casA [2008]

casA is a sustainable habitat project for migrants [displaced, homeless or emergency].

The project consists in placing eight to twelve habitats at the most active point on the south side of the border to attend migrants trying to cross the border. The A shaped habitat has a sleeping compartment for two, cooking area, an eating area and a restroom. casA measures twelve feet wide at its base by four feet deep and twelve feet high and is built with readily available common materials found in almost any hardware store.

The habitats will be attended by volunteers from different disciplines including: artists, architects, anthropologist, sociologist, psychologist, doctors, activists and students.

Amongst the main objectives are: providing care for the migrants at various levels e.g.: shelter, food, clothing, medical attention, counseling etc. We will also ask migrants staying at the site to participate in the written, photographic and video documentation of their personal stories. This documentation would be edited and shared afterwards to help us better comprehend the specific conditions and circumstances in the lives of so many migrants attempting to cross the border.

Up until 2004 we had 11.2 million Mexicans living in the United States of which 5.9 million (57%) don't have a resident visa (1). Together they contribute 20 billion dollars a year (2) to the Mexican economy, which represents 2.95% of the gross domestic product (GDP) and represents more than any direct foreign investment (3). It is calculated that in the same regard Mexican migrant workers contribute a billion dollars to the United States GDP and in California: “during the last fifteen years Mexican migration represents 100% of the growth in the labor market in net terms. Which means that without Mexican workers the GDP of California and other states wouldn't be possible” (2).

All this well known data makes the importance of the contribution to the US and Mexico by Mexican migrant workers very clear Which brings us to the paradoxical question: Why if this workforce represents so much to both countries, do they not receive their just place in our societies? It's clear that Mexican taxpayers partly subsidize migrant laborers through education, medical attention and other services that the migrants receive before crossing into the US and it's also clear that this is compensated through the wire transfers from migrants working in the US back to families in Mexico, but these transfers only represent approximately ten percent of the migrant contribution, the remaining part… “remains in the US around the labor areas and increases consumption”(2).

“These evaluations reveal some surprises regarding making decisions about immigration reform. An anti-migrant policy, that of massive deportation of indocumented workers would have a potentially positive impact on the Mexican economy, although devastating regarding work wages and of course the interruption in the flow of wire transfers. But at the same time it would also have a negative effect on the US GDP (upto 1.2%). Maintaining things as they are today according to Hinojosa, generates the conditions we all know so well, which reduces the situation to a type of “political apartheid” in the United States, in which a subclass is maintained without rights and subject to super exploitation” (2).

The main objective of casA is that of producing action, of directly and unfailingly attending a situation, of becoming a means and not an end, of proposing instead of complaining.

(1)- BBC News:
(2) – La Jornada:, Competitividad e interdependencia de mercado laboral en América del Norte, Raúl Hinojosa Ojeda, Robert McCleery, Fernando de Paolis y Terrie Walmsley.
(3)- Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática: Producto Interno Bruto de México 2004: 676,497 millones de dólares.
< >