MIGRANT WORKERS, ESSENTIAL BUT DISPOSABLE

Jesús Bravo, Sunset Park Brooklyn, 2020.

The pandemic has halted most economic and productive activities in various national spaces. However, essential activities linked to the food and health industry have not ceased. Thousands of irregularized migrants in the Americas work in activities considered essential as they are agricultural workers, or labor force within the processing, marketing, and distribution of food. Historically, these labor niches have been destined for an irregularized, exploitable, and disposable labor force. In Canada and the United States irregularized Latinxs migrants primarily work in the agricultural sector or in the food processing industry, in food packaging, in supermarkets, or in multiple delivery services. 

 

In the United States, hundreds of young irregularized sons and daughters of  migrants who grew up and studied in the U.S. may be beneficiaries of Deferred Action for Children Arriving (DACA). However, due to Trump’s anti-immigrant policies, their regularization is now in limbo. DACA recipients may also be essential workers as many are employed in the healthcare and welfare industries, in transportation and warehousing, in supermarkets, and in pharmacies. Similarly, in Mexico, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina or Brazil, irregularized Venezuelan migrants are employed in various deliveries services allowing food and medicine to reach the homes of those who are confined during the pandemic.

 

The activities carried out by irregularized migrants are essential for the social reproduction of these national spaces. Although they are essential, they are still irregularized, criminalized, and exploited labor force. During the pandemic, essential migrant workers do not have additional protections and put into risk their health and lives on a daily basis for the reproduction of the nation. The virtual discussion will provide an in-depth analysis of the accumulation capitalist system based on the dispossession of rights irregularized migrants, essential workers, multiplying in the Americas.

Carmen, Oxnard, California, 2020.

In mid-March 2020, nearly every country on the continent declared a health emergency. These countries closed their borders and adopted a series of exceptional measures, arguing that forced immobility as a  solution to contain the virus. Following the shutdown of borders,  more than 30 researchers from the Americas, interested in analyzing the migratory question politically, organized virtually and began to consider the particular situation of millions of migrants, women, men, children and adolescents, from the continent and/or from other latitudes, all of whom are mobile and in transit.

Original Concept: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston

General Coordination:Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston & Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University

Research, Systematization and Development of Contents: Soledad Álvarez Velasco, University of Houston;  Ulla D. Berg, Rutgers University; Lucía Pérez-Martínez, FLACSO-Ecuador; Mónica Salmon, New School for Social Research; Sebastián León,  Rutgers University.

Coordination polyphonic map: Iréri Ceja Cárdenas: Museo Nacional/ Universidad Federal de Rio de Janeiro

Project Advisor: Nicholas De Genova, Universidad of Houston.

 

Translation team Spanish - English: 

Soledad Álvarez Velasco, Mónica Salmón, Ulla Berg, Luin Goldring, Tanya Basok, Ingrid Carlson, Gabrielle Cabrera.

Translation team Spanish - Portuguese: 

Iréri Ceja, Gustavo Dias, Gislene Santos, Elisa Colares, Handerson Joseph, Caio Fernandes, María Villarreal.

Website Design and Development:  ACHU! Studio; Francisco Hurtado Caicedo, Social Observatory of Ecuador

Photography: David Gustafsson y Cynthia Briones.

Video: David Gustafsson.

Some of the researchers of this project are members of these CLACSO Working Groups

English translation and proofreading by Gabrielle Cabrera, Rutgers University.

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