Sunday, July 29, 2012

Immigration Reform and the position of Indigenous Peoples

Editorial Tequio, March 29, 2010
Thursday, June 3, 2010
Posted by Gaspar Rivera-Salgado
Frente Indígena Oaxaqueno Bi-Nacional (FIOB)
Presently in the United States two great debates encumber the daily reality of we indigenous migrants communities.  One is the debate over immigration reform and the other is related to the crisis in the rural communities of Mexico Profundo.*

As for the debate on immigration reform we once again recently witnessed the tragic loss of the opportunity to push for reforms in public policy that advance real justice for migrants in the United States and their families in Mexico. In this debate what is most unfortunate is the lack of a transnational vision that would redefine the context in which the phenomenon of migration is no longer understood as a purely domestic problem but linked to the now almost complete economic integration between Mexico and the United States.

We must recognize on both sides of the border between Mexico and the United States that migration is here to stay as it is the result of economic and social processes reflecting the social integration between the two countries that has occurred without any serious discussion of the social terms under which the process unfolds.
Ancestral Indigenous Trade Routes
The lack of debate on the social terms of this economic integration and the resulting poverty that has been propagated among the Indigenous and Mexican campesino communities has resulted in the invisibility of thousands of people displaced by these same economic forces who resurface as victims only when they become tagged as “illegal migrants” in the United States.

Indeed the debate on migration policies in the United States is but a discussion on the results and the visible effects of deeper problems that have been developing and intensifying over the past three decades - this is the growing economic inequality suffered internally in Mexico and more specifically the lack of economic alternatives for rural communities in Mexico.

It is commonplace to say that rural Mexico has lived in a permanent economic crisis since the early eighties.  However, very little is said about the human dimensions of this crisis.  When the elites of the United States and Mexico decided to agree on a framework of economic integration that would allow the free movement of capital and goods between Mexico and the United States, while leaving the issue of labor migration outside of the framework of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the results were the foundations for the current situation of displacement of campesino and indigenous rural Mexicans and the almost impossible task of sustaining local economies in rural areas.

NAFTA, the international economic policy that has displaced millions of rural Mexicans, has had more impact on the ongoing development of the migration of Mexicans to the United States than any other contemporary event.

And it is here precisely that the Indigenous Bi-national Front of Oaxaca (FIOB) proposes that there is a need to expand and emphasize transnational analysis in the immigration debate. We must bring to the table of discussion, the simple fact that in the absence of real economic opportunities and a range of public policies channeled positively to impact the opportunities and rights of indigenous peoples and peasant communities in Mexico Profundo, there will be no realistic possibility to contend with the issues of the short and long term flow of undocumented workers.

Until we establish the Right Not To Migrate, the right to be fully realized with self determination in our home communities as the fundamental centerpiece of immigration policy we cannot expect to escape the tide of injustices sweeping our communities today on both sides of the border.

Translation: TONATIERRA
Terracidia y La Ley De Excepciones
El TLC y La Declaracion sobre Derechos de Los Pueblos Indigenas de la ONU
*  México Profundo: Reclaiming a Civilization
By Guillermo Bonfil Batalla
This translation of a major work in Mexican anthropology argues that Mesoamerican civilization is an ongoing and undeniable force in contemporary Mexican life.

For Guillermo Bonfil Batalla, the remaining Indian communities, the "de-Indianized" rural mestizo communities, and vast sectors of the poor urban population constitute the México profundo. Their lives and ways of understanding the world continue to be rooted in Mesoamerican civilization. An ancient agricultural complex provides their food supply, and work is understood as a way of maintaining a harmonious relationship with the natural world. Health is related to human conduct, and community service is often part of each individual's life obligation. Time is circular, and humans fulfill their own cycle in relation to other cycles of the universe.

Since the Conquest, Bonfil argues, the peoples of the México profundo have been dominated by an "imaginary México" imposed by the West. It is imaginary not because it does not exist, but because it denies the cultural reality lived daily by most Mexicans.

Within the México profundo there exists an enormous body of accumulated knowledge, as well as successful patterns for living together and adapting to the natural world. To face the future successfully, argues Bonfil, Mexico must build on these strengths of Mesoamerican civilization, "one of the few original civilizations that humanity has created throughout all its history."


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