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Video of Presentation of The Underlying Causes of Immigration at California Lutheran University (Otober 2019)

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The Underlying Causes of Immigration from Mexico to the United States

Structures of Deprivation

Álvaro J. de Regil

To write about the underlying causes of immigration means addressing a paramount social issue that pervades the lives of most societies in the world, both in the periphery as well as in the metropolises of the global capitalist system. Immigration is inherent to human nature. Billions of people have travelled from their birthplace in search of a better life from the very moment homo “sapiens” began to wander around his primeval surroundings. At first, all humans were nomads. They constantly moved from one place to another, from cave to cave, from valley to valley, from region to region, from continent to continent, many times traveling thousands of kilometres in their quest for better conditions of survival. Thousands of years later, with the rise of civilisations and hundreds of sedentary settlements, people continued to move to lands inhabited by other civilisations, with different cultural and ethnical backgrounds, always in pursuit of a better life. As empires rose and destroyed competing civilisations, many people were forced to leave, or they were moved forcefully to other places to serve the interests of the conquerors as they pleased. The history of humanity is composed of the never-ending destruction and conquering of many peoples by stronger societies in their quest for power and wealth.

This has never changed despite thousands of years of human experience and “sophistication” in the organisation of societies, despite the rise of so called democratic nation states, human rights covenants and international law. Today, people continue to move from one place to another, many times escaping a high risk of death as a result of social conflicts, poverty, or, instead of the rule of law, a complete state of anomie —the loss of all the ethical social standards conceived to procure a dignified and harmonious coexistence among the members of society. In the vast majority of cases, as should be evident, there is also the effect —to a lesser or greater degree— of the actions of foreign actors that intervene in the lives of other societies in pursuit of their own vested interests, always associated with the pursuit of greater power and wealth. In the twenty-first century, we continue the same ancient patterns of power exertion and displacement of people all over the world. In this way, millions of people continue to migrate from Eastern Europe to Western Europe, from Africa to Europe, from Asia to North America and from Iberian America to North America as well, to name the major migration flows.

This paper focuses on the underlying causes of immigration from Mexico to the United States from a political and socio-economic viewpoint. However, the root causes behind the flows of emigrants in other regions of the world are consistently the same. They result from the impact of powerful geo- political interests on the general population of both the emitting and the receiving countries of the millions of migrants in their escape from unbearable conditions and in pursuit of a dignified life. From this perspective, we will uncover and review the underlying causes of immigration from Mexico to the US, which are structural, in an effort to shed light onto their real solution. That is, the only way to permanently solve the issue of Mexican migration to the US, is by addressing the structural causes that force people to leave their homelands. Addressing only the symptoms triggered by these causes will never solve the issue and instead would further consolidate the patterns regardless of how aggressive and inhumane the policies are designed to stop the flows of migrants. We also focus on Mexico because it has been for many decades the main source of immigrants to the US due to its proximity and even more so after the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994, which has made Mexico the third largest US trading partner, after China and Canada, beyond being the main exporter of migrants forced to leave their communities.


Analysis prepared in February 2019.. For a full review of this essay, click here or on the picture to download the pdf file.


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