On Monday, Presidents Joe Biden and Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) held their first official meeting to discuss priorities for U.S.-Mexico cooperation, including labor migration. Prior to the meeting, AMLO said he would propose a labor migration program resembling the Bracero program, established in 1942 to address labor shortages in the U.S. due to World War II.
It demanded a response. On Wednesday, CDM’s Evy Peña published an op-ed in the Mexican newspaper Reforma, reminding readers what a return to the Bracero model of labor migration would mean for workers.
The Bracero Program facilitated the exploitation and discrimination of Mexican workers — and served as the inspiration of the fundamentally flawed work visa programs we have today. Existing temporary labor migration programs are poorly regulated, allowing governments to delegate their responsibilities and U.S. employers to set de facto labor standards.
The op-ed recounts the harsh reality of the Bracero Program and offers our vision for an alternative rights-based model for labor migration: one that allows workers to have control over their labor migration process, access to justice and a pathway to citizenship.
The pandemic has underscored the dangers migrant workers face under our existing labor migration system, which undermines health, safety and labor rights and leaves workers subject to predatory employers and recruiters that act with impunity.
AMLO and Biden need to cast aside the broken models of the past and instead look ahead to an alternative model that prioritizes workers, families and communities across borders.