Working borders: linking debates about insourcing and outsourcing of capital and labor

Download 1.07 Mb.
Size1.07 Mb.
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

Hines, Barbara 9/2/2015

For Educational Use Only


40 Tex. Int’l L.J. 691

Texas International Law Journal

Summer 2005

Special Feature


Copyright (c) 2005 Texas International Law Journal



Foreword: Karen Engle



Conference Description



Keynote Address: Maria Echaveste


Welcome: William Powers


Introduction to Speaker: Gerald Torres


Keynote Address: Maria Echaveste


Question and Answer



Roundtable I: Insourcing


Opening Remarks: Karen Engle and Shannon Baley


Living Borders Scene One: Border Crossings


Opening Comments: Karen Engle


Roundtable Presentations: Barbara Hines


William Forbath


Linda Bosniak


Alvaro Santos


Harley Shaiken





Roundtable II: Outsourcing


Living Borders Scene Two: World Tour


Opening Comments: Sarah Cleveland


Roundtable Presentations: Dan Danielsen


Sharmila Rudrappa


Tom Green


Chantal Thomas


James Galbraith





Roundtable III: Linking Outsourcing and Insourcing in a Global Economy


Opening Comments: David Kennedy


Roundtable Presentations: Ray Marshall


David Kennedy


Harley Shaiken


Sharmila Rudrappa




*692 I. Foreword: Karen Engle

Karen Englea1

On February 10 and 11, 2005, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice held its inaugural conference, “Working Borders: Linking Debates About Insourcing and Outsourcing of Capital and Labor.” The event brought together lawyers, economists, historians, and policy makers from the University of Texas and from around the country to examine critically contemporary proposals about immigration and outsourcing and to begin to analyze the ways in which each implicates how we understand work and citizenship. Participants also probed how different proposed policies might affect the extent to which workers are enfranchised in a global economy. The conference was the first of its kind to relate the growing public debates over ‘outsourcing‘--the movement of ‘American‘ jobs and capital overseas--to ‘insourcing‘--the migration of workers into the United States.


The conference consisted of a keynote address, three roundtable discussions, and two living newspaper theatrical performances to dramatize the issues. Over 100 people attended the conference. The audience was comprised of the media, government, community groups, activists, concerned citizens, students, and faculty. The conference was videotaped, and we are pleased that the Texas International Law Journal has agreed to publish the proceedings.


As the Rapoport Center’s inaugural event, the conference was intricately tied to the Center’s mission. Bernard Rapoport has always stood at the intersection of activism and intellectual discourse. In his book, Being Rapoport:Capitalist with a Conscience, Bernard Rapoport writes: “During my childhood, my father taught me Marxism and hard work. My mother taught me Judaism and compassion for humanity. Both of my parents taught me to love learning. To know these simple facts is to know much about who I am and why I have led my life the way I have.”1 The Bernard and Audre Center for Human Rights and Justice aims to stand in that same intersection, which is an intersection that combines learning and compassion.


The Center’s mission is to build a multidisciplinary community engaged in the study and practice of human rights that promotes the economic and political enfranchisement of marginalized individuals and groups both locally and globally. That’s a tall order, but key here are multidisciplinarity and the pairings of economic and political as well as locally and globally. I will say something about each of these, in reverse order, and will connect them to the conference theme.


Locally and Globally: Most human rights centers around the country send students abroad to go work on human rights and make the world a better place. They think about human rights violations as incidents that happen elsewhere and about international law as the applicable law outside the United States. In contrast, public interest law centers in the United States tend to focus on issues of civil rights or economic rights within the country.


The Rapoport Center aims to break down the dichotomy between outside and inside. Whether our work is in the United States (such as with the Transnational Worker Rights Clinic or the Immigration Clinic) or abroad (working on indigenous land rights claims in Latin America), we do the work always with an eye toward the extent to which neither national nor international solutions are sufficient to address the issues that we are tackling. In this sense, we hope to “denationalize” human rights.


*693 The Working Borders conference embodied that approach. Immigration and outsourcing are generally not thought about together. One would seem to be about the flow of capital and the other about the flow of labor. One would seem to be about increasing jobs in the United States, the other about lost jobs--from the United States. Regardless, both are commonly thought of as U.S. issues. The popular American discourse about labor and immigration tends to focus very little on the economics and politics of the places people are fleeing or the places where the jobs are going. The proposals discussed in the conference roundtables were legislative proposals within the United States to address these issues. But the roundtables highlighted the extent to which the issues could not be addressed within such a solipsistic lens. Bernard Rapoport wrote me a note during Maria Echaveste’s keynote address to the effect of “if we would help Mexico’s economy, we would have fewer immigration problems.” That type of thinking is an example of the type of thinking that we hoped to pursue with the juxtaposition of immigration and outsourcing.


Political and Economic Enfranchisement: The Rapoport Center also differs from many other human rights centers in our refusal to separate civil and political from economic and social rights. Although the Center supports work on protecting individuals from traditionally recognized human rights abuses by state actors, we also expand the focus to study the underlying structures that continue to permit, perhaps even require, global inequality. In attending to economic issues, we hope better to understand the extent to which the political and civil and economic and social are mutually constitutive. The Working Borders conference’s attempt to comprehend the complex relationship between the regulation of the flows of capital and workers is one slice of that project.


Multidisciplinarity: The Rapoport Center is based in the School of Law, but we invite and encourage participation from across disciplines. At an institutional level, we work with other departments and other multidisciplinary institutes at the University. Our events have attracted and included faculty and students from anthropology, sociology, history, literature, public policy, government, and economics. The wide range of speakers and disciplinary focuses of the speakers at the Working Borders conference exemplified and embodied our mulitidisciplinary commitment.


Multidisciplinarity, though, is about more than improving comprehension of a situation. It is also about communication--about communicating to different audiences and about doing it in a variety of ways. In this sense, one of the most exciting parts of the conference to me was its inclusion of theater. The University of Texas Department of Theater and Dance offers a graduate concentration in “Performance as Public Practice.” As a part of the conference, graduate students from that program scripted two short pieces to set the stage for each of the roundtables. Graduate and undergraduate students performed the pieces at the start of each of the sessions. These proceedings include the scripts from the performances.


Many people put time and energy into ensuring the creation of the Center and the successful inaugural conference. The proposal for the Center was put together by a group of faculty at the University of Texas, from the law school and from the anthropology department--myself, Sarah Cleveland, Willy Forbath, Charlie Hale, Barbara Hines, Steve Ratner, Shannon Speed, and Gerald Torres. Dean Bill Powers first presented the proposal to the Rapoport Foundation and has generously provided significant time and institutional resources to the Center and its projects. Of course, the Rapoport Foundation worked with us in styling the grant. In addition to Bernard Rapoport, Rick Battistoni, a member of the Foundation Board, and Maggie McCarthy, executive director of the Foundation, provided invaluable assistance. Jeremy Freeman, a law student who interned for the Center last *694 summer, played a huge role in formulating Center programs and activities and in linking the conference to the Center’s mission.


The Center’s three Human Rights Scholars, Jeremy Freeman, Paola Marusich-Blancarte, and Ashley Morris, worked countless hours on both the logistical and substantive components of the conference. They helped pull together materials, researched and suggested potential participants, and--with the help of other law student “angels”--made sure that all the participants were in all the right places at the right times. Katrin Flechsig, the Center administrator, secured arrangements for all the speakers, assisted with publicity, and made sure that every last detail of the conference was attended to. Hollin Dickerson, editor in chief of the Texas International Law Journal, attended the conference, met with all the participants and has ensured its timely publication. Stacy Wolf, from the University of Texas Department of Theater and Dance engaged in numerous conversations with me to imagine the role that theater could play in the conference and then moved it toward reality by encouraging her graduate students to participate. Shannon Baley, Claire Canavan, Kevin Hodges, and Megan Sullivan made it reality by producing and directing the performances included in the conference. Nicolas Shumway provided financial assistance from the Theresa Lozano Long Institute for Latin American Studies at the University of Texas, which served as a cosponsor of the conference.


Of course, ultimately the speakers and roundtable participants ensured the success of the conference, not only through their participation at the conference but through much work behind the scenes as well. Barbara Hines, for the insourcing roundtable, and Dan Danielsen, for the outsourcing roundtable, put together extensive readings for the participants to consider and react to both before and at the conference. Both roundtables engaged in conference calls before the actual event to plan the direction of the conversations.


Below is the description of the conference that we sent to participants and invitees, which resulted from numerous conversations among those involved with the Center, as well as with Dan Danielsen, Betty Sue Flowers, David Kennedy, Lyndon Olson, and Chantal Thomas. Jeremy Freeman wrote the initial draft. In addition, the Rapoport Foundation Board offered useful guidance and support on the final program.


II. Conference Description

Working Borders: Linking Contemporary Debates over Insourcing and Outsourcing of Capital and LaborFebruary 10 & 11, 2005

In January, declaring the U.S. immigration system “broken,” President Bush proposed repairing the system through a new temporary-worker program that would create “an immigration system that serves the American economy, and reflects the American Dream.”2 Bush explained that, “if an American employer is offering a job that American citizens are not willing to take, we ought to welcome into our country a person who will fill that job.”3 Although immigration reform had surprisingly broad support prior to September 11, 2001, the Bush proposals were opposed by some on both the Left and Right. Citing fears that the *695 influx of temporary workers would undercut the U.S. labor market by taking away “American” jobs,4 critics developed alternative immigration reform proposals.5 The immigration reform debate became one of degree. How much should we restrict the free movement of labor, and how should we design programs to facilitate inward movement of needed foreign workers without threatening “American” jobs?


Meanwhile, concern was growing about jobs lost when capital moves abroad. At first, this concern was not bipartisan. A month after announcing its immigration reform proposal, Gregory Mankiw, the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisors, characterized the supposed movement of U.S. jobs abroad as a “good thing” and “just a new way of doing international trade.”6 Democratic presidential contender John Kerry replied: “[The Bush Administration has] delivered a double blow to America’s workers, three million jobs destroyed on their watch, and now they want to export more of our jobs overseas.”7 Soon that response was echoed on the other side of the aisle, when Dennis Hastert, speaker of the House of Representatives, argued that foreign workers posed a threat to local jobs, explaining that “outsourcing can be a problem for American workers and the American economy.”8 Members of both parties and houses developed proposals designed to discourage U.S. businesses from outsourcing or “offshoring” U.S. jobs to other countries.9 Just like the various proposals to regulate the influx of foreign workers, legislative plans to regulate the outflow of “American” jobs differ only by a matter of degree and still perceive the global movement of jobs as a zero-sum game.


This conference will explicitly link these two debates. What is the relationship between the movement of labor (insourcing) and the movement of capital (outsourcing)? What are the effects of various immigration reforms on outsourcing and vice versa? Could or should the movement of capital be targeted to reflect economic needs of the United States in the same way that some parts of immigration law are meant to accomplish national economic goals? Is it easier or more appropriate to restrict the movement of labor than the movement of capital? Why is the discouragement of capital flight seen to pose more of a threat to the “free market” than restrictions on labor mobility?


Outsourcing--like the globalization of production and investment more broadly-- has changed our sense of what it means to “Buy American.” What does it mean, today, for a car to be American? That it was assembled in Detroit by American citizens? Designed by American designers? Produced by companies owned by American investors? Made with components manufactured in the United States? We might equally well wonder whether and in what way strawberries picked by migrant Mexican workers in California are “American.”


*696 Debates about immigration reform and outsourcing each implicate America’s place in a global economy as well as the potential and appropriate reach for national and international regulatory responses to global flows of goods, capital, and labor. They also implicate ideas about America’s identity and about its attitudes toward poverty at home and abroad.


This conference will bring together academics from a variety of disciplines to consider the underlying concerns that animate today’s insourcing and outsourcing proposals and their implications for citizenship, race relations, and the global political economy. Can we broaden the range of policy alternatives in each debate by linking and comparing them?


We will also place these debates in historical context. To what extent and in what ways has the U.S. economy always relied upon decisions about comparative advantage that have manifested themselves in cross-border movement of labor and capital? Is outsourcing simply a perpetuation of free trade? Might some contemporary attempts to regulate outsourcing and insourcing represent the replay of xenophobic or nativistic worries, or has recent economic globalization raised altogether new difficulties and/or opportunities for policy makers? Does the global movement of labor or capital now operate in a new way?


The conference will approach these questions through a series of three plenary panels. The first panel will consider current legislative proposals for and debates around immigration reform while the second panel will consider “outsourcing” proposals and debates. Panelists will comment critically on specific legislative proposals through their own methodological lens so that each panel will provide historical, political, cultural, and economic analyses of the contemporary debates. The conference will culminate in a final roundtable conversation that asks participants from the insourcing and outsourcing panels to relate the two debates.


We plan to share the insights gained from the conference through publication of the proceedings.


III. Keynote Address: Maria Echaveste

Welcome: Dean William Powers, Jr., The University of Texas School of Law

Introduction of Keynote Speaker: Gerald Torres, The University of Texas School of Law

Keynote Address: Maria Echaveste, The University of California at Berkeley School of Law and Goldman School of Public Policy

Download 1.07 Mb.

Share with your friends:
  1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10   11

The database is protected by copyright © 2022
send message

    Main page