Globalization is sending people packing. That is, they are packing their belongings and sending themselves across national boundaries to find better paying jobs. These transnational families maintain deep roots in their home countries while they establish new social networks within the host country. An increasing number of women are leaving their children behind in order to provide a better life for them in the future. What does it take to make it to the US and secure that elusive green card?
Globalization’s Impact on Families
Strong family ties make civilization work. When important family members move thousands of miles away, those ties are broken. Workers from less-developed nations often find themselves marginalized by the more prosperous societies they have moved to and are restricted to low-paying positions within it.
Relocated workers have a powerful impetus to remain working within their more prosperous neighbors. Most send money back home to support family members unable to find work there. In fact, these remittances account of 20% of the GDP in some nations.
If workers arrive without a green card, and many do, the process of obtaining one begins. Without a green card, they run the risk of not being able to return to the host country after a trip home. Since this process can take many years, it effectively breaks down long-standing family bonds. Getting a green card for parents of individuals who have already become a citizen can be a trialing process that challenges many to succeed.
Globalization: The Journey to a New Land
When money is scarce, desperate individuals will do just about anything to find work. Stories abound of local area markets where illegal immigrants find work for pennies on the dollar with the promise that legal help for a green card will be provided. Some of the most horrific news stories tell the tale of truckloads of people left to die as they were being smuggled into the US.
Workers flock to areas where their native language is spoken to learn how to negotiate their new home. Those areas are often high in crime with sub-optimal housing. Companies such as WalMart provide profitable money wiring services so that temporary workers, unable to secure a banking account, can send their wages home. Globalization is big business in more ways than one.
The Economic Effect on Local Economies of a Large Migrant Workforce
Much of the disruption of families during this period of globalization stems from their inability to get legal paperwork completed to ensure that family members are able to return for regular visits. These difficulties are fueled by ideas that the wealth of the host country is being diminished when large numbers of migrating workers from low-wage nations arise. Is this truly the case?
Many migrants don’t apply for legal status because they wish to return to their home nations once they have saved some money. By loosening the restrictions for legal residence, local economies can actually thrive by keeping the best workers. Mobile workforces can be available for peak production periods. Workers who have been able to maintain their family ties will be much less isolated and more likely to contribute to the society at large.
What do you think? Should nations like the US that attract many workers from less industrialized nations take steps to help migrant workers maintain their traditional family structures? Do transnational families help or harm the local and national economies?