The Politics of Migration and the North American Free Trade Agreement
There is a tendency to treat migration and development as two separate but related processes. This tendency inﬂects formal politics and political analysis alike. Issues surrounding migration are often highly charged with ideological, normative, economic and political contestations. In the past decades, international migration has been under the spotlight for a number of reasons: concerns about national security, cultural conﬂict and economic development are all subjects of debate in which migration features prominently. In all these domains, migration is thought to present a persistent challenge-oftentimes in a contradictory way-to the stability and security of the nation-state, the economic system and the citizen. The relationship between migration and ‘economic development’ is often articulated within this constellation. At the same time, more and more, nation-states are encouraged to shake oﬀ their suspicion of migration (where such suspicion exists) and embrace the possibility that migration may be used productively in service of development. In this context, it is presumed that-given the current conditions of globalization and global economic integration-migration can be harnessed to bring about a ‘win-win-win’ scenario that will beneﬁt sending countries, receiving countries and migrants themselves (de Haas 2007). Because of this, it is argued that migrant workers can become the new ‘heroes of development’ (Castles and Delgado Wise 2008: 3); by tapping into labour markets abroad, migrant workers are able to send capital that can be invested in their home communities, and the nation as a whole. It is even assumed that short-term, circular migration will help to curtail migration in the longer term (Bakewell 2008; de Haas 2007).1 According to the World Bank (Ratha and Silwal 2012: 2), Mexico received approximately US $24,000m. in migrant remittances in 2011, the lion’s share of which was sent from the USA. In this sense, migrant remittances are thought to be an important vector of ﬁnancial investment that can be utilized to transform local economies. Despite migrant workers being touted as ‘heroes of development’ by leaders of countries with large remittance receipts such as Mexico and the Philippines (Newland and Patrick 2004: 10; Rodriguez 2002; Kapur 2004), and the money they send home is conceived as ‘rivers of gold’ (The Economist 2012), migration remains a highly unequal process. Migrants often face formal and informal discriminations and exclusions, while at the same time being denied the forms of political membership that they may have enjoyed at home. However, it is more complex than that: many migrants have never enjoyed such political status, and often migrate because there are unable to enjoy the privileges that one associates with national citizenship owing to poverty, discrimination or other forms of ‘unfreedom’. Furthermore, even when they are allowed to reside with permission within host states, they can ﬁnd themselves simultaneously alienated from their host nation and estranged from their homeland (Ahmed 1999). The persistence of unequal forms and experiences of migration provokes important scholarly attention, not least because of the fact that globalization has not lived up to its promises for many migrants. Scholars such as Saskia Sassen (2000) have traced the ways that global processes have impacted the trajectories and experiences of migrants, and triggered forms of ‘survival migration’. Recapping Sassen’s work, Raghuram notes that: [p]eople respond to the increasing divergence between the economies of sending and receiving countries by moving. This personal response to globally created and fostered inequalities is also a mark of the failure of states to enable development and redress these inequalities.
Politics of Development: A Survey
Political Science not elsewhere classified