I want to commend NACLA and Esther Portillo of the Salvadoran American National Association (SANA) for the link you made between Latin American migration to the United States and “free trade” (“Latinos and U.S. Foreign Policy: A Lesson for the Future,” November/December 2010). Many of us involved with our southern colleagues in the original fight against NAFTA, and later DR-CAFTA, warned of the prospective impact that these and other neoliberal agreements and policies would have on millions of Mexicans and Central Americans. It has therefore been frustrating and perplexing to watch the failure of most immigrant-rights and related organizations to address these root causes of the rapid expansion of Latin American migration, and to frame the public discourse on the issue in a way that would resonate with the U.S. public and yield intelligent policy options.
I sincerely hope that Portillo and her colleagues succeed where we have not in persuading otherwise progressive organizations and policy makers to address the causes that immigrants give for leaving their homes for the United States. Not only would this greatly help engender living-wage employment among our neighbors to the south, but it would also help create gainful opportunities in their home countries for the millions of Mexicans and Central Americans who would prefer to return.
The Development GAP