By Adam Hyla, Real Change
Even as corporations embark on what has been called “a carefully managed facility migration process” (i.e., going wherever workers come cheap), migration by human beings is a subject still ruled by parochialism.
Most of the public discourse on the subject has focused on the situation of migrants once they’ve arrived at their destinations. On the left, humanitarians highlight the untenable position of those in the shadows. On the right, people talk of the moral consequences of entering through a side door.
Both sides, says journalist Jeffrey Kaye, fail to look at the cause of their argument.
Legalized or not, he writes in his new book “Moving Millions: How Coyote Capitalism Fuels Global Immigration,” (Wiley, 2010), migration is one fundamental aspect of human mobility. It’s a force at work in the Philippines, whose citizens fill one-third of the world’s nursing jobs — even as their home country’s hospitals crumble. It’s present in Morocco, where people from all over the African continent live in overcrowded conditions, waiting for a boatride toward the Canary Islands, and where an average of two bodies wash up daily along a shoreline patrolled by the European Union. It’s there along the United States-Mexico border, where stepped-up enforcement by federal agents and National Guard troops diverts, but doesn’t dampen, the economic pressure pushing Latin America’s jobless across la frontera.
“Despite the wishes of migration restrictionists, ancient impulses to escape hardships or to go in search of greener pastures are not going to come to a halt just because political lines have been drawn and laws passed,” writes Kaye, a freelance journalist and longtime reporter for the PBS NewsHour. “Build walls, and people will go over, around, or under them,” he continues. “Hire border guards, and smugglers will bribe them. Step up patrols, and migrants will find alternate routes. Provide better-paying jobs, and workers will get to them. Migration will not be stopped. But in the best of all possible worlds, nations should strive to ensure that migrants cross borders because they want to, not because they have to.”
A cultural re-examination of most American natives’ own family histories, says Kaye, might help them see illegal immigrants’ motives in a more sympathetic light. And national governments, in his view, need to get together and frankly discuss their policies, whether they are sending workers abroad or taking them in.
Adam Hyla: What do you mean by “coyote capitalism”?
Jeffrey Kaye: You know what a coyote is, right? A human smuggler. Someone who gets paid to take people across the border. They don’t really care about the circumstances, about what’s pushing people out or pulling people in, they get someone to where they’re supposed to be going and they get paid. It’s a term that refers to a global system of immigration, often and usually without too much regard for the consequences of migration or the effects on the migrants themselves. Continue reading