Effects of Migration to the North

(Article published in the newspaper “La Jornada” – December 17, 2005)

The last week in November, I participated in a seminar organized by Dominican men, women and laity from Mexico and Central America in El Salvador about migrations and work, After hearing testimonies about the suffering of the migrants, and considering with an ethical responsibility the studies of specialists in this area, at the end, a declaration was sent out that analyzes some of the principal causes of this massive phenomenon, that cannot be other than economic policies imposed on our countries more than20 years ago, and the hypocritical policy of contention on the part of the administration of the United States, especially since September 11. “For the Mexicans and Central Americans” says the text, “the migration to the north manifests an imperial policy that takes advantage, with no consideration of the comparative inequality of salaries and benefits, of our inexpensive handiwork in the metropolis; of our professionals who cannot find work justly remunerated in our countries; of the exploitation for the external market of our economy, and of ourselves as consumers in our precarious internal markets”.

A later communication made known the social and human effects of these dramatic actions, such as the helplessness in which many families of migrants remain; the increase of their poverty levels, because of the costs of the migration, many times a failure; the consequences that all this has on the human development of its members; the repercussions that it has for a family living and social and peaceful harmony; the lack of incentives to overcome this, for being attached to the remittances that can come to them from the one outside the country; the widening of the circles of migration, for the greater risks of being able to return to the north; the increase of migration of women and children in the last few years , with the uncertain hope of being able to reach their loved ones; the indefinite abandonment of possible sources of work in their own countries, equally in the city, as in the rural area; the uncertain future of our economy and the greater loss of independence of our countries. All this motivated also by absence of integrated migratory policies and autonomy on the part of governments, that to the contrary, find in migration the escape valve that liberates them from social responsibilities, for the lack of an international migratory policy that places human and social rights of the migrants ahead of the discriminatory action and little criticism of the United States.

“We assert”, reads the communication, “that the governments of the peoples affected by migration, whether country from their origin, as country in transit or as country of destination, do not have an integrated policy of their own that attends to these causes, and even less to the harmful effects for the families and their countries. The government itself of the United States deliberately maintains an ambiguous policy, so that on the one hand it foments migration and on the other hand represses it.” “What is more”, it continues, “ it seems to us that there is no policy and even less a policy of its own, and that they only limits themselves, in the majority of cases, to adding some of their efforts to soften in part the more scandalous difficulties that the migrants encounter in their trajectory to the north “.

“So it appears”, they conclude, “that for them the most important thing is that the migrants arrive at their destination in the best conditions possible, because then it removes them of the obligations that they have with them, assures them a considerable income from currencies and guarantees them a greater stability in their own countries.” It treats of the case of countries like Salvador, whose economy depends on 84 % of the remittances that it receives from outside the country and whose product above all goes to stop the economic and political circles that foment it. “Business is a circle”, a specialist says, “a good part of the remittances come by way of banks that gain a commission in the United States, passed on from the population to the supermarkets, properties of the same bankers; the supermarkets deposit the remittances in the banks and these loan money to the import businesses, property of the same bankers, and from there return to the United States. But since importations are not part of the national internal brute product, it does not generate an economic growth.” Will this be the fate that awaits the actual development of the Mexican economy, already dependent in great measure on the remittances of our migrants? It depends on the formulations and positions that we assume in respect to it. For sure is that for the moment the communication laments the actual situation of the Mexican government which it qualifies as “gendarme of its own migrants and of those migrants of the brother/sister peoples of Central America, hypocritically placed by the US government to take care of in a discretional and selective manner the south, of their frontiers.”

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