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Editor's introduction.

Our special feature articles connect immigration to the US and immigration from rural to urban centers in Latin America. Why do people make major moves? They leave a familiar place for another to escape poverty and oppression and because of the attraction of someplace else. Students of immigration call these "push-pull" factors: people are pushed away and pulled toward. We cannot understand immigration to the US without understanding the push factors at work in the countries from which people come. Those push factors flow from policies and practices of multi-national corporations, international financial institutions and the US government, as well as corrupt and oppressive national governments and exploitive local economies. They combine to make people choose to leave. Ubiquitous TV advertising, native hustlers' promises of a good life in the city--including luring rural girls into urban prostitution, and success stories from some who already left the countryside and "made it" in the city combine to pull rural people to urban areas, either within a country or to a foreign one.

The family farm crisis in the US, immigration within third word countries that has created massive slums and exploitation in mega-cities like Sao Paulo, Mexico City, Mumbai (Bombay), Manila, Nairobi and Johannesburg, and immigration from Africa, Asia and Latin America to the US and Western Europe are all expressions of these push-pull forces. Development of relationships with peasant-based rural movements by US religious groups, labor unions and community organizations is one step toward slowing, halting and reversing the massive concentration of power and wealth now going on in the world, and to making it possible for people to remain in their native countries if they want to. I have been present when North Americans hostile to or critical of immigration to the US saw the conditions people were leaving. It radically, and immediately, shifted their views. As one leader put it, "no wonder they leave; I would too."

In what follows, Mary Ochs and Mayron Payes provide an overview of how immigrants organize to struggle to realize their hopes and dreams in the US. Organizer Steve Schneider's documents provide a process that can be used in congregations, unions and other voluntary associations to build bridges of relationship and solidarity that cross historic lines of division. Brazil's Clodovis and Leonardo Boff introduce the liberation theology framework that moved large sectors of the Latin American Catholic Church from a status quo-enforcing fatalism to "taking sides" for justice. James Petras and Henry Veltmeyer present one aspect of the Latin American context, and show how an alternative "model" of development, one that is democratic, local, sustainable and environmentally friendly, is possible. It is at this point that "push" can be minimized if not eliminated. If people aren't pushed by desperation to leave a place, then the question of whether or not they move is one of real choice. And, in fact, when they can do meaningful work, earn decent income, be physically secure and live in community, they often want to remain. Finally, a number of views of FARC, Latin America's most controversial guerrilla group, are presented and Zapatista Subcommandante Marcos challenges the "vanguard" approach to change, arguing that it offers no real alternative to what it replaces.

In this issue's editorial, delegations to the Middle-East are urged as a way to find out what's going on there, and to counter mistakes, distortions and lies from US politicians and news media. This special feature provides another reason for domestic organizations to make similar visits, especially to our neighbors to the South.
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Title Annotation:Special feature: the push-pull of immigration
Publication:Social Policy
Geographic Code:0LATI
Date:Jun 22, 2003
Previous Article:Firefighters.
Next Article:Immigrant organizing: patterns, challenges & opportunities.

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