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Immigrants? Or Refugees?

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America’s immigration problem is also a distributive justice issue, not just a border control issue.  America has always been refuge to the poor, but wealth disparity between the third world and us is growing. Our foreign policy and World Bank practices have contributed to some horrible economic conditions which increase US immigration.  To call these economic refugees "illegals" is to further marginalize them. 

Our government supports foreign tyrants who borrow against their countries resources to pay for overpriced construction projects, which line their own pockets while fattening the wallets of international construction firms.  When debt burdens become too great, the World Bank restructures these loans, lending more money in exchange for open trade policies.  These trade policies then allow wealthy multi-nationals to buy up the countries water utilities, mineral resources and electric plants. Water and electricity costs rise while living conditions decline.  Saddled with debt, these countries have nothing left to help their poor or improve their economy.  

 We could reduce illegal border crossings in America by pressuring corrupt third world governments to treat their citizens fairly and by assuring they receive legitimate financial incentives to create jobs and economic growth.  We don't because American businesses would rather exploit cheap labor than compete with a more prosperous third world.  

In a global economy, exploitation of workers anywhere lowers earning potential for wage earners everywhere. As proud as we are of our high democratic values, America need to embrace a loftier set of economic ideals to match.

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Brian Lynch is a retired social worker who worked in the areas of adult mental health and child protection for many years. His work brought him into direct contact with all the major social issues of the day and many of our basic social (more...)

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