In 1983, the devaluation of the Mexican peso triggered an explosion of US-owned factories, called maquiladoras, along the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border. Corporations closed thousands of factories within US borders, and relocated them to Mexico to take advantage of cheaper labor costs, few required benefits and legally-acceptable poorer working conditions.
Hundreds of thousands of poor Mexican workers and their families moved to northernmost Mexico to labor in the maquiladoras.
Within ten years, though, those same US corporations closed the maquiladoras, and again relocated factories, this time to Asia, which proffered even cheaper labor costs, no benefits and often abject working conditions acceptable to local governments.
Those hundreds of thousands of Mexican workers in the maquiladoras, and their families, were left with nothing. No benefits, no severance. Nothing.
To complicate economic matters more, Mexico's 1994-95 privatization of its banking and telecommunications industries thrust millions more into poverty with increased consumer prices, rising unemployment and wage and benefit cuts.
Mexico's massive privatizations in 1994-95 also created a new privileged class of home-grown millionaires and billionaires. As of 2002, Mexico ranked fourth in the world in billionaires, behind the US, Japan and Germany.
To summarize thusfar, millions of Mexican families live in soul-stripping poverty...unemployed, hungry, without healthcare...and the US border with Mexico is significantly under-enforced.
Part 3 - US Employers Routinely Hire Illegal Immigrants, With Little Penalty
In March 2005, Wal-Mart, a company with $285 billion in annual sales. was fined $11 million for having untold hundreds of illegal immigrants nationwide clean its stores.
"The federal government boasts it's the largest of its kind. But for Wal-Mart, it amounts to a rounding error---and no admittance of wrongdoing since it claims it didn't know its contractors hired the illegals" wrote the Christian Science Monitor on March 28, 2005.
"If it weren't so easy for illegals and employers to skirt worker ID verification, the settlement's requirement that Wal-Mart also improve hiring controls might have a ripple effect in corporate America. but the piddling fine will hardly deter businesses from hiring cheap labor from a pool of illegals that's surged by 23 percent since 2000....But enforcement is pathetically inadequate, especially since 9/11."
The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 provides for sanctions against businesses that hire undocumented workers, which means workers without proper identification. The legislation was enacted once Mexico-US border maquiladoras run by US corporations began closing, and those workers streamed across the border, searching for jobs of any kind.
But here's the rub. In 1999, under President Bill Clinton, the US government collected $3.69 million in fines from 890 companies for employing undocumented workers. In 2004, under President George Bush, the federal government collected $188,500 from 64 companies for such illegal employment practices. And in 2004, the Bush Administration levied NO fines for US companies employing undocumented workers.
In 21st-century America, it's an unspoken agreement between employer, the undocumented employee and the federal government: the employee provides acceptable ID that appears authentic, the employer asks no questions, and the US government looks the other way. Fake ID...Social Security cards, US permanent residency cards (i.e. "green cards"), US temporary employment authorization cards....are readily available for about $100 to $200 in every major American city,and plenty of smaller ones, too.
Wrote reporter Eduardo Porter in an April 5, 2005 New York Times article, "Currently available for about $150 on street corners in just about any immigrant neighborhood in California, a typical fake ID package includes a green card and a Social Security card. It provides cover for employers, who, if asked, can plausibly assert that they believe all their workers are legal."