For too long, the immigration debate has revolved around border walls, deportations and domestic policies that are not only cruel and ineffective but also fail to recognize the root cause of migration.
In Latin America, free trade policies like CAFTA and NAFTA have failed to generate new jobs. At the same time, these policies make small farming obsolete and force people to migrate in search of work.
For example, the influx of subsidized grains from the U.S. to Mexico under NAFTA decimated at least two million farming jobs. Now, every hour Mexico imports $1.5 million worth of food. In that same hour, 30 Mexican farmers migrate to the U.S. looking for work.
Although U.S. economic policies force people to leave their homes in search of work domestic immigration policy treats immigrants as criminals and has entire communities living in fear.
The debate about comprehensive immigration reform must include discussions about the roots of migration and changing U.S. economic policy in Latin America. Therefore, in addition to supporting domestic immigration policy reform, Witness for Peace compels government decision-makers to block new free trade agreements and change the U.S. trade policies that contribute to migration.
Witness for Peace also brings delegates to Mexico and Nicaragua to research and understand the economic policies and corporate practices that drive people north. Local leaders from the U.S. visit sending communities and return to their homes equipped to improve immigrant relations and advocate for humane immigration policies.
Meanwhile, thousands of people have taken action with Witness for Peace’s Migrating Toward Justice campaign, calling for immigration rights and an end to the economic policies that drive migration. Witness for Peace-produced documentaries and campaign materials help delegates and other supporters publicly connect the dots between free trade and forced migration.