote areas, where indigenous people still speak their native languages. “There are no jobs, and NAFTA made the price of corn so low that it’s not economically possible to plant a crop anymore,” Dominguez says. “We come to the U.S. to work because we can’t get a price for our product at home. There’s no alternative.”

As he points out, U.S. trade and immigration policy are linked together. They are part of a single system, not separate and independent policies. The negotiation of NAFTA was in fact an important step in the development of this relationship. 

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