September 12, 2008

David Bacon, activist and union organizer, in town to discuss new book on immigration

By Mariana Martínez

With the presidential elections right around the corner it seems the immigration debate in the US has been sparked again, while in Mexico, dreary economic times have put Mexican politicians in the hot seat to create more jobs.

But above the “seasonal” topics, the subject of migration and labor should be discussed in a careful and detailed manner, and that’s exactly what photojournalist David Bacon, has been doing for the past 20 years, studying the link between world economy, labor conditions and immigration.

Known activist and union organizer, Bacon will be here in San Diego to present his last book, titled, “Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants” (Beacon Press), in an event organized by the Transborder Institute at University of San Diego.

The presentation will be held Sept. 17, 2:30 pm at the Joan B. Kroc building, Room 253, on the University of San Diego Campus. This event is free and open to the public but space is limited.

Bacon claims in his book that globalization uproots people from Asia and Latin America, cornering them into migration into the United States, where immigration policy makes their presence in this country a crime.

In Bacon´s view, foreign policy and emigration laws in the United States work together to create an economic system designed to provoke the large movement of population, and claims criminalization of the immigrant benefits employers.

As a clear example, the author explores the case of farm workers in the Southern Mexican state of Oaxaca, where after NAFTA subsidies where taken away and the subsidized store system Conasupo disappeared, making farm workers take a dangerous trip to the United States, where their search for work is a crime.

By weaving together multiple interviews in poor communities, the author analyzes NAFTA, a theme so close to San Diego, where Bacon has photographed immigrant workers living in canyons, along the shadows of expensive, multimillion dollar homes, reflecting a reality closer to medieval times than the XXI century.

Many things can be said about the author, but he is not inconsistent: Son of union parents, Bacon was first arrested at 16 when he was part of the Freedom of Speech movement in San Francisco, and it was there when he documented union workers he took an interest in immigrant issues.

Writer, photographer and activist, Bacon looks for a new way, a substantially different way to make politics from a human rights perspective that is forgotten, even more often than labor issues.

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