Thursday, June 05, 2008
Socialist International meeting on Migration
The Migration Committee of the Socialist International met in Los Angeles, California June 2-3, 2008, Chaired by Alicia Garcia Medína , Governor of the Mexican State of Zacatexas and representative of the P.R.D.
The meeting was called to develop a position paper on Migration for the 23rd Congress of the Socialist International meeting June 30-July 2, 2008 in Athens, Greece. I was one of three delegates from DSA at the meeting. DSA is the only U.S. organization holding membership in the Socialist International.
Migration is a global issue. In the neo-liberal economy capital has been freed to cross borders. Socialists need to develop strategies to support and to protect migrants and working people in this new globalized era.
The final declaration of the Los Angeles preparatory meeting focused on the fact that migration was fundamentally a result of the unjust distribution of wealth between rich countries and the poor countries of the world.
California Senator Gil Cedillo testified to the important roles that immigrants play in the California economy and the concern raised by the growing right wing hysteria.
Participants discussed the importance of getting the U.S. presidential candidates to return to considering legislation proposed for a just and a comprehensive immigration reform bill to legalize the almost 11 million undocumented workers presently in the U.S.- and to oppose the building of a wall along the U.S. – Mexican border. The Committee urged adoption of immigration reform and the respect for the rights of all workers- including immigrants.
Concern was expressed about the effects of the U.S. recession and the slowing world economy, noting that in time of a weak economy xenophobic attacks on immigrants increase. Dra. Margarita Zapata Choiseul, representing the Socialist Women’s delegation, asserted that the death last week of Maria Isabel Vasquez Jiminez, a 17 year old working in the grape fields of N. California, along with hundreds of other deaths, was both the responsibility of the California labor department for not enforcing existing laws and also the responsibility of the home country- in this case Mexico- for permitting the corruption and poverty which forces young people to migrate in search of a decent life.
Delegates to the meeting heard from academics, elected officials, and leaders of local grassroots organizations, notably Nativo Lopez of Hermandad Mexicano on the necessity of a just immigration reform.
Delegates and observers from El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and the Dominican Republic testified to the many ways that immigration distorts their own economies.
The final draft statement, to be ready soon, supported the position of focusing on the rights of working people in all countries – native workers and migrants. The S.I draft should place a Human Face on the issue of migration.
Deputies from Morocco argued that the U.N Convention on the Rights of Migrants and their families – which the U.S. has not signed- provided a good framework for immigration policy for the S.I.
Representatives of NGOs urged inclusion in the SI statement of a concern for the feminization of immigration and particularly the problems of sexual exploitation, exploitation of children, and sex slavery.
A final report of the event will be posted on the Socialist International site when it is completed.