My name is Nancy Meza, a proud graduate of UCLA and one of the millions of undocumented people living in the U.S.
It comes as no surprise that this years election and primaries are focusing on immigration, again. Both parties have used the "immigration issue" as political football.
Republicans have flipped flopped on who hates immigrants more and who would institute the harshest immigration laws once in office. Mitt Romney has even gone as far as saying he'd veto the DREAM Act if he was elected president and offered a "self deportation" solution to the complex issue of immigration.
At the same time, President Obama expressed support for immigrants and legislation such as the Federal Dream Act, while having the highest number of deportations of any president.
What continues to be missing is an honest conversation of the role U.S foreign policy and multinational corporations have in driving families from their countries through economic exploitation. Resorting to an inherently faulty logic that refers to immigrants as "good/bad" and "legal/illegal".
Simply stating that a law is a law and therefore people must obey and follow does not equate to that law being just. We have to remember that in the history of this country, slavery was protected under the law, women have been denied the right to vote, Japanese Americans were placed in internment camps during World War II and LGBTQ people were placed in mental institutions as a result of their sexual orientation.
The list goes on and on to show that numerous laws in this country's history have been inherently unjust. These laws are no longer in place because people had the courage to challenge those laws, break them and push the U.S to stand by its promise of freedom and democracy.
A recent report by the online magazine, The Nation, was recently released titled "How U.S Policies Fueled Mexico's Great Migration." The report gives numerous examples of how U.S based companies have benefited from foreign policies such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and set up shop in various regions in Mexico, forcing many to migrate to the U.S.
These corporations have devastated local economies through these free trade policies that turned Mexico into a hotbed for cheap labor for foreign investors. To most undocumented immigrants in the U.S., this report is nothing new, we have experienced these effects first hand.
By understanding the multitude of reasons why people migrate, one must ask themself the following questions; why would a father risk his life and leave his family? Why would a mother leave her children to go work in another country? Why would a family risk their entire livelihood in crossing a border to another country?
Making the decision to cross the border is immensely arduous for entire families and forced by unchecked foreign policies like NAFTA. In the daily struggle to survive and make ends meet for one's family, individuals will do everything in their power to make it through another day.
When a mother is looking at her hungry children in the eye, she doesn't have the luxury of waiting for a visa. Instead, she will do everything in her power to feed her children, including crossing the border. She'll work any and every job that comes her way to get through the day, but the reality is that she'll face exploitation through from a militarized immigration policy that keeps her in fear and a source of cheap labor.
Corporations make their profit from having an endless supply of underclass workers. With their economic power, they have a major influence and voice in how immigration policies are formed, more so than the politicians representing us. That's why we have to hold both the corporations and politicians accountable for the lack of action in creating humane laws and policies that create disarray among working class families. Until that happens, the conversation around immigration will continue to be one of scapegoating those personally affected by economic globalization.
If we, as a nation are serious about addressing immigration, we must acknowledge our role in pushing people out of their countries and taking little to no action in creating a permanent underclass of low wage workers who are susceptible to exploitation.