Emma’s story, in showing the reality of global economic migration, raises significant questions about global ethics. The current system has many benefits: poor nations receive remittances from family members working abroad, while rich nations are provided with a labor source for low-status work and with a market for goods used primarily by low-wage migrants. Employers encounter few, if any, restrictions. The people who are hurt by the system are most often the workers themselves, usually undocumented women, and sometimes their children. Female workers are especially vulnerable to wage theft and other forms of exploitation, and are less empowered to speak up. In the absence of significant economic changes that would create better-paying jobs for workers in their own countries, what should we do? For a start, we can begin to value care work as a social good, respecting workers and protecting them from harm.
Michael K. Gusmano
Co-Directors, The Undocumented Patients Project, The Hastings Center
This letter was originally published as a letter in The New Yorker’s May 23, 2016 Issue. Please click here to access the original letter online.