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Commentary :: Civil and Human Rights

BTL:NAFTA Played Critical Role in Fueling Illegal Immigration to U.S.

Interview with Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus
NAFTA Played Critical Role in Fueling Illegal Immigration to U.S.

Interview with Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute, conducted by Melinda Tuhus

Immigration has emerged as one of the most contentious issues in U.S. politics this year. A punitive bill has passed the House of Representatives, which would criminalize undocumented workers and citizens who help them, and fund construction of a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. The threat of arrest and deportation prompted millions of people to march for immigrant rights in cities around the country, demanding a path to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants.

The Senate continues to debate legislation that differs substantially from the House bill. A proposed measure would expel undocumented immigrants who have been in the U.S. less than two years, create a guest worker program for those here between two and five years, and provide a path to citizenship for those who have been in the country more than five years. But in the debate on Capitol Hill and in the media, one issue is just about never raised, except by the immigrants themselves. That is the U.S role in creating an economic crisis in Mexico, where 75 percent of the undocumented immigrants in the U.S. come from.

Between The Lines' Melinda Tuhus spoke with Jeff Faux, founder of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, and now a distinguished fellow there. He explains how the North American Free Trade Agreement destabilized and weakened Mexico's economy, exacerbating cross border immigration and why more than fences are needed to address the problem.

Call Economic Policy Institute at (202) 775-8810 or visit the group's website at www.epinet.org. Faux's book, "Global Class War," has recently been published by John Wiley & Sons.

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