The TPP and Immigrant Rights

Sign on to this letter calling for border justice and fair trade.

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This letter explains the relationship between ‘free’ trade agreements and militarization of the border. The struggle for immigrant rights includes opening borders, not locking them down, and creating fair trade for people and the planet, not corporate trade for profit with impunity. Please consider signing on to this letter (fill out the form below). Then also share this letter with individuals and organizations in your community that work for immigrant rights or that also might be willing to sign on, and encourage them to add their names. We can stop the TPP! The first step is to educate more people about the effects the TPP will have on our communities. Then together, we will flush the TPP.

July, 2013

Stopping the TPP is  Immigrant Rights

We write this letter out of concern regarding a looming humanitarian crisis. The prospect of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) along with a surge in border militarization will leave in its wake a trail of displacement and death. The TPP will continue destroying rural economies and uprooting workers in Mexico and elsewhere. More border militarization and criminalization will leave yet more bodies of the undocumented and their families abandoned and lifeless in the desert. We call on fair trade and immigrant rights activists to join together to stop the TPP and to demand real, just immigration reform.

Over 6,000 undocumented workers and their family members have died crossing the US-Mexico border since 1994, the year that the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) was passed. It was also when construction of the border wall began. NAFTA led to a 60% increase in migration across the Southern border–a forced migration of people desperately looking for jobs to feed their families. Because of border militarization the undocumented generally enter the US via its most sparsely populated and harshest desert terrains to avoid apprehension. Those who don’t make it die from dysentery, dehydration and exposure.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been called “NAFTA on Steroids”. If it passes, it will be the largest FTA in the world, including not only Mexico, the United States and Canada, but also Peru, Chile, Vietnam, Brunei, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore. The Obama administration is asking for “Fast Track” authority to negotiate the TPP. Fast Track would enable the President to circumvent Congress’ constitutional power to establish the parameters of US trade policy. It allows the President to sign an agreement before a Congressional vote, which must take place within 90 days of the signature and which prohibits the addition of amendments.

Immigration reform legislation is also moving forward. The proposed reform includes a “border surge” of militarization and related benchmarks that must go into effect before road to citizenship provisions kick in. This surge would include between $30 and $50 billion for “security”, including the construction of 350 to 700 more miles of the border wall. The number of agents on the border would be doubled to 40,000. The US-Mexico border would become one of the most militarized borders in the world.

It is no coincidence that the year 1994 saw not only passage of NAFTA, but the beginning of border wall construction. And it is no coincidence that the border surge is being considered at the same time the TPP is being negotiated. Also closely related is the proliferation of private prisons, especially immigration detention centers. Militarized borders and new prisons help manage social disruptions as well as political dissent resulting from FTAs. Criminalization of the undocumented creates a sub-class of workers denied basic labor rights while forced to work long hours for low wages. The ones who benefit are transnational corporations and agribusinesses.

If things were already bad under NAFTA and the current level of border militarization, a border surge and the TPP will make them worse. When NAFTA went into effect, Mexico was importing 30,000 tons of pork. By 2010, that had gone up to 811,000 tons. Mexico lost 4,000 hog farms and 20,000 farm jobs as a result. If we include indirect jobs dependent on the pork industry, as many as 120,000 jobs were lost. Likewise, corn imports rose from 2 million tons in 1992 to 10.3 million tons in 2008 and the cost of corn tortillas rose by 50%. This scenario was repeated in different sectors, such as wheat and sorghum production. By 2006, NAFTA had forced two million Mexicans out of farm work and some 28,000 small and medium sized businesses had been eliminated. Wages in maquiladora zones along the border had been driven down by 25%. A 2005 study for the Mexican government by the World Bank showed that rural poverty had risen from 35% between 1992 and 1994, to 55% between 1996 and 1998. By 2010, 53 million Mexicans were living in poverty, or half the population, and 20%, mostly in rural areas, lived in extreme poverty.

The TPP is being negotiated in secrecy. Only a few insistent Congress persons have seen it. However, some 600 corporate lobbyists have read the text and made comments on it. What few details have been leaked to the public reveal a document that guards the interests of big corporations even more than NAFTA, which at least includes a provision allowing countries to withdraw with only six months notice. Investor-State provisions will be strengthened letting foreign corporations sue a government over policies that provide environmental and community protection but curb private profits. Suits would be decided by a special court comprised from a rotating pool of corporate lawyers.

What will it mean if passage of the TPP is coupled with a border surge? We have already seen significant growth in border militarization. Whether it be because of this, or because the US is recovering from its own economic crisis, apprehensions by the border patrol have dropped by 50% since 2008. But at the same time, deaths in the desert of border crossers has risen by 27%. The National Foundation for American Policy has found that an undocumented immigrant is eight times more likely to die crossing the border today than ten years ago. With the TPP and a border surge, deaths will increase.

The fight to defeat the TPP is advocacy for immigrant rights, or better put, for the rights of Mexican and other workers and farming families to not be forcibly displaced. One of the central rights of any potential immigrant is the choice whether or not to migrate. Even more central is the right not to die crossing the desert in search of jobs. We must tell Congress: End border militarization, deny fast track authority and reject the TPP. What we need, what we require, is fair trade, not free trade, and border justice, not militarization and criminalization.


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Fr. Roy Bourgeois, Co-Founder School of the Americas Watch
Isabel Garcia, Co-Founder of Coalición de Derechos Humanos
John Fife, Co-Founder of No More Deaths and the Sanctuary Movement
Martha Ojeda, Director of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras
David Bacon, Labor and Immigration Author and Photojournalist.
James Jordan, Alliance for Global Justice, Flush the TPP Campaign
Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese, Popular Resistance, Flush the TPP Campaign
Cliff DuRand, Center for Global Justice
David Brookbank, Spokane, WA
Evangeline Moen, Isle, MN
Justine Dulle, Prince Albert, SK
Marian Hennings, Spokane, WA
Jan Henriksen, Sahuarita, AZ
Dominique Valli, Porto Vecchio, Corsica, France
Larry Humanist Green VFP, Sananton, TX, VFP-chap#126
Shelley Scribner, Modesto, CA
Rosemarie Sawdon, Blacksburg, VA
Maureen A Sheahan
Jean Stockdale, Reformed Church of Highland Park, NJ
Sally Sommer, Berkeley, CA
Daniel Carillo, CWA, Los Angeles, CA
Leo Reiter, Eden, NY
Georgia P. Williams, Fresno, CA
Joyce Ellwanger, Milwaukee, WI
Elatia, Grimshaw, Royal Oak, MI
Jack Strasburg, Tucson, AZ
George Pauk, Phoenix, AZ
Edwin Homeier, Cabery, IL
Carol Edelsky, Tucson, AZ
Andy Conn, Cindy Sheehan for California Govenor 2014 campaign manager
Cassandra Lepe, Brown Berets de SacrAztlan
Chuck Van Wey, Seattle, WA
Roger Stoll, Task Force on the Americas
Wayne . Flottman, Torrance, CA
David J. Wee, Minneapolis, MN
James R. Dawson, Torrance, CA
Lupe Torre, Orlando, FL
Mary Lou Finley, La Mesa, CA
Mauna Richardson, La Madera, NM
Tammy Swoboda, Indianapolis, IN
E. Daniel Riehl, Lititz,PA
Beverly Rice, New York, NY
Kenneth Ruby, Salem, NH
Mabel Leon, Schenectady, NY
Dr. Salvador Rivera, Cobleskill, NY
Maureen Smith, Aptos, CA
Pierre-Paul Villafafila, Fresno, CA
Michael Eisenscher, Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
Patrick CoatarPeter
Graciela Breece, Boulder, CO
Raquel Mogollon, Tucson, AZ
Judith Bohler, Ephrata, PA
Diana Bohn, Berkeley, CA
Megan Whelan, Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
Donald Clark, Network for EnvironmentaL & Economic Responsibility if United Church of Christ
Rick Lewis, Berkeley, CA
Nuria Homeres, El Paso, TX
Banbose Shango, Washington, DC
Robert Jacobson, Brooklyn, NY
Mary Turgi, Holy Cross International Justice Office
Ordell Vee, Madelia, MN
Bob Thomas, Myrtle Creek, OR
Gloria Osborne, Springwater, NY
Mary Bunting, Baltimore, MD
Robert Ellis, Oakland, CA
Ginny Schneider, Henniker, NH
Sister Carol Boschert, O’Fallon, MO
Mary Dean, Chicago, IL
Marilyn Borchardt, Oakland, CA
Laura Tabili, Tucson, AZ
Garrett Collins, San Marcos, CA
Karen Kampwirth, Galesburg, IL
Sheila Pinkel, Los Angeles, CA
Mary Munch, Atherton, CA
Luranne Drager, San Francisco, CA
Alan Haggard, San Diego, CA
Barrie Sargeant, Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement
Julie Larson, Blaine, MN
Kirsten Wittkowski, Washington, DC
Lois Danks, Stop the Checkpoints
Ruth Snyder [email protected] Rochester, MN
Shelley Scribner [email protected] Modesto, CA
Ed Rowley [email protected] Rochester, MN
Roger Harris [email protected] Corte Madera, CA Task Force on the Americas
Fran Ricardo [email protected]
Sue Morrissey [email protected] Cincinnati, OH
Gabriel Voiles [email protected] Bronx, NY
Andrea Francis [email protected] Tucson, AZ
Nancy Waidtlow [email protected] Fresno, CA
Jeffrey Segal, Louisville chapter NLG
Lucienne O’Keefe, Greenbrae, CA
James Wandera Ouma, Tanzania
Beverly Fitzpatrick, WILPF
Dianne Aid, The Episcopal Network for Economic Justicr
Maria Riehl, Lititz, PA
Karen Hartman, Franciscan Sisters of the Poor
Patricia S. Mann, New York, NY
Henry Thurston-Griswold, Huntingdon, PA
Rev. Linda M. Maloney, Enosburg Falls, VT
Karen Donahue, RSM, Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team
Betsy Palmieri, NY Hudson Valley Community Coalition
K. Kay Bircher, Benson, AZ
Vic and Barby Ulmer
Kathleen Sullivan, Auburn, WA
Janet Larson, Newark, NJ
Christine H., Aventura, FL
Thomas Baker, Nicaragua Solidarity Chicago
Bob Rossi, Salem, OR
Corey Mondello, Boston, MA
Bill and Tesse Donnelly, Oak Park, IL
Vicki Cervantes, La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago
Roger Griffin, Richland, WA
Juliette Wrenn, Tucson, AZ
Bela Feldman-Bianco, CEMI- UNICAMP
Enzo Bard, Badwin, NY
Barbara Keyt, TSTSCA
Lil Mattingly, Bolivia
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Eleanore Bluestein, Fresno, CA
Hilary Hebert, Beverly, MA
Robert Gaylord, Los Angeles, CA
Gwen Farry, 8th Day Center for Justice
George Marsh, Tiffin, OH
Mai Summer Vue, Fresno, CA
Kathy Casey, New York, NY
Victoria Velasco, Los Angeles, CA
Carmen Valenzuela, Shelbyville, KY
Joan Hilton, Cincinnati, OH
Debbie, Palm Coast, FL
Robert McCauley, Berkeley, CA
Harold Hellickson, Hendersonville, NC
Patty Shepherd, Winchester
Charles B. McGarry, Washington, DC
Adrienne R. Burke, Sunland, CA
Cody Dolnick, Joshua Tree, CA
Lynne Sootheran, Decorah,IA
Guerry Hoddersen, Seattle, WA Freedom Socialist Party
Sheila Culkin, Evanston, IL, Democracy In Action -Chicago
Elizabeth Brown, Chaska, MN
Carol Claus, Marietta, GA
Ruth J. Palmer, Decorah,IA, Northeast Iowa Peace and Justice Center
Judy Giesen, Dubuque, IA
Carol Cook, Oak Park, IL
Grace Gyori, Plainfield, IN
Amy Truax, Portland, OR Witness for Peace Northwest
Janet Rog, Roseville MN
Arnold Matlin, Linwood, NY
Mario F. Venegas, Evanston, IL
Karen Berger, Montrose, CA
Mary Lou Finley , La Mesa, CA
Rand Carter, Utica, NY
Edith Kantrowitz, Brooklyn, NY
David J. Wee, Minneapolis, MN
Roberta Ray, Seattle, WA, Washington New Sanctuary Movement
Deborah Bratcher, Lubbock, TX
Sara Wohlleb, Chicago. IL, Chicago Religious Leadership Network
Julie Grote, Tiffin,OH
Susan Balmer, Chicago. IL
Eleanor Oakley, Shelter Island,NY
Cathy Talbott, Herrin, IL, Green Party
Melvin Thompson, West Bloomfield, MI
Gary N. Granat, Palisade, CO
Alan Haggard, San Diego, CA
Tim White, Orcas, WA
Sadie Frazier, Knoxville, TN
Susan, Woodland, CA Move to Amend
Tammy Swoboda, Indiana
Pierre-Paul, Fresno, CA
Robert Frazier, Knoxville, TN
Robert V. Jacobson, Brooklyn, NY
Ordell Vee, Madelia, MN
Leota, Lansing, IL
Roberto Jones, Brisbane, Queensland, AU
Fr. Jim Hoffman OFM, Chicago. IL
Bob Rossi, Salem, OR
Raquel Mogollon, Pan Left Productions
Margo Morado, Albuquerque, NM
Hillary Watson, Lombard, IL
Eva Chavarria Hunter, Wayzata, MN
Dorothy Reik, Progressive Democrats of Santa Monica Mountains
Cliff, Waltham, MA
Marillyn Booton, St Paul, MN
Charles Dineen, Lawton, MI
Pamela Evans, Kemp
Michael Aaron Karsch, Martinez, CA
Philemon, Victorville, CA
Laura Avant, MoveOn metro Denver council
Jacqueline Knable, Hendersonville
Saadia Behar, Denver, CO
Carl Rising Moore, Indianapolis Peace and Justice Center
Dagfin Melby, Santa Barbara, CA
Susan Dinnin, Indianapolis, IN
Monica Hurtado, Minneapolis, MN
Bill Houston, Yellow Springs, OH
Kirsten Wittkowski, Washington, DC
Joanne Wood, Sterling, IL
Jake Ratner, Just Harvest, Immokalee, FL
Dana Foht, Naples, FL
Jose Mediola, Amherst, OH

Organizational Endorsements

Alliance for Global Justice
Coalición de Derechos Humanos
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
School of the Americas Watch
Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras
Latin America Solidarity Coalition
Marin Interfaith Task Force on the Americas
National Immigrant Solidarity Network
US-El Salvador Sister Cities
Nicaragua Network
The Dignity Campaign: Real Immigration Reform
Center for Global Justice
Civilian Soldier Alliance
United Students for Fair Trade
United Workers, Baltimore, MD
Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America
Bay Area Labor Committee for Peace & Justice
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala
Network for EnvironmentaL & Economic Responsibility of United Church of Christ
Holy Cross International Justice Office
La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago
Peace Action
Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement
Stop the Checkpoints
Task Force on the Americas
Louisville chapter NLG
The Episcopal Network for Economic Justicr
Franciscan Sisters of the Poor
Sisters of Mercy West Midwest Justice Team
Hudson Valley Community Coalition
Nicaragua Solidarity Chicago
La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago
Peace Action
8th Day Center for Justice