Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Monday, April 23, 2007

A good provider is one who leaves

In all this talk of immigration to the United States, we sometimes forget that it's part of a larger globalization. Jason DeParle of the NYTimes has an article looking at the Filipino economy and how their main export of migrant laborers has torn apart families while allowing them to live at a higher standard. Additionally, he examines the political impact of these workers who send home $1 Billion a year, with welcome home parties being thrown in their honor after years abroad.

DeParle looks at the Comodas family, which has become a family of expats, working to maintain the generations that stay. It's heartbreaking to be sure, and he doesn't even linger on the many instances of employer abuse/rape/theft. Filipinos in Saudia Arabia and other countries, including the United States, are sometimes treated like slaves - forbidden to leave their employers' domicile, paid less than what they were promised, and yet, many return for more.
Emmet would make 10 times as much as he made in Manila. He would also live 4,500 miles from his family in an Islamic autocracy where stories of abused laborers were rife. He accepted on the spot. His wife, Tita, was afraid of the slum where she soon would be raising children alone, and she knew that overseas workers often had affairs. She also knew their kids ate better because of the money the workers sent home. She spent her last few pesos for admission to an airport lounge where she could wave at the vanishing jet, then went home to cry and wait.
Why? Because they get paid more than at home. So they endure the years of not seeing their children grow to ensure that their kids are being fed, even though upon their return, their children don't fully acknowledge them as parents.

Increasingly, other Asian countries like China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan, and India . It would be fascinating to read some sociological studies of the long-term impacts of such broad swathes of the population being absent.

Already, there is a movement afoot to grant migrant workers the right to vote in their home country's elections - Mexico and the Philippines, and some European countries are at the forefront. There is also a concurrent move to allow these migrants the right to vote in their countries of employment, but I think that this is far off esp. here in the US.

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