In the political world you must work to have your voice heard. The path to representation is clear but is often fraught with the missteps of miscommunication. The video below encourages you to find your representative and speak to them about issues that you hold dear. You can email, call, text, message over social media, or protest your elected officials. The only thing you can’t do is refuse to participate. Our lives are political from the pillows you wake up from, to your mode of transportation, to your healthcare when you are ill, to the family you leave behind in death are all regulated by your elected officials. Let them know what you feel about certain issues so that you can make your voice heard. The video below will help you to accomplish these objectives.
The Travel (Don’t-call-it-a-muslim) Ban
When President Trump enacted the travel ban executive order on Jan 27, 2017, the administration sent a clear message to anyone who didn’t see representation of themselves in the White House. That message was one of hate and fear, regardless of how chaotically and confusingly it was implemented. While the EO targeted individuals as “others”, this administration has failed to represent the safety and security of all American people. We must understand that this ban is nothing more than a desperate attempt to further divide this nation with notions of racism and fear. We can not be complicit in these actions.
Confusion and Chaos
There are a lot of people who feel uncertain after the bombardment of the EO’s. Not only is the ban confusing but many agencies have chosen to act in different ways. While the majority of chaos reigned at airports in the wake of the order, there were good people, lawyers, protestors and politicians who scrambled to help those stranded at airports, after being mid flight when the EO went into full effect. A federal appellate court did rule a temporary block on the travel ban. Melanie Evans of the Wall Street Journal notes the uncertainty after the travel ban for hospitals making residency decisions, citing 1000 doctors who applied for U.S. residency slots are from the seven countries included in the ban. This is only a small cross section to a larger overwhelming problems as there as been multiple news stories about students and families being held abroad and refused travel back to the United States.
The Threat of Raids
As Twitter now seems to be the hub for news gathering of the age, we still need to fight against too much degradation of news into bite sized tidbits for our consumption. This week and the last has seen a lot of reports from individuals using the social media to warn of ICE raids happening in various neighborhoods or checkpoints on streets. While the checkpoints haven’t been verified, there has been a surge of ICE raids on immigrant family in many major cities. CNN reported on one family in Brooklyn who despite becoming naturalized citizens over a decade ago are still in fear that they could be next. The family state they they try to act American to avoid calling any undue attention to themselves. They have outlined their measure, one of which is to carry their passports with them at all times, so that they have proof of their allowed existence here. We can’t ignore the dichotomy that this is not the first time immigration round ups have happened, but this is the first time such fear has been held captive under this new administration. Vox news pointed out that what ICE is doing now isn’t radically different from what has happened under past administrations, specifically Bush’s and Obama’s.
A Day Without Immigrants
On February 16, we experienced a day without immigrants. Across the nation, protestors were stepping out to highlight the importance of migrants to the core of this economy. Business owners in many major cities have signified solidarity with the protestors by closing up shop on this day to really show everyone how our lives would be impacted if we started to erase diversity from our communities. Immigrants have helped to build this nation and these efforts help to show that these people are an integral part of this nation. The protest is modeled after a national march in 2006 under the same name. There were close to a million people that day who marched against reforms that called for criminalizing assistance to illegal immigrants. Bourree Lam of the Atlantic points out that the restaurant industry has a good reason to worry with nearly 2.3 million foreign born workers making up nearly 23 percent of the industry.
Diversity and Change
The real meaning behind of all of this is that America is made up of diversity, and that is what makes us strong. This travel ban is not about keeping us safe from terrorist, despites its purported message. The ban, and the administration that ordered it into existence is meant to divide American citizens into an “us versus them” mentality. As the United States was built solely on immigrants that arguably, came here illegally then it is imperative that all citizens stand together to face this injustice.
A Call to Action
Free Trade isn’t free. In the wake of current President Trump’s campaign promises to end the Trans-Pacific Partnership and to “do something” with the North American Free Trade Agreement. While he may be putting “America First” it is imperative to determine how free trade often benefits the wealthiest among us, while leaving low to middle income families within member states of the agreements to be disadvantaged.
Winners and Losers
Free trade creates an atmosphere of winners and losers, by and far the losers are the American workforce. In 2003 the Economic Policy Institute notes that job losses were reported in all fifty states as a product of NAFTA. Further, Jeff Madrick a New York Time’s writer reported that American wages have been reduced as a result of outsourcing made easier by such trade agreements. Economists have averaged that between 1993 and 2014 over 600,000 jobs were lost. When NAFTA was signed into agreement, one of the supposed proponents of the plan was suppose to be that of job creation. Yet this creation of jobs took place outside the U.S.
Yet the creation of jobs in member countries often take place inside of free trade zones or export processing zones (FTZ/EPZ). These zones are rife with human rights abuses. While some zones operate according to labor and human rights regulation, a FTZ/EPZ is only beholden to the host countries domestic law an trade regulation. The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions notes that these zones have, “employers [who] pay scant regard to labor laws, employment regulations and health and safety at work” (7). In fact, most of these zones are exempt from labor laws. The ICFTU notes a report by a Mexican NGO that highlights over 1,300,000 workers are paid less than six dollars a day to work in deplorable conditions. This is followed up by a Harvard study in 2010 that notes the track record of many of these zones include mistreatment of workers, denied medical or sick leave, and restrictions on the use of sanitary facilities. When considering the purpose of NAFTA was to integrate Mexico into the high wage economies of the U.S. and Canada, clearly free trade has the opposite effect.
What does this mean for us?
Free Trade has a modest impact on the U.S. economy. In a 2014 report by the Pederson Institute for International Economic found that the United States sees 127 billion dollars in trade grown because of NAFTA. While that number may seem high, it averages to about four hundred dollars a person. These trade agreements work to make the developing member agreement countries look more attractive to U.S. and foreign investors. The Council on Foreign Relations reported in 2017, that its been difficult to tease out if the growing economy is linked to NAFTA’s policy given the rise of technological advancements and increased trade with China.
While we may never know if President Trump withdrew from the TPP or wants to negotiate NAFTA for any of these reasons. Yet, it can not be forgotten that the U.S. plays a major role in trade partnerships and to ignore these issues with free trade, is indicative of a growing compliance with globalization and protectionism than an acknowledgement of human lives.
What can you do?
This is by no means a call to end trade, but these partnerships need to shift to a base of fair and equal trade. When buying a fair trade product, you ensure that your consumer dollars are being paid to producers in developing countries. Look for products with the Fair Trade logo, as these profits go to directly impacting the communities that produced them. Visit fairtradeusa.org to find how you can do your part to help these communities. A good start to pushing against Free Trade is to replace what products you can with Fair Trade Certified ones.