America’s south west state of Arizona – not far from the Mexican border
A group of immigrants is stopped by police. There is nothing exceptional about it, this police patrol on average arrests around 2000 illegal immigrants every day.
Each one of the would be-workers has paid the equivalent of between 800 and 1600 euros to get them to what they think of as the promised land.
“Life here is different, here we can earn far more than back in Mexico,“said one young man.
The North American Free Trade Agreement signed in the mid 1990s was heralded as a deal to benefit all sides. Freeing up trade would create jobs in Mexico and other Latin American countries, thus ridding any need for workers to enter the US,seeking employment. But so far the job creation promise south of the border has not happened.
Today there are over 11million illegal immigrants in the US and each year some 500,000 million more enter the country. Of those already there around 8 million are of Latin american origin. Most of them congregate in the southern and western states where they make up 15 percent of the population.
In the main they are poorly educated , unskilled workers, filling the sort of jobs that most native born americans will not take, at least not for the same low wage. The reduced costs of production for the employers means that americans can benefit from cheap products and services – Most of California’s agriculture relies on migrant labour.
But while the consumer wins, the trade unions are not happy.
They fear the knock- on lowering of wages for all their members.
And then there are the social conservatives…. :
Congressman Russel Pearce:
“When will americans stand up and say enough is enough?
You can’t come here and damage our health system our education our criminal system……”
But Immigrant America is challenging the anti-immigrant hysteria that has hit the US and they are not alone. Human rights groups are coming out in support claiming that millions of illegal workers and their families make an invaluable contribution to the development and culture of modern america.