CAFTA would do more than just phase out tariffs and open new markets—a lot more. For example, buried among its nearly 1,000 pages, the agreement contains an expansive definition of “cross-border trade in services.” This definition would give people in Central American nations a de facto right to work in the United States. CAFTA is more than a trade agreement about sugar and bananas. It is a thinly disguised immigration accord.
The immigration provisions are cloaked as “service agreements” in the document that have become standard fare in most trade agreements.
One article of CAFTA reads, “Cross-border trade in services or cross-border supply of services means the supply of a service . . . by a national of a party in the territory of another party.” CAFTA goes on to stipulate that member nations take care to ensure that local and national “measures relating to qualification requirements and procedures, technical standards and licensing requirements do not constitute unnecessary barriers to trade in services,” and to guarantee that our domestic laws are “not in themselves a restriction on the supply of the service.”
What those provisions mean is that a foreign company would be empowered under CAFTA to challenge the validity of our immigration laws. If an international tribunal rules against us, Congress would then be forced to change our immigration laws or face international trade sanctions. These tribunals have the authority to rule that U.S. immigration limits, visa requirements, or even licensing requirements and zoning rules are “unnecessary burdens to trade” that act as “restrictions on the supply of a service.”