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U.S. Workers Must Join Hands with those from South of the Border

Robin Yeamans  |  Issue: September 2014

What did the US export to Central America and Mexico? Not just criminal gang culture but unemployment. These countries were used as a safety valve where their workers were permitted to come to the US when US businesses, including agriculture, needed workers, and then those workers were deported when business’ needs changed.

In the past it was recession/depression in the economy that resulted in foreign-born workers being tossed out. Now computers and robotics, even in the fields, have drastically reduced jobs in the US, and the economic safety valve requires more than just letting off the pressure by sending people from south of the border back.

Now it’s not just foreign-born workers losing their jobs in the new economy. Entire divisions of labor are being eliminated—forever—by computers and robotics. Earlier, jobs went to low-wage countries such as China. Now, those jobs are simply going away, and they won’t ever come back.

The people of Central America and Mexico can try to immigrate to the US. But where are people to go who already reside here? They have no place to which they can immigrate. US workers had a higher standard of living than those in other countries, benefitting from the exploitation of countries which were neocolonies (countries which in the past were owned by another country, such as Spain, and have achieved formal independence but remain economically dependent). The former neocolonies are now part of globalization, and the US workers unwillingly have joined workers there in a “race to the bottom,” as wages, benefits and social conditions have crashed in the US.

The people on both sides of the border form one class – people who have nothing to sell but their labor power, which they must sell to the big corporations to live. But more and more throughout the hemisphere corporations have robots and don’t need human workers. Unemployed workers in the US have nowhere to go, nowhere to migrate, and they need to join hands with people from south of the border in the struggle to build a new world that will meet the needs of all, regardless of where they are born.

In the new global economy, while political borders remain, there are no economic borders, and workers on all sides are in one world labor market. The cost of labor is going to be the same everywhere—which means US wages must fall. Conditions on both sides of the border are going to be the same. Are we going to permit a race to the bottom or turn things around and build a new society. The future is up to us.

The children from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, forced out of their home countries are impacting people in the US, not just by migration, but in many ways.

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