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Immigration Rights Activist and Author David Bacon to Present Spring Lecture

By Christopher Renner
Announcement | February 17, 2011

PhotobucketMANHATTAN, Kan. - If one listens to the rhetoric of right-wing pundits and politicians, our nation is in peril from a massive immigration of people from south of our border with Mexico.

The only problem is that the very policies these same ideologues hold up as the saving truths - free market capitalism, free trade zones, and no tariffs - are the very reasons why people in the global south must leave their homes and move in order to survive. Add to this mix the attacks on immigrants in Kansas being carried out by the xenophobic Secretary of State, Kris Kobach, and the lack of comprehensive coverage by the mainstream media of the important role immigration plays in the Kansas economy has lead to an atmosphere fear and ignorance on this complex issue.

In response, the Manhattan Alliance for Peace and Justice is please to announce photojournalist, editor, union and immigrant rights activist David Bacon will deliver Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants for their Spring Lecture at K-State on February 28th. Bacon will speak at 7:00pm in Forum Hall of the K-State Student Union.

Bacon is an associate editor at Pacific News Service, and writes for TruthOut, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications. He has been a reporter and documentary photographer for 18 years. He covers issues of labor, immigration and international politics. He hosts a half-hour weekly radio show on labor, immigration and the global economy on KPFA-FM.

For twenty years, Bacon was a labor organizer for unions in which immigrant workers made up a large percentage of the membership. Those include the United Farm Workers, the United Electrical Workers, the International Ladies' Garment Workers, the Molders Union and others. Those experiences gave him a unique insight into changing conditions in the workforce, the impact of the global economy and migration, and how these factors influence the struggle for workers rights.

Bacon was chair of the board of the Northern California Coalition for Immigrant Rights, and helped organize the Labor Immigrant Organizers Network and the Santa Clara Center for Occupational Safety and Health. His book, The Children of NAFTA, was published by the University of California Press in March, 2004, and a photodocumentary project sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, Communities Without Borders, was published by the ILR/Cornell University Press in October 2006.

In Living Under the Trees, sponsored by the California Council for the Humanities and California Rural Legal Assistance, Bacon photographed and interviewed indigenous Mexican migrants working in California's fields.

His most recent book, Illegal People: How Globalization Creates Migration and Criminalizes Immigrants, explores the human side of globalization, exposing the many ways it uproots people in Latin America and Asia, driving them to migrate. He also explores how U.S. immigration policy makes the labor of those displaced people a crime in the United States. Illegal People explains why our national policy produces even more displacement, more migration, more immigration raids, and a more divided, polarized society.

Through interviews and on-the-spot reporting from both impoverished communities abroad and American immigrant workplaces and neighborhoods, Bacon shows how the United States' trade and economic policy abroad, in seeking to create a favorable investment climate for large corporations, creates conditions to displace communities and set migration into motion. Trade policy and immigration are intimately linked, Bacon argues, and are, in fact, elements of a single economic system. In particular, he analyzes NAFTA's corporate tilt as a cause of displacement and migration from Mexico and shows how criminalizing immigrant labor benefits employers.

Bacon powerfully traces the development of illegal status back to slavery and shows the human cost of treating the indispensable labor of millions of migrants - and the migrants themselves - as illegal. Illegal People argues for a sea change in the way we think, debate, and legislate around issues of migration and globalization, making a compelling case for why we need to consider immigration and migration from a globalized human rights perspective.

The lecture is free and open to the general public. The lecture is co-sponsored by K-State Chapter of Amnesty International; Alianza; Hispanic American Leadership Organization of K-State, K-State chapter of the League of United Latin America Citizens; the School of Leadership Studies; and K-State's International Student and Scholar Services.

Following the multi-media lecture, Bacon will take questions from the audience.


4 Comments

Christopher, I'll have to rely on you to give us a review of the presentation. A round trip of 10 hrs. might be a little much for me. It should be standing room only, but very few people want to hear a serious debate on immigration. To many folks prefer the entertainment style of Rush, Glenn, Sean, and the other right wing talk show stars. Immigration is a serious problem, but the river doesn't hold them out and neither will fences, helicopters with search lights, nor marching columns of Nation Guardsman.


Thanks for keeping Kansas informed of these awesome events. Manhattan is a real leader.


I've been to Mexico and I can understand the frustration people have with things down there. In many areas one has 2 choices in life - work for the drug gangs or live in poverty. Mexico's institutions have little respect since they are so corrupt. Everything is done thru bribes and back deals. Get pulled over by police - pay a bribe. Want to open a business - pay a bribe. Want to build a building? Who needs a safety inspection - just pay a bribe. Even the postal service is so corrupt one dares not send anything valuable thru the mail.

Many of the young get frustrated with the lack of economic opportunities. Here is the US one has a chance to get ahead in life but in Mexico if your born poor, you stay poor. No wonder people with drive and ambition move here.

The Mexican government under former Presidente Fox took advantage of this and really pushed people to move to the US. Want a job? Move to the US. Want your children to get a decent education? Move to the US. Of course, once in the US they should then send money home. Money sent home is second only to oil as Mexico's largest source of income.

Here in the US people took advantage of this source of cheap illegal labor. Places like the meat packing plants in western Kansas could pay low wages, treat people poorly, and get away with it.

So immigration is basically a big mess. Unfortunately we cannot just open our borders to everyone who wants a better life. Also Mexico is starting to realize how much of a brain and talent drain immigration has become. Until conditions improve in countries like Mexico people will continue to try and move here.

It is a mess.


Yes, Brad, it is a mess.

Intead of bribes, we call it campaign finance.

Instead of going after the employers of the illegals, we lower the standards, de-regulate, and tell the locals they'll have to work for less or we'll send the work south or east, so those folks don't have to come here.

The inter-national corporations don't care where the work is done, just find the cheapest labor.


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