Our VoiceImmigration

Chinese Labor and American Immigration

Carlos Rich • Jul 20, 2010

Rumor has it the end of cheap labor is coming to China. I really doubt that is true, but at least it is looking better for some Chinese workers in terms of receiving something similar to fair wages.

We know that corporations are always ahead of the game when it comes to figuring out where to go when labor strengthens beyond their comfort zone.  What will most likely happen in China is that we will see some internal migration to fill vacant jobs and some companies will move inland to continue exploiting poor people.   China will probably attract foreign immigrants to fill low wage jobs as well.  Some companies will most likely leave and settle elsewhere, so they don’t have to pay fair wages.  China’s government is taking these matters seriously - viewing the country’s wealth disparity as a bad thing. Even if the country’s infrastructure is not yet ready to handle all of its internal issues, it is reaching out to rural areas and looking for ways to progress.

This could mean that some companies will return to the U.S.  We should be ready for the businesses to come back and passing immigration reform will be an important part of that preparation.  One thing that has made this country strong is its immigrants who bring their ideas, talents and willingness to work hard.  Immigrants have flourished in this country by having the ability to move legitimately through its systems which allows them to realize their dreams and ideas.

Why has immigration become such a divisive issue in our nation? We must first look at African American history. African Americans were brought here and forced into slavery. Without any rights and filling a major labor gap, they provided American whites with substantial wealth.  Their fight for freedom and power is one of the greatest triumphs in American history, and gave all Americans expanded freedoms and a stronger democracy.

Now look at new immigrants. Many are enticed to come here by big corporations because of the false promise of fair wages and great benefits. Most of us know what is really in store for them: poverty and hard labor.  Immigrants who come to the US faces challenges, some –immigrants and refugees of color – are particularly hard hit by discrimination.

I truly believe that the immigration issue has to do with race and racism in this country.  Many people do not want to talk about it in terms of race, because if we did, then we have to change the way we treat and talk about people who have come here as immigrants.

Those opposing immigrants or immigration reform would rather use oversimplified language to distract from the real issues, terms like “law-breakers,” “open borders,” and “pro-amnesty.”

Immigrants are not looking for a free pass, but they do want to be able to trade their labor and innovation fairly.

Let’s aim to be on the cutting edge of labor rights for all, let’s stand and push for immigration reform now.

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