Amendment on migration to the text “Social upheavals, fightbacks and alternatives”

For the “Social upheavals, fightbacks and alternatives” document 

From the women's seminar, July 2017. Submitted by Josie Chavez IC member, PRT Mexico, for the seminar working group. 

Add a new paragraph in chapter 4 –“4 / What are the consequences of the significant increase in migration?” (http://www.internationalviewpoint.org/spip.php?article4934)

Between the first and the second paragraph of this chapter, add the following:

Women’s migration in the current context of crisis, along with the capitalist globalization of the economy, deepens and increases their oppression and has multiple impacts in very diverse ways on the exploitation of women. The context in which migration takes place expresses the extreme impoverishment and loss of rights of large sectors of world’s population.

Women migrate because they need better living conditions for themselves and their families, and because in their countries of origin they cannot find decent employment . Also they emigrate because of political persecution, or as a consequence of wars, that threaten their lives. 

We find as well women and their families being part of the flow of refugees heading to various countries in Europe, fleeing their original countries plagued by violence and war, notably in the case of Syria and other Middle East regions. In this case, we are faced with the brutal drama of the migrants who try to reach Germany and other countries. This tragedy is taking place on the borders of Europe, on the coasts, on the Mediterranean Sea, in Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries. In this context women face gender discrimination, racism and exploitation. 

Another facet of migration is related to the trafficking of women in the countries they manage to reach: England, Denmark, the Netherlands and others. 

In countries where organized crime and drug cartels are very strong, women face different risks, like getting kidnapped and ‘disappeared’ by the cartels who use them in the prostitution business, within the national and international networks of trafficking of women. In other cases the trafficking is organised through more sophisticated mechanisms, like matchmaking women for supposedly love relationships in which whole families of traffickers are involved. Then another method is to deceive women with promises of jobs which are a cover for forcing them into prostitution.. In some places there is a correlation between migration and the sex tourism business. 

Xenophobic campaigns are used politically, to present migrants as enemies, even of the working class, as it was done during Brexit in Great Britain and then in the United States by Donald Trump. In some European countries such as Denmark, xenophobic campaigns have taken the form of a “feminationalist” rhetoric which claims that migration is undermining the rights of native women in the destination country. The discourse of “feminationalism” is closely related to “homonationalism” where the xenophobic right is claiming that migration is a threat to the rights of the LGBT community. 

At the same time, another expression of the problem has to do with economically-driven migration, in which poverty, inequality, lack of jobs and opportunities due to the devastating consequences of neoliberalism pushes millions of people to leave their countries to look for a job in other places. 

In the case of Philippines, more than ten million people are working outside the country, in places as far as Saudi Arabia and the rest of Middle East. The monetary incomes send by Pilipino workers to their families through remittances constitute a central part of the foreign currency income of the country. In this case, the predominant presence of women among Philipino migrants is supposedly because it is easier for them to get a job, even though they are often forced into prostitution, which implies deep and serious consequences for them and their families. 

In the many regions of world where migrants face oppression and exploitation, women are also suffering ‘new’ forms of work practically akin to slavery - confinement, prostitution and being trafficked. 

If we refer to the displacements and migration in Latin America, Mexico is one of the most dramatic examples and, at the same time, also the place of many experiences of resistance. This country is the obligatory route for hundreds of thousands of migrants, not only Mexicans but also Central Americans and from places as far as Africa, trying to cross over into the United States at any of the points along the more than one thousand kilometer border between Mexico and the US, seeking a job or refuge (running away from violence in Central America, for example). That is why Donald Trump’s runs his demagogic campaign against Mexican workers, accusing them of stealing jobs from US workers in US factories and insists all the time about building (actually to finish building) a wall along this long border. 

On top of this longstanding critical situation with migration to the US, can now be added the threat of Trump’s xenophobic and racist policy that intends to expel in the short term around three million Mexican workers. During Obama’s presidency, in fact, three million workers were expelled; the problem now is that Trump wants to deport the same number just in 2017, which would trigger a social crisis with unpredictable consequences in Mexico, in the middle of an existing human rights and political crisis. . These deportations would go alongside restrictions on Mexican workers sending money from the US to their families in Mexico. 

Remittances represent the second largest foreign exchange income in the country, only surpassed by the exports of automotive companies (companies that Trump wants to take back to the US). This remittance income is greater than foreign direct investment, tourism and oil exports. Mexico is the fourth largest economy for remittance income, after China, India and the Philippines. 

The consequences of these policies are especially significant for women. The new laws that Trump seeks to impose, like ending the “sanctuary cities” (where the police are not allowed to request migrant documents from somebody committing a minor offence, such as traffic violations) will lead to deportations which break up families. If an undocumented migrant woman has children in the United States, they acquire nationality and, after a long, costly and risky process, the mother can also become an American citizen. With the new legal provisions, families are split up, their children are taken and the mothers deported to Mexico. Another legal provision that Trump wants to implement is to give a 10-year jail to those undocumented immigrants who, having been deported to Mexico, are arrested in a new attempt to return to the United States. 

In addition to being a bridge to the US, Mexico is also the arrival point of migrants from other countries. With restrictions in the US, thousands of migrants are stranded in Mexico, especially in border cities like Tijuana and Nuevo Laredo. Hours before leaving the government, Obama cancelled the legal order known as "dry feet" that granted immediate asylum to Cubans who arrived in the United States by land and not by sea. In February of 2017 thousands of Cubans in Nuevo Laredo were demanding to go to the US but now they had no rights, neither do they have any in Mexico. 

The same situation arose in Tijuana where the crossing of the border is blocked for thousands of Haitians and Africans who paid a lot of money to traffickers from their countries to supposedly take them to the US. Among Haitians there are complete families and many qualified people. 

In addition to the social and economic crisis of these thousands of stranded migrants, without jobs and without rights there is now racism among the Mexican population against Haitians and Africans who are stigmatized as delinquents. While Mexico may complain about the bad treatment that migrants receive in the US, that bad treatment also applies to the migrants that arrive in Mexico or are going towards the United States. 

As well as the racism that robs and exploits them, the drug cartels (that frequently have the support of the Mexican authorities), assault buses of Central American migrants in places like San Fernando and Tamaulipas. In addition to stealing from and murdering a number of these migrants, others are recruited for quasi slave labor or as hit men, and women are taken to be used as prostitutes in their business or for the use of traffickers themselves. 

The tendency of reducing the labour force, as a result of capitalist globalization, also translates into an increase in the migration of women and children in risky conditions (including an increase of children traveling alone to the United States). According to official data, migrant women made up 44.7% of the total number of migrants in the 2004-2006 period whereas this has risen to 47.5% in the 2013-2015 period. Migrant women have also a higher rate of unemployment than men. 

The migration of Mexican women shows an increase from the 1970s to the present. In 2012, women residing in the United States were about 5.5 million, representing 46% of the Mexican population residing in that country. Their conditions of labor and employment are linked to traditional gender roles.

 Several organizations point out that abuse against migrant women has become normalised and that rape has become a spectacle. The roles and stereotypes that accompany these women make them more vulnerable to becoming victims of sexual violence, disappearances, prostitution, human trafficking, extortion, separation from their families (many travel with children), arbitrary detention, illness, accidents and feminicide. As they are often responsible for the care of children traveling with them, they become double targets and the difficulties increase because their status as undocumented workers makes it more difficult to obtain employment, housing and resources, as well as any social services for them and their children.