Carmen G. Gonzalez (Seattle University School of Law) has posted An Environmental Justice Critique of Comparative Advantage: Lessons from the Mexican Neoliberal Economic Reforms (SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC INEQUALITY: THE ROLE OF LAW, MARKETS, AND SOCIAL STRUCTURES, Emma Coleman Jordan, Charles Ogletree, eds., Russell Sage, 2009) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
The recent and ongoing public debate in the United States over immigration has generally failed to make an explicit connection between the economic and ecological dislocations caused by globalization and the influx of immigrants into the United States. Using Mexico as a case study, this article situates the immigration debate in the context of the impact of neoliberal economic reforms on the livelihoods and natural resources of Mexico's poor, rural, and indigenous communities. The article argues that the free market reforms adopted by Mexico as a consequence of the debt crisis of the 1980s and of its participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement and the World Trade Organization have undermined the livelihoods of poor farmers, increased migration to the cities and to the United States, jeopardized biological diversity in Mexico, and imposed additional stress on the environment in the United States. Critiquing these reforms through the framework of environmental justice, the article highlights some of the theoretical and practical limitations of the theory of comparative advantage, which serves as the ideological justification for the neoliberal economic reforms promoted by international trade and financial institutions. The article calls for policy-makers to consider the environmental and socioeconomic implications of trade policy instead of criminalizing immigrants or militarizing the U.S.-Mexican border. The article concludes with alternatives to free market orthodoxy more compatible with social justice and with long-term ecological sustainability.