New YorkSr. Liliane Alam, FMM, representing Franciscan International and Executive Director Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center in El Paso, Texas, USA
I would like to bring up two points during this important civil society event
on migration and development from my experience as Executive Director of Las
Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: first, the social and economic costs of
Trade Agreements specifically on migrant families, and secondly, the situation
of unaccompanied children at the US-Mexico border.
1. Since NAFTA went into effect in the mid-1990s, economic dislocation in rural Mexico has come at a profound social cost. Nearly 1.7 million small farmers have lost their jobs, and despite manufacturing jobs growth, losses have not being made up in the rural sector.
Women in maquiladoras bring further dislocation to traditional family structures and also male wage earners are forced to leave their families for US and Mexican cities for uncertain employment. It is common to find poor rural villages with broken families and without men to protect women and children who often become migrants in patriarchal power systems.
2. This family dislocation has led to far more unaccompanied minors at the
US-Mexico Border without proper documentation. In 2005, approximately 80,000
Mexican children found at the border were immediately deported with uncertain
safety. Children from Central America, as young as four years old, are taken
to detention centers during the Immigration Court proceeding for up to four
months. Their isolation is confusing, conducted in a foreign language and filled
with months of waiting and uncertainty. This system damages children profoundly.
Unaccompanied minors are entitled to be reunited with family members who are
in the United States. The human rights of all migrant children, migrants and
the members of their families, must be protected and respected.
o Governments must strive to include the protection of unaccompanied children
in comprehensive migration policies.
o Governments should also examine how Trades Agreements and economic policies impact the family structure and the situation of women and children.
Lastly, I would also like to stress the need for receiving countries to invest in more than border security, but to put more emphasis on sustainable economic development in sending countries.