How many minutes of a construction laborer's work are required to purchase a kilogram of wheat flour? While an American construction laborer works less than 4 minutes to earn enough to buy a kilogram of flour, it takes a Mexican worker more than 1 hour and an Indian construction worker just under 2 hours....
...If a wage gap of 4 to 1 between the United States and Italy in 1870 was sufficient to create a migration that reduced population by 30% over a forty-year period - even when transport costs were higher, travel was more dangerous, and communication with loved ones left behind was much more expensive and less reliable - then it is at least plausible that the existing wage differences indicate potential forces for substantially larger labor movements than those currently observed.
Let Their People Come - Pritchett 2006
global conditions are currently such that we have a movement of people between and within nations never before seen on this planet. lured by higher wages, relative stability, and labor needs in the global north, hundreds of millions of people move around each and every year. of course it is impossible to generalize this situation because causes and conditions are so varied between locations and people, but it is safe to say there is a rising need for labor in the global north and a growing sentiment against this migrant labor.
right wing parties worldwide point to this migrant labor as the cause of many ills. crime, disease, increased cost of services, depression of wages, whatever. while some might argue we need to drop the "PC" pretenses and man up to these challenges, generally approaching the subject in this way results in passing laws about giving water to "Illegal Humans" dying of thirst in the desert.
I mean, the benefit in dehumanizing these migrant workers is that you shift responsibility for social shortcomings from the state to the Other, i.e. that health care is not the state's responsibility, that combating poverty is not the state's responsibility, etc. by shoving the cause of crime (which is, we should remember, a symptom and rarely a problem in and of itself) onto the immigrant camp, the state absolves itself.
another benefit is really obvious: a person not deserving of water in the desert is a person not deserving of a minimum wage, protection under the law, health care, education, basically life itself. this approach to labor acts as a backwards contagion and generally even the most crazy right-wing jerks realize this: if you can get a mexican to work 70 hours a week for pennies you can soon argue that americans should be expected to do the same.
batting down the hatches will not work. anyone can see that the results of this backlash have caused unprecedented and horrific violence along the mexican border, for instance. libya as well... I mean check out libya. yikes stripes. states silly enough to pass bizarre laws against this kind of labor often find themselves up shit's creek with a turd for a paddle when the economy drops out from under them as drywall goes unfinished and unpicked tomatoes rot in the sun. this is not to say that this is the only kind of work irregular migrant labor does but certainly the majority subsist on this kind of thing.
so what is to be done? once we have turned the corner and suddenly made not just actions but indeed workers themselves "illegal" can there be any reclaiming of the situation? a suggested tactic is one like in 2006 - a general strike of irregular migrant labor does wonders for shaking up a system. however, without addressing the root causes of inequality we cannot expect to have our cake (open borders for finance, ease of movement) and eat it too (except for browns). until then I'm just gonna keep leaving water in the desert I guess...