Background on Free Trade & Immigration

International Trade Buzzwords
  • ‘Fast-Track’ means authorizing the President to sign trade deals with a single yes-or-no Congressional vote after only limited debate. Supporting Fast-Track implies supporting free trade.
  • ‘Fair Trade’ means placing restrictions on imports based on environmental, labor, or other concerns. Supporting Fair Trade implies the speaker is against free trade.
  • ‘Trade Deficits’ mean that the US imports more than we export to a particular country. Concern over trade deficits implies supporting trade restrictions against Mexico, Japan, and East Asia, with whom the US has large trade deficits.
  • The North American Free Trade Agreement of 1994 establishes a free-trade zone between the US, Canada, and Mexico.
  • A ‘free trade zone’ means that goods can cross the border in either direction without tariffs or taxes of any kind.
  • Canada is the largest trading partner of the US, accounting for over 25% of both our imports and exports.
  • Mexico & Japan account for about 15% each; Europe combined for about 20%; and East Asia combined for about 15%.
  • In 1994, President Clinton invited Chile to join NAFTA as the next step toward a Free Trade Zone for the Americas.
    GATT & WTO
  • The World Trade Organization is an international organization intended to reduce trade barriers, formed in 1995.
  • The General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs is the international treaty which preceded the WTO's formation; it began in 1947.
  • The ‘Uruguay Round’ was the most recently completed round of GATT negotiations, completed in 1994.
  • Negotiations to start a new ‘Round’ took place in Seattle in Dec. 1999, but were disrupted by riots.
  • WTO members (which includes the US and most industrialized countries) grant each other ‘MFN’ or Most Favored Nation status, which means minimal import tariffs.
    ‘Anti-Dumping Laws’
  • Dumping: A country sells goods in the US at costs lower than they are sold in the home country, presumably with the intent of capturing market share.
  • Countervailing Duties: The US imposes import tariffs -- often 100% or more -- on goods which the government determines have been dumped.
  • In the last 4 years, the federal government found dumping in 107 cases, mostly steel from Asia but also on European bananas, and imposed countervailing duties.
  • The US admits about 660,000 legal immigrants per year (1998 figures).
  • The Immigration Act of 1990 allows for 480,000 immigrants with family in the US; 140,000 immigrants in needed employment fields; and the rest under per-country limits and diversity limits.
  • Foreign-born people accounted for 8% of the US population in the 1990 census; in the decades prior to 1930, the figure was 13%.
  • About 5 million illegal aliens reside in the US (1996 figures).
  • 55% of all illegal aliens come from Mexico. (Other Latin American countries account for another 20%).
  • 40% of all illegal aliens live in California. (TX, NY, FL, and IL account for the next 40%).
  • The illegal alien population is growing by about 275,000 each year.
  • The Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) runs the Border Patrol as well as interior enforcement.

    Related issues:

    Foreign Policy

    Background documents:

    Trade Fairness Act, steel anti-dumping.
    Steel Trade Act, limit steel imports.
    For anti-dumping law.
    Against anti-dumping.
    WTO, web site.
    Against NAFTA.
    For NAFTA.
    INS, web site.

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    Click here for The Forum discussion on Free Trade & Immigration.
    Click here for policy papers on Free Trade & Immigration.
    Quotations from candidates on Free Trade & Immigration:
    Pat Buchanan
    George W. Bush
    Al Gore
    Ralph Nader

    Minor Candidates:
    Harry Browne
    John Hagelin
    David McReynolds
    Howard Phillips

    V.P. Candidates:
    Dick Cheney
    Joe Lieberman
    Winona LaDuke
    Ezola Foster

    Withdrawn Candidates:
    Lamar Alexander
    Gary Bauer
    Bill Bradley
    Elizabeth Dole
    Steve Forbes
    Orrin Hatch
    John Kasich
    Alan Keyes
    John McCain
    Dan Quayle
    Bob Smith
    Donald Trump
    Paul Wellstone
    Senate Races:
    (AZ) Kyl  vs. Starky
    (CA) Feinstein  vs. Campbell  & Lightfoot
    (CT) Lieberman  vs. Giordano  & Green
    (DE) Roth  vs. Carper
    (FL) McCollum  vs. Nelson  & Logan
    (GA) Miller  vs. Mattingly
    (HI) Akaka  vs. Douglas
    (IN,R) Lugar  vs. Johnson
    (MA) Kennedy  vs. Robinson  & Howell  & Lawler
    (MD) Sarbanes  vs. Rappaport
    (ME,R) Snowe  vs. Lawrence
    (MI) Abraham  vs. Stabenow
    (MN) Grams  vs. Dayton
    (MO) Ashcroft  vs. Carnahan
    (MS) Lott  vs. Giles  & Brown
    (MT,R) Burns  vs. Schweitzer
    (ND) Conrad  vs. Sand
    (NE) Nelson  vs. Stenberg
    (NJ,R) Franks  vs. Corzine
    (NM,D) Bingaman  vs. Redmond
    (NV,D) Bernstein  vs. Ensign
    More Senate Races:
    (NY) Clinton  vs. Lazio  & Giuliani  & Wein
    (OH) DeWine  vs. Celeste  & McAlister
    (PA) Santorum  vs. Klink
    (RI) Chafee  vs. Weygand
    (TN) Frist  vs. Clark  & Burrell  & Johnson
    (TX,R) Hutchison  vs. Kelley  & Ruwart
    (UT) Hatch  vs. Dexter  & Howell
    (VA,D) Robb  vs. Allen
    (VT) Jeffords  vs. Flanagan
    (WA,R) Gorton  vs. Cantwell  & McKeigue
    (WI,D) Kohl  vs. Gillespie
    (WV,D) Byrd  vs. Gallaher
    (WY,R) Thomas  vs. Logan

    Senate Races
    House of Representatives
    SenateMatch (matching quiz)
    Senate Votes (analysis)
    House Votes