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Mojúbàolú Olúfúnké Okome and Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoum - page 8 / 27





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Africans on the Move: Transnational, Intranational, and Metaphorical Migrations

them? If they intend to stay beyond the period of their employment contract, or they are undocumented workers, they have to think of how to legalize their resident status, negotiate space, material and personal security.

That this migrant population exists and takes the decisions that it does is crucial to the continued success and reproduction of late capitalism in numerous ways. First the existence of a ready pool of cheap, employable and also exploitable labor keeps the economic engine running because these workers fill jobs that indigenes do not want. The creation or retention of these jobs also has positive impacts on economic expansion, particularly in the household economy and agricultural sector. Since the Canadian scheme enabled recruited migrant women from the Caribbean to seek employment in other fields after serving out a one-year term, there are also positive effects on the service economy, or in the remnants of the industrial sector, which is where most of the women would be most likely to secure immediate employment. It is also significant that many a middle class-to affluent family’s leisurely lifestyle is built on the backs of poorly-paid immigrant labor; that many a farmer could not make as much, or any profit whatsoever, were it not for seasonal agricultural labor, and many a factory would have closed its doors, and many a sweatshop owner would be out of a job were it not for migrant labor, both documented and undocumented.

Further, Baptiste shows that the collusion between the United States Department of State and multilateral agencies like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and United Nations leads to A-3, B-1 and G-5 special visas being issued annually that enable the elite staff of these organizations to employ migrant domestic labor. It is not only the Caribbean that supplies such documented migrant workers. Indeed, the Caribbean is a negligible source. Other third world areas, particularly Asia and to a lesser extent, South America, are the most important sources. Majority of the workers are women. Majority of them do not bring their children in tow. Ironically, since they’re employed in households, many such women may be providers of child and elder care to strangers who have become employers while their families back home may need the same services, but there is no space for such luxuries when the costs and benefits of taking decisions about survival are being calculated. It is even greater irony that many of the officials that are employers may speak up constantly about lofty principles such as equity, justice, and human rights when they are on the job.

The Caribbean is also not the source of another documented pool of migrant workers, nannies and au pairs, who are granted J-1 visas by the US Immigration and Naturalization Department (INS) for purposes of “educational and cultural exchange”. Europe is the primary source of such workers, who are given privileged treatment in the form of orientations, support, counseling, information on educational opportunities and

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