cover image Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants

David Bacon, . . Beacon, $25.95 (261pp) ISBN 978-0-8070-4226-7

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.)