The 16.6 billion dollar figure that Mexicans in the United States remitted home during 2004 is equivalent to US$45.5 million per day entering Mexico, overtaking the amount invested by foreign corporations, or income from tourism, or even net income from the sale of oil.7

Mexican migration to the United States is also broadening geographically. Today’s migrants come from states, such as Chiapas and Veracruz, that historically were not areas of high expulsion. And they are heading to new destinations too: Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, and the Carolinas up until recently had never seen so many Mexican faces. In the past decade there was a “spectacular” growth of the presence of Mexicans on the east coast of the United States, and in many communities on the coast they are already the largest minority. Experts in demographic trends predict that in 10 years, Mexicans will be the largest minority on the east coast.

In Chicago Mexicans make up 20% of the population. In New York City the Mexican community has grown from 32,689 in 1990 to 122,550 in 2000. Robert Smith, an immigration researcher at Barnard College, calculates that the real population of Mexicans is over 300,000.8

This flight north is tearing apart Mexico, particularly in the countryside. After decades of anti-campesino policies, the rural economy is floundering, without developmental guidance or funding that could revert the tendency. Government subsidies do exist, but they flow largely to areas controlled by large agrobusiness concerns, particularly foreign ones in Mexico’s northwest corner.

These policies overtly encourage migration. What other explanation is there for the Mexican government’s decision to forego collecting tariffs on corn and beans imported from the United States under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)? Such tariffs are allowed by the treaty until 2008, and collecting them would have helped protect national producers from foreign competition.9 Fifteen million Mexicans (roughly 15% of the population) depend on growing corn, and with tons of U.S. corn sold in Mexico at dumping prices, the price has plummeted. The result: more out-migration.

More than 50,000 Mexican producers are expelled from their lands annually, threatening the precarious existence of thousands of rural communities. According to Victor Quintana, adviser to the Democratic Campesino Union (FDC by its Spanish initials) and researcher at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, a “phenomenon of de-ruralization throughout the country” is taking place “not only economically, but also at educational, cultural, and social levels” as well.10

Thousands of rural communities have become ghost towns. In states with a decades-old tradition of heading “up north,” the journey has become a rite of passage for young men, synonymous with reaching adulthood. The young leave and the majority will never return to reside permanently in their hometowns. Those who remain behind–the elderly, children and women, although women are migrating today more frequently–survive on remittances used to buy necessities of daily life and make improvements on their homes. Little is used for productive investment or savings.

In Mexico’s countryside migration is often seen as a better tool for climbing the social ladder than education.11 Even if they finish secondary or high school, the young often cannot find adequate employment or a decent wage in their country. In migrating, academic degrees are of little or no use given the jobs most of them will be offered.

The collapse in indigenous communities is particularly worrisome. The Diocese of San Cristóbal, Chiapas calls it a “contagion among young people to leave.”12 Out-migration from indigenous communities has meant the loss of customs, festivities, culture, identity, crops, organization, traditional food and drink, and has led to family disintegration, a rise in drug and alcohol addictions, the sale of communal lands, and a collective disorientation that comes from the loss of religious beliefs and even faith in the future.


Official Policies Responsible for the Disaster

The swell in Mexican migration to the United States can be attributed mainly to failed economic policies that have been unable to generate employment and reduce poverty. The most pronounced increases in migratory patterns coincide in general with two important moments in Mexico ’s economic life: the start of neoliberal policies in the mid-80s and NAFTA in 1994.

As part of these policies, local and foreign governments have resolved, to the extent possible, to depopulate the Mexican countryside. The FDC of Chihuahua points to three phases that have led to “campesinos becoming a species on the way to extinction, not just geographically but culturally as well.”13 During the first phase, from 1982 to 1988, government-guaranteed prices were canceled while the price of agricultural inputs spiraled upward. The second phase of the offensive began in1988 when credit for smallholder farmers disappeared in the midst of greater foreign competition brought on by open-border policies. The third phase and grand coup de grâce were the changes in the Federal Agrarian Reform Law, the start of NAFTA, and the disappearance of Conasupo (a state-run trading company for basic grains).

Each phase brought expulsion of campesinos from their land. As in many states in Mexico, in Chihuahua’s rural municipalities there has been a 20% drop in population in 10 years. Many farmers in debt, or simply impoverished have been forced to sell their lands to large agrobusiness concerns, and end up working at starvation wages for those same companies.

Some 3.4 million campesinos migrate within the country to with the hope of finding work in agrobusiness.14 Others try their luck in the cities, or the maquiladoras on the northern border. In 2001, at the height of job creation, the maquiladoras had a combined workforce of 1.3 million people. But some analysts now think that the golden moment is past, since China has threatened the “competitive advantage” of Mexico’s low-wage labor.15

Neither the industrial nor service sectors have been able to “absorb” campesinos thrown out of farming. The informal economy currently employs some 33% of those employed in the urban sector, but the low pay and lack of job security has turned many street vendors into migrants too. Contrary to common beliefs, typical migrants are not the poorest and most excluded in the country, but rather have a higher-than-average education, when compared to the country as a whole.16


Forced Migration

Mexicans who decide to tread the dusty roads northward have a major hurdle to confront: crossing the northern border. Central Americans who do the same–generally Salvadorans, Hondurans, and Guatemalans–have to face the same challenge and cross the whole of Mexico .

Central American undocumented migrants are easy prey.17 First in line are Mexican authorities–police, immigration authorities, customs officers, at the federal, state, or local levels. Then there is the army and navy. They also suffer physical attacks from the “maras”–Central American or Mexican gangs. Exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and often tired from days of hanging on to the railings of freight cars, Central Americans arriving from Mexico’s southern border have to hop off at the Lechería station and take another north-bound train. During their connection many fall prey to the criminal gangs that prowl the area.

The thousands of Central Americans who take the “Chiapas-Mayab” railroad at the southern border (estimates run at 5,000 a month),18 for a ride to Lechería call the train “the beast,” since it often “swallows” and dismembers them. Many migrants die crushed under its wheels while trying to board the moving train. Every month, seven or eight migrants with severed limbs end up in the regional hospital in Tapachula. That border town now has so many Central American amputees that a charitable soul, Olga Sánchez, takes them in at her threadbare hostel and offers food, temporary housing, and, for some, the opportunity to begin life again with donated artificial limbs.

Risky enough for Central Americans without travel documents, crossing Mexico became more hazardous after September 11, 2001 due to the “Southern Plan.”19 Implemented by Mexico, probably at the behest of the U.S. government, the Southern Plan was designed to control the flow of Central and South American migrants (as well as the trafficking of arms and drugs) at Mexico’s narrowest point–the geographic “bottleneck” known as the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. This zone was militarized by calling up additional troops, police and migratory agents, and elite forces. When the program began in 2001, the then-Commissioner of Mexico ’s National Migration Institute (INM), Felipe Preciado, said the Plan consisted of

“…having our best operators, our best forces there. This is a strategy involving great coordination among the members of the different forces working in the south, taking advantage mainly of the Isthmus’ geographic situation–a pretty controllable stretch of land that we can take care of very well–and since everyone has to pass though there, those we didn’t get down there at the border, they’ll end up passing through there.”20

In retrospect this was unwarranted governmental optimism. Preciado’s successor, INM commissioner Magdalena Carral, turned out to be more honest when she declared to the English newspaper The Observer, “we know we can’t detain it [Central American migration], we know we can’t control it. What we try to do is administer it.”21

Central American migrants suffer the greatest abuse at the hands of Mexican authorities. Gabriela Rodríguez, UN Special Rapporteur for Migrant Human Rights said, “there exists in Mexico a generalized climate of harassment and taking advantage of the vulnerability of the migrant.”22 Father Ademar Barilli, director of the House of the Migrant in Tecún Umán, a Guatemalan border town and departure point for most Central American migrants, used less diplomatic language. Mexico is risking becoming the enemy of all Central America, Barilli said, “for doing the United States ’ work” and for the abuse committed against Central Americans by Mexican authorities.23


Chiapas, A New “Sending” State

Most Central Americans start their journey through Mexico in the state of Chiapas . Now many Mexicans begin there as well. Chiapas has joined the ranks in a few years’ time of leading sending states.

It is not difficult to understand the reasons behind the flight. Official sources state that 76% of the working population tries to survive with two minimum wages (some US$8 per day) or less.24 But scant income does not explain everything. The migratory explosion in Chiapas began after rains in 1998 destroyed 988,000 acres of cropland, leaving 500,000 homeless and 400 dead. It was another ingredient in a pot already simmering due to rock-bottom international coffee prices since 1989 (the state’s major export), the avalanche of GMO corn at dumping prices since 1994, crisis in the sugar industry, and an 83% drop in public spending for rural development since 1981.25

The number of Chiapans migrating to the United States is around 30,000 a year, out of a state population of four million.26 Researchers calculate that in 10 years, some 300,000 Chiapanecos will have moved north, 65% campesinos and indigenous. Daniel Villafuerte of the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas says:

“ Chiapas ’ campesinos and indigenous people are quickly shifting from harvesting corn, the main staple in the family diet, to harvesting dollars in the United States, to such a degree that very soon Chiapas will be taking in more remittances than states that traditionally send migrants, such as Zacatecas.”27

Government figures for remittances from Chiapans in the U.S. are calculated for 2004 at $500 million or, according to Villafuerte, equivalent “to the entire corn harvest–the main generator of wealth in the state–in addition to the bean, banana, and mango harvests.”28

The flow of Chiapans to the border has increased so much that there are now 380 travel agencies in 20 municipalities of Chiapas that only sell bus tickets to and from the U.S. border. 29 “When we arrived in the area eight years ago,” remembers Alejandro García of the Hermano Sol campesino organization in Escuintla (population 29,000), “there was only one bus north a month. Now there are 30 a month.”30


The Northern Border

Since NAFTA took effect in 1994, prices have bottomed out in the Mexican agricultural sector and, consequently, immigration has increased. Not surprisingly, 1994 was also when the United States began to reinforce its border with Mexico . Far from being a coincidence, the beefed-up border is also the logical consequence of NAFTA’s lowering of income for large sectors of Mexico ’s population and the resulting displacement.31

Over the past decade the United States has carried out numerous “operations” to “seal” the border, by means of an expanding budget for the Border Patrol, more agents, use of armored vehicles, dogs, rubber bullets, pepper spray, planes, helicopters, remote-controlled “drone” aircraft, sophisticated night detection equipment, walls, portable lighting towers, high-definition video cameras, heat sensors, and, every now and then, “hollow point” bullets that explode on contact with the human body and produce “severe damage to internal organs.”32 Today there are 11,000 Border Patrol agents that watch over the 2,000 miles that separate the two countries. The budget for all this reflects two phenomena. On the one hand, an objective increase in the number of migrants trying to get across the border, on the other, a subjective American fear of new attacks from abroad after September 11.

Seemingly there is no lack of money for guarding the border. Since 1994 the United States has spent $20 billion to “strengthen” its borders. Some $3 billion went for U.S. border security in 2003 and the figure will more than double to $6.2 billion for 2005. Notwithstanding the proliferation of resources and modern technology, there is no evidence that heightened border security has reduced non-authorized immigration.

It has, however, made migrating to the United States much more difficult. Designed by the Defense Department’s Center for Low Intensity Conflicts,33 the special “operations” to seal the border (Gatekeeper, Hold the Line, Crossroads, Blockage, Safe Guard, Río Grande, Vanguard, Desert Control, and others), have succeeded in making it nearly impossible for migrants to cross at previously frequented border locations. They have not stopped the flow, only shifted it to more dangerous areas, for example toward the Arizona desert or the mountains west of Mexicali-Calexico. Human rights organizations on both sides of the border have counted 4,000 (known) migrants who died trying to cross the border, the majority in inhospitable terrain.34 But the policy of obstructing the flow has failed because for many migrants there is no better option.

For now, migrants will have to face what the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference calls “morally reprehensible” operations, plus the militarization, and paramilitarization, of the border. The Border Patrol can count on the backing of the U.S. army. Also, some states, such as Arizona in 2001, have approved the presence of the national guard on the Mexico border. The most sinister aspect, however, are the racist paramilitary groups that have sprung up at various points along the border. José Moreno of the Pro-Defense of Migrants Coalition of Baja California says that these groups “exacerbate extremist and xenophobic ideas among border communities, against undocumented Mexican workers.”35

One of the more virulent vigilante groups is Project Minuteman, made up of 200 “volunteer” vigilantes, including pilots, who travel to the Arizona border to defend the United States from the invading horde. According to its web page, the United States is heading toward “political and social mayhem” since a “tangle of unassimilated, squabbling cultures” is poised to take over the country. If migration is not stopped, the country will become, according to James Gilchrist, one of the group’s leaders, a multilingual, multicultural, “chaotic hellhole.” Gilchrist, a Vietnam war veteran, told reporters that the principle objective of Project Minuteman is to “remove” the 22 million “illegal aliens” that allegedly live in the United States , in order for the country to once again become “coherent, and return to the rule of law.”


Immigration Reform on the Horizon?

In the face of an undeniable reality–the futility of the present “barriers,” physical as well as legal (and those posed by vigilantes), plus a rejection of hard-nosed analysis of the factors behind out-migration in Mexico and Central America that would home in on failed economic policies, U.S. authorities do the only thing they can–make declarations on the need to “reform” the immigration system.

President George W. Bush’s announcement in January 2004 that he would present an integral package of immigration reforms to Congress lacked credibility, since it was made in an electoral year to win over the Latino vote and because it was not integral, since it left out important aspects (such as the number of supposed “beneficiaries”). But delivered with a rhetorical commitment to show “compassion” for migrants, it achieved its objective. In the November 2004 elections, Bush made significant inroads on the Democratic Party’s traditional sway over Latino voters by winning some 44% of their votes. Now reelected, he is free to respond to those he has always favored, namely the corporations that contributed generously to his campaign coffers in 2000 and 2004 and that favor limited immigration reform to assure access to cheap labor.

For pro-migrant organizations in the U.S. , an integral reform package would include the legalization of the undocumented residents in the United States , freedom to enter and leave the U.S. , labor mobility, family reunification, and mechanisms to opt for citizenship. But given the present political climate, an integral package has no chance of passing Congress. Nor would Bush propose such measures, in spite of his most recent promise in January 2005 to “spend political capital” to obtain migration reform in Congress. 36 Tom Hansen of the Mexico Solidarity Network states:

“Bush doesn’t have that much political capital. There won’t be migration reform this year or the next, since his political capital will have to be spent on matters that for him have a greater priority, such as reform of social security and Iraq of course.”37

What Bush’s advisers are drawing up amounts to a new “Bracero” program (similar to the one that existed from 1942 to 1964), also known as the “guest worker” program. This program would be a far cry from the humanitarian demands of migrants and U.S. solidarity organizations. It would please, principally, large and mid-sized corporations that seek to guarantee a constant flow of cheap, non-unionized labor, which is also legal.

Many U.S. companies cannot attract American workers or legal residents, since they offer jobs often called “3-D” (dirty, dangerous, dull). For many companies, particularly in the agricultural, construction, restaurant, hotel, slaughterhouse, meat packing, fish canning, and other sectors, the solution to their labor shortage is a guest worker program.

Such a program would make it possible to legally recruit willing Mexican or Central American workers who would be “safe” from the workplace sweeps by immigration authorities. Currently such sweeps are a permanent headache for management, since they interrupt production. Slaughterhouses, for example, where many undocumented Mexicans are employed, suffer repeated raids and costly losses when the “killing line” is stopped due to the arrest of workers.

Companies want legal workers, but very “flexible” ones. Today, companies try to avoid long labor relationships that could lead to accumulated benefits (retirement benefits, in particular, but also health insurance, vacation time, etc.). Bush’s proposal would accommodate them since a migrant’s work permits would expire after perhaps three years, with maybe a single three-year renewal, after which he/she would be required to return home. What Bush wants, says Bob Menéndez, Democratic congressman for New Jersey is “their sweat and labor [but] he ultimately doesn’t want ‘them.’ The proposal will be a rotation of human capital, to be used and discarded, with no hope of permanently legalizing one’s status.”38 Further, corporations do not want migrants’ stays to be permanently legal, since migrants do not want “3-D” jobs either, and if there is freedom to stay without restrictions, they will seek other employment.

The response of the Mexican government has been remarkable for its faint-heartedness. As opposed to the “whole enchilada” of migratory proposals that the previous Secretary of Foreign Relations, Jorge G. Castañeda, tried to negotiate with the U.S. government before September 11, the present head of foreign relations has implemented “erratic and cowardly” policies, according to Dr. Jorge Durand of the University of Guadalajara , a student of Mexican migration for 20 years. Current Sec. of Foreign Relations Luis Derbez recently stated a shift “from the whole enchilada to Taco Bell,” meaning, in his own ironic manner, that the Mexican government will refrain from making concrete immigration proposals, and will wait for U.S. initiatives since, “this is a topic that only corresponds to the United States.”39

Today there is a conservative political mood in the U.S. and extreme right forces have a heavy weight in public policy, in spite of their small numbers. Conservative extremists could scuttle a guest-worker program even if it benefits U.S. corporations, since the extreme right simply does not want more foreigners in the country, irrespective of their legal status.

There are currently bills pending in the U.S. Congress that propose guest-worker programs and some would allow migrants to legalize their stay in the U.S. and, with time, bring their families. Extremists reject such proposals and have undertaken fierce counteroffensive campaigns “not only to detain any attempt at reforming migratory laws, but also to criminalize, marginalize and expel the ‘illegals’.”40

The adverse political environment for migrants is exemplified by Arizona ’s Proposition 200, overwhelmingly approved by voters in last November’s elections. This law denies social services and drivers licenses to undocumented people and fines public servants who offer them. Racist web sites, such as Colorado representative Tom Tancredo’s, maintain that the border with Mexico “offers an open door to Islamic terrorists.”41 It can also be felt in the rise of groups that seek to bar any language other than English from public spaces. Or in legal rights violations against detained, undocumented migrants, through “express” deportations without right to a hearing. The racist overtones can be heard at a theoretical-ideological level, such as Samuel P. Huntington’s recent book that states that Latino, especially Mexican migration to the United States “threatens Anglo-Protestant values” that are “the creed of American culture.”42

When the Mexican National Institute of Migration published a booklet that offers advice to migrants (carry enough water, follow train tracks or transmission lines if lost in the desert, etc.), and lists basic rights in case of detention, howls of protest came from anti-migration forces. “The Mexican government is aiding and abetting the illegal invasion” of Mexicans to the United States , declared Arizona representative J.D. Hayworth. Congressman Tancredo added, “This is not the action of a friendly neighbor,” referring to the booklet. To no one’s surprise, the Mexican government backed down and ordered the booklet withdrawn from circulation until, supposedly, authorities could investigate whether it had in fact helped reduce migrant deaths.43


Canada’s Role

Canada is historically tolerant to migrants and has a more progressive legislative framework to combat racism and discrimination. Yet since 1966, the Canadian guest worker program, called “Temporary Agricultural Workers” in which 17,000 foreigners find work, 10,000 of them Mexicans, has shown that Canada does not want migrants, either. Their labor is needed and required, without which some industries could not survive in Canada , yet workers’ rights are denied or diminished.

The United Food and Commercial Workers of Canada (UFCW) trade union revealed in its latest report on the state of migrant agricultural workers in Canada a long list of abuses that the Canadian government has refused to address.44 For example, agricultural workers lack the guarantees and rights afforded workers in other sectors. Ninety percent of migrants who work in the countryside undertake the most dangerous tasks of any labor sector, yet they are given little or no training, equipment, or adequate protective clothing. Foreign agricultural workers in particular lack adequate medical treatment in case of work-related illness or accidents.

Migrants have for years paid in millions of dollars through required paycheck deductions to unemployment funds whose benefits they will never receive. Farm management can legally fire any employee, generally meaning an immediate repatriation to the country of origin without the right of a hearing or an appeal. Agricultural workers are excluded in an “arbitrary and discriminatory” manner, according to UFCW-Canada, from the right of organizing and negotiating collectively with employers, nor can they strike to press demands. The union also denounced the Canadian federal government for deliberately keeping secret the mechanism by which migrants’ salaries are set, in order to benefit farm employers. Housing offered to migrants is deplorable and even puts the worker’s life in danger. It is common practice to house migrants in or over greenhouses where chemicals, fertilizers, and herbicides are handled and stored. The Canadian NGO Justice for Migrant Workers deplores other injustices, such as overtime work without compensatory pay (workdays of 12-16 hours are common).45

The “linkage” of migrants in the Program to a specific employer and their lack of freedom to leave one job and search for another has led researcher Tanya Basok to call workers who participate in the Program “unfree.”46

There are Mexicans who have worked in the Canadian Program for over 20 years, during which time they have lived more in Canada than in Mexico and have contributed more to the Canadian economy than to Mexico’s, helping to maintain entire industries competitive with their labor. Nonetheless, given present legislation, they will never be able to be more than agricultural workers, nor be integrated in Canadian society, nor can they search for employment in Canada independently, nor can they seek naturalization with the goal of settling in Canada if they so desire.

Such restrictions make it clear that the Temporary Agricultural Workers Program is part of a worldwide tendency to channel migrants to specific job offers (those that citizens of the North do not want) and control wages and benefits with mechanisms that are tailor-made to suit employer requirements. Migrants are the eternal throw-away workers. Once their vitality, strength, and youth are expended, they are returned home, where their country of origin will shoulder the resulting social costs.


In Conclusion

The elites of North or South are uninterested in pressuring too much for changes in the present situation. For Southern governments, massive out-migration in the past 10-15 years has meant less labor and population pressures at home, savings in (already threadbare) public social services, and an enticing advantage of having migrants’ foreign currency remittances pour into the country. For Northern governments and business, stopping migratory flows is not in their interests either, especially those in industrial, agricultural, or service sectors with a large labor component in the production process.

Although part of the migratory wave is due to reasons that go beyond economic problems, such as war and natural disasters, immigration is primarily brought on by policies that emanate from the present neoliberal model, and that emphasizes the interests of large corporations to the exclusion of almost all others. Changing the status quo would require questioning this model.

To reverse the flow of poor migrants, an alternative worldwide economic program is needed, one that emphasizes economic growth, the domestic market, and the national priorities of poor countries. Without major changes, the coming decades will bring increasingly unstoppable displacement of the uprooted poor of the South, marching toward the prosperous citadels of the North.

This was known years ago–it only took thinking through the consequences of neoliberal “free market” policies. A prophetic study in this regard was written three years before NAFTA started and is worth quoting in some detail. The book, written in 1991 by José Luis Calva of the National University of Mexico and titled Probable Effects of a Free-Trade Agreement on the Mexican Countryside asserts:

“If millions of campesino families, doomed to die in the countryside, were to find work in our cities under a scenario of free trade with United States and Canada, it would still be a traumatizing expectation, given the tearing apart of the social fabric implicit in the destruction of a way of life for people of the countryside, but it would be less catastrophic. Those expelled from the countryside would have work and eventually find a new way of life in the cities, even if it were little better than that of the sons of Sánchez.47

A serious problem arises insofar as the people forced out of the countryside might not find real possibilities of being absorbed by the labor market in Mexico . The expulsion from the countryside of three million families would mean then their expatriation or deportation to United States or Canada . If the governments and legislatures of the three countries agree to liberalize trade in agricultural goods, U.S. citizens should be prepared to receive some 15 million Mexican migrants. The Border Patrol will be unable to detain them, and even a new iron curtain, rising on the border at a moment when the Cold War has given way to economic warfare among nations, will buckle under the weight of millions of Mexicans thrown off their lands by free trade.”48

It was all foreseeable to those who chose to see. The consequences are only now becoming clearer to everyone.



  1. Barrón, Antonieta and José M. Hernández, “Los nómadas del nuevo milenio,” in Cuadernos Agrarios, Mexico, no. 190-20, 2000.
  2. According to the Centro de Recursos Centroamericanos in El Salvador, cited in Herández Navarro, Luis, “Migración y café en México y Centroamérica,” Special Report, Americas Program, New Mexico: Interhemispheric Resource Center, November 3, 2004.
  3. The United States Chamber of Commerce calculates that over the coming 10 years some 10-15 million new workers will be needed for low-income jobs in the U.S. , a labor force that can only be found abroad. See Cason, Jim and David Brooks, “La reforma migratoria en Estados Unidos: mucho humo y poco fuego,” Masiosare Suplement, La Jornada, November 28, 2003.
  4. See Source Mex (, “Flow of undocumented Mexicans into U.S. expected to continue at same pace,” January 12, 2005 and the magazine Milenio, México, “¿De dónde son los migrantes?,” March 1, 2004 , p.59.
  5. Freeman, Alan, “Border Blitz Targets ‘Invaders’ from Mexico,” Globe and Mail, Toronto , January 28, 2005,
  6. See Source Mex, op.cit., Levine, Elaine, “Diez años después y seguimos exportando mano de obra barata a Estados Unidos,” in Memoria magazine, Mexico, no. 187, September 2004; and La Jornada, economy section, February 1, 2005, “Aumentaron 24% remesas de mexicanos en el extranjero en 2004: BdeM.”
  7. The amount of remittances is above the “sum of the trade balance in hydrocarbons, whose net income (once outlays for petroleum-derived imports are subtracted) was in 2004 US$13.439 billion,” according to La Jornada, economy section, February 1, 2005 , op.cit.
  8. Smith, Robert, “Mexicanidad en Nueva York: emigrantes que buscan un nuevo lugar en el viejo orden racial,” NACLA Report on the Americas, New York, Vol. 35, No. 2, Sept.-Oct. 2001.
  9. Gómez Cruz, Manuel Angel and Rita Schwentesius, “Desastroso impacto del TLCAN en el sector agroalimentario: es urgente una posición del legislativo para su revisión,” CIESTAAM, México, p.4. The authors add, “Mexico did not take advantage of negotiated margins: it has never charged tariffs on imports over the [permitted] quota in the case of corn and beans, so that, in the case of corn, the fiscal loss during NAFTA is almost 2.8 billion dollars and in the case of beans it is 77 million dollars, just on imports from the U.S.”
  10. Avilés, Karina, “El TLCAN, cerca de dejar a Chihuahua sin campesinos,” La Jornada, political section, January 4, 2005.
  11. Poy Solano, Laura, “Aumentan los migrantes con mayor preparación académica, revela análisis,” La Jornada, political section, December 31, 2004.
  12. Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, “Asamblea diocesana sobre migrantes,” manuscript, February 3-4, 2004, p. 9-10.
  13. Avilés, Karina, “Ofensiva neoliberal crea pueblos fantasmas en zonas agrícolas,” La Jornada, political section, January 3, 2005.
  14. Office of the United National High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, “Diagnóstico sobre la situación de los derechos humanos en México,” Mexico, December 2003, p.172.
  15. Carrillo, Jorge and Redi Gomis, “Los retos de las maquiladoras ante la pérdida de competitividad,” Comercio Exterior magazine, Mexico, April 2003.
  16. Poy Solano, Laura, op.cit.
  17. “100% of the Salvadorans who traverse our country are victims of abuse and the majority also suffer robbery, extortion, beatings, arbitrary detention, and sexual abuse. The data are taken from the migrant organization El Rescate, of Los Angeles , California –one of the oldest such organizations in the United States ,” quoted in Najar, Alberto, “El costo de cuidar el patio trasero,” La Jornada, Masiosare Supplement, February 9, 2003 .
  18. Najar, Alberto, “El largo brazo de la migra mexicana: una historia conocida,” La Jornada, Masiosare Supplement, May 18, 2003, p.7.
  19. Plan Sur (as it is known in Spanish) may have ceased to exist, but in name only, says Ana Isabel Soto of the “Fray Matías” Human Rights Center in Tapachula, Chiapas, since the five operational programs it established continue unabated.
  20. Quoted in Sandoval, Juan Manuel, “Migración y seguridad nacional en las fronteras sur y norte de México,” paper delivered in June 2003, First International Meeting on Development and Regional Development in the South of Mexico and Central America, San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, p. 16.
  21. Quoted in The Guardian Weekly, May 11, 2004 , p. 17.
  22. United Nations, Commission on Human Rights, “Grupos e individuos específicos: trabajadores migrantes: Informe presentado por la Relatora Especial, Sra. Gabriela Rodríguez Pizarro, de conformidad con la resolución 2002/62 de la Comisión de Derechos Humanos, Visita a México,” p. 9.
  23. Este Diario Co Latino , “Mexico está en riesgo de ser enemigo de toda Centroamérica,” November 20, 2002, available at
  24. Martínez Velasco, Germán y Jorge López Arévalo, “Dinámica demográfica y marginación: el caso de Chiapas,” in Territorio y economía, SIREM, Mexico, Especial edition no. 3, 2004, p. 21.
  25. Pérez, Matilde, op.cit.
  26. Hernández Navarro, op.cit., p. 11.
  27. Balboa, Juan, “La migración de Chiapas hacia EU se agudizó con Fox y Salazar: expertos,” La Jornada, political section, October 11, 2004.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.
  30. Personal conversation, January 15, 2005 .
  31. See, for example, Calva, José Luis, Probables efectos de un tratado de libre comercio en el campo mexicano, Fontmara, México, 1991 (3 rd edition 1994), particularly the chapter “El éxodo rural y su destino.”
  32. Ross, John, “2004 Has Been a Big Year for Homeland Security’s New Migra–and a Bad One for Undocumented Workers from the South,” Weekly News Update on the Americas, November 28, 2004. For information on hollow-point bullets, see
  33. California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation’s Border Project, “Operation Gatekeeper, Fact Sheet,” updated April 30, 2004,, p. 3.
  34. The source for the previous endnote states on its homepage that 3,000 migrants, whose identity is known, have died (in fact the names are listed), plus another 1,000 “unidentified” dead migrants.
  35. Moreno Mena, José, “La violencia hacia los migrantes,” in Migración: México entre sus dos fronteras, 2ª parte, Foro Migraciones, Mexico, October 2001.
  36. Curl, Joseph, “Bush vows push on immigration,” Washington Times , January 12, 2005 ,
  37. Telephone conversation, January 22, 2005 .
  38. AFL-CIO “Bush Immigration Plan ‘Creates a Permanent Underclass of Workers’,” declaration issued January 7, 2004 ,
  39. Vargas, Rosa Elvira, La Jornada, political section, “No te puedo ofrecer nada: Bush a Fox sobre el acuerdo migratorio,” November 22, 2004.
  40. Brooks, David, La Jornada, political section, “Preparan ofensiva antimigrante en EU,” January 4, 2005.
  41. Barry, Tom, “Immigration Restrictionism Gains Political Clout,” Americas Program, Interhemispheric Resource Center, New Mexico, October 14, 2004.
  42. Huntington ’s book is titled Who Are We: The Challenges to America’s National Identity. For a well-earned rebuke and response see “MALDEF and LULAC rebuke Samuel Huntington’s theories on Latino immigrants and call on America to reaffirm its commitment to equal opportunity and democracy,” available on MALDEF’s web site,
  43. Source Mex, op.cit.
  44. UFCW-Canada, “The Status of Migrant Farm Workers in Canada, 2003,” p. 3, available at
  45. See Basok, Tanya, Tortillas and Tomatoes: Transmigrant Mexican Harvesters in Canada , McGill Queens University Press, Montreal and Kingston, 2003.
  46. See .
  47. This is a reference to anthropologist Oscar Lewis’ 1961 seminal study of poor Mexican city dwellers, Children of Sánchez.
  48. Calva, op.cit., p. 75.