In a recent article titled Deportation Profits, Hilary Goodfriend advances the argument that the growth of the call center industry in El Salvador is the product of powerful forces of big capital in conjunction with US government policies. The policies generate the mass deportation of Salvadorans from the US, many of whom have English language skills. Call centers have taken advantage of this pool of labor in El Salvador, in an industry which has exploded over the past decade.
In this cycle of migration, deportation, and externalization, the heartless enterprise of deportation also reveals neoliberalism’s cruel and cynical efficiency. The rise of the call-center industry in places like Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador signals that mass deportation has been reimagined as outsourcing: not only are jobs offshored, but so are the workers to fill them.She concludes:
US foreign policy purports to seek to help provide alternatives to mass migration from Central America, but the neoliberal programs that it promotes offer no such thing. Quite the opposite: they contribute directly to the conditions for mass migration, then banish those migrants back to the precarious economies they created. And US companies, from the private prison corporations and the border security firms to the banks, websites, and telecoms that outsource to the call centers, are cashing in at every turn.I share Goodfriend's concerns over the business interests which profit from the cycle of migration -- private prisons at the US border, remittance transfer companies taking fees out of every money transfer, and businesses on both sides of the border which exploit the powerlessness of the worker. But I have also spoken to many Salvadoran young people eager to get a call center job. The $600 per month starting salary is significantly more than most jobs generated by the economy in El Salvador. The challenging working conditions in the call center industry might best be addressed by strengthening workers rights, not just in call centers, but in all sectors of the Salvadoran economy. Unfortunately, union and labor issues are not high on the political agenda in El Salvador.