U.N. rapporteur addresses immigrant-labor issue

“Pull” rather than “push” factors draw illegal immigrants to American soil, a United Nations human rights expert insisted Thursday.

Before an audience of about 40 at the United Church on the Green, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Human Rights of Migrants Jorge Bustamante, argued for the humane treatment and an increased awareness of the plight of migrant workers.

Jorge Bustamante, a human rights expert, said Thursday that high demand has caused the prevelance of undocumented residents.
Mayra Macias
Jorge Bustamante, a human rights expert, said Thursday that high demand has caused the prevelance of undocumented residents.

Migrant workers are people who, unable to find stable work in their own county, find employment in another — usually bouncing from one job to another in an attempt to earn a living. Bustamante focused on Mexican migrant workers in the United States, many of whom he said are undocumented. He said the prevalence of undocumented migrant workers in the United States is a product of the high American demand for cheap labor, a fact largely ignored by the American media, he said.

“This makes the phenomena bilateral by definition,” Bustamante concluded.

Additionally, because of their illegal status within the States, the federal government insists the situation is a domestic legal concern. Bustamante said the best way to address the situation is for both governments to cooperate.

The problem, he explained, stems from American demand for cheap labor, which itself is a powerful incentive for many immigrants.

Illustrating the supply and demand factors of the situation, Bustamante said 95 percent of the field laborers in California, which is the largest producer of agricultural products in the United States, are Mexican. But, Bustamante said, the American public largely ignores the existence of this labor demand and its resulting human rights abuses.

Bustamante noted that the United States was willing to come to an agreement with the Mexican government, but progress was halted in the political aftermath of 9/11. But without a bilateral solution, Bustamante argued, workers face both treatment and pay discrimination due to the largely xenophobic ideologies of the American public.

As a result, the migrants are ostracized even though, as Bustamante said, “Mexicans change as soon as they cross the border” — referring to how they assimilate to American society.

Patricia Juarez, 43, a journalist for the New Haven based La Voz Hispana, agreed with Bustamante’s insistence on how the immigration problem is really a responsibility of both countries, the United States and Mexico. She voiced her concern over the lack of action on both parties.

The Mexican government neither creates jobs in Mexico nor defend the human rights of the Mexicans in the United States, Juarez said.

“And,” she added, “the American government doesn’t take note of the fact the immigrant work force is very important for the economy of the country.”

Felicia Martinez ’10 echoed this idea: “I thought he addressed a lot of issues that were pertinent to U.S.-Mexican relations in terms of needing a bilateral discussion between the two.”

The event was part of a series funded by the Public Humanities initiative in the American Studies program.


  • Bobby

    Why do Americans allow it? Why? Don't you have any feeling, and pride, any deep sentiment concerning your nation? Why do you allow people to preach in your faces that anyone in the world who wants to come and occupy your nation, illegally, push their culture on you, and lecture you about all the things Americans need to do? They do not even have a legal right to be here. It is astounding that so many Americans can not see that many of these ethnic interest groups, etc. are radicals, and have no respect for Americans or America. Why do Americans allow it?

  • Nikki

    Wake up Connecticut,wake up America. Illegals aliens from whatever country do not belong here. We have rules and laws in the United States of America, rules and laws our ancestors lived and fought by. These illegals live in countries with out any morals and values. They litter, they continue to have out of wedlock children, they are uneducated and then they come to the greatest country in the world illegally and expect handouts. Wake up - DEPORT NOT SUPPORT! Let's thinks of our own future and the future of our children and grand children - let's leave them the America we Americans know, not what these low class illegal moochers want. Bye, bye, illegals.

  • david

    Most Americans WANT all illegal aliens out of our country. Millions of Americans
    call their lawmakers daily at 866-220-0044 and rally for programs such as E-VERIFY to be used for all gov. programs-foodstamps,sect.8 housing,medical benifits etc.We would also like 287g to be used in every city,county and state in the U.S.
    To find out more about E-VERIFY & 287g
    please visit(numbersusa.com)(capsweb.org)
    (fair.com)to learn more about illegal aliens and the crimes they commit visit(americanpatrol.com/outragedpatriots.com)
    200,000 veterans and millions more American families are Homeless and unemployed because of illegal aliens so get involved call your LAWMAKERS TODAY !
    THANKS -DAVID- eureka ca. 1 of 200,000

  • Larry

    HELP STOP ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION…….MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD: http://www.numbersusa.com/content/learn/about/what-numbersusa-is-all-about.html

  • Wandagb

    If indeed "pull" factors are dominant then we must redouble our worker verification programs and employ E-Verify.

    Meanwhile, everything you need to know about immigration and what to do about it humorously told.


    NumbersUSA is the hero.

  • Ali

    Mr. Bustamante ignores the fact that the U.S. has had a guest worker program (H2-B) for unskilled workers for years. Neither employers nor employees have been anxious to use it because it requires accountability. Employers, for example, need to pay decent wages and provide transportation for workers. The willingness of illegal aliens to go outside the law subverts "humane" treatment. As long as employers can get illegal aliens more cheaply and pass the associated costs (medical care,education) onto the public, you'll see "inhumane" conditions.

  • gabby

    Americans don't want cheap labor, some businesses do. We want jobs, education,health care for citizens. We want the elimination of citizenship by virtue of birth within this country, Ireland was the only other country that still had that practice and no longer does. The USA has to get with the times and eliminate this. We also have to take control of our borders and enforce our laws.