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Don’t Punish the Dreamers—Punish the Corporations Driving Forced Migration

The perpetrators of the "crime" are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive.

The "dreamers," young recipients of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program—are the true children of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). More than anyone, they have paid the price for the agreement. Yet they are the ones punished by the administration of President Donald Trump, as it takes away their legal status, ability to work and right to live in this country without fear of arrest or deportation. At the same time, those responsible for the fact they grew up in the United States walk away unpunished—and even better off.

I’m not talking about their parents. It's common for liberal politicians—and even Trump himself, on occasion—to say these young people shouldn't be punished for the "crimes" of their parents, who brought their children with them when they crossed the border without papers. But parents aren't criminals any more than their children are. They chose survival over hunger, and sought to keep their families together and give them a future.

The perpetrators of the "crime" are those who wrote the trade treaties and the economic reforms that made forced migration the only means for families to survive. The "crime" was NAFTA. 

In a just world, U.S. trade negotiators would rewrite the treaty to repair the damage done to communities on both sides of the border, especially in Mexico. They would ensure that those forced to migrate—dreamers and other immigrants—have legal residence where they now live.  They would change the rules of the relationship between the United States and Mexico, so that the income and lives of working people and the poor aren't sacrificed to produce profit opportunities for big corporations. And their new agreement would punish those corporations responsible for the vast increase in poverty following NAFTA's passage.

While the Trump administration and a Republican Congress are certainly not going to negotiate any changes like these, the first step in making change possible is telling the truth.Nowhere is this more important than in relation to NAFTA and immigration policy. It's impossible to understand the outrageous injustice of deporting the dreamers without acknowledging the reasons why they live in the United States to begin with.

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