From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. In this incisive investigation of the global political and economic forces creating migration, journalist and former labor organizer Bacon offers a detailed examination of the trends transforming, for example, Mexican farmers into California farm workers. Bacon condemns efforts to criminalize illegal immigrants, noting that Congress's immigration proposals and debates take place outside any discussion of its own trade policies that displace workers and create migration in the first place. The whole process that creates migrants is scarcely considered in the U.S. immigration debate, argues Bacon, who posits that displacement and migration are two perennially necessary ingredients of capitalist growth. According to the author, the same system... produces migration needs and uses that labor while the vulnerable undocumented or guest-worker status keeps that labor controllable and cheap. Readers disinclined to consider economic rights as human rights may balk at the general direction, but Bacon's timely analysis is as cool and competent as his labor advocacy is unapologetic. In mapping the political economy of migration, with an unwavering eye on the rights and dignity of working people, Bacon offers an invaluable corrective to America's hobbled discourse on immigration and a spur to genuine, creative action. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
The persistence in calling undocumented workers “illegal” signifies the political forces that mean to demonize workers who are not U.S. citizens. But it also aptly describes the gross lack of legal rights for these workers and their families. Bacon, an award-winning photojournalist, labor organizer, and immigrant-rights activist, follows the lives of undocumented workers at the Westin Suite Hotel in California and a Smithfield meatpacking plant in North Carolina, who travel back and forth from Mexico to the U.S. He examines the economic and social forces in both countries that lure workers to a market where they can earn higher wages but are vulnerable to exploitation. Bacon goes on to analyze guest-worker programs and other developments meant to balance the needs of U.S. employers and workers. He ties together interviews, personal histories, and political analysis to provide a vivid image of what life is like for workers with little rights or protections in an increasingly globalized economy. A fascinating look at trade and immigration policies and the people directly affected by them. --Vanessa Bush