ILW.COM - the immigration portal Immigration Daily

Home Page

Advanced search

Immigration Daily


Processing times

Immigration forms

Discussion board



Twitter feed

Immigrant Nation


CLE Workshops

Immigration books

Advertise on ILW

VIP Network


Chinese Immig. Daily


Connect to us

Make us Homepage



The leading
immigration law
publisher - over
50000 pages of free

Immigration LLC.

< Back to current issue of Immigration Daily < Back to current issue of Immigrant's Weekly

[Congressional Record: September 5, 2001 (House)]
[Page H5378-H5380]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access []
                            TO TOLEDO, OHIO

  The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Cantor). Under a previous order of the 
House, the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. Kaptur) is recognized for 5 
  Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Speaker, I rise this evening to include for the 
Record a letter that was sent today by myself to both President Bush 
and President Fox of Mexico.
  Tomorrow will be an historic day here in this Chamber as we welcome 
the President of Mexico, Vicente Fox, to hear his remarks as the new 
President of Mexico. Following that address, both Presidents will then 
travel to our home district, the Ninth District of Ohio, the greater 
Toledo area.
  With respect to their visit, we certainly want to extend an official 
welcome to both Presidents on their historic journey, and we look 
forward to their visit and to their remarks.
  We also hope that both Presidents will listen and learn as our 
citizenry attempts to draw them into a dialogue about the conditions of 
workers and education in our region, and other concerns on the minds of 
our citizens.
  We hope that, building on this trip, more important than any single 
day would be a request that we are sending to both Presidents to 
establish a working relationship between their administrations in the 
form of an intercontinental organization on working life and 
cooperation in the Americas, to actually set up a means by which we 
could deal with some of the unintended economic and social consequences 
of NAFTA in both nations.
  The serious dislocation of millions of industrial and agricultural 
workers, as well as small- and medium-sized firms, demands serious and 
compassionate action by those sworn to serve their fellow citizens.
  In our own region of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, since NAFTA well over 
115,000 more good-paying jobs have been lost to the maquiladora zone, 
where workers in that region toil for hunger wages and have no job 
  Ohio is among the top five States losing jobs to NAFTA, and 
nationally, since NAFTA, over 776,000 middle-class jobs have been 
relocated to the maquiladora zone.
  Most recently, Phillips Electronics in Ottawa, Ohio, where we hope 
both Presidents will ultimately visit, is the latest plant that has 
announced its shutdown of large portions of production, terminating 
hundreds and hundreds of middle-class workers, those jobs going to 
  Spangler's Candy in Bryan, Ohio, announced it will shift its candy 
cane line production to Mexico.
  Last week in Chicago, Brach's Candy, employing 1,500 people, with a 
major segment of Latino-American workers, announced it is shutting down 
its centuries-old factory there and moving production south to Mexico, 
or possibly Argentina.
  The displacement of high-paying middle-class manufacturing jobs 
across our country is fueled by NAFTA, and will only worsen if the 
proposed Free Trade Agreement of the Americas ignores the plight of 
workers. This is why we are pleading with both Presidents to set up a 
formal mechanism that intercontinentally deals with these serious 
distortions in our labor markets.
  There are 3,200 firms in the maquilladora zone, and most of those 
employ largely women workers, have no freely-lected labor 
representation, no job security, and people work in high-productivity 
  The U.S.-Mexico border, meanwhile, is plagued more and more by 
alarming rates of tuberculosis on both sides, sewage effluent flowing 
into drinking water, moot environmental laws, and crumbling 
infrastructure that cannot bear the load being placed on it.
  The root causes of the illegal immigration crisis in our country lie 
in deep and continuing disparity between the compensation and living 
standards of workers on either side of the border. Our continent needs 
a common minimum wage and common labor standards and common 
environmental laws that are enforced.
  The chart that I have here this evening gives some sense of what has 
happened to the United States since NAFTA's passage. Prior to NAFTA's 
passage, we had a favorable trade balance with Mexico, which means that 
we were exporting more there than importing.
  Since that time, what has happened is we have been racking up 
historic deficits with Mexico, and in fact, Mexico has become the 
export platform that we predicted. What the trade deficit translates 
into are thousands and thousands of lost jobs from our country, and the 
exports that go down there actually U-turn. They come back to us in the 
form of finished goods.
  But the wages of the people in Mexico have actually gone down since 
NAFTA, and our wages have been stuck in this country for well over a 
  In the countryside in Mexico, over 30 million farm families have been 
removed from their land simply because the trade agreement provides no 
soft landing for people who have eked out a living on their small ajita 
  These people are moving across our continent. Hundreds and hundreds 
are literally dying, some at our border, some inside our country. We 
simply must have a task force on this international, intercontinental 
organization that I am proposing to deal with this agricultural issue.
  Mr. Speaker, we will invite both Presidents to travel with us to the 
sites that I am talking about in both the United States and Mexico.
  I include for the Record the formal letter we have sent to both of 
them, along with an article from today's Los Angeles Times entitled 
``Toledo's Plea to Presidents Bush and Fox: Don't let trade cost 
  The material referred to is as follows:

         Toledo's Plea to Bush, Fox: Don't Let Trade Cost Jobs

                           (By Megan Garvey)

       Toledo, Ohio.--Even as President Bush and Mexican President 
     Vicente Fox prepare to visit this industrial city known for 
     strong unions, ethnic neighborhoods and fierce opposition to 
     free trade, unemployment checks will be going out to workers 
     laid off at the Jeep plant.
       Bush plans to come here Thursday to tout his commitment to 
     helping Mexican immigrants pursue the American dream and, the 
     White House says, ``again commemorate the very important role 
     that Mexicans and Hispanic Americans play in our American 
       With a Mexican American community that dates to the 1930s, 
     not many in Toledo have a problem with that.
       They just think that it's beside the point.
       The point--what concerns Toledo's white majority, its 
     sizable Mexican American population and even many of the 
     undocumented workers who harvest northwestern Ohio's tomato 
     and cucumber crops each year--is not immigration or culture.
       It's jobs.
       To many in this gritty Great Lakes port on the southwest 
     tip of Lake Erie, free trade means the flight of jobs to low-
     wage places like Mexico. And although the U.S. industrial 
     heartland has prospered in the years since the U.S.-Mexico 
     border was opened through the North American Free Trade 
     Agreement in 1994, Bush and Fox have chosen a dicey time to 
     come to Toledo: The manufacturing recession that began about 
     a year ago is taking its toll here.
       And Ohio is losing jobs as companies move to Mexico for its 
     cheap, nonunion labor--from a Mr. Coffee plant that lost 
     about 320 jobs, to Amana's kitchen range plant where almost 
     645 more positions disappeared. Then there is 
     DaimlerChrysler's Jeep plant, where union workers who thought 
     they had guaranteed jobs are being laid off, even as the 
     company spends $300 million to expand its Toluca, Mexico, 
     plant to meet demand for the popular PT Cruiser.

[[Page H5379]]

       ``It's not about race or ethnicity,'' said Toledo native 
     Marcy Kaptur, a Democrat who has represented the area in 
     Congress for more than two decades. ``We're beyond all that. 
     It's about economics.''
       Toledo officials, who bill their town as ``A Renaissance 
     City,'' have fought hard to keep jobs, cutting deals to 
     entice new auto industry investment and pushing for a 
     riverfront development zone, which is up for a vote.
       Still, economic projections for the state and region show 
     job growth mainly in low-paying service industry jobs. 
     Manufacturing employment, long Toledo's backbone, has 
     declined. And like other Rust Belt cities, the decline in 
     high-paying manufacturing jobs translates into declining 
     population: The city of Toledo has lost more than 20,000 
     residents since 1990, according to the most recent census 
       While many here blame NAFTA, free-trade proponents point to 
     figures that show Ohio's exports to Mexico have risen from 
     $709 million annually to nearly $2 billion in the years since 
     the pact was concluded.

                even migrants are losing work to mexico

       At Tony Packo's Cafe, a Hungarian place on Toledo's east 
     side that makes it own hot dogs, the regulars say much the 
     same thing.
       ``There is no doubt in anyone's mind here that free trade 
     has cost good jobs. No doubt,'' says Ken Oehlers, 59, a 
     retired teacher who grew up in the Old North End.
       More surprising, perhaps, is that some of the migrant 
     Mexican farm workers who gather tomatoes in the wide, flat 
     field south of town for Heinz tomato paste, or cucumbers for 
     the Vlasic pickle plant, echo that view.
       Wages are so low south of the border, pickers say, that 
     tomato-growing operations long based in the United States are 
     shifting to Mexico. So migrant workers who come to the U.S. 
     are losing out to Mexican workers back home.
       In Toledo, local pride is important. Tony Packo's hot dogs, 
     a visitor quickly learns, were the favorites of the cross-
     dressing Cpl. Klinger of ``MASH'' fame.
       There is similar pride in the city's historical role in 
     building cars--pride now mingled with a sense of betrayal. 
     Workers think the new economy has not played fair with them, 
     that it has not abided by its own rules.
       DiamlerChrysler's decision to eliminate 1,500 jobs when it 
     stopped manufacturing the Jeep Cherokee caught many local 
     politicians and United Auto Workers leaders by surprise.
       A few years before, the city went to great expense to 
     persuade the auto maker to build a plant here to make the 
     Cherokee's replacement, the Jeep Liberty. The deal came with 
     massive tax breaks and other inducements, and, the people of 
     Toledo believed, the promise to keep 5,000 union jobs in 
       But shortly after the Liberty plant opened, the Cherokee 
     workers were laid off, rather than moved to other lines or 
     given their own line converted for another vehicle.
       What particularly galls locals is the fact that those jobs 
     were cut even as the company has had trouble keeping up with 
     demand for its retro-style PT Cruiser. The Cruiser's 
     transmissions are made in Toledo, but the car is assembled in 
       ``We had a line shut down here that put more than 1,000 
     people out of work,'' said Larry Jamra, 58, a business owner 
     who counts himself as one of the relatively few Toledo 
     voters who supported the Republican ticket in the last 
     presidential election. ``But that's NAFTA--it put every 
     business in a position of knowing they could do things for 
     half the price in Mexico, and that's just good business.''
       Jamra grew up with Oehlers, the retired teacher, who says 
     most people in Toledo aren't mad at Mexicans about what's 
     happened. They're furious with the corporations.
       ``We don't see the standard of living being raised in 
     Mexico,'' Oehlers said, ``And wasn't that part of the point 
     of free trade?''
       Juan Perez Quiroz, a 48-year-old Mexican working on 
     Toledo's rural outskirts, reflects what Oehlers and others 
     see as the problem: Wages remain so low in Mexico, despite 
     free trade, that coming north still pays, even for a low-wage 
     field hand.
       What's worse, even itinerant farm workers like Quiroz 
     apparently are being undercut by desperate workers back home.
       Midday in the August heat, Quiroz stands idle in a tomato 
     packing shed.
       When the pickers reported for duty at first light, the 
     current crop was judged too small, and most were sent back to 
     the camps for a forced day off; no pay.
       Quiroz shrugs it off, having learned in the five years he 
     has been making the trip north from his home in Mexico that 
     this sometimes happens. College-educated, a retired 
     agricultural engineer with a modest government pension, 
     Quiroz still makes more in 12 to 16 grueling hours of packing 
     fresh tomatoes than he could back home.

                      A Question of ``Disbalance''

       In Mexico his children are professionals: a lawyer, a 
     soccer player, a college professor and a plant manager.
       Still, when he considered his own economic future, Quiroz 
     and his wife elected to make their way to U.S. farm fields 
     where he can get $10,000 for eight months' work, more than 
     three times what he could earn in the local tortilla factory 
     in Mexico--the best job he could find there.
       Quiroz, who plans to go with other migrant workers to see 
     Fox and Bush speak, said he would tell his president that he 
     can't live a good life in Mexico for the wages he can get.
       ``The main problem in Mexico is the disbalance,'' Quiroz 
     said. ``The price of products is more than the wages paid.''
       UAW local President Bruce Baumhower says he is up against 
     that too. ``Every one of the companies we've gone in to 
     bargain with said, `We could move down there and make it 
     [their product] for nothing.' '' Stories like his distress 
     Rep. Kaptur, whose constituents still recall the time she 
     took President Clinton to task for his position on trade, 
     embarrassing him onstage in 1996 as he stumped for president 
     in her hometown.
       Kaptur--who has yet to hear from the White House about the 
     trip to her district--won't get an opportunity to speak her 
     mind when Bush and Fox visit a community center that serves a 
     largely Latino clientele, and then the University of Toledo, 
     where the presidents plan to speak about education.
       Her feelings haven't changed, though.
       ``America's biggest internal conflict was the Civil War, 
     which was fought over the expansion of the slave system into 
     the West. All we've done with the trade issue is move the 
     border,'' she said.
       Many of her concerns are shared by Mexican American leader 
     Baldemar Velasquez, whose Farm Labor Organizing Committee 
     represents about 7,000 migrant workers. Velasquez said his 
     members also believe the post-NAFTA economy has meant fewer 
     decent-paying jobs.
       ``People try to paint those who are anti-NAFTA as anti-
     Mexican, and it's the exact opposite,'' Velasquez said. ``A 
     lot of these people can't see the forest through the trees. 
     Without organized labor you lose that necessary tension 
     between people driven to accumulate wealth and the workers 
     who help them do that.
       ``In Mexico there is no tension--and if we allow that to 
     become the standard then we are just going back in history.''
       Many credit Velasquez's presence with keeping Toledo's 
     unions focused on economic disparities, not racial 
     differences. Toledo, in fact, has been used as a model for 
     other Midwestern cities grappling with rapidly expanding 
     Latino populations.
       Out in one of the cucumber fields, where the late-harvest 
     cucumbers have grown too large to be considered premium--
     meaning small enough to be pickled whole--Velasquez talked 
     about economic realities.
       Under a hard-fought bargaining agreement won by his 
     organization, workers get $28 per 100 pounds of premium 
     cucumbers picked, plus $6.20 an hour minimum wage. In Mexico, 
     the same yield would earn slightly more than $1 per day.
       Velasquez agreed to participate in the presidential visit 
     despite having turned down invitations to the Clinton White 
     House out of fear, in his words, of being a prop, a ``wooden 
       His reason: the chance to talk about general amnesty for 
     undocumented immigrants.
       ``They can't come to town without hearing it from labor,'' 
     he said.
       ``And I don't think they can talk about education without 
     talking about amnesty and workers' rights. When parents don't 
     have jobs or are underpaid or are hiding from immigration, 
     those are all fundamental issues when you are talking about 
     educating a child.''

                                     House of Representatives,

                                Washington, DC, September 5, 2001.
     President George W. Bush,
     The White House,
     Washington, DC.
     President Vicente Fox,
     Embassy of Mexico,
     Washington, DC.
       Dear President Bush and President Fox: During this Labor 
     Day week, and on behalf of our entire community, I extend an 
     official welcome to you both on your historic journey here 
     among us. We look forward to your visit and to your remarks. 
     We also hope you will listen and learn as our citizenry 
     ``speak truth to power.'' Building on this trip, we look 
     forward to establishing a working relationship with your 
     respective Administrations to address continental issues of 
     mutual concern. Please let me propose the establishment of an 
     ``Intercontinental Organization on Working Life and 
     Cooperation in the Americas.''
       First and foremost, we seek your leadership and engagement 
     on the economic and social consequences of NAFTA in both 
     nations. The serious dislocation of millions of industrial 
     and agricultural workers, as well as small and medium sized 
     firms, demands serious and compassionate action by those 
     sworn to serve their fellow citizens. In our region (Ohio, 
     Michigan and Indiana) post-NAFTA, over 115,621 good paying 
     jobs have been lost to the maquiladora zone, where workers 
     toil for hunger wages and have no job security. Ohio is among 
     the top five states in our union losing jobs due to NAFTA 
     (37,694). Nationally, since NAFTA, over 776,030 middle class 
     jobs have been relocated to the maquila zone. Philips 
     Electronics in Ottawa, Ohio, the latest plant to announce a 
     shut down in production, will terminate hundreds of middle 
     class workers. Spangler's Candy, in Bryan, Ohio, has 
     announced it will shift some of its candy cane production to 
     Mexico. Last week in Chicago, Brach's Candy, employing 1,500 
     with a major segment of Latino-American workers, announced it 
     is shutting down its century old factory there, and moving 
     production either to Mexico or Argentina. The displacement of 
     high paying, middle class manufacturing jobs across the U.S. 
     is fueled by NAFTA, and will only worsen if the proposed Free 

[[Page H5380]]

     Area of the Americas agreement ignores the plight of workers. 
     With NAFTA and FTAA, only investment is given free rein in 
     our hemisphere. Our goal is ``Fair Trade, Free People.''
       Meanwhile, 3,200 multinational firms located in the 
     maquiladora zone have shaped the modern scourge of the 
     dreaded sweatshop. Nearly one million Mexicans, largely 
     women, work in high productivity poverty, with no freely 
     elected labor representation, no job security. The U.S.-
     Mexico border is plagued by alarming rates of 
     tuberculosis, sewage effluent flowing into drinking water, 
     moot environmental laws, and crumbling infrastructure that 
     cannot bear the load being placed on it. Grinding poverty 
     drives the immigration that is a primary subject of your 
       The root causes of the immigration crisis lie in the deep 
     and continuing disparity between compensation and living 
     standards of workers on either side of our border. Our 
     continent needs a common minimum wage and common labor 
     standards. Trade agreements MUST recognize and include labor 
     rights in the central bodies of their accords. No nation of 
     conscience should ignore the plight of the dispossessed, the 
     worker without representation, the small holders and 
     campeisinos and indigenous people who have no voice. As the 
     powerful force of capital moves across borders so must labor 
     have equal status in any economic accord. Further, NAFTA 
     remains seriously deficient in providing structural 
     adjustment assistance to cushion intercontinental economic 
       Trade relationships should yield mutually beneficial 
     economic and social benefits, not a legacy of growing 
     political instability. Our U.S. trade relationship with 
     Mexico is becoming increasingly distorted. Before NAFTA, the 
     U.S. held a $3 billion surplus with Mexico. Post NAFTA, the 
     U.S. surplus has turned into a growing cumulative deficit of 
     over $140 billion, with last year's record high of $30 
     billion. In Mexico, we have witnessed the devaluation of the 
     peso, wage cutbacks, and now job terminations in the maquias 
     due to a U.S. economic slowdown. Indeed, northern Mexico has 
     become the low wage export platform to the U.S. that 
     opponents of NAFTA predicted. Nearly 90% of maquila 
     production is exported back to the U.S. (and nearly the same 
     from our Canadian counterparts) as Mexico becomes a vast 
     importer of goods from Asia. Long term, this is an economic 
     relationship that is damaging to our continent. The current 
     economic arrangement means the workers of Mexico cannot 
     afford to buy what they make, and their U.S. counterparts 
     lose their living wage jobs as the downward pressure on 
     remaining jobs continues unabated. High productivity poverty 
     with hunger wages in Mexico and displaced U.S. workers do not 
     good neighbors make. As the slogan reads, justice must come 
     to the maquiladoras.
       In the countryside, the story is even worse. Over 30 
     million Mexican farmers are being cruelly uprooted from their 
     historic lands. This is a continental sacrilege of enormous 
     proportions. Some, understandably, escape across our border. 
     Some die in the Arizona desert. Others seek shelter in Mexico 
     City's sprawling metropolis as overextended local services 
     strain under the crush of rapid population growth. Last year, 
     over 360 Mexicans seeking refuge or work died at our border. 
     What kind of cruel economic system is it that tramples on 
     their humanity and pits then against farmers and workers in 
     our countryside who have labored for a century to gain 
     sustenance and a decent way of life, collective bargaining 
     rights, and dignity in the work place? An Intercontinental 
     Agricultural Working Committee must be included as a key 
     component of the Intercontinental Organization I propose.
       President Bush, I understand that during your visit to our 
     community you seek to discuss ``common problems on our 
     border, problems with drug interdiction, problems with 
     environmental issues, problems with water and immigration.'' 
     I can assure you that every single one of these problems 
     arises from a flawed NAFTA agreement that leaves working 
     people and the social compact out of the investment equation. 
     It took our nation nearly a century, and a Civil War, to 
     reject a form of indentured servitude in which workers were 
     chattel. Our society still bears the scars of that war. In 
     Mexico, I have witnessed the fear of workers bound to an 
     economic system in which they hold no independent voice, 
     where independent collective bargaining for the value of 
     their work is impossible, and where their hard work and high 
     productivity yield only more poverty. Here at home, I have 
     witnessed our middle class workers who have struggled to 
     build a way of life have the rug pulled out from under them 
     by forces beyond their control. This surely cannot be your 
     blueprint for our continent in this new millennium.
       Something is seriously wrong when workers do not earn 
     enough to buy what they make. It troubles me greatly that in 
     Toluca, Mexico workers who assemble the popular PT Cruisers 
     for DaimlerChrysler do not earn a living wage; every single 
     one of the cars they build are shipped to the U.S. 
     Reciprocally, it bothers me greatly that Toledo's 
     DaimlerChrysler workers who attempted to bid on some portion 
     of backlogged PT Cruiser production were summarily turned 
     down. Since all the production from the Toluca plant is sent 
     through the backdoor into the U.S., why shouldn't the workers 
     in both plants be covered by the same collective bargaining 
     agreement, along with their supplier firms? Otherwise, all 
     that production yields from a continental standpoint is a 
     race to the bottom for the workers.
       Equally, in the countryside, it troubles me that northwest 
     Ohio's fresh tomato and pickle businesses are increasingly 
     threatened by Sinaloa plants and packing sheds. Yet field 
     workers in both nations have no hope of a better life as 
     their production is pitted against one another and they 
     compete for survival wage jobs. Again, our continent needs an 
     open forum in which to address and grapple with these serious 
       Finally, I extend to you both an invitation to travel with 
     bipartisan delegations from both countries. Let us tour U.S. 
     and Mexican production sites, industrial and agricultural. 
     Let us freely hear from the workers. Let us for the sake of 
     the common good explore openly the dimensions of NAFTA that 
     must be repaired. Let us do what is just. We should strive 
     for an intercontinental accord that elevates our people, not 
     exploits them, that uses the power of economic development 
     and the marketplace to spur the necessary social and physical 
     infrastructure to build great nations and treat our people 
     with respect.
       Pope John Paul II captured the essence of the challenge 
     before us when he wrote:
       ``The market imposes its way of thinking and acting and 
     stamps its scale of values upon behavior.''
       ``What is happening is that changes in technology and work 
     relationships are moving too quickly for cultures to respond. 
     Social, legal and cultural safeguards are vital.''
       ``Globalization often risks destroying these carefully 
     built up structures, by exacting the adoption of new styles 
     of working, living and organizing communities.''
       ``Globalization must not be a new version of 
       The Pope stressed that on its course towards globalization, 
     humanity cannot do without an ethical code which must be 
     ``wholly independent from financial, ideological or political 
     partisan views. . . . Humanity can no longer do without a 
     common code of ethics.''
       To this end, I would dedicate my full energies, as would 
     the people of our community.
           Most sincerely,
                                                     Marcy Kaptur,
     Member of Congress.